MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. – Timmy Solomito was the proverbial last man standing at the end of Saturday night’s NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour season-opener at Myrtle Beach Speedway.
Solomito collected his fifth-career Tour win and first at Myrtle Beach on a wild night, parking his No. 16 Starrett Tools modified in victory lane despite two red flags that stopped the action inside the final five laps of the Performance Plus 150 presented by Safety Kleen.
The 25-year-old Islip, N.Y. native took advantage of a missed shift by polesitter and late-race leader Rob Summers on a restart with two laps to go in regulation, taking over the top spot moments before a multi-car crash in the middle of the pack set up an attempt at NASCAR Overtime.
Though Summers — who restarted fourth as a result of not maintaining pace on the prior resumption — was able to claw his way back to the runner-up position in the final two-lap dash, he had nothing left to catch Solomito, who dashed home to victory by .244 of a second and won the series’ season-opener for the second-straight year.
As a result of the overtime finish, the race distance was extended to 155 laps around the .536-mile South Carolina oval, of which Solomito led only the final seven.
“I knew we had to save the car as much as possible the entire night,” said Solomito, whose win in last year’s season-opening Icebreaker at Connecticut’s Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park was his first in Tour competition.
“There was one point where we were running second and could have pushed the issue to get the lead, but I didn’t want to bang wheels or knock the thing out (of alignment) because I knew we had a really good car. So we just rode, saved it the best we could and used good strategy (as far as) changing tires. It all worked out in the end.”
The win for Solomito was his first with sponsorship from Starrett Tools on the side of the No. 16 Flamingo Motorsports entry.
“This win is a testament to how hard this team works and the fact that they give me great cars and great equipment every time we come to the race track. It was a giant game of chess tonight, and I’m glad we came out on top.”
Summers, who won the pole and led the most laps (74) on the night, was the leader on a restart with five laps to go when he and practice pacesetter Shawn Solomito, who restarted directly behind Summers’ No. 64 entering turn one, made contact quickly after the restart.
The contact sent Summers up the race track and left Shawn Solomito spinning first into the inside wall and then across the track up into traffic, where he collected six other cars as the field piled in with nowhere to go.
Among those damaged or eliminated in the accident were Donny Lia, Jeremy Gerstner and Dave Sapienza, who took a hard shunt at the tail end of the shuffle.
That crash drew a lengthy red flag for cleanup, after which Summers and Timmy Solomito led the field back to green, but Summers spun the tires and couldn’t get through the gearbox to get up to speed, dropping him behind Justin Bonsignore and former Myrtle Beach winner Andy Seuss for the overtime sprint.