Dylan Slepian Gets First Career Modified Win At Riverhead Raceway

(Press Release from Riverhead Raceway)

In sports there is an old adage sometimes you have to lose the big one before you can win the big one. Such was the case for Dylan Slepian of Dix Hills who one week ago came within five laps of his first career NASCAR Modified win at Riverhead Raceway before yielding to Tom Rogers Jr. and finishing runner-up. This week Dylan in the Rob Pelis owned entry went out and sealed the deal scoring his first career NASCAR Modified victory in a 75-lap feature event as a standing room only crowd looked on. 

In qualifying Tom Rogers Jr. went quickest with a lap of 11.707 but his luck in the redraw would bite him as he drew sixth starting spot while Dave Brigati and John Baker drew the front row. At the throw of the green Baker would power his way to the early race lead while Dylan Slepian quickly made his way from his third starting spot to race to second on the first lap moving Brigati to third.  Over the first half dozen laps Slepian rode behind race leader Baker before making his move that came in the form of an inside pass for the lead racing down the backstretch. By the time the lead tandem started the 7th lap Slepian was the new race leader with Baker now the challenger. Slowly making his way from sixth to the front was Rogers who on lap 13 worked his way by Baker for second to start the 14th circuit.

With 61 laps remaining in the race the question became could Slepian a 4-time Crate Modified and 6-time Legend Race Car winner keep 55-time NASCAR Modified winner Rogers at bay with all those laps remaining. As the race moved along to the middle portion of the tilt Rogers indeed drew to Slepian’s rear bumper and began to take a look at making a run to the inside of the race leader exiting the corners. On more than one occasion Rogers got his car halfway under “Slep” but each and every time the race leader would remain out front by powering away slightly on the outside. Over the final segment of the 75-lapper Dylan Slepian was able to get away by a few car lengths as Rogers attention switched to Dave Brigati whose car came to life in the final third drawing close to Rogers.

As the laps clicked off the large crowd on hand began to sense they were about to see a young driver score his first career victory and indeed as the checker flag waved Dylan Slepian steering the Eastport Feeds Chevy would enjoy NASCAR Modified nirvana notching his first ever victory. Before the excited Slepian could exit his winning car to what would be a thunderous ovation, runner-up Tom Rogers Jr. reached in and gave Dylan a bear hug of congratulations. “Finally, we had come so close, especially last week” Slepian reflected in victory lane. “Feels ever more special when you can hold off a 55-time winner like Tommy who ran me great”. Not lost on the winner was those who helped get him to this point, “my parents who did even know what a screwdriver was helped me chase my dream, my girlfriend, Rob Pelis for believing in me, Doug & Mora of Eastport Feeds, My Guy NAPA Auto Supply, Velocity Race Engines and my team, this is all for them”. 

Tom Rogers Jr. in his Stakey’s Pumpkin Farm Chevy settled for runner-up money sending his wished the winners way, “good for Dylan and his crew congratulations to them”. Dave Brigati of Calverton crossed the line third in his JDL Environmental Chevy while championship leader Kyle Soper of Manorville and John Beatty Jr. of Merrick completed the top five.

For the third time in 2019 Chris Turbush of Wading River sat in victory lane when the 25-lap Late Model feature concluded notching his 15th overall career win tying him with Mike Bologna of Huntington for 9th on the all-time LM win list. Foes “Radiant” ray Minieri and Chris Turbush lined-up on the front row and many expected some early fireworks but none were forthcoming as the two former Charger champions race side by side to see who’d claim the lead. It would be Turbush coming out on top while Minieri fell into the clutches of Jeremy McDermott and Scott Kulesa who would soon race their way by for second and third. Despite having won eight times in 2019 McDermott would have nothing for Chris Turbush in his North Fork Sanitation Chevy who would drive off to the victory. McDermott of Riverhead was runner-up in the Eastport Feeds Pontiac and now leads Turbush by 28-points with three races remaining. Scott Kulesa of Georgetown, Ma was third in the My Guy NAPA Auto Supply Chevy.

In the 25-lap Crate Modified feature event 14-year old second generation driver Matthew Brode of East Islip too the lead on the first lap and never looked back collecting his second win of 2019 and his career. When the race went green it was Brode racing from the outside pole to the race lead over ageless Peter Bertuccio who made his way from third to second on the start. The span in age between the top two drivers was an astounding  47 years as Bertuccio, 61 a former Late Model champion stayed in step with the teenage sensation. Matthew’s father, former three time NASCAR Modified champion Howie Brode has put his driving on hold to guide his son’s racing budding career and it has shown in Matthew’s on track performance as he would lead the rest of the race in his Milro Environmental Chevy and he too was greeted with a loud ovation from the crowd on hand. In one his best showing to date this year Peter Bertuccio of Bohemia was runner-up in the Gershow Motorsports Chevy while Chris Rogers of Patchogue was third in the Captain Ralph’s Seafood Safari entry.

For the seventh time in ten races Tom Rogers Jr. topped the 15-lap Figure Eight event earning him a milestone 50th career win in the process. CJ Lehmann broke out front to lead the first two laps before he was passed By Eriz Zeh on lap 3. Lehmann chased Zeh until a 4th lap restart that saw Rogers who started in the 8th spot make his way by CJ to start the 5th cycle. After pressuring his teammate Zeh for two laps Rogers made his bid for the lead payoff with a lap 7 pass just prior to the halfway mark of the race. Once in front Tom Rogers in the Keith Repp owned sponsor wanted Chevy Coupe had to avoid some close calls at the “X” before he could lay claim to yet another win. Eric Zeh of Selden was runner-up in the team car while Tom Ferrara of Patchogue drove the Northeastern Office Equipment Cadillac to a third place tally. Rogers is now just three wins shy of tying the late Joe Biondolillo Jr. for second on the all time wins list at 53.

Joe Warren of Ridge has not only burst upon the Mini Stock scene at the track in 2019, he has taken total control of the Mini Stock class this year winning his 5th race in 8 starts. Newcomer James O’Connell jumped to the lead at the start of the 20-lap tilt chased for the first three laps by Matt Stawecki. On lap 4 Joe warren made his presence known racing by Stawecki for second and setting his sights on race leader O’Connell. Try as he might to ward off the hard charging Warren the 7th lap found O’Connell yielding the lead up the backstretch to Joe. One lap later O’Connell would also lose second to defending champion Paul Wojcik but it mattered not who was in the challengers postition as Joe Warren Jr. was pulling away for a 10=car length victory. The win also shot Warren to the top of the all time win list in the class with 5 breaking a three way tie with Bryan Kelly and Mike Mujsce Jr. who won 4 times each. Wojcik of Centereach was second in the Energy Kinetics machine with Tom Puccia of Shirley third with his On Site Cleaning Service racer.

In the 40-lap 4/6-Cylinder Gut & Go event second generation wheel man John Palmeri of Lindenhurst scored the victory in his J&J Towing entry. Action was hot and heavy throughout the race but Palmeri rose above it all taking the lead just after the halfway point of the race. Peter Verwys of East Rockaway was second while Jason Savoy of Lake Panamoka was third.

With all the racing completed it was time for the event a majority of the SRO crowd came to see, the School Bus Demolition Derby rolled onto the track and what followed was another hard hitting contest. The event saw two buses actually have their bodies knocked clear off the chassis as the crowd roared with delight. In the end it would again boil down to “The Punisher” Paul Fox of Riverhead and “Cheesebox” Michael Rommeney of Bohemia and like two heavyweight boxers they went toe-to-toe. Fox would score the winning hit that knocked the drive shaft out of Rommeney’s bus. 

NASCAR Modifieds: 1. Dylan Slepian 2. Tom Rogers Jr. 3. Dave Brigati 4. Kyle Soper 5. John Beatty Jr. 6. John Fortin Sr. 7. CJ Lehmann 8. Dave Sapienza 9. Jason Agugliaro 10. Michael Rutkoski 11. Eric Zeh 12. Chris Young 13. John Baker DNS- Roger Turbush, Craig Lutz

Late Models: 1. Chris Turbush 2. Jeremy McDermott 3. Scott Kulesa 4. Shawn Patrick 5. Ray Minieri 6. Kevin Metzger

Crate Modifieds: 1. Matthew Brode 2. Peter Bertuccio 3. Chris Rogers 4. Justin Brown 5. Sean Glennon 6. Dave Brigati 7. Terry Stiles 8. Alex Colasanto 9. Dennis Krupski 10. AJ DeSantis 11. Charlie Macwhinnie 12. Carey Rogers 13. Lou Maestri 14.

Mike Albasini 15. Jason Hansen DNS- Glenn Simonin

Figure Eights: 1. Tom Rogers Jr. 2. Eric Zeh 3. Tom Ferrara 4. CJ Lehmann 5. Gary Fritz Jr. 6. Joe Warren Jr. 7. Scott Pedersen 8. Bob Dalke 9. Charles Macwhinnie Sr. 10. Bryan Quilliam 11. Ken Hyde Jr. 12. Vinny Delaney 13. Paul Cummings

Mini Stocks: 1. Joe Warren Jr. 2. Paul Wojcik 3. Tom Puccia 4. Chris Elixson 5. Jamie Meyer 6. James O’Connell 7. Scott Phillips 8. Joe Cooke Jr. 9. Thomas Cocozza 10. Brad Bess 11. Justin Squires 12. Matt Stawecki

Git & Go 4/6-Cylinder Enduro (top ten) 1. John Palmeri 2. Peter Verwys 3. Jason Savoy 4. Christian Conklin 5. Rob Savoy 6. Joey Palmeri 7. Ryan Warren 8. Eric Germuth 9. Tim Daly 10. Vinny Abbatiello Jr.

School Bus Demolition Derby: Winner- Paul Fox

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  1. Another good run for Ray Christian finishing 12th in the 250; other SNE drivers like Ryan Kuhn and Jake Johnson had good runs early but faded. Is Ryan a relative of former Modified Tour driver Jimmy Kuhn?

  2. good to see Sapienza racing again

  3. Fast Eddie says

    Chris, I think Ryan is Jimmy Kuhn’s son. Ryan actually ran the Modified in a few races but did not do very well. However, Ryan has been doing really well in Late Models and Legends cars.

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