DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – With three wins already in the books as the 2014 NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour season reaches the halfway point this week, Bobby Santos looks to be firmly entrenched in the championship chase.
Santos, from Franklin, Massachusetts, took down win No. 3 last week at New Hampshire Motor Speedway to move within just two tallies of points leader Doug Coby. Had Coby not been second across the “Magic Mile” finish line, Santos might have even had the points lead heading to Monadnock Speedway for this week’s O’Reilly Auto Parts 200.
The season got off to an inauspicious start for Santos and the No. 44 Tinio Racing team. In the opener at their home track, Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park, the team finished eight laps down in 18th following mid-race issues. The bounce-back was immediate, however, and perhaps the key to being where they are now. Santos drove to Victory Lane the very next time out at Stafford Motor Speedway and their season was quickly back on track.
A Santos win at Stafford was not a surprise – six of his now 13 total victories have been earned there – but subsequent triumphs at Waterford Speedbowl and NHMS were firsts for both driver and team. With wins together at tracks where five of the remaining eight scheduled races are to be held, Santos and the Tinio crew have to feel confident about their championship chances in the season’s second half.
The next challenge will come on Saturday at Monadnock, a track that Tinio Racing has yet to compete at. Santos turned in finishes of fifth and 15th there with Mystic Missile Racing in 2010 and 2011, but the Tinio No. 44 has skipped the event the two previous seasons. They’ll likely need a top performance to stay with Coby in points; Coby was the runner-up at Monadnock in each of the last two years, and the No. 2 team that he now drives for won there in 2011.
RACE: O’Reilly Auto Parts 200
PLACE: Monadnock Speedway, Winchester, N.H.
DATE: Saturday, July 19
TIME: 8:30 p.m. ET
TRACK LAYOUT: .25-mile, banked asphalt oval
2013 POLESITTER: Eric Goodale
2013 WINNER: Justin Bonsignore
EVENT SCHEDULE: Practice 1:30-2:30 p.m., Qualifying 4 p.m., Driver Autograph Session 6 p.m.
TRACK TWITTER: @monadnockspeed
EVENT TWITTER HASHTAG: #OReilly200
The Race: The O’Reilly Auto Parts 200 at Monadnock Speedway will be the seventh of 14 races on the 2014 NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour schedule. It will be the lone appearance for the tour at Monadnock, but the second of three races in the state of New Hampshire.
The Procedure: The maximum starting field is 28 cars, including provisionals. The first 23 cars will have secured starting positions based on two-lap qualifying. The remaining five spots will be awarded through the provisional process. The race is scheduled for 200 laps (50 miles).
The Track: Monadnock is one of two high-banked quarter-mile tracks that the Whelen Modified Tour annually visits. Monadnock held five tour races from 1986-90 and returned to the schedule in 2010.
Race Winners: Each of the nine all-time races at Monadnock have produced different winners. Ken Bouchard won the inaugural event in 1986 and Justin Bonsignore took the checkered flag a year ago.
Pole Winners: There have been seven different pole winners in the eight races at Monadnock, with Bouchard the lone driver with two. Eric Goodale took the pole in last year’s event and Ryan Preece owns the track qualifying record at 12.313 seconds (73.082 mph) set in 2012.
Monadnock Race Notes:
Halfway Home This Time By: The 2014 NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour season will reach the midway point this week at Monadnock Speedway with the O’Reilly Auto Parts 200. It’s the second year in a row that the rural Winchester oval has played host to the seventh of 14 scheduled events. Last year the Monadnock race fell in this position on the calendar due to a May postponement, but this year the date was scheduled for mid-July.
Two in a Row in the Granite State: The Whelen Modified Tour only has three championship events in the state of New Hampshire each season, and two will come in back-to-back weeks. Last Saturday the tour ran at the 1.058-mile New Hampshire Motor Speedway oval in Loudon and this Saturday it will return to the Granite State at the .25-mile Monadnock bullring. The third and final New Hampshire race will take place in September at NHMS.
Mystic Missile Racing Hopes to Rebound: It was a rough weekend for the No. 4 Mystic Missile Racing team last week in Loudon. Donny Lia suffered a hard crash in the non-points Whelen All-Star Shootout on Friday, and without a back-up car, the team secured a loaner from Kevin Manion’s No. 7ny team. With a black Chevrolet carrying the v4 marks instead of a traditional yellow Dodge, Lia once again suffered an accident in Saturday’s Sunoco 100. The Dodge that went down on Friday is the only car the team has, so they have a lot of work to do this week in preparation for Monadnock.
Look Out for the Long Islanders: Monadnock is a bullring, so the Whelen Modified Tour’s Long Island natives immediately become drivers to watch this week thanks to their roots at Riverhead Raceway. Last year Long Islanders won the day at Monadnock as Eric Goodale sat on the pole and led the first 16 laps before Justin Bonsignore took over and manned point the rest of the way en route to Victory Lane. Lia’s past bullring success should always have him in the mix and rookie Timmy Solomito has been a contender to win in prior tour starts at Riverhead.
Preece Still Seeks First Win: During his 2013 championship campaign, Ryan Preece already had three wins entering Monadnock week. Through six races this year, the checkered flags have yet to come, and he currently ranks sixth in points. The O’Reilly Auto Parts 200 could provide the best opportunity for a win yet. Preece has a remarkable record on bullrings, where six of his nine career triumphs have been earned, including Monadnock in 2012.
Christopher Getting Closer: All signs point toward an eminent end to the second-longest winless drought of Ted Christopher’s Whelen Modified Tour career. A veteran of 42 triumphs, Christopher has finished on the podium in each of the three previous races, including a third place effort last week at NHMS. He led 66 laps and finished second in the tour’s last bullring race at Riverhead. The 2010 Monadnock winner, Christopher’s drought is currently at 35 races.
Tune-In Times: Don’t forget to watch last week’s New Hampshire races this coming weekend on FOX Sports 1. The Sunoco 100 will airFriday at Noon while the Whelen All-Star Shootout is slated for Sunday at 2 p.m.
Home Tracks: Patnode Paces Granite State Standings
Monadnock Speedway’s Todd Patnode has forged a 60-point lead in the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series standings in the state of New Hampshire. Through the latest national points update on July 7, Patnode led Bill Kimball Jr. by a tally of 294-234. Both compete weekly at Monadnock in the sportsman modified division where Patnode has a 430-390 lead in track points through July 5.
Last Time Out: Loudon
The sixth race of the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour 2014 season took place on July 12 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon, N.H. Here are some highlights from the Sunoco 100:
- Bobby Santos’ last-lap pass netted a 13th career victory, but it was his first at the “Magic Mile.”
- Ron Silk earned his ninth career Coors Light Pole Award prior to the race.
- The race featured 35 official lead changes, the highest on record in the 30-year Whelen Modified Tour history.
- Prior to the event, Ryan Newman won the inaugural Whelen All-Star Shootout non-points race that featured past champions and race winners from the Whelen Modified and Whelen Southern Modified Tours.
Next Time Out: Stafford
The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour will return to action on Friday, Aug. 8 for the third of four events at Stafford Motor Speedway, and the second of two night races at the historic half mile. Doug Coby is a two-time defending winner of the 24th Annual Call Before You Dig 811 150 and the victor in the most recent Stafford race on June 6.
-NASCAR Integrated Marketing Communications Press Release
-Photo Credit: Rick Ibsen/Speed51.com