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   The Chrome Horn - NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour


Santos Breaks the Famous Modified Draft Once Again at the ‘Magic Mile’
by Denise DuPont

It was a great fall weekend for the NASCAR Whelen Modifieds (NWMT) to race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway (NHMS). There were twenty-eight teams there to make their mark and try to take home a modified ‘Daytona type’ win. Ryan Newman was fastest in practice and his speed continued right into qualifying where he earned his sixth NWMT Coors Light Pole Award at NHMS.

Modified drivers once again went to work using the draft that they are famously known for at the ‘Magic Mile’. During the 100 lap race there were eighteen lead changes among six drivers. Ryan Newman of South Bend, IN., Timmy Solomito of Islip, NY, Doug Coby of Milford, CT. and Patrick Emerling from Orchard Park of NY all took their turn leading the field. In the final laps it appeared that it was going to be a battle between Coby and Emerling to the end. Then all of a sudden on lap 97, Bobby Santos of Franklin, MA did his ‘Bobby Secret Move’ on the bottom of the track and charged past the lead pack to win the race.

Santos had not been a factor the entire race. Coming from mid pack, he was suddenly there out of nowhere to do the unbelievable once again. He broke the draft on a restart and had enough power to win the race. “On the last restart I was pretty confident in the car”, stated Santos. “On the restart before it (his car) went in so deep. So on the final restart I just had to hope that line that was right. I used it and I drove away. My dad said that: ‘You can’t break the draft in New Hampshire.’ and I did it, I broke the draft!” “The first half of the race we rode around just to see what we could accomplish and what direction we had to go. I told them that we need a few changes and we made the changes. We made adjustments and took tires at the break. We knew we needed to be smart, be where we needed to be and not abuse the tires. ” Santos said. “So I just put myself in position for the end. I started to make my run. I thought I could get into the top five but I did not think we would win the race. I just bit my time. We were running in thirteenth and we just needed one yellow. We got it and went from there.”

In July, Santos found the bottom at the end to win the race. It was as though it was Bobby’s little secret space. Was he surprised to find it again? “I was shocked then where with fifteen to go the bottom performed and now we came back a couple of months later and I found it again to win. It is just a testament to a good car, team and spotter. I am just glad they all gave me what I needed to get here. Our car has been unbelievable prepared this year.”

Rowan Pennink of Huntingdon Valley, PA started the 100 lap feature race on the outside pole. He dropped back in the field still running in the top ten with a consistent run. With twenty laps to go the team took a gamble and decided to pit for a fresh right tire. “We had come in and put a right front on. We started back on seventeenth with about fifteen to go.” Pennink said about the #3 team’s late race strategy. “On the last restart, I just went behind Bobby (Santos) on the bottom. Cars were running three wide, maybe even four wide on the back stretch. I got loose but somehow I got it all straightened out and went forward for the two to go. Somehow I was able to get down on the bottom and get to the lead pack. My guys made a good call to come in and take a tire.” So the team’s gamble paid off -- Coming from mid-pack late in the race the #3 Cape Cod Copper Chevrolet, finished second in the 100 lap feature event. “This is awesome for the #3 car. It was a solid finish after coming off a DNF at Riverhead. It was a great day and they put an amazing car under me all weekend right off the trailer.” “We just want to get wins that will help us in the points. But runs like today do not hurt either.” Pennink said about the division’s point’s race. “We had a good come back today. We had a good day and the guys on this team gave us an awesome car. With about fifteen to go we made a daring move and came into change a tire. It took a lot of nerve to do that. And come right back to finish second here is almost like a win. You cannot ask for much more than that.”

Emerling started the race in fifth and hung out in that position until just before lap 50. He then made his move into second and started the challenge for the lead with Coby. The two drivers swapped the lead back and forth using the draft each to their own advantage. With twenty to go the cautions started and the restarts became more challenging. There were now additional drivers in the mix, some of which had fresh rubber. “The last restart was a pretty crazy for us. We were on the outside running and somehow the bottom just came in. Bobby (Santos) was able to sneak by us. We were just caught out there in the wrong spot on the late cautions. So those cautions did not help us.” Confessed Emerling. “I believe that we were definitely the car to beat. Bobby figured the bottom out faster than we did. I tried it down there during the race and there was nothing. Then he (Bobby Santos) towards the end got it to work. We had a better car than he did. He just had a position better than we did in the end. We were shuffled up and I lost ground there at the end. Ending up third for where we started is pretty good. If things had played out differently we definitely would have won that race.

Santos summarized the weekend racing at NHMS: “This is our race track when it comes to modifieds. This is where everybody shoots for a win, and this is our Super Bowl. It means everything to win here. But it also means a lot to win at Stafford. And that race is up next.”

So join us at the track next weekend for the 45th NAPA Fall Final weekend and 150 laps of modified racing at Stafford Motor Speedway.

Notes from New Hampshire Motor Speedway:

Before the race the modifieds went four wide in a tribute to their fellow competitor, Ted Christopher.

Bobby Santos

“It was emotional I was one of Teddy’s biggest fans. Since I was about five years old I remember going to Thompson to watch Teddy. He was my favorite. Out in Indiana racing they ask me who my favorite driver is, they think I am going to say Tony Stewart. When I say Ted Christopher people ask me who that guy is?” “He made modifieds. He made New England modifieds. The recognition he received this week he deserved. It has been tough this week for the modified community. When I first started racing he took advantage of me as a kid. Teddy was a racer. He did not care what it took to win. He took advantage of me for a lot of years, but I still looked up to him. I am proud to say I looked up to him, he respected and raced me on the track and that means a lot.”

What are your thoughts on the PJ1 (Sticky Stuff) on the corners of NHMS?

Rowan Pennink

“It seemed like when everyone had fresh tires you could not keep up with them on the bottom. There was plenty of grip but especially side by side you would get would get pinched down there. Right there at the end of the race, there was quite a bit of tire on the bottom and people were starting to struggle at the top. The bottom was the place to be. You could get down there and take the corner pretty tight and get back off and get back in line in front of them (top line). That is what made it work”. “I passed every car from the bottom. People were starting to struggle with the tire situation and we took advantage kept the car on the bottom. We seemed to make a lot of headway down there.”

Patrick Emerling
“There were a few cars that tried the bottom earlier in the race and it was absolutely horrible. The top was where it was at and then the top wore off on us. Then the bottom just came right in. At the end if you were able to get on the bottom that was where the tires were you were good to go.”

What are your thoughts this year and racing with the NWMT?

Patrick Emerling
“This year we came here feeling we could win this race. And before the last series of cautions, we felt we were the car to beat. The cautions did not find us in the right spot. We definitely had a fast car, but the win did not come to us today.” “We know we are right there in contention to win a race. That is what we want to do. This year we have possibly been the best that we have ever been. Running these tour races here at Loudon this year has given us more experience and I am just getting better myself. We have been tuning the car better. We have been working on it and just getting better.”
Source: Denise DuPont / TheChromeHorn.com
: September 24, 2017

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