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RIVERHEAD, N.Y. -- Ryan Preece has figured out Riverhead Raceway, winning his third consecutive NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour race at the track Saturday night in the Green Earth Technologies 200.
Preece, 22, from Berlin, Conn., took the lead from Timmy Solomito on Lap 177, sliding underneath the local driver and holding on for his fourth win of the 2013 season.
In addition to his win at Riverhead earlier in the season, Preece also has a win at Monadnock Speedway in Winchester, N.H., another quarter-mile bullring.
"I think my driving style suits them," Preece said. "I really like a loose car.
"And without the car I've had, I wouldn't be in Victory Lane. I've just been very fortunate. I've been in the right places and the right ime and in the right cars."
The 21-year-old Solomito, a regular in the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Modified Division at Riverhead, won his first career Coors Light Pole Award in his sixth tour start and led the first three-quarters of the race before giving way to Preece.
Justin Bonsignore managed to get by Solomito on Lap 193 to take second, while Solomito settled for third.
"It was a pretty good run," said Bonsignore. "All the cautions just killed us. We were set up for the race to go fairly green. And the car just stayed too tight, until that last yellow. We were able to work Solomito and get by him, and at that point, Preece was just too far checked out.
"We were kind of catching him, but he's one of the best here right now -- on any level of racing -- and it was just going to be tough to get him."
Despite missing out on the win, it was a career day for Solomito.
"I knew we had a pretty good car," Solomito said. "We were just trying to run a pace at the beginning not to kill the tires. But when you have Ryan Preece behind you, that's tough to do.
"Not running a lot of these Tour shows, I wanted to lead the laps. I wanted to be that guy. I kind of burnt it up a little bit there in the beginning and paid for it in the end.
"But all in all, a great day to come here, qualify on the pole and finish third. Lead 176 laps. I really couldn't ask for me. I just can't thank everybody enough that's helped me out today."
The race was slowed by 13 cautions. Each time Solomito was able to pull away, although after a few laps Preece began to reel him back in and look for an inside lane to pass.
"He races a lot, obviously," said Solomito. "And from racing those SK (Modified) cars, he gets real close to your back bumper down the straightaways and kind of sling shots it in.
"I was really on the guard for one of those moves. He kept trying to work us over. I was really trying to protect the bottom the best I could and keep the right rear tire under me. Because usually when you hold nose down, you usually end up burning the right rear off. I was just trying to protect the bottom the best I could. But he got in there and the rest was history."
After taking control of the top spot, Preece strategically moved around the quarter-mile asphalt oval, pulling away for the win by 2.314 seconds.
"We had a strong car when we started - we started off a little snug," said Preece. "There were quite a few cautions that put us on the outside of Timmy Solomito. But fortunately, all those cautions helped me, as far as making the little adjustments I can make - and that was putting rear brake into the car so I could roll the center.
"It seemed like every restart, we got a little bit better and a little bit better. And maybe he was getting a little bit freer up off.
"We were able to muscle our way in there and get by him and come out with the victory."
It was the ninth tour victory for the 2013 NASCAR Next driver and he tied Mike Ewanitsko for the most consecutive wins at the track, which has held 53 tour events.
"It's such an accomplishment," said Preece. "He's kind of like a Richie Evans to me - in my eyes, as a hero. So it's definitely great to tie him."
Woody Pitkat capped a strong run with a fourth-place finish, while Howie Brode came back from a mid-race spin to finish fifth. Earlier in the month, Brode wrapped up Riverhead's NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Modified Division title.
Bonsignore was the 2011 Riverhead track champion, while Preece has also raced regularly in the track's weekly division.
Eric Goodale, Rowan Pennink, Ted Christopher, Todd Szegedy and Patrick Emerling rounded out the top 10.
Preece also pushed his points lead to 46 over Doug Coby, who finished 14th, with three races remaining. Preece leads by 73 over third-place Pennink and 77 over Mike Stefanik. Pitkat is fifth in points, four back of Stefanik.
The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour will race next in the F.W. Webb 100 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on Sept. 21. The race will air live on FS2 at noon.
Ryan Preece is now one win away from 10 career victories. He will have three more opportunities to get there in 2013. Adam Hunger / Getty Images for NASCAR