Modified Race Preview: Riverhead

NASCAR

Solomito is looking foward to a return to his home track, Long Island's Riverhead Raceway, on Saturday. (Photo: Adam Glanzman/NASCAR)

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As the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour enters the final four races of the season, Timmy Solomito needs to gain ground in the championship standings if he wants capture his first title. And he couldn't be heading to a better track as he looks to get that job done. 

The Islip, New York, driver is heading for his home track of Riverhead Raceway for the Miller Lite 200 on Saturday just 17 points from the lead, with three wins already under his belt in 2017. The driver of the No. 16 Starrett Tools Ford won the first race at Riverhead on June 24, starting from the pole and leading 151 laps en route to the victory. But he hasn't won a race on the Tour since. Three finishes outside the top 10 in the last six races, including two accidents, have put Solomito behind some of his closest challengers in the championship chase. He enters the race fourth, chasing Ryan Preece, Doug Coby and Rowan Pennink.

Solomito's success at Riverhead surely will give him confidence heading back to the quarter-mile bullring. In his last three races there, he has two wins and a runner-up finish. 

Fast Facts

The Race: The Miller Lite 200 is the 13th of 16 championship events on the 2017 NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour championship points schedule. This is the second and final appearance at Riverhead Raceway this season. Timmy Solomito won the race back on June 24. 

The Procedure: The maximum starting field per the entry blank is 28 cars, including provisionals. The first 22 positions for the race will be determined through the qualifying process, while there will also be six provisionals available. The race is scheduled for 150 laps. 

The Track: A quarter-mile slightly banked asphalt oval, Riverhead Raceway opened in 1949. The track has held a total of 59 races since the Whelen Modified Tour began in 1985, and is only one of two venues to play host to the Tour in each of its 31 seasons.

Race Winners: There have been 25 different drivers that have reached Victory Lane at Riverhead, led by Mike Ewanitsko's 11 wins. Timmy Solomito has won two of the last three races at the track. Justin Bonsignore is the defending race winner. 

Pole Winners: Thirty-five different drivers have won a Coors Light Pole award at Riverhead, led by Ewanitsko's eight. Chuck Steuer set the one-lap qualifying record with a time of 11.546 seconds (77.949 mph) back in 2000. Timmy Solomito sat on the pole when the Whelen Modified Tour visited Riverhead earlier this season. 

Race Notes

Crucial Race For Preece: Over the last three months, it's been tough for anyone to beat Berlin, Connecticut, driver Ryan Preece. And that doesn't only include races on the Whelen Modified Tour. In two NASCAR XFINITY Series starts over that time, Preece finished second at New Hampshire and scored his first win at Iowa Speedway. On the Whelen Modified Tour, Preece has top five finishes in all of his last nine starts, dating all the way back to the end of April. In that time, Preece has visited Victory Lane five times behind the wheel of his No. 6 TS Hauler Chevrolet. Although he currently leads the championship standings by nine points, the Riverhead race will be a crucial one for the 26-year-old. He is slated to miss the next series event at New Hampshire on Sept. 23 to run the NASCAR XFINITY Series race at Iowa, which means he needs to lead Riverhead with maximum points in order to still have a shot at the driver's championship. 

Time For Bonsignore To Score: The start to the 2017 season has been solid for Justin Bonsignore, but he is craving more. The Holtsville, New York, driver hasn't been able to visit Victory Lane yet, but does have nine top 10 finishes in the first 12 races, including four top five runs. He has been consistent enough to keep himself in the championship fight heading for the stretch run. However, if he wants to make a move towards the top of the standings from his fifth-place position, he will need to use his home track to his advantage. Bonsignore finished fifth at Riverhead in June and has four of his 12 career wins at the quarter-mile oval. In his last five starts there, Bonsignore has three wins, a second and the fifth. A victory on Saturday would certainly help in his quest to capture his first career championship.

Riverhead Regulars: Each time the Whelen Modified Tour visits Riverhead, the weekly stars take their shot at battling some of NASCAR's best. And Saturday's Riverhead 200 will be no different. Riverhead Crate Modified regular CJ Lehmann will make his fourth start of the year behind the wheel of the No. 74. Lehmann has a best finish of 18th so far, which came in the June race at Riverhead. Other drivers planning to take the green include Dillon Steuer, who won the Islip 300 at Riverhead back in May. Steuer made his first career Whelen Modified Tour start at Riverhead in June and finished ninth. Kyle Soper, another New York driver, is always slated to take the green. 

Winning: Through the first 12 races of the season, Preece and Solomito continue to be the only drivers to have more than one victory. Preece has five wins, while Solomito has three. Doug Coby, Patrick Emerling, Bobby Santos and Rowan Pennink have each visited Victory Lane once so far. 

NASCAR Coast to Coast
Each Wednesday at 4 p.m. (ET) exclusively at MRN.com, hosts Kyle Rickey and Buddy Long update you on all the news from NASCAR Modified, K&N Pro Series East and West Series, along with interviews with the drivers.

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NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour

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