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   The Chrome Horn - NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour



Stafford Motor Speedway
by Polly Reid

It was a stout and savvy move by Bobby Santos that earned the Franklin, MA driver his 7th career Tour win- his first trip to victory lane for the Sully Tinio owned, Imperial/Tinio Corp sponsored Chevrolet in the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Carquest Fall Final at Stafford Motor Speedway.

With the last 93 laps of the Carquest Fall Final 150 green, the win appeared to be clear cut for Woody Pitkat who had secured the top spot on lap 17 passing Ron Silk for the lead. Pitkat was putting some comfortable real estate between himself and Santos in second but as the laps ticked off the board, Santos made his move. Suddenly closing the distance, Santos read his competition and with less than five circuits to go, went low going into turn three coming out of turn four the new and final leader of the day claiming the coveted Carquest Fall Final victory.

Pitkat crossed for second with Coors Light pole award winner Jimmy Blewett third, Ron Silk and Ryan Preece the top five.

"I got to thank these guys on the Tinio team, it's a lot of fun. Congratulations to Woody Pitkat - he did an awesome job, it feels great to win but I really wished he had won, he's like family. I'm happy he ran good- I would have been happy if I came in first or second there.”
It was a combination of a couple of things for Santos that propelled the Tinio machine forward at the end. "I was taking care of my stuff, I was trying to save my tires then Flemke, he was trying to help Woody win the race, he was kind of using me up, honestly that was probably the motivation for me in the last ten laps, to get up on the wheel."

Santos took the green second and dropped back as far as 6th, but was never out of the mix as he settled into second by lap 27 and owned that spot through two more cautions. As the Fall Final continued and the field stretched out, Pitkat remained in command with Santos second. It was in the closing circuits that Ben Dodge said 'Santos came alive' closing the gap instantly and made the winning pass catching Pitkat admitted by surprise.

"One time I looked, he was probably 10 or 15 car lengths behind me,” said Pitkat. “I must have just wiggled one time off of 3 and 4 there and he must have just sucked me up. I was losing the power steering at the end. I was doing what Jimmy Blewett told me to do, don't worry about any noise or any weird feeling, just drive it like you stole it."

“It's nice to have the opportunity to show these guys it is a top five car, it should be a top five car every week,” Pitkat explained about the Hill Enterprises owned Chevrolet. “I've raced on the Tour what the last five or six years? These last two weeks have been the least stressful- the way you would want to unload the car, practice smoothly, make a couple of minor adjustments, the car gets better every time you do it. We had good times after we practiced, after we time trialed, had a good dinner, slept well- everything has been so smooth, it's just been a dream come true for me. I just can't thank Sandra Hill enough for giving me the opportunity again. It would be nice to have been one more spot ahead but maybe we can do that in two weeks."

“I lost to a brother-in-law, the guy has millions and millions of laps, he started a lot younger than I did, I'm very proud of him. If I can't win, that's who I want to see win instead. I really wanted to win- I thought I was going to be the dark horse for Courchesne.”

During the caution on lap 50, Blewett played out an important strategy that would have worked had another yellow come out. Blewett lined up 20th on the restart and passed his way through the field finding himself back into the top ten with 40 to go. Blewett continued forward landing into the top five with 8 to go making his final move with 3 to go passing Ron Silk for third.

"First I'd like to congratulate Bobby Santos and his entire team, they've been doing good all season, had their ups and downs, I'm happy for them to get the win here today. Hats off to my team, they did an excellent job, I couldn't be here without my grandfather and all the support of the people that surround me. We're getting closer. We put tires on, we short pitted there thinking we'd get a caution later in the race and gain the track position - but who knew it would go green for that long. We'll take third any day of the week. “

Running a limited NWMT schedule, the Sully Tinio team has been competitive in each outing.

“I’ve been really fortunate to be working with them,” said Santos. “They’re new to the Tour but they’ve been working really, really hard. They are having a lot of fun, their enjoying it- this means a lot for a rookie team.”

“I really thought we were going to be sitting in second place,” said Lawney, son of car owner Sully Tinio of the last ten laps. “Then I looked up and Bobby was there. Then he got by with five to go and started walking away with it and was pretty sure then we were going to take it. I’m very happy for my dad to get a win under his belt with this- I’m very happy for the team to get it- Stevie Lemay is unbelievable, Bobby is unbelievable, the crew- they’re at the garage all the time, they never give up. Thank you to Imperial Cars, Oleeva’s Market and Dan Kelly’s Morgan Horses, they’ve made it a lot easier to be here.
Hopefully there is many more to come.”

The newly formed team is headed up by crew chief Steve Lemay of Blackstone, MA. “We’re having a blast, this is what it’s all about,” said Lemay about his first NWMT win. “There’s no pressure from the points that helps. We just try and run as good as we can and win races. You get a good car owner, you put the right driver in it- the kid is going to drive the wheels off of it, there’s no doubt about it. I worked with Bobby ten years ago when he got into the modifieds, so we kind of have a history together. I’ve know his dad his whole life.” Lemay helped strike a deal with Santos during the off season that has led to a successful season for the Tinio team. “This is like a dream for me, to get the opportunity to do this.”

Point leader Doug Coby of Milford, CT in the Wayne Darling owned Reynolds Auto Wrecking Chevrolet took the green 11th and finished the day 9th. A few points were shaved from his lead with the finishes of Preece and Silk as Coby heads into the final NWMT event 18 points ahead of Preece, 19 over Silk.

The Thompson World Series in two weeks will crown the 2012 NWMT Champion. Three drivers, Coby, Preece and defending champion Silk head to the closer as title contenders.

Jamie Tomiano of Howell, NJ was named the Grand Marshall of the 40th Annual Carquest Fall Final. Denise DuPont caught up with Jamie before the green flag and came back with this from the Ironman of the NWMT. “It is definitely and honor. I was always hoping to do something like this. But I always thought you would have to stop racing first. So when they asked me to do it and I am still racing, I think that it is a great honor and definitely a privilege to do it." Since the inception of the NWMT in 1985, Tomiano has competed in all but five of the 557 races- his first NWMT victory? The 1986 Fall Final.

See you all at Thompson October 13th and 14th for the World Series – if you can’t be there, click on TheChromeHorn.com for Denise Dupont’s live updates.

  Source: Polly Reid / TheChromeHorn.com
Posted: October 2, 2012

©2012 GeeLaw Motorsports/Wolf Pack Ventures, Inc.