Another piece of the puzzle has fallen into place for the 2015 NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour season. Just over one week after Ryan Preece made the decision to leave the Flamingo Motorsports No. 16 team, team owner Eric Sanderson and crew chief Sly Szaban have announced that 2014 NWMT Rookie of the Year Timmy Solomito will be behind the wheel of the car next season.
“We want a driver that can win and we feel that Timmy showed us that this year,” Szaban told Speed51.com powered by JEGS. “Even though he didn’t win (this year) he showed he has all the ability to win.”
Solomito of Islip, New York is coming off an impressive rookie campaign that saw him register six top-10 finishes driving for team owner Wayne Anderson.
“I’m excited to work with such a prestigious team and I’m looking forward to next year,” said Solomito. “I’m hoping to perform there and really looking forward to getting out there and seeing what we can do together as a team and grow together as a team. The ultimate goal is being in victory lane so that’s the plan.”
Solomito and Anderson were only expecting to go after a NASCAR Whelen All-American Series track championship at Riverhead Raceway (NY) in 2014 and to only make a few NWMT starts, but after getting off to a hot start they decided to run the whole NWMT schedule.
“Wayne put me on the map,” said Solomito. “This opportunity wouldn’t even be possible without Wayne. It’s really tough leaving Wayne considering the year that we had and being a start-up team and doing what we did. I’m very thankful for everything that he did.”
This deal came together when Szaban approached Anderson and asked what their plans were for 2015. Szaban said he and Sanderson were very interested in Solomito but didn’t want to take their driver away if Anderson was planning on running next season.
“He said he didn’t want to hold Timmy back,” said Szaban.
Szaban said he and Sanderson picked Solomito for his potential on the race track, but that wasn’t their only factor.
“He’s a good race car driver,” said Szaban, “but he’s also just a nice person and that had a lot to do with it too.
Solomito said that he’s sad to be leaving the team that he’s raced with the last two years, but at the same time he said he’s excited to be joining the Flamingo Motorsports team even though expectations will be much higher for him this season.
“The bar is set a little bit higher,” said Solomito. “I’d be pretty happy with a top five in points and hopefully come away with some victories. That would be a really good year for myself.”
His new crew chief echoed those thoughts.
“The goal is to win,” Szaban said. “It would be neat to go racing with him and get his first tour win. That would be rewarding for our team to be able to do that for him.”
-By Rob Blount, Speed51.com Regional Editor (Long Island, CT, and NJ) -Twitter: @RobBlount
-Feature Photo Credit: Speed51.com.