Dave Brigati of Calverton returned to racing after a two month layoff at Riverhead Raceway Saturday with a point to prove, to himself as well his competitors. When the checker flag waved on the 50–lap Buzz Chew Chevrolet NASCAR Modified feature Brigati proved his point by winning his 12th career feature by far the most gratifying of his dozen victories.
Track officials ran a very efficient show getting five of the scheduled seven feature events in the book before heavy rains associated with Hurricane Henri swept over the track halting the Truck Enduro and School Bus Demolition Derby events.
Jack Handley Jr. and Roger Turbush sat in the front row of the Buzz Chew Chevrolet NASCAR Modified feature line-up and when the green waved Handley was able to move out front when Turbush buzzed his tires slightly on the start. Michael Rutkoski moved in for second on the first lap but the man on the move was “The Fancy Farmer”‘ Dave Brigati who quickly worked his way to second on lap 2 after starting 8th on the grid. Just one lap later both Rutkoski and Brigati were able to slip by Handley to take over the top two spots in the contest. Over the following 33 laps Rutkoski would pace Brigati but the challenger was not going to be content with a runner-up finish.
Wheeling a new look machine with major marketing partners Coors Light and Golden Nugget Casino of Las Vegas aboard Brigati was coming off a 8-week suspension for unapproved tires on June 12th. Dave was seeking redemption for himself, his team and sponsors got up on the wheel chasing leader Rutkoski. On lap 37 Brigati made his move on Rutkoski wrestling the lead away with just 13-laps left in the race. Once out front Dave was able to get away from Michael Rutkoski who was fighting and dealing with a a tight car. In fact WMT regular Craig Lutz closed in on Rutkoski in the waning laps of the race for second allowing Dave Brigati to pull away further to the checker flag.
After exiting the winning car Brigati smiled and surmised the past two months, “I made a mistake” Dave admitted, “but I love this place, it is who I am. I just want to thank the management for allowing my cars and truck to run here with other drivers while I was out”. As for the race itself Dave reflected,” there were 16 cars here tonight and anyone of them could have won, I’m just happy it was us”. Over the off season Brigati and his Outlaw Inc. launched a new social media platform that has aided them in landing backers like Coors Light, Golden Nugget Casino and Stock Car Fan Nation.
Michael Rutkoski of Mattituck was runner-up in the East West Marine Supply Chevy while Craig Lutz of Miller Place claimed third in the Riverhead Building Supply entry. Lutz and his Russell Goodale team skipped the Beech Ridge, Maine WMT in an effort to turn their season around and they were satisfied with the results Saturday. John Beatty Jr. of Merrick and Chris Young of Calverton were fourth and fifth.
“The Real Deal” Mark Stewart of Riverhead scored his second Eagle Auto Mall Crate Modified win of 2021 when he won their 25-lap feature event. Three time feature winner Vinny Delaney broke to the lead at the throw of the green flag with Mike Albasini in tow. On lap 5 a Chase Grennan spin would draw a yellow setting up a scenario on the restart that would change the outcome of the race. With the choose cone a weekly feature at Riverhead in 2021 Delaney chose the bottom as did second place driver Albasini, that allowed Mark Stewart to pull all the way up to second outside Delaney for the ensuing restart. When the race resumed Delaney stayed out front with Stewart taking over second. Another yellow waved on lap 12 and again Delaney chose the inside with Stewart not wanting to lose a spot he just worked for taking the outside. When the race resumed exiting the second turn Mark Stewart, a 25-time Super Pro Truck winner built up a head of steam and took over the leadership of the race. Once out front Mark Stewart in the Eastren Fuel Chevy hit his marks during the second half of the race to take home the victory. Matt Brode of East Islip made late race charge to claim runner-up money in the Freightliner of Long Island Chevy after starting 8th on the gird. Early leader Vinny Delaney of Islip Terrace was third in the Stakey’s Pumpkin Farm racer.
Tom Ferrara of Patchogue scored his second Figure Eight victory of 2021 topping the 15-lap feature event. It was during Tom’s post race interview that the heavens opened up[ bringing the show to a screeching halt. Standout INEX Legend Race Car talent Allan Pedersen broke to the early race lead besting Bryan Quilliam at the start of the tilt. However on lap 2 defending champion Joe Warren Jr. made his way to second and began to hound Pedersen for the race lead. Tom Ferrara made his presence known on lap 8 when he worked his way by teammate Warren for second and it was Tom’s turn to test Pedersen for the race lead. On lap 13 a yellow flag waved for Kim Hyde who spun setting up a green, white checker finish. When the race got back underway Tom Ferrara muscled his way by Allan Pedersen for the top spot setting him up for his 19th career victory in his Sayville South Bay Auto Cadillac. The win ties Tom for 8th on the all time win list with the late Ralph Tasso. Allan Pedersen of center Moriches had to settle for second in the Top Notch Performance Chevy with Joe Warren Jr. of Ridge third in the Exit Realty Office of Alex Katz machine.
The Vintage All Stars ran their third event of the year Saturday and for the second time in ’21 Don Howe of Watermill came away the winner of the 15-lap event. Frank Saladino led the first lap of the race from the outside pole in his Richie Evans tribute coupe before Tony Ferrante took over the top spot on lap 2 bringing Don Howe to second with him. Once again the Ferrante/Howe tandem was the class of the field at the front until a spin by Boots Jasinsky on lap 10 slowed the race with a yellow. On the restart with 5-laps to go Howe was able to inch in front of Ferrante to take command of the race with Howe in the Corwith’s Auto Body Cavalier never looking back from that point. Ferrante of New Hyde Park was second in the Tony Ferrante & Son Cavalier while Frank Saladino of Farmingville was third.
Just one week after missing out on his first career Mini Stock win Joe Cooke Jr. of Shilrey didn’t let victory pass through his hands scoring his first career win. Cooke becomes the 12th different driver to lay claim to their first career win in 2021 at Riverhead Raceway overall. Starting from the pole Joe Cooke Jr. wasted little time putting his stamp on the race taking the early race lead over Ryan Zukowski. Later in the race “The Z-Man” Zukowski had a familiar face testing him for second as his older brother and defending champion CJ Zukwoski pressured for second which he eventually took from Ryan. However a week after losing the big one Joe Cooke Jr. in the Island Technology Honda won the big one crossing the line first. CJ Zukowski of Riverhead was second in the MSM Motorsports Cavalier while younger brother Ryan also of Riverhead was third.
NASCAR Modifieds: 1. Dave Brigati 2. Michael Rutkoski 3. Craig Lutz 4. John Beatty Jr. 5. Chris Young 6. Dylan Slepian 7. Kyle Soper 8. Roger Turbush 9. Chris Turbush 10. John Baker 11. Tom Rogers Jr. 12. Eddie Brunnhoelzl III 13. CJ Lehmann 14. Jeremy McDermott 15. Matt Brode 16. Jack Handley Jr.
Crate Modifieds: 1. Mark Stewart 2. Matt Brode 3. Vinny Delaney 4. Alex Colasanto 5. AJ DeSantis 6. Stephen Coleman 7. Eric Hersey 8. Owen Grennan 9. Richie Davidowitz 10. Michael Berner 11. Artie Pedersen III 12. Terry Stiles 13. Mike Albasini 14. Rich Gerbe 15. Mark Wolf 16. Chase Grennan 17. Lou Maestri 18. Dennis Krupski 19. Eddie Schutze 20. Steve Ratti
Figure Eights: 1. Tom Ferrara 2. Allan Pedersen 3. Joe Warren Jr. 4. Scott Pedersen 5. Gary Fritz Jr. 6. Vinny Biondollilo 7. CJ Lehmann 8. Bryan Quilliam 9. Kim Hyde 10. Bob Dalke 11. Brian Hansen 12. Paulo Miguel 13. Ryan Warren
Mini Stocks: 1. Joe Cooke Jr. 2. CJ Zukowski 3. Ryan Zukowski 4. Tony Collinsworth 5. Andrew Farnham 6. Ryan Warren 7. Tom Puccia 8. Paul Wojcik 9. Christian Conklin 10. Jesse St. Clair 11. Bob Dalke 12. Scott Phillips 13. James O’Connell
Vintage All Stars: 1. Don Howe 2. Tony Ferrante Jr. 3. Frank Saladino 4. Mike Siraco 5. Jimmy Reed 6. Boots Jasinsky
Truck Enduro and School Bus Demolition Derby: Rained out