THOMPSON, Conn. — Story, audio and photo by Race Chaser Online New England Correspondent Kyle Souza —
Cutting his teeth at Riverhead Raceway in New York, Timmy Solomito only dreamed he could move up to the top level and score a win on the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour. Sunday, in front of a packed house at the IceBreaker at Thompson, that dream came true.
The 24-year-old Islip, N.Y. driver grabbed the lead from Ryan Preece with a dive-bomb move in turn three at lap 117 and held off challenges from Justin Bonsignore and Preece to score his first career victory on NASCAR’s oldest touring series.
“It’s pretty cool to come from a 1/4 mile bullring beating and banging and bumping,” Solomito told Race Chaser Online. “But, to come out here to Thompson and get a win on a big track like this in front of a great crowd like this is just incredible. You dream of days like this, when they come true, it’s just a great feeling.”
Solomito qualified 13th on Saturday after going out second during the time trial session. The more cars that took time, the faster they got. That disadvantage of going out early on cost Solomito a solid starting spot, but it wasn’t hard for him to work through the field.
“You always have a little bit of concern not qualifying well because track position on the tour is so important,” Solomito said. “Everyone is so equal. I knew we had a balanced race car, we just had a bad draw in qualifying. We came out here knowing what we had to do, we picked them off just one-by-one.”
Doug Coby selected the outside lane for the initial start of the IceBreaker 150, but Ryan Preece from the bottom was able to take his TS Haulers No. 6 to the point right from the green. Preece took off out front — dominating the opening 81 laps of the event. The first half of the race saw Preece tear through lapped traffic, opening up more than a half-straightaway lead over third place.
Coby settled for second for the first half, trying to keep up with Preece while struggling through some of the lapped traffic. Behind them, Donny Lia held onto his third place starting spot with Ron Silk moving up to fourth spot late in the green flag run.
At lap 81, the first caution of the afternoon flew when Jimmy Blewett and Chase Dowling got together coming off turn four. Blewett, driving for the first time with car owner Bob Garbarino, was struggling with the handling on his No. 4 Starret Tools Dodge and the contact with Dowling sent him sideways. The field closed up with Max Zachem taking the wave by the pace car with the lucky dog under the first caution.
During the yellow, pit lane was a busy place. All the lead lap cars came down the strip, with the end result a flashback of the World Series last October. Justin Bonsignore was able to jump through the traffic and go from just inside the top-five all the way to the lead. The M3 Technology No. 51 lead the field back to green over Preece, Coby and Solomito, who had charged through the field. Though he was up to fourth, the pit stop wasn’t uneventful. Contact between Preece and Solomito leaving the pit road concerned the driver of the Flamingo Motorsports No. 16 for just a minute.
“At that point when we hit, you hope it didn’t mess anything up,” Solomito said. “The car was good, we just needed a little bit of tweeking. Maybe it just set it right, right where we needed it. Someone was looking over us.”
Bonsignore was able to get going out front at the green, but it wasn’t long before Solomito pounced. The N.Y. native grabbed the lead on lap 94, jumping out to the point before another caution slowed the action. Blewett once again spun his No. 4, this time with help from BRE Racing driver Rowan Pennink. A lap 106 restart saw Preece give Solomito one last shot, driving to the inside and fighting hard to slide by, but it wasn’t mean to be right away. Preece got back to Solomito and passed him, leading five more laps, but then the dive-bomb move to the inside on lap 117 was all he needed.
Solomito lead the final circuits, “screaming like a little girl,” as he crossed the stripe under the checkered flag first for the first time in his Whelen Tour career. For Preece, after a dominating first half of the race, the second place finish was obviously a little disappointing. After the pit stop, the car just wasn’t exactly the same.
“It wasn’t a wrong adjustment, it was more of just the tires didn’t do what we wanted them to do,” Preece told Race Chaser Online. “We’re still learning this car, but I also feel like we’re pretty far ahead, it was just to free. It would have been a heck of a race if we had what we had in that first run, it was a great run, second place is always good.”
Behind the top-two at the finish was Bonsignore, who was happy with a solid start to the season for his M3 Technology team.
“Last year was a real struggle to get going, so to come out and get through this with a car we’ll admit wasn’t perfect makes me very happy,” Bonsignore said. “We’ve gotta find tune just a little bit. The 16 nailed the setup for the second half, but I’m really happy with my team and we’re really just trying to build off a core group.”
Defending series champion Doug Coby finished fourth Sunday after starting the pole, while while Ron Silk rounded out the top-five. Donny Lia, Eric Goodale, Blewett, Pennink and Woody Pitkat finished out the top-10.
The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour returns to action in two weeks for the annual NAPA Spring Sizzler at Stafford Motor Speedway, April 23-24.
To listen to Race Chaser Online’s full interview with IceBreaker 150 winner Timmy Solomito, click the player below:
RESULTS: NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour IceBreaker 150; Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park; April 10, 2016
- Timmy Solomito
- Ryan Preece
- Justin Bonsignore
- Doug Coby
- Ron Silk
- Donny Lia
- Eric Goodale
- Jimmy Blewett
- Rowan Pennink
- Woody Pitkat
- Chase Dowling
- Max Zachem
- Bobby Santos
- Patrick Emerling
- Matt Swanson
- Shawn Solomito
- Jamie Tomaino
- Rob Summers
- David Sapienza
- Brendon Bock
- Andrew Krause
- Gary McDonald
- Wade Cole
- Jeff Goodale
- Troy Talman
- Craig Lutz
- Melissa Fifield
About the Writer
Kyle Souza is an aspiring Journalism major at the Roger Williams University in Bristol, R.I. Souza is Race Chaser Online’s New England motorsports insider, covering everything from the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour to the NASCAR Whelen All American Series and the PASS North Super Late Models.
When not writing, Souza works at the Seekonk Speedway as the track’s Friday night public address announcer and press writer, and is also the Media Director for both the Granite State Pro Stock Series and the Tri Track Open Modified Series.
Email Kyle at: [email protected]
Follow on Twitter: @Kouza34
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