Kyle Soper Wins Modified Feature, Celebrates Third Riverhead Championship In Four Years

(Press Release from Riverhead Raceway)

Kyle Soper of Manorville celebrated his third Buzz Chew Chevrolet NASCAR Modified title in the past four seasons at Riverhead Raceway the only way he knows how, with a victory in the regular season finale. Soper, 25 came to the 50-lap event not only having secured the Riverhead title but also on Friday he was announced as the New York State champion in Division 1 of the Advance Auto Parts Weekly Series. 

Early on Jack Handley Jr. and Roger Turbush went toe to toe for the race lead with Handley leading the first four laps before Turbush moved out front with an inside pass off turn four to start lap 5. Handley would reclaim the race lead on lap 9 during a double file restart with Turbush spinning on lap later on lap 10 to draw another Caution. When the field was called to order Handley now had to contend with Chris Turbush on the double file restart with Kyle Soper lurking in third after starting 8th. When the green reappeared Handley who chose the outside at the choose cone was under pressure from Chris Turbush who was attempting to make Handley uncomfortable up top. 

After watching the Handley-Turbush tussle for a few laps Soper seeking his 5th win of ’21 decided it was go time working his way by Turbush first on lap 13. Just two circuits later Kyle steering the Eastport Feeds Chevy worked his way into position that allowed him to make inside run at leader Handley exiting the second turn, a run that paid off with the race lead. Once out front Soper quickly put distance between himself and Handley who was now under pressure from Dylan Slepian for second. Slepian did get by Handley on lap 23 for second and had one restart opportunity to make a run at his good friend Soper for the win. However not only did that not pan out for Slepian but he’d later surrender second to Eddie Brunnhoeolzl III on lap 30 during another double file restart.

Over the final 20 circuits Kyle Soper just hit his marks keeping all foes at a comfortable distance behind him to secure his 24th career win and sixth overall track title. Kyle who aside from his NASCAR Modified titles won two Late Model championships in 2017 & 2018 as well the 2014 INEX Legend Race Car title commented afterwards, “no matter what others think, our success comes from nothing more than hard work”. Soper, a 40-time winner over four classes at Riverhead continued, “I can’t thank Wayne & Joette Anderson my owners, Doug & Mora Corwin of Eastport Feeds and all our sponsors for having the faith in me they do”. 

In his best performance of 2021 Eddie Brunnhoelzl III of Levittown was a solid runner-up in the North Fork Sanitation Chevy, Dylan Slepian of Dix Hills soldered home third in his Eastport Feeds Chevy. Michael Rutkoski of Mattituck and Chris Young of Calverton were fourth and fifth.

The driver who took over the seat of the Rob Pelis Late Model after Kyle Soper won back to back titles in 2017 & 2018, Jeremy McDermott of Riverhead clinched his third consecutive LM title with a win in their 40-lap finale. The 2021 title is Jeremy’s sixth overall LM title having won three with former owner Jim Wichert, while for owner Pelis  his fifth consecutive LM championship. Chris McGuire paced the first 10-laps of the contest leading Jerry Giordano for the first four laps and then Brandon Turbush from laps 5 through 9. Jeremy McDermott who stated 9th on the 15 car grid made his way to second on lap 10 and as he did a well placed caution flag waved setting up a double file restart with McGuire. When the race resumed Jeremy McDermott was able to get the measure of Chris McGuire for the race lead.  Once out front in the RP Fabricating Chevy there was no stopping Jeremy McDermott from a milestone 25th career victory and the 2021 Late Model crown. Among the first to greet Jeremy was Town of Rivehead Supervisor Yvette Aquiar. Brandon Turbush of Manorville came home second in the Sea Pro Marine Dock Builders entry while Dave Brigati of Calverton roared back after early race contact for third place money in the Coors Light Chevy.

In what could very well have been his last race, fourth generation driver Mark Stewart of Riverhead went out a winner as he won his third Eagle Auto Mall Crate Modified feature in a 25-lap affair. For the first 15-laps of the race veteran Dennis Krupski and rookie Rich Gerbe raced for the lead, a battle that included numerous double file restarts. It would be such a restart that changed the complexion of the race on lap 14 when as they raced to the green flag off four both cars got loose and bounced off each other setting off a multi car pile-up. Aside from Krupski and Gerbe, Eddie Schutze and Lou Maestri were involved with Maestri the only driver to continue. When the field was lined up Mark Stewart who started the race 6th and championship leader Richie Davidowitz who came from 11th on the gird now ran one-two. Davidowitz, who was trying to ward off Owen Grennan for his second straight Crate Modified title ran second to Stewart for just the 15th lap before AJ DeSantis made his way to second after starting 7th. Over the final 9 laps of the race however it was “The Real Deal” Mark Stewart bringing the Cromers Market Chevy home for the victory. Stewart, an accomplished softball player will look to do more of that in 2022. AJ DeSantis of Yaphank was runner-up in the Amish Electric Chevy with “Big Money” Richie Davidowitz third in the Benimax Trucking Chevy. That finish, coupled with Grennan coming home right behind Richie in fourth sewed up the 2021 Crate Modified championship for Davidowitz and car owner Stan Morabito.

In what truly could be termed a good news, bad news scenario Tom Ferrara of Patchogue scored a milestone 20th career Figure Eight win when he won their 15-lap main event. That was the good news. The bad news was he fell short in the 2021 championship chase as Scott Pedersen of Shirley secured his second career championship, his first in ten years since winning in 2011. Gary Fritz Jr. broke to the early race lead and over the first two thirds of the race seemed to have the field covered. However Tom Ferrara who sat second behind Fritz since the throw of the green made his move to take the race lead on lap 11 with an inside pass. Just one lap later Scott Pedersen worked his way around Fritz for second which was more than enough to secure the 2021 title. Over the final three laps Tom Ferrara drove to the victory in his Beach Auto Collision Cadillac, his third of ’21. Scott Pedersen steering the Benny Vecchio owned, Land Air & Water Environmental Camaro was runner-up taking the 2021 championship in the process. Scott’s nephew Allan Pedersen was third in the Top Notch Performance Chevy.

Blunderbust veteran Jim Laird Jr. of Ridge experienced a 2021 unlike any other in his driving career. A season filled with misfortune turned into joy Saturday as Jim won the 20-lap feature event for his 10th career win tying him with good friend Rob Bader for 11th on the all time win list.  77-year young Bill Wegmann Sr led the first lap of the tilt before giving way to Jim Laird Jr. who quickly made his way from fifth to the race lead. One lap later Wegmann was passed for second by Eddie Diaz and for the following 15-laps Diaz would pursue Laird. The race looked like it would go green to checker when suddenly on lap 18 Diaz spun from second drawing the only caution of the race. For the green, white & checker finish Laird was lined up with five time winner “Mad” Max Handley for the restart and over the final half mile Handley threw all he could at the leader. However Jim Laird Jr. was not going to be denied after the season he endured and drove the Stakey’s Pumpkin Farm Caprice home to victory. Max Handley of Medford was second in the All American Auto Wreckers Caprice while “Hubcap” Brandon Hubbard of Mastic was third in the United Exhaust Shop entry. Cody Triola of Bay Shore on the strength of a fourth place finish won his first career Blunderbust championship in the Cesspool Pros entry.Cody led from start to finish in the championship chase after his opening night win on May 1st. 

In a none stop 20-lap Super Pro Truck event Joe Cerabino of Bay Shore would lead all the way to score his second win of 2021 as well of his career. Cerabino and Ethan Brown brought the small 8 truck field to green and while the race may have lacked quantity it would provide some quality. While Joe Cerabino led all the way in the Victory Mixed Martial Arts Chevy to score the win, the brothers Handley, Jack & Max were slugging it out for the 2021 SPT championship. With Cerabino long gone the Handley brothers were running in tight quarters to second place Ethan Brown. Both Max and Jack tried their hand at getting by the 16-year old Brown for second but with the title sitting in the balance neither wanted to make an error. What ensued was a torrid three truck battle for second that had the fans peaked interest. When the checkers flew Ethan Brown of Floral Park staved off the challenges to score runner-up money in the Foos Fire Inc. Chevy while Max Handley was third in the Hollis Court Collision entry. However with older brother Jack right behind him in fourth, Jack would clinch his second straight championship for truck owners Andre & Amy Vega and their River Walk Bar & Grill team. Lou & Tracy Maestri once again presented the Joe DiGangi Crew Chief of the Race Award to the winning crew chief, Keith Rotzi of Joe Cerabino’s team. 

Third generation driver Sean McElearney of North Babylon became the youngest driver, 15-years old, to win a INEX Legend Race Car event when he won Saturday night’s 20-lap feature event. Early on Christopher Coleman and Chris Sinatro battled for the lead before Sinatro was passed for second on lap 3 by Jim Sylvester. Sylvester chased Coleman for the following three laps before Sean McElearney, who started from 5th made an inside pass of Sylvester entering the third turn. After spending two laps chasing leader Coleman, McElearney made an inside move exiting the fourth turn to take the lead of the race to start the 9th lap. A Chase Van Houten spin on lap 10 set up a double file restart where Sylvester worked his way by Coleman for second. On lap 13 Riely O’Keefe slipped by Sylvester for second but his stay there was short lived when one lap later three time winner Anthony Marsh came to second during a restart. A Kevin Ohrnberger spin drew the lap 13 caution. With Marsh, O’Keefe and championship leader George Tomko Jr. all breathing down McElearney’s neck many wondered if the youngster would fold under pressure. Showing great composure over the final six laps Sean McElearney answered the challenge winning his first career feature event in the Finishline Demolition & Masonry machine. Anthony Marsh of Riverhead was second in the Riverhead Trailer entry, Riely O’Keefe of Manorville was third in the Mil-Aero Solutions mount. With his fourth place finish George Tomko Jr. of Aquebogue, after finishing in the bridesmaid role two years in a row clinched the 2021 INEX Legend Race Car championship with his Montauk Distilling team. 

NASCAR Modifieds: 1. Kyle Soper 2. Eddie Brunnhoelzl III 3. Dylan Slepian 4. Michael Rutkoski 5. Chris Young 6. Jack Handley Jr. 7. Justin Brown 8. Chris Turbush 9. Chris Rogers 10. John Baker 11. Roger Turbush 12. Artie Pedersen III 13. Dave Brigati 14. Max Handley DQ-Tom Rogers Jr. DQ- Matt Brode

Late Models: 1. Jeremy McDermott 2. Brandon Turbush 3. Dave Brigati 4. Chris McGuire 5. Russ Jansen 6. Jerry Giordano 7. Kevin Metzger 8. Ethan Brown 9. Aylssa Paprocky 10. Ray Minieri 11. Rusty Turbush 12. Brian Doyle 13. Shawn Patrick 14. Ed Cheslak DNS- Scott Cheslak

Crate Modifieds: 1. Mark Stewart 2. AJ DeSantis 3. Richie Davidowitz 4. Owen Grennan 5. Michael Berner 6. Sean Glennon 7. Vinny Delaney 8. Mike Albasini 9. Alex Colasanto 10. Mark Wolf 11. Eric Hersey 12. Chris Rogers 13. Chase Grennan 14. Lou Maestri 15. Brian Brown 16. Dennis Krupski 17. Rich Gerbe 18. Terry Stiles 19. Eddie Schutze 20. Matt Brode 21. Kyle Ellwood 22. Stephen Coleman 23. Charles Macwhinnie

Figure Eights: 1. Tom Ferrara 2. Scott Pedersen 3. Allan Pedersen 4. Gary Fritz Jr. 5. Vinny Delaney 6. Bob Dalke 7. Kim Hyde 8. Paulo Miguel 9. Johnny Vullo DNS-Joe Warren Jr.

Blunderbusts: 1. Jim Laird Jr. 2. Max Handley 3. Brandon Hubbard 4. Cody Triola 5. Ron Langdon 6. Tom Sullivan 7. Eddie Diaz 8. Bill Wegmann Jr. 9. Kyle Halpin 10. Bill Wegmann Sr. 11. Joshua Creel 12. Alyssa Paprocky

Super Pro Trucks: 1. Joe Cerabino 2. Ethan Brown 3. Max Handley 4. Jack Handley Jr. 5. Mark Stewart 6. Matt Triola 7. Daniel Creegan 8. Lou Maestri

Legend Race Cars: 1. Sean McElearney 2. Anthony Marsh 3. Riely O’Keefe 4. George Tomko Jr. 5. Eric Hersey 6. Ray Fitzgerald 7. Nick Morabito 8. Christopher Coleman 9. Chris Sinatro 10. Allan Pedersen 11. Brad Van Houten 12. Jason Agugliaro 13. Jerry Curran 14. Jake Curran 15. Pat Moore 16. Charlie Hodge 17. Jeff Otto Jr. 18. Tony Colandro Jr. 19. Mike Van Houten Jr. 20. Jim Sylvester 21. Rob Henninger 22. Chase Van Houten 23. Dave Strohmeyer 24. Jayden Glennerster 25. Kevin Ohrnberger 26. Keith Luppens 

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