Speeding down the track with two laps to go, Shawn Solomito said he was so close to his Riverhead Raceway opponent Ron Silk that the two briefly touched before racing side-by-side with a win on the line.
Solomito, 27, of Islip, pulled ahead by a bumper’s length and it proved to be the difference-maker, as he beat Silk in the NASCAR Modified Division last Saturday in one of the track’s closest finishes, said Riverhead Raceway public relations director Bob Finan.
“I beat him by maybe six inches to a foot,” said Solomito, who has won each of the first two NASCAR Modified races at Riverhead this season. “That’s a photo finish in the racing world.
“That’s probably the closest finish I’ve ever had to date for winning a race. Usually you win by a car length or so, but I’ve never had to physically drag race somebody to beat them by six inches.”
Solomito said he battled Silk the entire race and knew it could be a close finish when he lined up next to him on a restart with around nine laps to go. Solomito, the NASCAR Modified Champion in 2012, added he had a feeling he won and the transponders at the finish line confirmed his victory.
“Ronnie’s one of the toughest drivers in the Northeast and he’s been on a roll lately,” Solomito said. “I knew it was going to be a tough task, but I battled hard until the end. We were both digging real hard and trying not to give each other too much room, but be respectful to each other. I was just lucky to come out ahead for the win.”
Success is nothing new for Solomito.
Drawn to the track by his father, Jerry Solomito, Shawn said he started racing Go-Karts from ages 7-16 and won national, regional and local championships before progressing up the racing ladder, eventually to the Charger division and then the NASCAR Modified division.
Solomito said he has a strong crew team and the equipment to continue winning, but is focused on the bigger picture: consistency through a long season.
“We’re off to a good start, we’re 2-for-2, but I’m sure we’ll have our bumps along the way,” Solomito said, noting that the ultimate goal is another championship. “We’ve just got to keep pushing through and win some more races. If we win races, the points will take care of themselves. Hopefully we’ll be there at the end.”
Shawn Solomito, Islip - 110
Kyle Soper, Manorville - 93
Vinny Biondolillo, Farmingville – 92
David H. Brigati, Calverton - 87
Howie Brode, East Islip - 82
Baldwin, Evans & Jarzombek 77 NASCAR Modifieds (Time Trials), School Bus Figure 8 Race, Spectator Drags. Late Models, Figure Eights, Blunderbusts, 30-lap Super Pro Trucks (Time Trials), 4/6-Cylinder Car Enduro.