Both Timmy Solomito and Ryan Preece are down in the Whelen Modified Tour championship fight, but neither is out.
The two Tour stars have overcome massive obstacles to have a chance at a championship.
Preece has missed two races this season. The Connecticut native missed the Langley event back in May for his wedding. His second missed start came at Loudon in September, as Preece was busy racing for Joe Gibbs in the Xfinity Series at Kentucky. In his 13 starts, however, Preece has been by far the class of the field, racking up five wins and 12 top-fives. The 2013 champion sits 18 points behind leader Doug Coby heading into the World Series 150.
Solomito, after taking the checkered flag in three of the first six events of the 2017 campaign, has been involved in several incidents not of his own doing. Wrecks in both Loudon races, Bristol, and Seekonk have all but evaporated the 13-point lead Solomito held after Riverhead in June. The Long Island native comes into Thompson 12 markers behind Coby.
Solomito is already in a hole this weekend. A crash in final practice forced the No. 16 team to bring out the backup piece. Not a single lap in race trim has been turned in that backup, the only two laps run in it having been in the time trials. Solomito is not exactly sure how the car is going to run during the race Sunday.
“Just about nothing,” said Solomito when asked what he learned about the car during qualifying. “You do a lot of stuff different in the car for time trials to make it turn and go.”
“You’ve just got to hold on to the edge of your seat and drive it as best you can in qualifying. We’ll figure it out tomorrow.”
Preece has shown speed all weekend long, leading the first practice session and qualifying third for the World Series 150. It’s the same speed that vaulted Preece to victory at Thompson twice this year.
How surprised is Preece to be in this position, despite missing two starts? Not much, according to the 26-year-old.
“It’s all about trying to win,” said Preece. “If you win all the races, you get all the bonus points, you’re going to be there. You can’t have a bad race.”
Winning this championship, despite all the success for Preece this season in other racing series, would be his moment of the year.
“It would go right to the top of the list,” said Preece about a title. “It would be really cool to actually do it. But, one thing at a time.”
“We have to lead, lead the most laps, win the race, and just see what happens from there.”
Ryan Preece and Timmy Solomito are each in a desperate situation when it comes to the championship battle. But both, at the same time, have a fighting chance of winning the Whelen Modified Tour crown.