Setting The Scene: NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Hoosier Tire East 200 At Riverhead Raceway

(Press Release from NASCAR Integrated Marketing Communications)

Timmy Solomito (Getty Images for NASCAR)

Timmy Solomito (Getty Images for NASCAR)

The Solomito racing family will look to accomplish something done by only one clan before them in 30-plus years of NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour racing when three brothers attempt to make the starting field of the Riverhead Hoosier Tire East 200.

There have been numerous pairs of brothers that have competed together in Whelen Modified Tour action, from names like Park and Pasteryak in the early years to Christopher and Goodale in more recent times. But only one family can claim to have placed three brothers in the same race: the Fullers.

The Solomitos will look to match the Fullers feat this Saturday at Riverhead.

Jeff and Rick Fuller found great success competing on the Whelen Modified Tour in the 1980s and 90s. In fact they won back-to-back championships in 1992-93. The Boylston, Massachusetts, family had a third brother in the mix on a part-time basis as well, as Bobby Fuller made 13 tour starts from 1985-94.

Eleven times all three Fuller brothers competed in the same event, the last of which took place on May 15, 1994 at Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park. Saturday at Riverhead Jerry, Shawn and Timmy Solomito now have their own shot at the unique exploit.

Shawn and Timmy both made their Whelen Modified Tour debuts in 2011 in different events. Timmy expanded to a full-time schedule in 2014 and Shawn is doing the same this year. In the last event at Thompson on June 10, however, Shawn needed an emergency sub when his wife went into labor on the morning of the race. Jerry’s first start came one race earlier than expected.

Saturday now brings the first opportunity for the racing brothers from Islip, New York, to compete together. It’s not a guarantee that all three make the show as there are 35 cars entered for 28 starting positions, but the Solomitos know their way around Riverhead. It’s their home track.

Jerry Solomito, the father, started the legacy when he raced at Islip Speedway and Riverhead. His sons have since carried on the tradition. Shawn and Timmy both have numerous modified division wins at Riverhead in NASCAR Whelen All-American Series action, and Jerry (the son) has started to forge his own career behind the wheel after supporting his brothers for many years as a crew member.

With the table now set, they’ll look to do something that hasn’t been accomplished in 21 years.

RACE: Riverhead Hoosier Tire East 200
PLACE: Riverhead (N.Y.) Raceway
DATE: Saturday, June 27
TIME: 8 p.m. ET
TELECAST: NBCSN, July 2, 6 p.m. ET
TRACK LAYOUT: .25-mile, banked asphalt oval
2014 POLESITTER: John Beatty Jr.
2014 WINNER: Eric Goodale
EVENT SCHEDULE: Practice 3-4 p.m., Qualifying 5:30 p.m., Driver Autograph Session 6:45 p.m.
TRACK CONTACT: Bob Finan, 631-842-7223, [email protected]
TRACK TWITTER: @RiverheadRacewa
EVENT HASHTAG: #HoosierTire200

Fast Facts:
The Race: The Riverhead Hoosier Tire East 200 will be the sixth of 14 races on the 2015 NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour schedule and the first of two trips to Riverhead Raceway on New York’s Long Island.

The Procedure: The starting field is 28 cars, including provisionals. The first 23 cars will have secured starting positions based on two-lap qualifying and the remaining five spots will be awarded through the provisional process. This and impound race with no tire changes allowed during the event, which is scheduled for 200 laps (50 miles).

The Track: A quarter-mile banked asphalt oval, Riverhead Raceway opened in 1949. The track has held a total of 55 races since the Whelen Modified Tour began in 1985, and is one of only two venues to play host to the tour in each of its 31 seasons.

Race Winners: There have been 24 different drivers that reached Victory Lane at Riverhead, led by Mike Ewanitsko’s 11. Eric Goodale captured his first career victory in this event a year ago.

Pole Winners: Thirty-two different drivers have captured a pole at Riverhead, led by Ewanitsko’s eight. Chuck Steuer set the qualifying record at 11.546 seconds (77.949 mph) in 2000 and John Beatty Jr. earned his first career pole in last year’s contest.

Riverhead Hoosier Tire East 200 Notes
Long Island Strong: There were 35 entries for the Riverhead Hoosier Tire East 200 as of Monday, and 15 featured drivers from Long Island. Among those 15, three have previously won a NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour race at Riverhead Raceway: Justin Bonsignore (1), Eric Goodale (1) and Donny Lia (4).

Already Riverhead Winners: This may be the first trip for the Whelen Modified Tour to Riverhead this year, but four tour drivers already have wins there this year in NASCAR Whelen All-American Series modified division action. Tom Rogers Jr. has swept twin 30-lap events twice for four wins while Shawn Solomito has one twinbill sweep of his own. Ryan Preece won the Baldwin, Jarzombek, Evans Memorial 50 as well as a 35-lapper and Ron Silk also took checkers in a 35-lap event.

Preece Right at Home: Although he hails from Connecticut, Preece has always been right at home at Riverhead. In nine career Whelen Modified Tour starts at the bullring he has averaged a podium finish (3.2), never been outside of the top 10 and has found Victory Lane four times. His three-consecutive wins there in 2012-13 are matched only by Mike Ewanitsko’s trio of triumphs in 1997-98. Preece also has eight career Whelen All-American Series modified feature wins at Riverhead.

Coby Seeks Riverhead Redemption: Doug Coby’s renaissance the last three seasons has seen him reach Victory Lane at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, New London-Waterford Speedbowl, Stafford Motor Speedway and Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park. In fact, he has multiple wins at all of those tracks but Waterford, but Riverhead has remained a career-long bugaboo. In nine total appearances at the quarter-mile he has posted an average finish of 14.4 with just one top-five finish and no laps led. Could this be the week he finally breaks through on the Island?

Home Tracks: Fortin Out Front Early
Veteran John Fortin has the early edge in the NASCAR Whelen All-American modified division standings at Riverhead Raceway. This past Saturday night’s program was washed out by rain, but through June 13 competition Fortin had 151 points to the 140 of Tom Rogers Jr. while defending track champion Howie Brode ranked third at 133. Rogers missed two features when he competed with the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour at New London-Waterford Speedbowl.

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