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Shawn Solomito Caps Off 2012 Riverhead Raceway NASCAR Modified Championship Sunday At Champions' Luncheon
by Bob Finan

Shawn Solomito of Islip was officially crowned 2012 NASCAR Modified champion this past Sunday afternoon at the Senix Creek Inn of Center Moriches where Barbara & Jim Cromarty presented the annual Champions' Luncheon Sunday afternoon. The Senix Creek Inn was jam packed with race teams and fans who turned out to salute all eight track champions.

After emcee Bob Finan documented Shawn Solomito's championship season and the events that led to the title on and off the race track, the young champion was greeted with a standing ovation as he strode to the front of the room. Joining him as well were his father and car owner Jerry and his mother Linda. After being presented with the championship hardware from Riverhead Raceway, Shawn was then awarded the perpetual Big Brothers & Big Sisters of Long Island Driver's Cup, becoming the 12th driver to be feted with this handsome cup.

Going into the 2012 campaign Shawn and his SS Motorsports team dedicated their season to two fallen friends, Keri and 'Lil Jason Trinca who sadly perished in October of 2011. Shawn's racecar carried a tribute collage to the Trinca family all season long. After he thanked his parents and his wife Kristy, Shawn also thanked his two racing brothers Jerry Jr. and Timmy as well as team sponsors and crew members. He then added, "I know I had two angels riding with me all season long en route to this championship and I know somewhere in heaven Keri and 'Lil Jay are smiling down on us". The 2012 NASCAR Modified championship is the first of Shawn's career.

Joining Solomito in the 2012 "parade of champions" were, Mike Bologna of Melville who scored his second straight Late Model title in his Schlaugies Fuel Oil Chevy and he'll be seeking the hat trick in 2013. Two drivers who notched their first career championships were veteran Figure Eight talent Mike Mujsce of Westhampton Beach in his Bill Beener Tree Service racer, as well as 2012 Charger champion Jeremy McDermott of Riverhead and his JDP Mechanical team. "Slick Pick" Tom Pickerell of Huntington was feted for his second career Blunderbust title in his Premier Utility Service Chevy, while for the second time in three seasons Roger Turbush of Riverhead took down the Super Pro Truck championship in his Rheem Air Conditioning Chevy. High school senior Kyle Ellwood of Riverhead was feted for his convincing championship season in his Riverhead Building Supply entry in the Legend Race Car class, while Andrew Fowler of Wantagh was also a first time champion in the Demolition Derby division.

Four 2012 Rookie of the Year awards were handed out with Chris McGuire of Shirley named the NASCAR Modified Rookie of the Year in his M3 Technologies Chevy. Jeremy McDermott seemed surprised when he was named Late Model Rookie of the Year in his Unique Golf Dodge, while George Seus of Ronkonkoma was named Figure Eight Rookie of the Year. 17-year old Cory Midgett was tabbed 2012 Charger Rookie of the Year, he and McGuire each visited victory lane once last season.

The 2012 Best Appearing Cars went to Jason Agugliaro (NASCAR Modifieds), Peter "Buzzy" Eriksen (Late Models), Arne Pedersen (Figure Eights), Eric Zeh (Chargers), Rob Bader (Blunderbusts), Lou Maestri (Super Pro Trucks) and Kyle Soper (Legend Race Cars).

Co-Chief Stewards Mike Cappiello and Steve Tooker were joined by Head Technical Inspector Walter Bonzcyk in presenting the 5th through first place awards, as well as the special awards. Other Riverhead Raceway NASCAR Officials in attendance were Robin & Don Merry, daughter and son-in-law of the Cromarty's, John Ellwood, Pat Cappiello Terry Fallon, Christine and Mike Rickert, Christi Jo Mortimer Richie Grodski and Billy Finan. Ricky Todd also known as "Captain Video" was also on hand.

Attention will now turn to the 2013 NASCAR Whelen All-American Series at Riverhead Raceway for the 63rd year of stock car racing and fun family entertainment events. The new season will kick-off with opening weekend Saturday evening May 4th and Sunday afternoon May 5th. The entire 2013 schedule can be found at www.riverheadraceway.com.

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