SOUZA: Solomito Becoming Next Threat on NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour

Kyle Souza Asphalt Modifieds, Featured, Kyle Souza Blog, NASCAR, New England, Northeast, Staff Columns, Touring Series 0 Comments

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Solomito, pictured here in victory lane at Monadnock, will join his tour competition this Friday night in the running of the Stafford 150. (Chip Cormie photo)

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — Timmy Solomito is on a roll on the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour in 2016.

Surprising? Not at all.

The young driver, who is still just 24 years old, cut his teeth at the quarter-mile bullring Riverhead Raceway on Long Island. He moved from there up to the Whelen Modified Tour, making his first start at the Thompson World Series in 2011 behind the wheel of a Eddie Whelan-owned No. 66.

He didn’t make any tour starts in 2012, but then made six over the course of the 2013 season. He competed in six events, scoring one top-five run — a third at his home track of Riverhead — and two top-10s.

2014 marked the first full-time season for Solomito. He competed in all 13 tour events, grabbing six top-10 runs along with two top-fives, running many of the races for Wayne Anderson. But at the end of that season, things went to the next level.

Solomito took over the Flamingo Motorsports No. 16, a ride vacated by current NASCAR XFINITY Series star Ryan Preece, who went racing with Eddie and Connie Partridge behind the wheel of the No. 6. The opened the door for Solomito to get behind the wheel of a proven ride and show he could get the job done. Since then, he has improved behind the wheel and become one of the Whelen Modified Tour’s toughest threats.

He scored nine top-10 runs in 2015 for Flamingo Motorsports and really came on strong at the end of the season, finishing inside the top-five at the two final events — the Fall Finale at Stafford and the World Series at Thompson — but he didn’t grab that elusive first tour victory until this season.

Solomito grabbed it in style, winning the season-opening IceBreaker 150 at Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park in front of a packed house. After that win, Solomito sat down in the bleachers outside the press box almost in tears, thrilled that finally, after a long, enduring effort, he had finally reached his goal to be a NASCAR Tour winner.

“It’s pretty cool to come from a quarter-mile bullring beating and banging and bumping,” Solomito told Race Chaser Online following the IceBreaker. “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.”

Some wondered at that time if it was a one-hit moment. Would Solomito be able to keep the momentum going following a big win?

You bet he did– it just took him some time.

He finished fourth at Stafford in the Spring Sizzler, but then stumbled, finishing 16th at the Speedbowl and then 23rd on the second stop at Stafford due to a crash. The second stop at Thompson didn’t treat him well either. After starting second, Solomito was only able to finish in 15th because of some crazy pit strategy and a crash off turn two.

But the young kid from New York just didn’t give up. He proved to everyone around the modified community that he is here to stay. He rolled into his home track at Riverhead and won his second Tour race in dominating fashion.

“To do this here in front of the hometown crowd is pretty cool,” Solomito said after the Riverhead triumph. “A couple of years ago I came close with Wayne Anderson and this car (with Preece behind the wheel) was the car that beat me. We had a couple of rough races, but we are now back on the right way.”

Win number one came on the five-eighths-mile, high-banked Thompson, and win two came on the quarter-mile bullring at Riverhead. There couldn’t be much of a larger difference between two tracks than that.

Solomito hit the annual tour stop at Loudon on July 16 and came away with a 12th place finish, but continued to inch back up the championship standings after stumbling a little. But then, it was back to the winning ways for the driver of the Deversified Metals No. 16.

He tasted victory once again at the most recent NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour event at Monadnock Speedway in Winchester, New Hampshire on July 24. The race was originally scheduled to go off on Saturday night, but Mother Nature postponed to the event to a Sunday afternoon showdown on the track known as “Maddog.”

Solomito was up for the challenge. He started from the pole and led all 200 laps en route to his third win of the season, tying defending champion Doug Coby’s mark as the only three time winner so far in 2016.

“The crew just gave me an awesome car off the trailer,” Solomito said. “We were able to get our front there and set our own pace, save our tires and roll right onto victory. The guys gave me a great car.”

So now, leaving Monadnock and headed for Stafford this Friday night, Solomito sits just 34 points behind Coby at the top of the championship standings.

Is 34 points a lot? Sure it is. It’s not going to be an easy task for him to close the gap — but there is plenty of chances to get the job done.

Don’t forget — the tour will visit Riverhead once again. They will also stop at Bristol and Loudon, where anything can happen. And where does the season end? Right where it started, on the high-banks of Thompson.

Will it end the same way it began? With Solomito carrying the checkered flag and this time maybe even the championship glory?

Only time will tell.

But certainly, Solomito has proven himself as a true threat … and the best may be yet to come.

EDITOR’S NOTE: The featured photo for the column is credit to NASCAR/Jim Dupont.

 

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: kylesouza34@gmail.com

Follow on Twitter: @Kouza34

Email Race Chaser Online: news@racechaseronline.com

Follow RCO on Twitter: @RaceChaserNews

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