Brian Rygielski Jr., scores Evergreen Raceway 602 Crate Modified Victory after front runners collide

For Evergreen Raceway the third time was the charm in finally getting the 2024 season of weekly racing underway after twice being rained out, and it was racing under the lights for the first time also for owner/promoter Jason Makarewicz as the track hosted a Saturday evening program.

In the headline class 602 Crate Modifieds, Brian Rygielski Jr., of Wilkes-Barre picked up the Opening Night victory and one that was well earned and overdue.

When front runners Jayden Harman and Paulie Hartwig III collided just as they were about to receive the white flag, Rygielski, who was maintaining third spot at the time, stopped in avoiding them. He was then placed at the head of the field and for the final two trips around would hold off Steve Shultz in garnering his first win in almost two years.

For Rygielski, he knows all too well what it means to be in the same position as Harman and Hartwig. Last year especially when on several occasions he was caught up in the same type of scenarios and saw chances of victory slip away.

“This feels like a major relief. Last season wasn’t the best for us with a lot of hard luck moments but getting this win right out of the blocks is hopefully a sign of good things to come,” said the 17-year old Rygielski.

When the race got underway pole sitter Harman took to the early lead over Shultz and they soon began a close nose-to-tail battle.

Although leading, Harman had his hands full in fending off Shultz who stayed glued to his rear bumper. Hartwig meanwhile had maneuvered his way to third and when a caution flew after 17 laps he was able to overtake Shultz for the runner-up spot on the restart.

From there the action really increased as the Harman and Hartwig began an intensified duel. Lap after lap Hartwig was trying to get by and each time his efforts were foiled as Harman stood his ground.

Rygielski meanwhile, had taken over third after a lap 20 restart and was getting an eyeful of the close racing unfolding in front of him.

“I had a vision in my head that maybe something was going to happen and sure enough it did. I was taking it easy and just waiting for something to play out,” said Rygielski.

That it did. After his persistent and unyielding tries to pass Harman, Hartwig made what he had hoped would be his race winning move but instead it turned sour when exiting turn four at the completion of lap 33, he made contact with the leader. Harman spun and taken in was Hartwig.

Rygielski, who had stopped just in the nick of time to escape the incident, was now the new leader. When the action resumed Shultz passed Micah Adams for second and despite his hard fought efforts, Rygielski stood his ground and drove to the win.

“Those two guys are top runners everywhere they go and are tough to beat but for us we were able to take advantage of their mistake tonight,” said Rygielski on Harman and Hartwig.

“It happened a bunch last year to us it seemed and those are always tough. But tonight it showed that there’s always light at the end of the tunnel.”

            Not only was the racing thrilling with the 602 Modifieds but likewise in the support classes as well.

            In the Street Stocks Gordie Buchman Jr., of Drums, picked the pole position for the 30 lap main and would then have a heated battle with two-time and defending champions Mike Pollack.

            They would then engage in a torrid battle with Buchman clinging to a narrow lead as Pollack relentlessly pursued him.

            But seeking his first ever win and with looming weather zeroing in, Buchman was clutching to the front spot while Pollack tried time and again to get by.

            When the race reached the hallway way mark so too did rain and one lap latter the event was stopped and, giving Buchman his elusive first win. It was also the first win in 28 years since having a Buchman in Victory Lane as he joined the ranks of his dad and former class champion, Gordon Buchman.

            The Four Cylinders had an electrifying race to the checkers as Lehighton’s Johnny Bennett passed teammate Larry Spencer III with one lap to go.

            Spencer had been leading since a lap four but in the waning circuits there was a white knuckle battle with the front runners which also included a third teammate, Rebecca Barbush.

            Bennett made use of the inside lane to pull off his race winning maneuver over Spencer and would start off the year the same way he ended in, with a victory.

            Conner Shotwell of Schnecksville, parlayed his pole starting spot into a career first victory in the Novice feature.

            At the drop of the race commencing green Shotwell took control and never looked back, keeping runner-up Kaitlyn Makarewicz at bay the entire distance.

602 Modified feature finish (35 laps): 1. Brian Rygielski Jr., 2. Steve Shultz, 3. Micah Adams, 4. Jayden Harman, 5. Paulie Hartwig III, 6. Rick Smith, 7. Kevin Makarewicz, 8. Deegen Underwood, 9. Paul French Jr.

Street Stock feature finish (30 laps): 1. Gordie Buchman Jr., 2. Mike Pollack, 3. Ken Erney III, 4. Bobby Kibler Jr., 5. Mark Spencer, 6. Tommy Flanagan, 7. Amber Knecht, 8. Cory Derr, 9. Brewster Baker, 10. Mike Odwazny, 11. Rich Moser Jr., 12. Dennis Buss, 13. Anthony Tombasco

Four Cylinder feature finish (25 laps): 1. Johnny Bennett, 2. Larry Spencer III, 3. Rebecca Barbush, 4. Jared Frye, 5. Maggie Yeakel, 6. Ralph Borger Jr., 7. Mike Frable, 8. Tyler Skordensky, 9. Jay Kanor, 10. Lauren Skupski, 11. Nicholas Kerstetter, 12. Bob Wink, 13. Brian Romig Jr., 14. BJ Wambold, 15. Jacob Knittle

Novice feature finish (12 laps): 1. Connor Shotwell, 2. Caitlian Makarewicz, 3. Sarabeth Mesko, 4. Daniel Kaminsky, 5. Savannah Romig, 6. Al Gildner

Evergreen Raceway PR