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   The Chrome Horn - NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour



TSI Harley-Davidson 125
Stafford Motor Speedway

by Polly Reid

‘Instant Classic’ when something is so good you want to see it again and again would be the best way to describe Bobby Santos edge of your seat win over Jimmy Blewett in the TSI Harley-Davidson 125 NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour at Stafford Motor Speedway. The Franklin, Mass. driver survived two green-white checker restarts, going a dozen laps past the posted distance, finally besting Blewett for the victory, his second of the young season. Todd Szegedy, Ryan Preece and Robbie Summers rounded out the top five.

“It was awesome,“ said Santos in victory lane. “I got to thank Bob Garbarino, Bob Mueller and the whole team, they did an unbelievable job, they gave me a great car. Jimmy taught me a lot those last couple of laps, he took me to school, I got a freebie tonight.” Had the race ended after the first or even the second green white checker attempt, it may have been Blewett in the headline.

In the closing circuits, Blewett dove low into one getting under Santos to emerge with a slight lead out of two just as the caution flag waved, Santos remaining the leader. Blewett repeated what appeared to be the exact move, again it worked. Again however, Blewett would be denied as yet another yellow came out, Santos remaining on the point.

The race now 10 laps over the advertised distance, Santos accelerated too early for the NASCAR officials liking and word was quickly relayed from the Tower, Santos must let Blewett run even with him. “It all happened so fast, I knew I jumped early,“ confessed Santos. “It was a mistake. It all happened so fast, you don’t really think, you just do it.” Santos immediately complied as the white flag waved for the final circuit. But Santos would not be denied, holding his line low, Santos was back up to speed loosing minimal momentum. Side by side, Blewett and Santos rounded the final turn and at the line it was the 24 year old in the Garbarino Mystic Missile Dodge taking the win.
“Bobby’s a good driver and my hat’s off to the 4 team they did an excellent job tonight,” said Blewett. “But I have to take my hat off to my guys, this is two races here where we’ve been up front and a contender.” Blewett, genuinely pleased with his finish continued, “Maybe it wasn’t my day. I feel you got to earn the win. I guess I have to earn it a little more.” The Howell, NJ driver hopes the next time he gets behind the wheel of the Ling Trucking, Atlantic Sprinkler sponsored, Barney owned Chevrolet, that he parks it victory lane.

On the move was Ridgefield, CT driver Todd Szegedy who had a front seat view of the action unfolding in front of his UNOH, Wisk, Snuggle Ford. Taking the green 13th, Szegedy held his ground and after running as high as second, brought the Mike Smeriglio owned machine across the line for third. “Usually we burn up the right rear. This time we actually burnt the right front up. Very rare but to me that’s a good sign because we’ve done something good. We’ve changed the characteristic of the car,” explained Szegedy about searching for the perfect setup. “ Now we can go back the other way and hopefully that works.”

Santos set fast time earlier in the day taking his third pole and now his second NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour win of the season. “It’s just a sign of what a good team I’m driving for. They’re the defending championship team and they’re proving it right now. I’m like one of the crew members, filling an empty seat on the team. They’re prepared, I’m just happy that I can step in and do a good job for them, try to keep the team going.”

Santos, who scored a win last week in Iowa in a USAC midget was hours away from catching a flight to Indy for the ‘night before the 500’ midget race in the same car he took the checkers with one week ago.

While the end of the TSI Harley-Davidson 125 was challenged with yellows in the closing laps, it was long green runs that ruled the first three-quarters of the event with Eric Berndt leading the way pulling away from the field. A caution just past the century mark closed the field up and it was Chuck Hossfeld in the Ed Bennett Chevrolet passing Berndt for the lead on the restart. Unfortunately Hossfeld would become the next caution when running out of real estate was tapped from behind, the Ransomville, NY driver taking an unwanted spin into the infield. Hossfeld recovered to cross the line fifteenth while Berndt, clearly a force to be reckoned with in the early going, brought his North End Auto Parts Chevrolet home sixth.

If there were a story in a story, it would be Robbie Summers of Vernon, CT who remained consistent and patient throughout the evening bringing home a fifth place finish for the Frasco Fuel Oil, Merrill Electric Chevrolet. “Finally we had a little bit of luck come our way,” said Summers. “The car was awesome right off the trailer.” A testament to the motto ‘never give up’, Summers will be the first to tell you they’ve had “some of the weirdest things happen” to them including battery problems at the Sizzler resulting in a dismal finish. “I’m happy for Bill (Frasco) and Guy (Ronzoni), I’m happy for the whole team.” Running a part time schedule, Summers last top five came in 2008. “We had a solid race day. Hopefully we can keep on going.” With momentum on their side, Summers next race will most likely be New Hampshire 100 on June 26th.

The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour, heads to Martinsville Speedway for the Made In America Whelen 200 June 6th.

  Source: Polly Reid / TheChromeHorn.com
Posted: May 29, 2010

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