Opening Act: Timmy Solomito Solid In Whelen Mod Tour Debut With New Team At Thompson

By Travis Barrett ~ Special To RaceDayCT

Timmy Solomito (Photo: Tim Bradbury/Getty Images for NASCAR)

Timmy Solomito (Photo: Tim Bradbury/Getty Images for NASCAR)

THOMPSON — Timmy Solomito doesn’t feel the pressure others might put on him to perform in the No. 16 Flamingo Motorsports ride this season. He’s already putting it on himself.

“The car definitely had a little bit more than the driver today. I’m a little green behind the ears still,” Solomito said Sunday after finishing sixth in the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour season-opening Icebreaker 150 at Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park. “The guys gave me a great car today, and they worked hard all weekend. I was really happy with the car — it was definitely a better car than the finish shows.”

Solomito turned in a solid debut effort in the No. 16 after taking over for Ryan Preece to begin the 2015 campaign. He qualified fifth for the Icebreaker 150 and ran in the Top-5 until dropping a spot on the race’s final restart.

Solomito comes to the team after spending last season driving the No. 75 for Wayne Anderson.

“I’m a little disappointed (with sixth), but the car’s in one piece and that’s all you can really ask for with a decent finish,” he said. “We’ll get there. We’ve just got to learn each other and make sure that everybody jells together the way they need to, and we’ll go from there.”

Still, it was a promising run for the 23-year-old Islip, N.Y., driver in a car that won the 2013 Tour championship with Preece behind the wheel and finished second in the final standings in both 2012 and 2014. In those three years with Preece as their driver, Flamingo Motorsports won eight races with 24 Top-5s and 30 Top-10s in 41 races.

No matter how you slice it, Solomito knows that the measuring stick is there and can’t be ignored.

“The guys here have won a lot of races and they’re all very smart and great bunch of guys to learn from,” he said. “Certainly, there’s always a lot of pressure getting behind the wheel of such a good car — there’s no excuses once you’re behind the wheel of a good car.

“We’re having a good time, and we’re going to give it the best we can.”

Ironically, for a driver who learned the Modified trade around the tiny Riverhead Raceway bullring, Solomito has enjoyed success on the big Thompson oval.

He finished fourth at Thompson in this race a year ago, in a family-owned ride, though his only two other career Top-5 finishes in 20 career Tour starts came at Riverhead.

“I really like the banking,” Solomito said. “I like being on the high side of the track — I think that’s pretty cool.”

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