Tag Archives: NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour

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.

Schedule Announced for 58th World Series at Thompson Speedway

Advance Ticket Sales to Begin Tuesday, September 15

Thompson, CT — Track and series officials have announced the schedule of events for the 58th World Series of Speedway Racing at Connecticut’s Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park. The annual auto racing festival once again has three days of racing from Friday, October 9 to Sunday, October 11 with 18 divisions on the program.

The action kicks off Friday, October 9 with rotating practice beginning 11:00am. All World Series divisions except the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour are allowed to participate. A five-division Friday night card goes green at 5:00pm that includes the Thompson Mini Stocks, an 8-cylinder Street Stock Open, the Senior Tour Auto Racers Modifeds and Late Models, and an Open Vintage Modified feature.

Saturday, October 10 will be the busiest day of racing at the World Series. The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour has practice and qualifying for their annual World Series 150. Twelve other divisions have heat races that afternoon beginning at approximately 2:00pm. Following NASCAR Modified time trials are main events for the Tour-type Modified Open, ACT-type Late Model Open, 350 Supermodifieds, EXIT Realty Pro Truck Series, North East Mini Stock Tour, NEMA Midgets, and Pro 4 Modifieds.

The festival wraps up Sunday, October 11. The first green flag flies at 12:30pm when the Sunoco Modified feature rolls onto the track. Main events for the Pro All Stars Series Super Late Models, Limited Sportsmen, NEMA Lites, and SK Light Modifieds are also on Sunday. The World Series concludes with the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour 150-lap event.

Advance tickets for the 58th World Series of Speedway Racing go on sale Tuesday, September 15 at https://happsnow.com/event/Thompson-Speedway-Motorsports-Park-YHPQ. A three-day general admission pass is $55 for adults and $15 for kids ages 12 and under. Grandstand attendance is limited to 25% of capacity per state requirements. Pit admission is $75 per person for a three-day pass.

Division rules, purses, and entry forms that have not yet been released will be announced soon. Visit www.thompsonspeedway.com or www.acttour.com/thompson-speedway for regular updates and to review the track’s health and safety guidelines.

For more information about the World Series of Speedway Racing schedule, contact the ACT offices at (802) 244-6963, media@acttour.com, or visit www.acttour.com/thompson-speedway or www.thompsonspeedway.com. You can also get updates on Facebook and Twitter at @ACTTour.

For camping information and general Thompson Speedway inquires, call (860) 923-2280 or email oval@thompsonspeedway.com. You can follow Thompson Speedway on Facebook and Instagram at @ThompsonSpeedway or on Twitter at @ThompsonSpdwy.

For technical information concerning all PASS divisions, and for media or marketing questions, please contact passracing@roadrunner.com or visit www.proallstarsseries.com. Don’t forget to “Like” the Pro All Stars Series on Facebook or follow on Twitter @PASSSLM14 to keep up with breaking news as it happens.

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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