Bobby Santos, who trailed leader Ted Christopher into the final corner of Saturday’s NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour event at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, knew what he was going to do to get the lead coming to the checkers.
He knew what Christopher was going to do to try to hold the lead, as well.
Everything Santos prepared for came to fruition and it worked out to his benefit.
Just as Santos figured would happen, leader Ted Christopher protected the inside groove into turn three on the final lap of the Sunoco 100. Also as he figured, Christopher washed up the track between turns three and four. Like he planned, Santos drove under Christopher to take the checkered flag for his first NWMT win at New Hampshire.
“I had that (last lap) planned out,” Santos told Speed51.com powered by JEGS. “I knew that’s what I was going to do. I expected Teddy to do what he did. I didn’t know if he was going to drag race me on the outside or if I was going to clear him or if he was going to cross me back. I knew he was going to send it in, then wash up and I just planned for that.
“Unless I had a full car on Teddy going into one on the green, he’s going to send it in. He was the leader and he was going to protect his spot. So I knew I needed to hook to his bumper and get in second. I knew he was going to block the bottom. That’s what everybody does. You’re just a sitting duck leading this. I just stayed up in the line and crossed him up coming off the corner and it worked out.”
Christopher led on the race’s final green-white-checkered restart and was in search of his sixth NWMT win at New Hampshire. Unlike Santos’ plan, Christopher’s didn’t work out as he hoped.
“There’s always something different you can do,” said Christopher. “If I had a plan number-two and go back and use it, I would. I always look at stuff and maybe next race I may try something totally different.”
Santos’ victory was his third of the 2014 season. His 13th overall win was also his first at NHMS.
“It means a ton,” said Santos. “This is our Super Bowl. This is our big race. I can only win at Stafford and Thompson. We won at Waterford not long ago and now here. That’s just a testament to this race team and this car. I’ve had good cars here, but I’ve never had what I needed when it counted.”
The excitement of the last lap was an extension of a race that saw, unofficially, 27 lead changes. There were even more lead swaps between drivers before they officially counted at the start-finish line. Polesitter Ron Silk, 2013 champion Ryan Preece and Todd Szegedy showed the way at one time or another through the race, which was extended to 110 laps with two green-white-checkered restarts.
Doug Coby never led, but he challenged when it mattered, sneaking through the pack to get to second at the checkered flag when Christopher slid up the track.
“I didn’t know what the hell was going on on the last lap,” said Coby. “I saw Ted in the grass and Bobby taking the outside. I figured Ted was going to door-slam Bobby. I tried to push Bobby out there as far as I could so that he couldn’t do what he did.
“It was close. Coming off turn four, we were about an inch apart and Bobby tried to split the two of us. One move either way could’ve turned somebody in front of the whole field. I’m happy with second and happy the car is in one piece and happy the fans got a good show.”
NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Ryan Newman, who won Friday’s Whelen All-Star Showdown non-points event at NHMS, finished fourth. Ryan Preece was fifth.
Speed51.com will have more from NHMS later in the week, including photo galleries from New Hampshire Motor Speedway and more.
– By Matt Kentfield, Speed51.com Executive Director. Twitter @MattKentfield
Unofficial NWMT Sunoco 100 Finish