NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour
Thompson International Speedway
Bobby Santos III
Takes Down Win
looked like it was going to be an easy night- a cruise to the finish line.
But when the checkered flag fell on lap 158, the trip to victory lane had
been anything but easy for Bobby Santos of Franklin, MA who overcame a
hiccup on a pit stop, fended off the challenges of Donny Lia, Rowan Pennink
and Eric Goodale, survived two green white checker attempts- crossing the
stripe under a yellow checker for the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Budweiser
150 victory at Thompson International Speedway.
Donny Lia, Eric Goodale finished on the podium with Doug Coby and Woody
Pitkat crossing for the top five.
“It’s my home track. It means a lot to win at Thompson. I’ve won here in the
fall, I’ve won here in the spring but I’ve never won here during the summer.
We actually seem to struggle at this race- this win means a lot to have the
Bud 150 win. It means a ton to the team, to all of us- to win at home.”
While Santos was thrilled to take down the win, he exited the Tinio
Racing/Brendan Kelley Music sponsored Chevrolet with this, “First off, two
apologies- Justin Bonsignore, I lost my cool a little bit when I passed him
I was mad at myself for the pit stop and second off, sorry to my guys I lost
them that space in the pit stop – but- it made it exciting.”
Fastest in practice, Santos followed those numbers up by earning the Coors
Light Pole Award. After two cautions in the first two dozen circuits of the
Budweiser 150, Santos dominated the long green run with a consistent half a
stretch lead over the field. At the half way mark, it was Santos over Todd
Szegedy, Mike Stefanik, Donny Lia, and Doug Coby. By lap 100, Santos was
tearing through the field with Szegedy, Coby, Ryan Preece and Justin
Bonsignore the top five. The top pack was working lap traffic when a caution
waved for a single car spin on lap 108.
Nearly the entire field took the breather making their way to pit row for
tires and adjustments.
Szegedy blistered first off pit row becoming the new leader of the Bud 150
with Bonsignore, Ron Silk, Lia and Coby the new top five. After stalling the
car on pit row, Santos lined up a disappointing sixth on the lap 117
On the outside lane for the restart, Szegedy brought the field down the
front stretch into turn one. Out of turn two it was Bonsignore the new
leader as Szegedy encountered trouble- while he saved the car from the wall,
Szegedy lost several positions.
A caution on lap 122 ended the night for Ted Christopher who collected up
Stefanik in the process. Stefanik continued but front end damage would keep
the winner of the Icebreaker from being a factor in the Bud 150.
Bonsignore, Silk, Lia, Santos and Coby lined up for the lap 127 restart.
Santos gained significant ground and just as he went under Bonsignore for
the lead, the yellow waved again this time for point leader Ryan Preece who
had a tire go down sending the Berlin, CT driver in a spin. A full lap for
the field not complete, Santos lined up again fourth. Restarting on lap 132,
it was two circuits later that Santos made his move on Bonsignore to take
over the lead on lap 135.
“I put a good move on Justin the first time the yellow came out and passed
him,” said Santos. “The next time, I was a little frustrated, I knew I
needed to get to the front and I kind of moved him up the hill a little more
than I should have and I apologize to him first of all.”
Another caution on lap 136 closed the field up again and while Santos, Silk,
Lia, Goodale and Coby had the top five spots covered, the action was just
heating up as Rowan Pennink appeared to be heading for a solid night at
Thompson taking over third place by lap 145.
However a caution on lap 147 put the Bud 150 into overtime setting up a
green, white, checker finish. Santos led Lia, Pennink, Goodale, Silk and
Szegedy to the green when on the front stretch as the field passed the flag
stand, Pennink was pushed up and over- the Monk Mechanics Hand Cleaner
sponsored Chevrolet was suddenly airborne- first a head over heal flip.
Landing on the roof, the car then barrel rolled right side up. The field
came to a sudden halt for the red flag. Pennink was thankfully able to exit
under his own power. The field took evasive action, but Szegedy caught a
piece of the incident and was forced to pit- the Ridgefield, CT driver was
able to return and managed to finish 9th.
A second attempt at a green, white, checker on lap 156, Santos led Lia,
Goodale, Silk, Coby and Preece to the line. The white flag waving, fans on
their feet, an incident in turns one and two forced a yellow, checker finish
as Santos passed the stripe with the win- his 10th career NWMT victory, his
4th at Thompson. Point leader Preece was caught up in the final melee but
was able to drive away finishing just outside the top ten in 13th.
Lia held onto to second with Goodale a strong third, Coby fourth and Woody
Pitkat fifth. Ron Silk was sixth with Jimmy Blewett, Jamie Tomaino, Szegedy
and Ron Yuhas, Jr -recovering from an incident 9 laps earlier finished 10th.
After leading nearly 20 laps, Bonsignore would end his night with a tow
truck push behind the pit wall and credit for 20th place.
Scoring back to back NWMT second place finishes, Lia was happy with his
podium finish. “We just kept track position all night which is what got us
here. We got caught on the bottom on the restarts - we just needed a little
more time really - I think we were as good as Bobby- congratulations to
those guys, they had a great day today. We would have loved to run that over
again with a few less cautions.” The Jericho, NY driver continued. “I’ve got
to thank the guys- they had an awesome pit stop. Bob (Garbarino), I have to
thank him, he gives us whatever we need to run better- we’re working our way
to the front which is where you want to be. It’s fun to be up front- I’ve to
thank the guys for a great night – a ton of hard work in the shop – we’ve
made a lot of changes to these cars over the season so far and we’re getting
there- we’re getting close- second, two weeks in a row, I’ll take that as a
start. We’ll go to Bristol and focus on winning that race.”
Scoring his first top five of the point season, Eric Goodale of Riverhead,
NY in the Riverhead Building Supply Chevrolet started his night 16th on the
grid. “We really struggled throughout the day in practice, we didn’t do such
a good job in qualifying but we talked about what changes we wanted to make,
Jason (Shephard) made the right calls. For all the laps I’ve turned at this
track, it feels pretty good. This is the one track I’ve got the most laps at
– I think even more than my hometown track in Riverhead. I didn’t want the
last two cautions to come out. We got to second on both cautions that came
out right away. We’ll take a third. The car is in one piece, we had a great
pit stop – we were there at the end.”
Santos is thankful for the team and equipment behind his success. “Billy the
Kid under this hood on this thing is unbelievable, Stevie Lemay, everybody
whose involved in this deal, it’s a lot of fun to drive for them – winning
one of these races means a lot.”
“The car was really on today,” said crew chief Steve Lemay about the winning
Northeast Race Car. “We were a little off at Stafford – we lucked out
tonight we were on right from the start. We never adjusted the whole race,
just put (3) tires on it and went right back out. We got beat by a few
people because they only put on two. Bobby stalled the car in the pits and
was upset with himself – said he would make it up and he did. Bobby is a
smart driver. I couldn’t ask for a better driver-he’s a lot of fun to work
with- we can give one another a lot of information. We do our homework at
home. We did like 8 laps of practice then our 3 lap mock time trial run. The
car was good so we just got ready for time trials- the car was right on.
When it all comes altogether like this it’s fun.”
Lawney Tinio could not have been happier scoring a NWMT win at their
hometrack. “What a great day for this team. The last race we were fastest in
practice, got the pole, needed a caution and we couldn’t get one and this
race, it worked out well. Bobby did a really good job, our crew chief Steve
Lemay set the car up great- Billy the Kid motor was on fire- the whole team
worked hard to keep the car set up correctly so we could go for that win –
it worked out today. Everybody works really hard, our whole team is at the
shop 5 days a week, everyone pitches in and helps out- that’s the great
thing about it. We have a team that jives- we all get along. Bobby comes out
and drives the car for us – works with us to make the adjustments – it just
runs nice and smooth right now – we’re very lucky to have that.”
Santos and the Tinio Racing will be part of the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour
migration south to Bristol Motor Speedway for the Titan Roof 150 on
Wednesday Aug 21st – a combination race with the NASCAR Whelen Southern
Modified Tour. After sitting out the event last year, Santos is looking
forward to returning to the high banked half mile while the Tinio crew will
be laying eyes on the speedway for the first time this next week.
Five events left on the NWMT schedule, Ryan Preece carries a 16 point lead
over defending champion Doug Coby heading to Bristol. The Chrome Horn will
be there with live updates on Wednesday - look forward to having you join
Denise DuPont and I for the action at ‘The Last Great Coliseum.’
Source: Polly Reid / TheChromeHorn.com