For much of Saturday’s NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway it appeared that the race would come down to Ryan Preece and Ryan Newman. Then it appeared that it could be Doug Coby’s race to win. But at the end of 100 laps, it was Bobby Santos coming out of nowhere to win the Eastern Propane and Oil 100 at “The Magic Mile.”
The win was Santos’ third career victory at New Hampshire and his 15th overall NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour win.
“To win at this race track means the world. This is our third win here now at this (track) and it’s pretty awesome,” Santos said.
Santos contended at the front of the field early in the race but appeared to be fading throughout the early and middle stages of the 100-lap race. While Santos faded, Newman and Preece dominated up front with the two Ryans swapping the lead numerous times.
Late in the race, defending champion Doug Coby closed in on the leaders to make it a three-way battle. As the lead trio battled and swapped the top spot up front, Santos closed in and made it a four-way fight for the win with two laps to go.
Exiting turn four with the white flag in sight, Newman and Coby made contact that brought out the caution and ended both driver’s chances at victory. While the accident ended their chances, it provided Santos with an opportunity.
In a green-white-checkered finish, Santos used “something” he had found on the inside groove to take the lead from Preece on the restart and pulled away to the checkered flag.
“We had an awesome car on the long run. They got away from me and I was struggling,” Santos said after the race. “I said if I was going to get back in this race I had to try something. I found a line on the bottom; I’m shocked none of their spotters told them that I was there because that won us the race when I found that. If I didn’t move down there I never would have caught them.”
Preece, the winner of Saturday’s Whelen-All Star Shootout at New Hampshire, was discouraged to watch the win slip away on the final restart.
“I knew we were in trouble,” Preece told Speed51.com powered by JEGS. “Bobby was rolling the center really well; he caught all of us. The right front (tire) got beat up, I pushed it harder than I wanted to and just beat it up for the last 15 laps. You really had to pace it, you couldn’t slide it. Once I slide it a few times it wasn’t going to come back. I tried to Band-Aid it using that VHT on the bottom grove and that helped me for a while.”
Dave Sapienza recorded his best career finish away from his home track of Riverhead Raceway (NY) with a third-place finish in Saturday’s race. Brendon Bock finished fourth with Chase Dowling rounding out the top five.
Following the incident with Newman, Coby finished 11th after rejoining the tail end of the field.
After the race, the three-time champion didn’t put fault on Newman for the crash.
“It’s stuff at Loudon. You get wrecked, you wreck people,” Coby said of the incident. “Things happen and nobody knows. I get so frustrated when people think they can say what happened or what somebody could have done differently. It’s really fast out there and everybody is going for every inch they can get and we push things to the limit. Sometimes they work out in your favor and sometimes they don’t. I’ve been on both sides of the fence before.”
“I was riding through the middle. When I got to him I caught his right rear and shot him up,” Newman said while discussing the incident with Coby. “It was going to be a hell of a race.”
Race fans can find on-demand lap-by-lap coverage of Saturday’s race by visiting Speed51.com’s Trackside Now presented by SPAFCO.
-By Brandon Paul, Speed51.com Editor – Twitter: @Brandon_Paul51
-Photo credit: Speed51.com / Rick Ibsen
NWMT Eastern Propane & Oil 100 Unofficial Results
New Hampshire Motor Speedway – July 15, 2017