Part-Time Partiers: Bobby Santos III Wins Whelen Modified Tour CarQuest Fall Final At Stafford

STAFFORD – They began the season being looked at as the little team that could around the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour.

Bobby Santos III celebrates Sunday at Stafford Motor Speedway (Photo: Corey Sipkin/NASCAR)

Sunday at Stafford Motor Speedway, with Bobby Santos III, behind the wheel, the Tinio Motorsports team showed they’re not racing just play, they’re on the Whelen Modified Tour to win.

Santos, of Franklin, Mass., used a furious rally in the closing stages to overtake Woody Pitkat and win the Whelen Modified Tour CarQuest Fall Final 150 Sunday at Stafford.

It was the first Modified Tour victory for the part-time Tinio Motorsports team. The team has qualified for eight of the first 13 events this season with Santos behind the wheel.

“I’ve just got to thank these guys,” Santos said. “Everyone on this Tinio team, they’re awesome. It was a lot of fun.”

Pitkat, of Stafford, was second and Jimmy Blewett of Howell, N.J. third.

Tinio Motorsports fielded a Whelen Modified Tour car for three events in 2011 at Thompson for driver Rick Gentes, with a best finish of 18th. In his first start for the Tinio team, Santos qualified third for the season opening Icebreaker 150 at Thompson in April.

On May 25 at Stafford Santos gave the team its first Whelen Modified Tour pole qualifying effort and led most of the event at before losing the lead late to eventual race winner Doug Coby. Santos ended up second in the race.

The organization fields a Late Model at Thompson Speedway weekly for team owner Sully Tinio’s son Damon Tinio. The team is also involved in other weekly divisions at the track.

“It means a lot [to win for them],” Santos said. “They’re real new to this but they’re working real real hard. They’re having a lot of fun and they’re enjoying it. This season they’ve seen a lot of the good side of this deal. I’ve been really fortunate working with them. They’ve treated me very well. It just means a lot for a rookie team.”

Santos was behind Pitkat in second for most of the event and sat about 15-car lengths off the lead with 12 laps remaining. But four laps later, after a bobble by Pitkat, Santos was on his bumper.

Pitkat, who trying to wrestle his car to the finish while his power steering was failing, didn’t have enough to keep Santos behind and lost the lead on lap 144. Pitkat had nothing to challenge Santos the rest of the way.

“I could see his car was getting to be a handful,” said Santos. the 2010 Whelen Modified Tour champion who was replaced by Donny Lia with the Bob Garbarino’s Mystic Missile Racing team following last season. “At one point I thought he went away from me but I saved just enough for the last 10 laps to make a run at it.”

It proved a slightly bittersweet celebration for Santos, who has seven career victories in 67 Modified Tour starts. His older sister Erica is Pitkat’s fiancé. Pitkat has never won a Whelen Modified Tour event in 63 career starts.

“Congratulations to Woody Pitkat,” Santos said in victory lane.” He did an awesome job. It feels great to win, but I really wish he won. He’s like family. I’m happy that he ran good but I would have been happy first or second there.”

Pitkat was making his second start this season for the Hill Enterprises team after reuniting with the organization prior to last Saturday’s F.W. Webb 100 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.

“It stinks man,” Pitkat said. “One time I looked and I thought Santos was probably 10-15 car lengths behind me. I just must have wiggled off of [turns] three and four that one time and he just sucked me up.

“Hats off to these guys, the car was awesome. It was losing power steering at the end. I was just doing what Jimmy Blewett told me to do, drive the thing and don’t worry about any noise or any weird feeling, just drive it like you stole it.

“I lost to my brother-in-law. That guy’s got millions and millions of laps. He started a lot younger than I did. I’m very proud of him. If I can’t win that’s who I want to see is win.”

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