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   The Chrome Horn - NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour



Polly Reid

What’s better on your birthday- cake and ice cream? Or a win and a little pad on the points lead? For Bobby Santos, there could not be a much better present than a win in the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Carquest Fall Final at Stafford Motor Speedway. The Franklin, MA driver powered past Ryan Preece on the outside on the final restart to lead the last six circuits capturing his fourth win of the 2010 season for car owner Bob Garbarino in the Mystic Missile. Ron Silk followed for second, Erik Rudolph third, Rowan Pennink and Mike Stefanik the top five.

Santos victory combined with Stefanik’s fifth place finish advanced the now 25 year old driver from 7 points at the green to 37 points at the checkers ahead of nine time NASCAR champion Stefanik. “It was a great team effort, the guys gave me an awesome race car,” said Santos. “This place is tough, you have to be in the right lane on the restart and in the beginning of the race we were in the wrong line and the end of the race we were in the right one.”

At the green, Ron Silk who passed Eric Beers for the lead on lap 3, was indeed the car to beat. But in the end, it was “close again” for Silk, the Norwalk, CT driver bringing his T.S. Haulers/Calverton Tree Farm across for second. Silk led 92 laps during a long green run before being passed by Beers just before a yellow waved at lap 101. The caution prompted whole sale pit stops for the front runners. “We pitted late, we wanted to pit a little before that but there were no yellows,” said Silk. “We pitted and took two.” The car was a little tight after that, but Silk explained, “That’s the problem with taking two, sometimes you can’t match the rear tires up quite right. The guys made the best guess they could at it and I think we just missed a little bit.“ The podium finish was enough to elevate Silk into third place, 99 points shy of Santos, Silk mathematically in the title chase. Silk will have one more shot for the checkers at Thompson where he has posted three of his four career Tour wins there.

Five different drivers led laps in the Carquest Fall Final including Ransomville, NY driver Erik Rudolph. Heading to pit road early, Rudolph brought his Mohawk N.E./Original Pizza Logs machine in on lap 31 along with Berlin, CT shoe Ryan Preece. When the majority of the field finally made their stop on lap 101, it was Preece in the Davidson Co/Mizzy Construction Chevrolet who led the field back to green. However, Rudolph made his move taking the lead for the first of two times in the final 50 circuits that became marred with cautions that included a red flag to repair the barrier in turn three. Restarts bumped Rudolph back as far as fifth before recovering in the late stages to take third. “Yes, we had a chance to win,” said Rudolph. “You know when you’re here, it always comes down to restarts. On one of the restarts we got caught up on the outside and that dropped us back a few positions but we were still there at the end.” Rudolph improved his Stafford statistics from fourth in the last outing to third this time, smiling he added, “A couple more times and we’ll be winning I guess.”

It will be a showdown for the 2010 NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Championship title at the World Series at Thompson in two weeks. Ted Christopher 113 points out and Ron Silk 99 down are still contenders. The focus however is on 37 points separating Santos and Stefanik. Santos who lost the points lead briefly during the season to Christopher carries the pressure to seal the deal. “It‘s been an exciting year, a lot of fun. I have to keep approaching (the last race) the same way we‘ve been approaching them all, we just really want to win races. If we didn‘t win the four races that we‘ve won, we probably wouldn‘t be ahead.” Meanwhile, Stefanik keeping consistent including nine top five finishes this season, left Stafford knowing clearly what the goal is for the Diversified Metals/R.B. Enterprises entry. “We have to go to Thompson and try to win a race, that’s what we have to do.”

A mention this week to Rookie of the Year contender Justin Bonsignore who earned the pole on Saturday. In dramatic fashion, the Holtsville, NY driver went out last in time trials and on the final circuit, set fast time capturing his second pole award of the season. “There’s a lot of history at this place, we’ve been coming here for a long time watching races,” said Bonsignore who also set fast time at Bristol in August. “We knew we had a good chance at getting the pole, we just backed up our practice laps and that was enough to do it.” Driving for car owners Ken and his wife Jeanine Massa, Bonsignore redrew 7th and wheeled his M3 Technology Chevrolet to as high as 4th before pitting on lap 101. Unfortunately, the next restart would not be kind to the rising star whose afternoon ended in a multi car tangle in turn one, Bonsignore eventually posting a 29th place finish.

Eric Beers of Northampton, PA drew the pole after qualifying second, led twice during the Carquest Fall Final including the opening circuits then later, bested Silk on lap 94 holding the point position until the next yellow flew at lap 101 when the leaders including Beers pitted. The Horwith Freightliner Chevrolet was part of the mix in the closing stages and held on to cross the line 9th.

Too early to think about 2011? Not for the 2 team. The Mike Smeriglio owned, Wisk/Snuggle sponsored Ford headlined their Carquest Fall Final run with a brand new Troyer. Shaking down the chassis, Todd Szegedy was close to a top five finish until just after the final restart, with a little help from behind, was sent into a spin. Szegedy recovered quickly to finish 11th.

See you in two weeks to crown a champion and close out the 2010 season at the show of shows, the Sunoco World Series of Racing at Thompson International Speedway. You can catch the Carquest Fall Final this Tuesday, Oct 5th on Versus at 7pm ET..

  Source: Polly Reid / TheChromehorn.com
Posted: October 4, 2010

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