Bobby Santos III Sizzles The Field In Whelen Modified Tour Spring Sizzler 200 At Stafford

STAFFORD – After putting up the fastest speed in practice and winning the pole in qualifying Saturday at Stafford Motor Speedway, Bobby Santos III boasted about the stout setup notebook his Tinio Racing team had compiled for getting around the half-mile oval.

Bobby Santos celebrates his Spring Sizzler victory Sunday at Stafford Motor Speedway (Photo: Alex Trautwig/Getty Images for NASCAR)

Sunday Santos proved he wasn’t exaggerating at all about how well he and his team have the place figured out.

Santos put a whipping on the field on the way to winning the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Spring Sizzler 200 Sunday at Stafford Motor Speedway.

Justin Bonsignore of Holtsville, N.Y. was second and Ted Christopher of Plainville third. Santos, of Franklin, Mass., led 197 of 200 laps in the event.

“[Crew chief Steve Lemay] gave me an awesome car,” Santos said. “Honestly, my job was easy, they did all the work.”

It was the second career Spring Sizzler victory for Santos. In 2011 he won the event, then driving for Mystic team owner Bob Garbarino.

Garbarino and Santos parted ways after the 2011 season and last year Santos drove a part-time schedule for the startup Tinio Racing team. The team didn’t run in last year’s Sizzler but the organization made their Stafford debut one to remember when Santos won the pole and went on to finish second in their debut at the track last May.

Mechanical issues plagued the team in the second event at Stafford last year, but in the team’s third and final appearance at the track in 2012, Santos gave Tinio Racing its first Whelen Modified Tour victory in the Fall Final at Stafford last September.

“First race we came here [in May], off the trailer we weren’t perfect and then Steve made a couple great adjustments and ended practice and that’s what we have in the car right now,” Santos said. “He found it quick and we keep bring the same [setup] back here.”

The only time Santos did not lead the event Sunday was when he pitted with most of the lead cars under caution on lap 106. Santos’ team got him out first during the flurry of pit stops, but Patrick Emerling stayed on the track and took over the lead.

Emerling led laps 106,107 and 108 under caution, but when the race restarted Santos immediately went back to the lead.

“When we pitted most of the top guys pitted with us and the guys gave me an awesome stop,” Santos said. “They’ve practiced a lot since the [Whelen Modified Tour season opening Icebreaker at Thompson Interational Speedway on April 14]. We were disappointed in what we did at the Icebreaker and they worked their butts off the last couple weeks with a couple issues we had. They did it and then some.”

Asked if he was surprised by Santos’ dominance Bonsignore said:
“Not at all. … If you hit your setup like they did – and they were spot on – you’re not going to catch them. He was the class of the field and he deserved it today.”

It was the third win in the last four Whelen Modified Tour events for Santos and Tinio Racing. After winning the Fall Final last year at Stafford, Santos went on to win the season ending Whelen Modified Tour event at Thompson in October. He was 18th in this year’s season opener at Thompson on April 14.

While Santos clearly had the dominant car all day, behind him the top-10 proved to be a wild pack of competitive racing most of the event.

“The whole race nobody really slowed down or picked up, everybody raced at the same pace,” Bonsignore said. “We got pushed around a little bit after the pit stop. Some people like to dish it out and they don’t like it when you give it back so they give it back ten-fold. That just lit a fire under me.”

Bonsignore actually ran out of gas on the final lap, but the field was frozen when the caution flew after the leaders had taken the white flag. The caution came out when Eric Berndt spun in turn four.

“It started to sputter off of [turn] two as I got into the gas and just as my spotter called the yellow it just about shut off,” Bonsignore said. “We really lucked out there.”

Running seventh with 20 laps to go, Christopher said he thought he might have a car to charge to the front. But on a lap 184 restart he made contact with Jimmy Blewett, an incident which ended up taking Todd Szegedy out of the event. Christopher said the contact knocked his alignment out.

“Jimmy decided to take my left front off,” Christopher said. “He bent my toe like crazy. One word: Dangerous. That’s all I have to say.”

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  1. broken record…tc…somebody else…not my fault….somebody else…not my fault…

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