STAFFORD MOTOR SPEEDWAY
NMWT TECH-NET SPRING SIZZLER
you were to describe the perfect race weekend- ask Bobby Santos of Franklin,
MA who posted fastest practice time, won the Coors Light Pole award on
Saturday and led 197 of 200 laps on Sunday winning the NASCAR Whelen
Modified Tour Tech-Net Spring Sizzler at Stafford Motor Speedway.
Under welcomed New England sunny skies, full grandstands of fans watched as
a late race caution brought the field to green for the final time with three
to go- Santos was able to hold off the threats of Ryan Preece and Justin
Bonsignore to score the prestigious win, his ninth NWMT career overall, his
5th at Stafford and second Spring Sizzler victory.
Bonsignore crossed for second, Ted Christopher third, Preece fourth and
Rowan Pennink fifth.
Santos, elated with the win, took a moment after exiting the winning Sully
Tinio owned, Curb Records/Brendan Kelley Music sponsored Chevrolet and amid
the congratulations, found it difficult to speak, his words emotional. “This
one means the world. I just have to dedicate this win to my whole family. We
lost one of my little cousins this week- this is for my Uncle Jay and
Aleshia, they’re all family- they support every race for me. They couldn’t
be here today, they are all at a wake today- this one is for them.”
Santos commanded the Spring Sizzler from the drop of the green. Rowan
Pennink, Todd Szegedy, Preece and Chuck Hossfeld kept the leader in their
sights, the field focusing on trying to catch Santos yet be there at the end
of 200 laps around the half mile oval.
A yellow on lap 46 was the end of the day for Hossfeld with a terminal
transmission problem. Santos led Pennink, Preece, Doug Coby, Szegedy and
Mike Stefanik back to the green.
A caution just past the half way mark brought the majority of the field to
pit row including Santos, Preece, Pennink, Lia, Coby, Bonsignore, Szegedy,
Mike Stefanik and Ron Yuhas, Jr.
On the restart, Patrick Emerling and Jamie Tomaino who had pitted earlier
led the field to green. Santos picked his way back to the front spot
resuming the lead on lap 108.
A red flag on lap 150 stopped the action as the track crew cleaned up an
incident on the backstretch wall, an incident that appeared terminal for Ron
Silk. It did not go unnoticed the efforts of the TS Haulers/Calverton Tree
Farm sponsored crew who got Silk back out onto the speedway. While several
laps down, Silk was able to salvage a seventeenth place finish.
A total of ten cautions slowed the Sizzler but it was the last restart with
three to go that set up the final run to the checkers. Santos with Preece,
Bonsignore, Pennink, Coby, Christopher and Yuhas the top six brought the
double file restart to green. Santos pulled away, the inside lane of
Bonsignore moved to second with Christopher to third, Preece and Pennink
crossed for the top five. As Santos was coming to the checkers, a spin in
turn four forced a yellow checker finish.
“These guys are a lot of fun,” said Santos about 44 team. “It’s an honor to
be involved with them.”
“We didn’t give up all day,” said Bonsignore. The Holtsville, NY driver
started the Ken Massa owned, M3 Technology sponsored Chevrolet 14th on the
grid. “The car was good, we made some moves. I just wish we had qualified
better, it would have made it an easier day.”
“They were class of the field and they deserve that,” said Bonsignore about
Santos. “Aside from Santos, it was a really close battle between everybody,
it was a lot of fun. It’s hard racing- the beginning of the season, everyone
wants to get off on the right foot and get the best start in points that you
can and that’s what we did today.” Bonsignore crossed the finish line with a
fuel deficiency needing a push into victory lane, the yellow checker working
in his favor. “I sputtered off of turn two just as I got onto the gas and as
my spotter called the yellow it just about shut off, we really lucked out
Stafford’s most winning driver, Ted Christopher of Plainville, CT claimed a
solid podium finish. “We relate so good together, we keep getting better and
better,” said Christopher about the Jan Boehler owned 3 team with crew chief
Scott Richards sponsored by Silver Dollar Construction/Cape Cod Copper.
“There are a few issues we’re going to look at and get things better. We
hope to be back at Stafford with another piece under the hood and see what
“It was a good run from where we were,” said Christopher who took the green
15th. “It worked out where we wanted to pit. I’ll take a third from where I
started. You know what it is with these things, restarts are so key- if
you’re on a different (tire) cycle but as soon as you run 6 or 7 laps,
everybody evens out that’s why I wanted to pit late. It turned out really
good, I wanted to pit with like thirty-five to go but sixty to go was good.”
Pitting early for adjustments, Christopher worked his way back into the top
ten with fifty to go and kept moving forward starting seventh with ten to
go. The cautions at the end helped Christopher who used the final restart
going from 6th with three laps left to third at the checkers. “The car was
real comfortable. They’re such great people to work with, I have a good time
with those guys, they are really good to race with, I enjoy that.”
Santos was confident in his car, but knows anything can happen under yellow.
“I think I had an angel in my car this weekend. I lost my cousin this week,
I think he was riding with me all weekend. I heard people saying during
qualifying I had a cloud- I had a little extra help this weekend.”
Santos credits the 44 crew chief Steve Lemay and the entire team with doing
all the work, “They make my job easy.”
The Spring Sizzler win puts Santos in the running for the CARQUEST Triple
Crown- should Santos win the August race and the Fall Final, he will collect
an additional $25,000. “We have to win the August race then we’ll worry
about the Fall Final. It’s really cool that Stafford and CARQUEST are doing
that. I’m thankful for everything they are doing for us on the Tour.”
“We owe this all to Stevie Lemay for setting up the car and for Bobby out
there taking care of the equipment,” said car owner Sully Tinio via Lawney.
We have a Billy The Kid motor and the entire crew, they work so hard. The
guys really dedicate a lot of time back at the shop, taking time out of
their personal lives to make sure this thing is ready to go. To win it
really shows their dedication- it gives them a reason to come back next
week. We did a lot of number crunching on the inside wondering if we were
going to take fuel or not- Bobby was insistent that he was saving so we went
with it. We want to thank our new sponsor Curb Records for noticing us, for
About the CARQUEST Triple Crown? “We’re one third of the way there but one
race at a time. You never know when the next win is coming.”
“It’s a whole team effort,” said winning crew chief Steve Lemay. “I do my
part, the crew does their part and Bobby does his part. It’s all working
right now. Sometimes you just hit on those things – you couldn’t ask for a
better team to be with right now. My first full season doing this, we did it
part time last year – we picked up a new sponsor and we’re definitely
planning on running the whole Tour.” Lemay talked about how the team has
been working even harder on pit stops. “We practice our pit stops – we
aren’t going for how fast we can do it, but how clean we can do it without
mistakes because mistakes are what cost the race. The guys pulled off a real
clean stop today – we came in first and went back out first. The win, it was
a whole team effort.”
“Bobby is so smooth- he saved fuel out there today – he saved and saved. I
was going to come in for fuel, we talked and talked and he talked me out of
coming in for fuel because he had saved enough and he would make it as long
as we had some cautions he would make it and he did.
About the CARQUEST Triple Crown? Lemay echoed the same response as driver
and car owner- “one race at a time.”
Lemay is looking forward to the next NWMT event at Monadnock – Lemay has a
title he earned with this brother Joe in a six cylinder division years ago.
“I’m excited to go back.”
Monadnock Speedway in Winchester, NH is the next NWMT event on Saturday May
11th. With his two top five finishes, Rowan Pennink takes the point lead
with 83, one ahead of Mike Stefanik and Ryan Preece tied for second at 82.
Ted Christopher -80 and Justin Bonsignore- 78 the top five. Defending
champion Doug Coby is currently sixth with 75.
Source: Polly Reid / TheChromeHorn.com