Bobby Santos III played a very patient game at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on Saturday, waiting until just the right time to make his move to the front and seal victory in a wild 2019 Musket 250 Presented By Whelen. It is Santos’ fifth Modified Tour victory at NHMS and his first Musket 250 win.
Santos started Saturday afternoon’s 250-lap marathon in 7th place, hanging around inside the top ten for the majority of the afternoon. His team played the strategy game to perfection, keeping him in contention and getting him up front when it mattered most.
Santos took the lead on Lap 243 after restarting fifth just four laps prior, but immediately had to deal with a dominant Jon McKennedy. The duo traded the lead seven times in the last six laps, but Santos fended off a dive-bombing McKennedy on the final lap and held on to win the race – the first-ever victory for team owner Dave Sapienza and Sap Enterprises on the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour.
“I saw the front, and I knew if I could put myself in position to be leading this thing and fighting for the lead in the top two spots then we’d have a shot at it,” Santos said in victorylLane. “I just have to thank these guys, they worked their butts off all weekend, Sap and all his guys for giving me this opportunity. When he got hurt, for him to call me, that means a lot. But he’s got a great group, he’s a great leader of this team. Pretty excited, this one’s cool.”
Even though Santos has been a full-time competitor of the Modified Tour in the past and has won several Tour races at Loudon, he still realizes just how special it is to reach victory lane at “The Magic Mile.”
“Loudon is special for the Modifieds, I mean this is our Super Bowl. Everyone brings their best piece here, everyone brings their best, so to win this race it makes it even more special. It’s just an honor to be in victory lane here today.
“As far as race wins and the competition in this series, it doesn’t get much better. As far as I’m concerned, these are the best drivers in the country. I’d put the top ten in this race up against anybody, anywhere, so to win here against these guys means a lot.”
Santos is still substituting for Dave Sapienza, who injured his back in a brutal crash at Wall Stadium back in May. For Sapienza, there was no other man he wanted to drive his car – it was Santos or nothing.
“This is a dream come true, especially having Bobby drive for me,” Sapienza said in the pits after the race. “There’s no better. I didn’t give it a thought to anybody else other than Bobby Santos. I called Bobby, we went back and forth. He was really excited, he said listen, I’ll do whatever you want, I’ll make it work, and here he is. He’s the best.”
Jon McKennedy, Doug Coby, Chuck Hossfeld, and Justin Bonsignore all crossed the line within half a second of Santos. Swanson, Summers, Pasteryak, Putnam, and Lutz completed the top ten.
Ron Silk had a very fast car but came to grief with Eric Goodale as they worked around the lapped car of Timmy Catalano on Lap 222. They split Catalano as they entered Turn 1, but Goodale entered the corner too low and washed up the track into Silk, sending them both into the fence and out of the race. Despite
Silk’s domination of the second half of the race, he was credited with a 22nd place finish.
Defending race winner Chase Dowling saw his chance of a repeat win go up in smoke as his engine expired on Lap 197.
The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour rolls on with just two more races to go in their 2019 campaign. First up is the Stafford Motor Speedway for the NAPA Auto Parts Fall Final on Saturday, September 29, before moving on to the Sunoco World Series of Speedway Racing at Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park on Sunday, October 13.
Fans can find full results and a race recap on Trackside Now, and can see an exclusive video recap of the race on the Speed51 Network.
-Story by: Ian Pettigrew, Northeast Correspondent - Twitter: @ian_pettigrew
-Photo credit: Matthew Wiernasz, WWLP-22 News
1 36 Bobby Santos III 250
2 7 Jon McKennedy 250
3 2 Doug Coby 250
4 21 Chuck Hossfeld 250
5 51 Justin Bonsignore 250
6 3 Matt Swanson 250
7 64 Rob Summers 250
8 75 Chris Pasteryak 250
9 77 Gary Putnam 250
10 46 Craig Lutz 249
11 25 Calvin Carroll 248
12 1 Woody Pitkat 247
13 x6 Timmy Solomito 247
14 82 Andy Seuss 247
15 45 Timmy Catalano 244
16 33 Wade Cole 241
17 14 Blake Barney 239
18 06 Sam Rameau 234
19 4 Burt Myers 229
20 34 J.B. Fortin 226
21 58 Eric Goodale 224
22 85 Ron Silk 222
23 07 Patrick Emerling 219
24 38 Mike Willis Jr. 216
25 18 Ken Heagy 209
26 99 Chase Dowling 197
27 92 Anthony Nocella 178
28 83 Dave Salzarulo 111
29 54 Tommy Catalano 104
30 84 Amy Catalano 60
31 01 Melissa Fifield 60
32 47 Joey Mucciacciaro 30
33 78 Walter Sutcliffe, Jr. 1