Category Archives: New Hampshire Motor Speedway

Inside The Musket: Santos Becoming The Best at New Hampshire

By: Kyle Souza / Photo: Tom Morris/My Race News

Bobby Santos and New Hampshire Motor Speedway seem to be the perfect match.

After 12 months of not making a start on the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour, Santos returned to competition in the Musket 200 presented by Whelen last weekend at NHMS and parked his No. 63 ThinkLite Chevrolet in Victory Lane.

Santos hasn’t been out of the seat in 2020 — competing in Sprint Cars and Midgets across the country — including a victory in the prestigious Little 500 just one week prior. But his tenure on the Whelen Modified Tour dwindled a bit the last few years, as he continues to build a family and race elsewhere. But, when he rolls into NHMS, it doesn’t matter whether he’s been on the Whelen Modified Tour lately or not.

He finds a way to win. Santos now has six victories in 28 starts there, including two in the prestigious Musket extra-distance event.

His six wins leads all active drivers, and has him tied for third in the list of all-time drivers at the ‘Magic Mile’. Only seven-time champion Mike Stefanik (8) and Tony Hirschman (7) have more. Santos’ most recent win tied him with Reggie Ruggerio.

“This place has been good to me, I just love coming here,” Santos said. “Good cars and good people around me giving me what I need and making the right adjustments. It’s about getting a feel that I like in the race car so I can race it. I want to be comfortable so I can maneuver and put ourselves in position. It’s also understanding that you have to be in the first couple of spots at the end of the race. If you are third, fourth, fifth on back, it becomes really hard to get to the front without doing anything drastic.”

New Hampshire’s style of racing includes drafting similar to what NASCAR Cup Series fans might see at Daytona and Talladega, but on a much smaller level. There are no large packs three and four-wide, but instead, a slight bump draft, or group or two cars chasing one, makes a difference.

It’s a major wild card of a race with the potential to be collected in a wreck high.

Saturday, Santos wasn’t much of a factor for the lead early, but was riding comfortably inside the top-10. He led his first lap on 169 of 200, and would lead a total of 24 before it was done — including the final one. It was in typical Santos fashion that he doesn’t show up to the front dance until it matters most.

In his six wins, Santos hasn’t led a lap before the 31 laps to go mark in any race. In fact, in all but one of his victories, Santos didn’t lead until there was under 10 laps to go.

He is always there when the big money is on the line, and this time, it earned him a $20,000 prize in the biggest paying Whelen Modified Tour race of the year.

“It was a long race, just trying to bide our time and put ourselves in position to be there at the end,” Santos said. “We just pushed as hard as we could.”

Santos swapped the lead back and forth with 2018 Whelen Modified Tour champion Justin Bonsignore countless times in the final laps.

His first four victories at NHMS were with Tinio Motorsports, but after they decided to step away, the last two have come with Dave Sapienza as his car owner. Sapienza, a competitor on the tour himself, tabbed Santos to drive his car in 2019 after Sapienza was injured in a tour race at Wall Stadium Speedway. Santos was involved in a wreck, earning a DNF in July of last year, but won the September Musket 250.

This year, he made it back-to-back. In those two Musket races only, he’s collected over $40,000 in winning prizes.

Sapienza also competed in the race on Saturday, but finished outside the top-10 a few laps down.

“I’ve been staying busy, racing my sprint cars and midgets, but at the end of the day it comes down to Dave Sapienza and his team,” Santos said. Tommy Grasso (crew chief) works so hard on the cars and prepares them so well. The team was so impressive this weekend — showing up with two cars and the guys bouncing back and forth. It was impressive the way they worked together and did what they could to accommodate me as the outsider and also understanding that it’s Dave’s team and giving him what he needs. It’s just an honor to be able to drive their car.”

If you look back at the history of the Whelen Modified Tour at NHMS, you can now argue that Santos might go down as one of the best drivers to ever run the track in a modified. The eight wins Stefanik has seems like a small number with Santos’ career still going full steam ahead.

Helliwell Puts Orange Crush on ACT Field in Full Throttle 75

Tom Morris / Myracenews photos

Loudon, NH — Dover, NH’s Wayne Helliwell Jr. reigned supreme at Loudon’s New Hampshire Motor Speedway (NHMS) on Saturday, September 12 by taking the American-Canadian Tour (ACT) Full Throttle 75. Helliwell took the lead for good from Newmarket, NH’s Bryan Kruczek on lap 42 and crushed the competition down the stretch in his familiar orange #27NH to earn the 14th point-counting win of his ACT Late Model Tour career.

The three-time ACT champion was slated to start 10th for the main event but got a lucky break before the field even came to the grid when multiple cars, including scheduled polesitter Ryan Kuhn, flunked pre-race technical inspection. As a result, Helliwell took the initial start in seventh while rookie Derek Gluchacki of Dartmouth, MA led the field to the green.

Gluchacki led the first 10 laps after an opening-lap wreck that collected Tom Sheehan, Nick Johnson, and Jimmy Linardy. Center Conway, NH’s D.J. Shaw then took command, getting inside Gluchacki to grab the lead and pick up crucial bonus points in his championship battle with Jimmy Hebert.

Shaw’s stay on top lasted eight circuits before New Sharon, ME’s Dillon Moltz swung underneath him to pick up the point. Moltz spent the next eight laps pulling away as Shaw, Helliwell, Gluchacki, Kruczek, and others jockeyed behind him.

Helliwell was up to second when Stephen Donahue came to a halt near the start/finish line to bring out the second caution. On the restart, Helliwell got the jump to lead lap 32. Moltz hung tough, getting back alongside Helliwell before Kruczek dove three-wide entering turn three. After Moltz edged Kruczek by a hair at the line on lap 33, Kruczek took over the lead until a competition caution at the halfway point.

Once drivers returned to the track after getting fresh tires and adjustments, Helliwell again got a great restart to steal the lead back. This time, Helliwell showcased the true potential of his Bruce Bernhardt–owned Ford, leaving the field far in his rear-view mirror.

Things closed up one more time when Moltz spun out of the third spot with six laps remaining, drawing the fourth and final yellow. Although Kruczek mounted a brief challenge on the restart, Helliwell soon got the best of him and launched away from the pack for his second ACT victory on the “Magic Mile”.

Point leader Jimmy Hebert of Williamstown, VT came alive late, passing Kruczek on the final lap for second. It was Hebert’s third straight runner-up finish at NHMS dating back to the last two ACT Invitationals in 2016 and 2017.

Rookie Tom Carey III of Salem, MA was strong all day and finished fourth in his career-best ACT effort. Shaw took fifth while Bellingham, MA’s Woody Pitkat charged from the 24th starting spot to come home sixth. Moltz, Kuhn, Dylan Payea, and Jesse Switser rounded out the top-10. Unofficially, Hebert now has a 40-point lead over Shaw with one point-counting event remaining.

Many of ACT’s best will head to Barre, VT’s Thunder Road for the 58th Vermont Milk Bowl presented by Northfield Savings Bank on Saturday, October 3 and Sunday, October 4. Booth Bros./H.P. Hood Qualifying Day is Saturday with the three-segment Milk Bowl on Sunday. Eight other divisions are scheduled for action across three days of racing.

Advance tickets for the Vermont Milk Bowl are available now at http://happsnow.com/event/thunder-road-speedbowl. Visit www.thunderroadvt.com for the full event schedule, pricing, and camping details.

For more information, contact the ACT offices at (802) 244-6963, media@acttour.com, or visit www.acttour.com. You can also get updates on Facebook and Twitter at @ACTTour.

ACT LATE MODEL TOUR

NEW HAMPSHIRE MOTOR SPEEDWAY

FULL THROTTLE 75

SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 12, 2020

UNOFFICIAL RESULTS

Pos., Start Pos., Driver, Car #, Hometown, Laps

1. ( 10 ) Wayne Helliwell Jr. ( 27NH ) , Dover, NH , 75 Laps

2. ( 12 ) Jimmy Hebert ( 58VT ) , Williamstown, VT , 75 Laps

3. ( 11 ) Bryan Kruczek ( 19NH ) , Newmarket, NH , 75 Laps

4. ( 8 ) #Tom Carey III ( 5MA ) , New Salem, MA , 75 Laps

5. ( 4 ) D.J. Shaw ( 04VT ) , Center Conway, NH , 75 Laps

6. ( 24 ) Woody Pitkat ( 07MA ) , Bellingham, MA , 75 Laps

7. ( 13 ) Dillon Moltz ( 5ME ) , New Sharon, ME , 75 Laps

8. ( 1 ) Ryan Kuhn ( 72MA ) , E. Bridgewater, MA , 75 Laps

9. ( 7 ) Dylan Payea ( 7NH ) , Milton, VT , 75 Laps

10. ( 18 ) Jesse Switser ( 25NH ) , W. Burke, VT , 75 Laps

11. ( 21 ) Bobby Therrien ( 5VT ) , Hinesburg, VT , 75 Laps

12. ( 6 ) #Marcel J. Gravel ( 86VT ) , Wolcott, VT , 75 Laps

13. ( 20 ) Jamie Aube ( 41VT ) , Charlotte, VT , 75 Laps

14. ( 14 ) Mike Benevides ( 50RI ) , Westerly, RI , 74 Laps

15. ( 15 ) Matt Anderson ( 49NH ) , Andover, NH , 74 Laps

16. ( 2 ) #Derek Gluchacki ( 03MA ) , Dartmouth, MA , 73 Laps

17. ( 17 ) Gerard Giordano Jr. ( 15NY ) , Freeport, NY , 73 Laps

18. ( 25 ) Mark Jenison ( 22RI ) , Warwick, RI , 72 Laps

19. ( 16 ) Michael Lindquist ( 71CT ) , Sandy Hook, CT , 72 Laps

20. ( 3 ) James Linardy ( 21VT ) , Somerville, MA , 71 Laps

21. ( 5 ) Ben Rowe ( 4ME ) , Turner, ME , 64 Laps

22. ( 22 ) Christopher Pelkey ( 64VT ) , Graniteville, VT , 34 Laps

23. ( 19 ) Stephen Donahue ( 2VT ) , Graniteville, VT , 27 Laps

24. ( 23 ) Tom Sheehan ( 65NH ) , Bow, NH , 0 Laps

25. ( 9 ) Nick Johnson ( 6MA ) , Rehoboth, MA , 0 Laps

Santos Outduels Bonsignore to Win Thrilling Back-and-Forth Musket 200 Presented by Whelen at New Hampshire Motor Speedway

Wayne Helliwell Jr. wins the ACT 75; Shaun Buffington wins the Granite State Legends Cars Road Course Series and Oval Series events during the third annual Full Throttle Fall Weekend.

Tom Morris / Myracenews photos

LOUDON, N.H. – A wild finish featuring a mind-blowing 20 lead changes in the last 20 laps, Bobby Santos III found a way to keep points leader Justin Bonsignore in his rearview mirror for the last few turns to earn a hard-fought checkered flag at the Musket 200 presented by Whelen Saturday afternoon during the third annual Full Throttle Fall Weekend, earning his sixth win at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. Wayne Helliwell Jr. won the ACT 75 while Shaun Buffington won both Granite State Legends Cars events.

Santos hung back in the pack until lap 167 when he slingshot around a trio of frontrunners going into turn three and pulled a similar move a few turns later to take the lead, setting up a thrilling string of lead changes with Bonsignore. The two traded the lead 20 times over 20 laps; Bonsignore dominating turn three and Santos showing how to pass going into turn one. Over and over they traded places, with Ron Silk briefly nudging his way into second, with four laps remaining.  Bonsignore took the spot back, but not before Santos took advantage and drove just far enough away from the other leaders to keep from being caught before the checkered flag waved.

“Unbelievable finish. I love this track, love these cars, this is the best field in the country and drivers love racing here at New Hampshire because it is really fun and we are all so close in speed,” said Santos after celebrating in victory lane. “This place has been good to me.”

Bonsignore, Silk, Anthony Nocella and Craig Lutz rounded out the top five.

Santos was presented with an engraved musket that was made in Rochester, N.H., traditional Revolutionary War-era tricorn hat and a trophy that, taking on its New England roots, is a replica of the Minuteman statue in Concord, Mass., weighing 30 pounds and measuring 32 inches tall.  This was his second musket trophy in three years.

A late race caution was about the only way the field could close any ground on Wayne Helliwell Jr., who powered his way to an easy finish in the ACT 75. Helliwell took the lead in the early stages and dominated.

“This thing was unbelievable! We got a second set of tires on it, and it was lights out,” explained Dover, N.H.’s Helliwell, who spoke to fans from victory lane. “I have never had a car that could turn so well and get on the throttle so fast again, everything worked out our way today at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.”

Jimmy Hebert, Bryan Kruczek, Tom Carey and DJ Shaw rounded out the top five.

Buffington took the Road Course Series win Friday evening after the Granite State Legends Cars raced on the 0.95-mile modified road course. Teammates Jack Walker (second) and Darren Gallant (third) landed next to him on the podium.

Saturday morning saw Buffington at the top of the podium again for the Oval Series race on the 0.25-mile mini oval in turns one and two of “The Magic Mile” with Walker earning another second place finish and Bob Weymouth third. Although this was the championship race for the Oval Series, the points are currently tied, so a tie-breaker will be issued in the coming days to determine who will be named the 2020 Oval Series champion.

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