C.J. Lehman Grabs First Career Riverhead Raceway Modified Victory

(Press Release from Riverhead Raceway)

Third generation driver CJ Lehmann of Shirley lived out his racing dreams Saturday night at Riverhead Raceway as he scored a hard fought first career NASCAR Modified victory in the Ken Heagy Motorsports Chevrolet.

With the “little team that could” having gone through a rough spell over the last month the win could not have come at a better time emotionally or financially. 

Off their heat race results Eric Zeh and CJ Lehmann made up the front row with Zeh assigned the pole choosing to start from what has been the preferred outside lane moving Lehmann to the inside. When the green lights flashed on Lehmann for the first two laps got the measure of Zeh but on lap 3 Eric switched up his game plan making a pass of CJ for the race lead to the inside entering the first turn. Soon thereafter John Baker joined the party for the lead and what unfolded during an extended green flag run would be a fierce race among three former Charger drivers featuring plenty of slicing and dicing but little to no contact between the trio. 

On lap 35 a late race jingle between John Beatty and Michael Rutkoski would put the race under caution and set up what would be a race changing double file restart. Zeh again elected to start in the outside lane dropping Lehmann to the inside. When the race resumed Eric and CJ went toe to toe with Baker waiting in the wings. As the pack came off the fourth turn to start the 36th lap Lehmann’s car got good drive off the fourth turn propelling him back the the race lead. Baker quickly got under Zeh as well for second and with Tom Rogers Jr. and Kyle Soper soon coming to third and fourth. Over the final 15 lap Baker was hot on the heels on Lehmann for the win giving him a nudge once and again to let CJ know he was there.

However when the checker flag flew it would be CJ Lehmann first under it in the Bottle Hampton/Shore Mechanical Chevy and in victory lane the first time winner could hardly contain himself, “Yeah baby! We needed this on so many levels, first off the past month has been tough and more importantly tonight could have been out last race of the year” Lehmann revealed. “With the purse money from the win we can go one more race”. As for the battle for the lead with his former Charger foes CJ noted, “no matter what division we race in Eric, John & I have always raced clean and with respect, it showed tonight”. The elated victor concluded, ” I have to thank Ken Heagy & Debbie Setek-Fleming, they gave me a shot in this car and there were many who doubted we could win, guess we proved ’em wrong”.

For the fifth time this year John Baker of Brookhaven was runner-up in the Staria Automotive Chevy which was actually a back-up car the team dusted off after a August 24th crash hurt their primary car. Defending champion and current championship leader Kyle Soper of Manorville made a late race pass of Tom Rogers Jr. to bring his Eastport Feeds Chevy home third. Rogers and John Beatty Jr. of Merrick completed the top five with Beatty driving back from that lap 35 incident. 

The Late Models would go at it in a 50-lap event with championship leader and 8-time winner Jeremy McDermott setting fast time in qualifying in a blistering lap of 12.380. In the redraw Chris McGuire and Shawn Patrick drew the front row but during hot laps prior to the start of the race a rare oddity struck. McDermott suddenly veered off onto the infield with transmission failure while Jarrod Hayes, another threat for the win joined him when a brake caliper bolt broke. When the race did go green McGuire broke to the lead with Scott Kulesa coming to second. After chasing McGuire for the lead for 6 laps Kulesa ducked to the inside of the race leader down the back stretch to take over the top spot. One lap later McGuire would lose second to his old Charger rival Chris Turbush who passed Chris for second on lap 7. Over the next 15 laps Kulesa and Turbush ran nose to tail until just prior to the halfway mark as on lap 24 entering the first turn Turbush got into the back of Kulesa shooting the leader slightly up the track. Chris took advantage of the opening and drove his Chris Mohr Landscaping Chevy to the race lead. Over the final half of the race Turbush would build an insurmountable lead that he’d take to the finish of the race for his 4th win of 2019 and the 16th of his career. Scott Kulesa of Georgetown, Ma. was runner-up in the Eastport Feeds Chevy while Tom Rogers Jr. drove the Bob Miller Motorsports entry home for a podium finish in third.

One week after heavily damaging his Crate Modified “The King of Queens” Mike Albasini of Bayside rewarded himself and his team after a long week of work in the race shop with his first career victory in a 25-lap event. Taking full advantage of the pole starting position Albasini quickly made his way to the race leader chased by rookie talent Sean Glennon. As the race reached the 10 to go mark Dave Brigati a former two time champion of the Crate Modifieds made his was by Glennon for second with a front stretch pass. If Mike Albasini were to win his first career Crate Modified race he would have to all off an 11 time winner in the class to do so. Low and behold Albasini, a 13-time Super Pro Truck winner hit his marks in the Hollis Court Collision entry and would take home a well deserved win for he and his team. Dave Brigati of Calverton was second in his Quest Machining & Fabricating entry while championship leader Justin Brown of Manorville was third in the FB Performance Chevy.

For an astounding 8th time in 11 Figure Eight races in 2019 defending champion Tom Rogers Jr. once again prevailed in their 15-lap main event. Gary Fritz Jr. made his way to the early race lead chased by NASCAR Modified winner CJ Lehmann at first. However on lap 3 Eric Zeh raced by Lehmann for second and over the next two laps sized up fritz for a passe for the lead which he completed on lap 5. With Zeh leading and chased by Fritz it started to look like Zeh may very well grab his first career win in the class but a lap 6 caution would change all of those thoughts. On that restart Rogers got by Frtiz for second but still trailed Zeh but that was about to change when another yellow waved on lap 10. On that restart Rogers was able to power by his Keith Repp Racing teammate to put his United Exhaust Shop Chevy Coupe out front for good. Once again Zeh of Selden watched as Tommy drove to his 51st career win and again with Eric coming home second. Tom Ferrara of Patchogue made a nice recovery from an early race pit stop to claim third in the Northeastern Office Equipment Cadillac.

Just minutes after his truck owner won the Crate Modified event Jack Handley Jr. of Medford won a rapidly paced, non-stop 20-lap Super Pro Truck feature for his third win of the season . Frank Dumicich Jr. and rookie Ethan Brown raced for the lead on lap one with Frank having a slight advantage. Jack Handley Jr. made an inside pass of Brown on lap 2 to come to second. After chasing and sizing up Dumicich Handley made his bid for the lead turn his truck hard left off the fourth turn to make an inside pass down the front stretch as the race start it’s 5 lap. Once out front in the Jack Merkel Racing Engine Chevy Jack Handley Jr. lap after lap built on his lead, a lead he enjoy to the finish of the race that was completed in just under 5 minutes. Frank Dumicich Jr. of East Quogue was an impressive runner-up in the Sea Level Construction Chevy while championship leader Mark Stewart of Riverhead was third in the 84 Lumber Chevy.

There was no hotter driver in the Northeast in INEX Legend Race Car competition during the month of August that Kevin Nowak of Medford who scored his fourth Riverhead Raceway win of 2019 in a 30-lap contest. Nowak in August also won at Seekonk Speedway, Wall Stadium and Evergreen Raceway Park. Ray Fitzgerald of Manorville set the standard in qualifying with a lap of 13.760 but when it came time to start the 30-lap tilt defending champion Jim Sylvester broke to the early race lead chased by Nowak and championship leader Richie Davidowitz. On lap 12 Davidowitz moved past Nowak for second and set sail for race leader Sylvester. The top three cars ran under a blanket until lap 22 when slight contact was made between Sylvester and Davidowitz sending Sylvester into a spin from contact officials deemed incidental. When the Sylvester-Davidowitz get together occurred Nowak was more than willing to fill the opening to the inside to take the race lead, a lead the driver of the Allison Auto of Holbrook entry would hold until the checker flag for his 13th career win moving him into sole possession of 4th on the all time win list. On the strength on a lap 24 pass during a restart fat qualifier Ray Fitzgerald placed second in the Benimax Trucking machine while Eric Hersey of Commack was third in the Long Island Luau mount. Davidowitz with perhaps right front suspension damage for the Sylvester contact fell to 5th.

For the sixth time in nine start Joe Warren Jr. of Ridge sat in victory lane at the conclusion of the Mini Stock 20-lap main event. Tom Puccia raced out front at the throw of the green with Joe Warren Jr. making to say the least a bold and quick move from 7th to 2nd on the first lap. After filling Puccia’s mirror for three laps Warren in his self funded racer pitched his car to the inside of Puccia racing up the back stretch to take over the race lead. Once in the lead Joe warren Jr. never looked back scoring yet another win. Tom Puccia of Shirley was second in the Roli Tires entry while defending champion Paul Wojcik of Centereach was third in the Energy Kinetics racer.  

NASCAR Modifieds: 1. CJ Lehmann 2. John Baker 3. Kyle Soper 4. Tom Rogers Jr. 5. John Beatty Jr. 6. Dave Brigati 7. Michael Rutkoski 8. Chris Young 9. Eric Zeh 10. Sal Accardi Jr. 11. Roger Turbush 12. Jimmy Rennick Jr. 13. Dylan Slepian

Late Models: 1. Chris Turbush 2. Scott Kulesa 3. Tom Roger Jr. 4. Chris McGuire 5. Shawn Patrick 6. Darren McCabe 7. Ray Minieri 8. Johnny Vullo Jr. 9. Kevin Metzger 10. Ryan Zukowski 11. Jarrod Hayes 12. Jeremy McDermott

Crate Modifeds: 1. Mike Albasini 2. Dave Brigati 3. Justin Brown 4. Dennis Krupski 5. Sean Glennon 6. Chris Rogers 7. Terry Stiles 8. Peter Bertuccio 9. Alex Colasanto 10. AJ DeSantis 11. Jason Hansen 12. Carey Rogers 13. Gerard Lawrence 14. Matthew Brode 15. Glenn Simonin

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

Super Pro Trucks: 1. Jack Handley Jr. 2. Frank Dumicich Jr. 3. Mark Stewart 4. Lou Maestri 5. Sean Glennon 6. Jimmy Rennick Jr. 7. Ethan Brown 8. Matt Triola 9. Eddie Schutze 10. Joe Cerabino 11. Frank Dumicich Sr.

INEX Legend Race Cars: 1. Kevin Nowak 2. Ray Fitzgerald 3. Eric Hersey 4. Riely O’Keefe 5. Richie Davidowitz 6. Allan Pedersen 7. George Tomko Jr. 8. Jerry Curran 9. Vinny Delaney 10. Colin Volpe 11. Stephen Coleman 12. Patrick Moore 13. Austin Bellemare 14. Joseph Costello 15. Joseph Braun 16. Mike Benton 17. Nick Morabito 18. Scott Cheslak 19. Ed Cheslak 20. Rich Braun 21. Jim Sylvester 22. Jeff Otto Jr. 23. Jason Castaldo 24. Mike Van Houten Jr. 25. Jeffrey Farruggia Jr.

Mini Stocks: 1. Joe Warren Jr. 2. Tom Puccia 3. Paul Wojcik 4. Mike Mujsce Jr. 5. Chris Elixson 6. Jamie Meyer 7. Justin Squires 8. James O’Connell 9. Brad Bess 10. Joe Cooke Jr. 11. CJ Zurkowski 12. Matt Stawecki 13. Scott Phillips 14. Martin O’Connell

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