RIVERHEAD, N.Y. – Leading Sunoco Rookie of the Year candidate Timmy Solomito hopes that returning home to New York’s Riverhead Raceway for Saturday’s NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Hoosier Tire 200 will be the perfect opportunity to capture his first tour checkered flag.
Solomito, a 22-year-old from Islip, grew up racing at the famed Long Island bullring. Although he’s a true rookie at most all of the venues the Whelen Modified Tour visits, Solomito was asked if his experience at Riverhead will prove to be an equalizer this week.
“Without a doubt,” Solomito said. “Having so many laps there – I’ve been racing go-karts since I was eight there and stock cars since I was 16 – so I have a lot of laps there, which definitely helps me I feel.
“We’re pretty excited to get back there and hopefully we can have a strong run like we did at the end of last year.”
The best result of Solomito’s seven Whelen Modified Tour starts prior to 2014 was last September at his home track when he captured his first career Coors Light Pole Award and led a race-high 176 laps before settling for a third-place finish.
“I feel like I’ve learned a lot running these tour races at the beginning of the year,” Solomito said. “Mainly it’s just saving that right rear tire. I wanted to be that guy last year [at Riverhead] that led a lot of laps and tried taking it home, but you’ve really got to be smart and save that right rear tire – not really kill it in the beginning – set a pace that you know it’s not going to hurt you at the end.”
Through four races this year, his first full-time Whelen Modified Tour campaign, Solomito has two top 10s and sits 11th in the overall standings while leading the rookie points. It had been fairly smooth sailing before last week at Connecticut’s Waterford Speedbowl when he was unable to finish the race due to steering issues.