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   The Chrome Horn - NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour



Sly and the Gang Make Right Chess Move for Unified Series Win by Polly Reid

Myrtle Beach Speedway in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina rolled out the welcome mat hosting the 2017 NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour (NWMT) season opener and in NASCAR overtime, Timmy Solomito of Islip, NY in the Eric Sanderson owned, Starrett Tools sponsored Ford survived a dash to the finish out pedaling Justin Bonsignore, Andy Seuss and Rob Summers in the final restart to take the checkers winning the NWMT ‘Performance Plus 150’ at Myrtle Beach Speedway. Summers surged from fourth on the final restart to finish second, Andy Seuss third, Ryan Preece fourth and Max Zachem fifth.

Tire strategy was a key component in the ‘Performance Plus 150’ as teams were allowed four tires for the event but could only change one tire at a time at each pit road stop.

“My team had a great strategy,” said Solomito in victory lane. “Those guys gave me a great car, great equipment, it was really a game of chess, the rotation back to the front with the pit stops, I just knew I had to be patient and it’s hard to be patient because usually you want to go up to the front and lead. But, we were able to come up with the win. Sly and the gang, Starrett Tools, Starrett Racing, all the guys that helped get us here, this is huge.”

Crew chief of the winning team, Sly Szaban smiling said the unique tire situation called for ‘crazy strategy.’ “We put on one tire at a time whenever we felt we needed it to go the next thirty to forty laps. The cautions had to fly when we needed it to make it all work and fortunately it did. We gambled with some things- Lady Luck was on our side for the cautions to fly our way.”

Rob Summers of Manchester, CT in the Mike Murphy owned, Fastrock Electric sponsored modified earned his first Coors Light Pole Award in sixteen years and led the field to green with Donny Lia, Rowan Pennink, Max Zachem and Shawn Solomito the top five. Timmy Solomito started seventh.

Summers dominated the first run gaining as much as a half a straight lead from the pack. Just as Rowan Pennink closed the gap on the leader the first caution of the night flew on lap 54. The pit strategy began with the entire field pitting with the exception of Pennink and Doug Coby, the new leaders.

Pennink maintained the lead while Coby was shuffled back and at the half way mark, lap 75 it was Pennink, Timmy Solomito, Kyle Bonsignore, David Sapienza and Jeremy Gerstner the top five.

A caution on lap 80 set up another round of pit stops with Kyle Bonsignore inheriting the lead, Sapienza, Gerstner, Matt Hirschman and Donny Lia rounded up the top five.

Gerstner challenged and became the new leader on lap 89 only to be pulled back for a caution the next circuit around. Again, pit road lit up with action before the field went green on lap 96. As the field came around for lap 100, Gerstner still leading with Hirschman and Kyle Bonsignore the top three, the next yellow waved for debris on the track.

The leaders pitted turning the front spot over to Ryan Preece with Pennink, Max Zachem, Ron Silk and Eric Goodale for the top five, brought the field to green on lap 108. Pennink on the outside, took the lead one circuit later while Silk took over second and Andy Seuss third. Seuss on a roll, powered on the outside to become the new leader on lap 116. A tangle on lap 128 between Todd Szegedy and Melissa Fifield in turn four closed up the field again, setting up a round of pit stops as well.

Lap 137, thirteen to go, Rob Summers and Shawn Solomito brought the field for green only to be slowed again by a caution on the restart as two cars were collected up on the back stretch. Trying again, at the green with five to go, Solomito on the inside, Summers on the outside, contact between the leaders sent a chain reaction back through the pack immediately bringing out the red flag. At least five cars were involved in the turn one incident including Les Hinckley III, Shawn Solomito, Gerstner, Sapienza and Matt Swanson.

Two to go on the restart, Summers, Timmy Solomito, Justin Bonsignore, Ron Silk and Andy Seuss came around for the green. A melee on the front stretch brought out the red flag once again sending the ‘Performance Plus 150’ into NASCAR overtime.

Timmy Solomito, Justin Bonsignore, Andy Seuss, Rob Summers and Woody Pitkat led the field to green for the final restart with Solomito capturing the victory, Summers crossing second, Seuss third, Ryan Preece fourth, Max Zachem the top five with Justin Bonsignore, Rowan Pennink, Woody Pitkat, Les Hinckley and Burt Myers the top ten.

The win is Solomito’s fifth career NWMT victory, his second consecutive NWMT season opening victory. “Flamingo Motorsports is great, there is no doubt about it,” said Solomito. “They’ve had plenty of drivers drive this car and plenty of guys win without me. I’m just the lucky guy that gets to hold the steering wheel and I’m sure there are twenty other drivers that would like to be in this seat. It just goes to show you how great this team is and how smart they are. We won four races last year- Sly and Jerry, everybody in the shop worked harder this winter than they did the winter before to make us faster. We went down to Speedweeks, we practiced, tried different things- we didn’t have a win but we learned a lot and that showed here tonight. It was a real team effort and the guys did a great job all night.”

Rob Summers was close to having an exceptional race, setting fast time earlier in the day and being in position for victory at the end. “I spun the tires on the restart and I missed a shift,” said Summers. “My fault. Then at the end there I still don’t really understand the call, we didn’t complete a lap and they put me to fourth. I’m baffled on that but the team gave me a great car and I think we probably had the best car right off the trailer. I blew it on the restart. This is bittersweet, I feel like I gave that away. If I didn’t miss a shift it wouldn’t have been an issue. The crew did such a great job today, Murph, Ronnie Yuhas, the whole team. The pit stops were great, the car was awesome.”

Andy Seuss from Hampstead, NH qualified fifteenth and worked his way up to lead for several laps in the Eddie Harvey owned, LFR Chassis sponsored modified and in the end, took home a strong third. “I wish that caution didn’t come out with about 18 to go,” said Seuss. “Then you’re faced with that decision, do you come in and pit or not, I think we all made the right decision because the tires got us back to the front but we had a great long run car, we showed that when we took the lead. We just needed more long runs there at the end, we just couldn’t seem to put two laps together. Overall, real happy, it’s a brand new car, first time out, we didn’t get to practice or anything. The crew did a great job maintaining and prepping the car. Great pit stops all day, a solid day, Eddie did great calling the race, Justin Link the crew chief did a great job with adjustments all day, a very solid day, just a couple of spots short.”

Rounding out the top ten was Justin Bonsignore sixth, Rowan Pennink, Woody Pitkat, Les Hinckley III and Burt Myers tenth.

The unified NWMT heads to Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park on April 2nd for the Icebreaker 150.
Source: Polly Reid / TheChromeHorn.com
: March 19, 2017

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