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Shawn Solomito likes being part of a team -- and he is winning

A flagman waves the green flag at Riverhead

A flagman waves the green flag at Riverhead Raceway. (July 16, 2011) Photo Credit: Daniel Brennan

Shawn Solomito is no longer flying solo, and boy does it feel good. After last season, Solomito's younger brother, Timmy, left Anderson Racing, the team that sponsored his runs at Riverhead Raceway, for the brighter lights of the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour. Shawn, who had been running independently, was all too happy to slide into the vacant seat on owner Wayne Anderson's team.

"It wasn't a difficult decision," Solomito, 26, of East Moriches, said. "Wayne has great equipment and gives 110 percent to his cars . . . He wants to do a lot more racing than I could afford, so it was an easy decision, moneywise."

The move allowed Solomito to focus on driving, without having to worry about the various outside issues that car owners face.

"It's easier driving for somebody than owning the car because you're not always thinking about the money side of it or thinking 'what if this breaks and I can't come back next week,' '' Solomito said. "With Wayne, the opportunity is there that he'll fix [the car] no matter what happens . . . It's a lot less stressful when you know you have people in place to do the jobs you would normally do if you owned the race car. It makes it easier when you show up on Saturdays and all you have to do is drive."

And after a rocky opening week, Solomito paid dividends on Anderson's investment in him with duel victories in last weekend's Twin 30 NASCAR Modified main event.

After what Solomito called an "uneventful" victory in the opening race, he had to hold off current points leader Tom Rogers Jr. of Riverhead to grab the checkered flag in the second race.

"[Rogers Jr.] is definitely one of the better drivers at Riverhead Raceway," Solomito said. "There's no doubt that when he's right behind you, you have to be on top of your game and ready for anything . . . I had a really good race car on Saturday. It hardly changed from the start to the final checkered flag. It had good forward drive and turned very well. We were able to keep [Rogers Jr.] behind us that way."

After winning the first 30-lapper, Solomito said he knew his car was running well. But he also knew that winning the second feature wasn't going to be as easy.

"The second 30 is always tougher," he said. "Everyone has some laps on their tires and cars start to fall off a little bit. The faster guys wind up getting to the front of the pack . . . If your team gets to the front quickly in the first 30 and saves your equipment, you'll be better off for the second 30."

The wins could not have come at a better time. The faster the calendar turns toward midseason without a checkered flag, the more pressure a driver may feel.

"It gets the monkey off the back," Solomito said. "I've been struggling in the beginning of the year, so I was lucky to get a break . . . Hopefully, we can win some more."

New York Sports