When NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour teams head to the New Hampshire Motor Speedway for their test on July 6, the Tinio Racing team and Bobby Santos III will have a new crew chief. Steve Lemay is out, and Ryan Stone is now in.
“Sully Tinio and Ray Graham felt we needed a change,” Lawney Tinio told Speed51.com powered by JEGS. “We’d been working with Steve for a few years now. He’s been an excellent crew chief and he’s a great guy. We just lost a little bit of that chemistry we used to have. We felt we needed a change, so that’s the direction we’re headed.”
Tinio said the team finalized a deal with Stone of LFR Chassis (the chassis manufacturer for Tinio Racing) late Thursday night to become the new crew chief of Santos’ No. 44 machine through the remainder of the 2016 season beginning with the Loudon test, and the 100-lap show at the New Hampshire Motor Speedway on July 16.
Stone, 45, has been the Modified Division Director at LFR Chassis for the last two years. He said that he’s excited to get to work with Tinio Racing team as their new crew chief, and remain in the same role with LFR.
“We were able to make it all work, so it’s kind of a win-win for myself, LFR and that race team,” said Stone. “So I’m going to take over as crew chief for the race team starting at Loudon and I’m going to continue to work at LFR in the same capacity that I’ve been in. My primary focus is now on the 44car, but on my off weeks I’ll still be assisting LFR customers.”
Santos and Tinio Racing scored their most recent win on June 15 at the Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park (CT). 10 days later the team finished 12th at Riverhead Raceway (NY).
Tinio said the decision to change crew chiefs came about within the last three days and reiterated that a loss of chemistry was the reason.
“We were confident before and we’ll continue to be confident,” Tinio said. “It wasn’t anything to do with the ability of Steve to set up a car or know what to do with a race car. It was more that we just needed a change. It has nothing to do with the mechanics of it.”
Stone said he believes that with his closeness to the LFR chassis that he and the team will be competitive right out of the box, but first he just has to start “gelling” with the team.
“I need to get acclimated with the team members and get gelled with all those guys, but thankfully I’m up to speed on the cars,” he said. “We have somewhat of a relationship started, so once we solidify that relationship then I think we’ll be good.”
Stone’s first race with the team will be the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour New England 100 on Saturday, July 16 at the New Hampshire Motor Speedway.
-By Rob Blount, Speed51.com Southeast Editor – Twitter: @RobBlount
-Photo Credit: Rich Schultz/NASCAR via Getty Images