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by Bob Finan

Timmy Solomito of Islip notched his third NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour victory of 2017 as he captured the Riverhead 200 Saturday night on Buzz Chew Chevrolet-Cadillac night at Riverhead Raceway. In order to clinch his 18th career win at his home track Solomito had to outlast Ryan Preece of Berlin, Ct. early in the race as well a green, white, checker finish with eventual runner-up Dave Sapienza of Riverhead.

Coors Light Pole qualifying found Timmy Solomito in his Starrett Tools entry turning in the fastest lap at 12.56 earning him the pole for the 26-car field. Timmy, who started his racing days at Riverhead Raceway in the Eastern Kart Racing Association knows his way around the historic oval and when the race went green Solomito would jump to the early race lead with Ronnie Williams in tow. Williams in the Gershow Recycling Chevy would run second for the first eight circuits of the contest as he was passed on lap 9 by Ryan Preece who quickly turned his attention to race leader Solomito. On lap 31 entering the first turn Preece would seize the moment as he was able to take the lead from Solomito while the duo were in the process of lapping Ted Christopher. Later in the race Christopher would get his lap back during a caution flag period.

Solomito would roar back to the race lead on a 63rd lap double file restart as he rolled his car perfectly to the outside of Preece to move back out front. Some 21 laps later the roles would be reversed with Preece riding the outside lane on Solomito to reclaim the race lead during a 81st lap restart. The high speed game of chess between two of the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour's young & talented drivers had the large crowd roaring with approval. The final pass for the lead would occur just past the halfway point of the race on a 105th lap restart where once again Solomito rolled the outside groove to take the lead from Preece. Shortly thereafter Ryan's car would start to go away on him as he soon found himself fending off the likes of Justin Bonsignore, Doug Coby and Dave Sapienza for second.

In the second half of the race an extended green flag run would come into play allowing Timmy Solomito to check out on the remainder of the field. Justin Bonsignore made his way by Preece for second on lap 151 bringing Doug Coby to third with him. Bonsignore & Coby renewed their Riverhead rivalry and started trading paint as well the second position. Their intense battle led to Dave Sapienza in making his way to second on lap 173. By the time Dave got to second race leader Solomito was long gone and the only way Sapienza was going to catch the leader would be with a late race caution flag. Low and behold a Craig Lutz spin with barely five laps left in the race gave Sapienza his chance at a first career WMT win.

With the Riverhead 200 now in overtime, a green, white, checker finish awaited the contenders. When the green flag waved to start the 206th lap Solomito got the measure of Sapienza, who later admitted his was late shifting his car on that final restart. When the race concluded on lap 208 "The Natural" Timmy Solomito who won his first career NASCAR Modified race at Riverhead on June 27th, 2009 was once again a victor at the track he grew up at.

"I just can't say enough about my Flamingo Motorsports/Starrett Tools team, they give me a car capable of winning every time out" Solomito boasted in victory lane. As to his early race duel with Ryan Preece the race winner reflected, "Ryan and I run each other really clean, he ran me hard, I ran him hard but we did it cleanly". The happy winner also took time out to take note of the runner-up in the race, "congratulations to Dave Sapienza and his guys on their second place finish, they had a good car".

Dave Sapienza of Riverhead would score a career best runner-up finish in an all new Troyer Engineering machine, "I was hesitant abut bringing a new car for this race but it worked out" Dave noted afterwards, "I can't thank the Grosso brothers enough for all their efforts, I just wish I had that last restart to do over again". Defending NASCAR WMT champion Doug Coby of Milford, Ct crossed the line third during the late race restart scramble in his Mayhew Tools entry. "I don't know what I have to do to beat these Long Island drivers and cars" Coby joked & shook his head afterwards, "but we finished third and all the wheel are on her so we are happy".

Ryan Preece was fourth in the TS Haulers Chevy while Justin Bonsignore of Holtsville was fifth in the Phoenix Communications Chevy despite his car balking on the final restart, "something broke and Tommy Rogers actually pushed me across the line" Bonsignore disclosed in the pits after the race.

Riverhead 200:
1. Timmy Solomito 2. Dave Sapienza 3. Doug Coby 4. Ryan Preece 5. Justin Bonsignore 6. Eric Goodale 7. Rowan Pennink 8. Tom Rogers Jr. 9. Dillon Steuer 10. Max Zachem 11. Ted Christopher 12. Craig Lutz 13. Matt Swanson 14. Shawn Solomito 15. Jeff Rocco 16. Rob Summers 17. Woody Pitkat 18. CJ Lehmann 19. Calvin Carroll 20. Vinny Biondolillo 21. Ronnie Williams 22. Brendon Bock 23. Jerry Solomito Jr. 24. Melissa Fifield 25. Wade Cole 26. Gary McDonald

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