Dylan Slepian Rolls To Modified Victory At Riverhead Raceway

(Press Release from Riverhead Raceway)

In today’s world of “over the counter” chassis in NASCAR Modified racing a rarity of sorts unfolded Saturday night at Riverhead Raceway when up and coming Dylan Slepian of Dix Hills scored his second career victory in a 50-lap affair. Slepian drove a brand new car that he along with car owner Rob Pelis and team members designed and built during the off season.

The race got off on the wrong foot when Justin Brown got out of shape on the initial start and a grinding crash unfolded just before the starters stand eliminating not only Brown but also the cars of Dave Brigati who came to the race as the championship leader and defending champion Kyle Soper. John Baker was involved but able to continue. When the race did go green CJ Lehmann broke to the early race lead with Chris Young challenging Lehmann early on. Lehmann who chose the top side for the second attempt at starting the race would lead Young until the 11th lap when Dylan Slepian made an inside pass of Young for second. 

Like his pass on Young for second Slepian seemed to like the inside lane and he would use that groove to mount his challenges on Lehmann for the lead. The two rubbed nerf bars here and there with Dylan pulling alongside CJ a few times but the leader was able to use the top groove to maintain a slight lead. However on lap 19 Slepian gained a big run under Lehmann entering the first turn and drove out front. Once to the lead Slepian got away from Lehmann who was soon under attack from former Crate Modified champion Michael Rutkoski. Like the earlier battle for the lead Lehmann and Rutkoski went toe to toe with Rutkoski taking second on lap 36.

Over the final 10-lap segment of the race Rutkoski started to cut into the lead Slepain was able to build while the new challenger was battling for second and in the closing laps Michael, the 2019 Rookie of the Year may just of had the better car but time would run out and Dylan Slepian steering the Eastport Feeds Chevy took home the hard earned victory. Speaking about the process of building the chassis from scratch Dylan admitted in the winner’s circle, “it was quite the experience watching and being part of the process. I can’t thank Rob Pelis enough for this opportunity he’s the ringmaster of our circus” referring to the fact that two NASCAR Modifieds and two Late Models race out of the RP Fabricating shop.

Michael Rutkoski of Mattituck knocking on the door of his first career win in the Buzz Chew Chevrolet entry was runner-up while Tom Rogers Jr. of Riverhead drove from the rear of the field to complete the podium in the License To Chill Chevy. John Baker of Brookhaven made a charge from the back for fourth while Roger Turbush of Riverhead completed the top five.

It would be a milestone 20th career victory in the 40-lap Late Model feature for defending champion Jeremy McDermott of Riverhead who also races out of the Rob Pelis Motorsports shop. Brandon Turbush of Manorville set the standard in qualifying with a lap of 12.674 earning him the pole for the race with McDermott second quick at 12.700. When the green flag dropped it would be outside pole sitter McDermott racing out front gaining the advantage over Turbush. With 19 career wins under his belt along with multiple championships McDermott once again was able to pull away to a comfortable lead in the RP Fabricating Pontiac. With the entire 40-lap distance run without a caution the later stages of the race found Jeremy McDermott out for a Saturday evening drive one he’d enjoy to the conclusions. Brandon Turbush brought the Sea Pro Marine Dock Builders Chevy home second with Jarrod Hayes of Calverton in the L.I. Poultry Chevy third. 

As a youngster Michael Berner would sit in the grandstands at Riverhead Raceway and sit and watch as his uncle, Tom Rogers Jr. won numerous NASCAR Modified, Figure Eight and Late Model races. Saturday night the teenage rookie bearing his uncle’s #9 on his Eagle Auto Mall Crate Modified drove to the winner’s circle while Uncle Tom and the rest of his family beamed with pride when the checker flew on the Crate Modified 25-lap main event. Starting on the front row Berner took the lead at the throw of the green with Mike Albasini in tow over the first three laps. Lap four saw Eric Hersey who earlier in the night won his first career Legend Race car feature make his way to second. Hersey, like Berner is a rookie driver in the class was able to stay in the race leaders tire tracks but close would be as good as it would get. At the checker Michael Berner of Patchogue drove his M3 Technologies Chevy to victory. Hersey of Commack was runner-up in the Chevalley Plumbing & Heating Chevy while the race winner’s cousin Chris Rogers of Patchogue was third in the Captain Ralph’s Seafood Safari entry.

Tom Ferrara of Patchogue led flag to flag won win the 15-lap Figure Eight feature event for his 15th career win that ties him with Tommy “Gigs” Ryan for 10th on the all time win list. Over the first seven laps of the contest opening night winner Scott Pedersen gave chase to leader Tom Ferrara before Tom’s teammate Joey “Bam Bam” Warren made his way by for second on lap 8. With smoke trailing from his machine Warren try as he might could not catch Ferrara for the race lead and win and in the end Tom Ferrara in the Beach Collision Cadillac STS took what was for him an emotional win. “To tie Tommy Ryan is not just like tying any other driver, it’s like tying a family member who I looked up to” Ferrara noted when speaking of Ryan who now is a lead fabricator at Hendrick Motorsports in North Carolina. Warren of Ridge was runner-up in the Sayville South Bay Auto Repair racer while Scott Pedersen of Shirley was third in his Vecchio Motorsports Chevy left wondering aloud why the second place car was not black flagged for the smoke. 

If you race or watch racing long enough you realize that sometimes it is just as important to be as it is to be good. Saturday night in the 20-lap Blunderbust feature Alyssa Paprocky of Rocky Point fit that bill when she won her second career event. At the throw of the green flag Paprocky was able to move to the race lead from the front row and lead the first 5 laps of the contest. Lap 6 found Jim Laird Jr. work his way around Paprocky for the lead and once to the front Laird went to work on building what appeared to be an insurmountable lead. Enter the better to be lucky than good formula as the field was about to take the two to go signal. While racing down the backstretch Laird’s car suddenly veered to the infield after slowing going through the third and fourth turn the victim of rear end failure on the car. With two laps to go Paprocky who was enjoying her best effort of ’20 found herself the race leader again and drove to victory in the Elite Comfort Group Caprice. Cody Triola of Bay Shore was runner-up in the Drexler Construction machine while Tom Pickerell of Huntington came home third with the Stargaze Outdoor Movies Chevy.

He is barely in his 20’s but defending Super Pro Truck champion Mark Stewart of Riverhead scored a milestone 25th career victory in their 20-lap feature event driving for truck owner “Dangerous” Dave Koenig. Former champion Frank Dumicich Sr. showed the way over the first three laps chased by Joe Cerabino for the first lap with Mark Stewart getting by for second on lap 2. After two laps of chasing Dumicich and sizing him up for a pass Stewart made what would be the winning move with an inside pass in turn three just prior to starting the 4th lap. With a non stop race in the offering there was no catching “The Real Deal” Mark Stewart in the National Metal Chevy. Mark ranks third on the all time SPT win list behind Lou Maestri (33) and his uncle Roger Turbush (30). “Mad” Max Handley of Medford had a solid outing in the Hydro Action Chevy coming home second while Jack Handley Jr. of Medford was third in the East End Builders Chevy.

Just a week removed from being spun from the Legend Race Car lead in the final turn of the final lap Eric Hersey rebounded in stellar fashion Saturday winning his first career 20-lap feature. A strong running Scott Cheslak broke to the early lead over Patrick Moore who ran second for the first two laps before being passed to the inside on the front stretch by Eric Hersey. After trailing leader Cheslak for three laps Hersey made his bid for the race lead on lap 6 payoff working his way around Scott for the lead. Cheslak remained second behind Hersey until lap 12 when he was passed by Ray Fitzgerald who took on the challengers role. However soon Fitzgerald would be challenged for second by Allan Pedersen which was music to the ears of the race leader Hersey who was able to sneak away some. Pedersen was able to sneak by Fitzgerald on lap 18 during a late race double file restart but his run in second was also short lived as Kevin Nowak came to second on the final lap of the race. With all the dueling for second behind him Eric Hersey was finally a feature winner in his Long Island Luau machine owned by Bolland Motorsports. Nowak of Medford with a strong late race charge was runner-up in the JTEC Electric entry while Pedersen of Center Moriches was third in “The Boiler Guy” racer.

After a see-saw battle with Robert Savoy of Medford, Chris Olivari of Coram won his first career 4/6-Cylinder Gut & Go Enduro in a 50-lap tilt. Savoy started on the pole and would lead until lap 23 when Olivari, who started the race 15th made his way out front. However lapped traffic allowed Savoy to reclaim the race lead on lap 25 but Olivari came roaring back on lap 30 to take the race lead this time for good in his self funded car. Bob Haeger of Hampton Bays made a late race charge for second in his 27 Dollar band entry while two time winner John Palmeri of Lindenhurst was third in the J&J Towing Acura. 

NASCAR Modifieds: 1. Dylan Slepian 2. Michael Rutkoski 3. Tom Rogers Jr. 4. John Baker 5. Roger Turbush 6. Howie brode 7. Chris Young 8. CJ Lehmann 9. Glen Steger 10. Justin Brown 11. Kyle Soper 12. Dave Brigati DNS- Kyle Ellwood

Late Models: 1. Jeremy McDermott 2. Brandon Turbush 3. Jarrod Hayes 4. Dylan Slepian 5. Chris McGuire 6. Chris Turbush 7. Kevin Metzger 8. Shawn Patrick 9. Ray Minieri

Crate Modifieds: 1. Michael Berner 2. Eric Hersey 3. Chris Rogers 4. Matt Brode 5. Justin Brown 6. Owen Grennan 7. Richie Davidowitz 8. Sean Glennon 9. Lou Maestri 10. Terry Stiles 11. Steve Ratti 12. John Baker 13. Jason Hansen 14. Peter Bertuccio 15. Alex Colasanto 16. Eddie Schutze 17. Mike Albasini 18. AJ DeSantis 19. Gerard Lawrence

Figure Eights (unofficial) 1. Tom Ferrara 2. Joe Warren Jr. 3. Scott Pedersen 4. CJ Lehmann 5. Bryan Quilliam 6. Bob Dalke 7. Ryan Zukowski 8. Chris Elliott DNS- Artie Pedersen III

Blunderbusts: 1. Alyssa Paprocky 2. Cody Triola 3. Tom Pickerell 4. Max Handley 5. Bill Wegmann Sr. 6. Tom Sullivan 7. Kyle Halpin 8. Jim Laird Jr. 9. Eddie Diaz 10. Gary Caldwell

Super Pro Trucks: 1. Mark Stewart 2. Max Handley 3. Jack Handley Jr. 4. Joe Cerabino 5. Lou Maestri 6. Sean Glennon 7. Frank Dumicich Jr. 8. Ethan Brown 9. Jimmy Rennick Jr. 10. Frank Dumicich Sr. 11. Daniel Creegan 12. Chad McDonald

Legend Race Cars: 1. Eric Hersey 2. Kevin Nowak 3. Allan Pedersen 4. Ray Fitzgerald 5. Joey Braun 6. Jason Castaldo 7. Jim Sylvester 8. Shawn Wanat 9. Jerry Curran 10. Ed Cheslak 11. George Tomko Jr. 12. Mike Benton 13. Colin Volpe 14. Jeff Farruggia Jr. 15. Tony Colandro 16. Patrick Moore 17. Mike Van Houten Sr. 18. Nick Morabito 19. Scott Cheslak 20. Chris Sinatro 21. Dave Strohmeyer 22. Charlie Hodge 23. Jonathan Parsons 24. Brad Van Houten 25. Frank Hodge 26.  Rich Braun

4/6-Cylinder Gut & Go Enduro: 1. Chris Olivari 2. Bob Haeger 3. John Palmeri 4. Rob Savoy 5. Franky Abbatiello 6. Joey Palmeri Jr. 7. David White 8. Michael Bianco 9. Donny Oliver 10. Frank Raynor 11. Mark Russo 12. David Olivari 13. Patrick McGay 14. Jack Tessa 15. Patrick Collins 16. Ray Stulz 17.Mark Raynor 18. Vincent Abbatiello Jr. 19. David Cohen 20. Thomas Coyle 21. Bill Daly 22. Woot Lawrence 23. Vincent Abbatiello Sr. 24. Jason Savoy Unclassified: Kim Hyde, Chloe Phillips, Jody Fickeissen, Ed Primavera, Alin Spirea 


  1. When you want something done right, do it yourself!!!

    Roll you own, nice job.

  2. If you look at the car counts, I believe it is time for an SK type of Modified Class at Riverhead. 13 cars for your premier division. PATHETIC

  3. Ken i do think you have to take in consideration the GLOBAL PANDEMIC, no fans and the hit on Economy EVEN on LONG GUYLAND, NOT SAYING the field has been strong the last few years but i think 2020 has to be given a pass, hopefully NOT 2021

  4. Some additional considerations.
    -they had a 122 cars in attendance, 96 if you take out the enduro’s. Pandemic or not that’s a loaded show.
    -they had 12 tour type modifieds on a really small track. Not far off from the 16 they got typically last year.
    -SK’s are a Connecticut phenomenon centered in Stafford and mostly thriving in only Stafford. They’ve never shown real potential to become a Stafford rules type regional division. If anything the trend is more toward tour type modifieds gravitating to open events in large numbers. If you need to have a premier division with some punch more affordable then tour types the top level performance crates seem to make the most sense economically.
    -SK’s are expensive. The engine guys can weigh in but how much more tour type engines are that now seem to be thriving regionally as opens become more fashionable.
    -change tour type modifieds to anything else and you eliminate all the options Long Island teams have to reach out to PA, NY, NJ and into New England for tour type events.

    Streaming is a thing now. Staffords $20 pretty fair compared to Riverheads $25.
    I guess we’ll see over the winter if this streaming thing is more a pandemic necessity to make racing viable or if it has legs into the future at local tracks.
    I can definitely see a scenario where I’m buying Riverhead archived events over the winter if they are similar to Staffords $10 replay and making it a regular weekend event.

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