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Riverhead Raceway: Defending Modified champion races to second consecutive win

Defending NASCAR Modified champion Kyle Soper of Manorville raced his way back into the lead of the Mike Stefanik Hall of Fame 160 at Riverhead Raceway Saturday with 20 laps remaining to score his second consecutive win and third overall of the season. Soper led the first 103 laps of the race prior to pit stops under caution in a dazzling performance, but later had to use hustle and muscle to claim victory.

Soper pressured 2020 NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour champion Justin Bonsignore for the lead. The two clanged side bars and swapped paint before Soper pulled in front on the 140th lap. From there Soper drove off to his 19th career NASCAR Modified win, tying him with Chuck Steuer for 21st on the all-time win list. 

After being presented with the trophy in victory lane, Soper gazed down at the hardware and said, “I always wanted one of these tripod trophies and for it to bear Mike’s name on it, priceless.”

Bonsignore of Holtsville, who indicated he’ll be back for the Islip 300 on Nov. 14, was the runner-up. Tom Rogers Jr. of Riverhead padded his championship lead by two points, placing third. Rogers’ closest challenger for the 2020 title, Dylan Slepian of Dix Hill, was fourth and John Beatty Jr. of Merrick fifth.

In the Late Models, veteran Jarrod Hayes of Calverton notched his first win of the season in a non-stop, 25-lap event. He has 18 career Late Model wins. Chris Turbush of Wading River drove in second and championship leader Jeremy McDermott of Riverhead was third.

Two weeks removed from a grinding heat-race crash, Terry Stiles of Rocky Point rebounded nicely Saturday with his first win of 2020 in Crate Modifieds, leading all 25 laps of the main event. Chris Rogers of Patchogue settled for second and championship leader Richie Davidowitz of East Moriches drove from ninth to a third-place finish.

Former Blunderbust champion Tom Pickerell of Huntington won a non-stop, 30-lap Blunderbust feature. The 27-time Blunderbust winner earned his first win of the season, finishing ahead of second-place Jim Laird Jr. of Riverhead and third-place Tom Sullivan of Massapequa.

Joey Braun picked up his second victory of the year, mastering the restart game in a 20-lap Legend Race Car feature. The next two to the finish line were Eric Hersey and Kevin Nowak.

In Street Stocks, James Pape Jr. of Mattituck won his first career feature event, a non-stop, 20-lapper. Chris Lescenski of Riverhead was second and Jay Henschel of Levittown third.