Matt Hirschman To Sub For Bobby Santos III In Whelen Modified Tour Event At Riverhead Raceway

Before the 2013 season began for the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour, Bobby Santos III made it clear he intended to run for a championship for Tinio Motorsports, the Mendon, Mass. organization in its first full-time year in the series.

Bobby Santos (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)

Though it looks like those thoughts of grabbing a second driver’s title for Santos have been put aside for the sake of chasing a USAC Midget pavement title.

Santos, of Franklin, Mass., will skip Saturday’s Whelen Modified Tour Hoosier Tire 200 at Riverhead (N.Y.) Raceway to instead compete in a USCA Midget event at Pikes Peak International Raceway in Fountain, Co.

Former Whelen Modifed Tour regular Matt Hirschman of Northampton, Pa. will replace Santos for the night in the Tinio Motorsports No. 44.

Lawney Tinio, son of Tinio Motorsports team owner Sully Tinio, said team officials were surprised when the situation arose that Santos wouldn’t be able to compete in the event at Riverhead.

“I don’t know if it was a reschedule or something with the USAC event,” Lawney Tinio said. “He’s running first in the points in that right now. So it was just …, it’s not the best solution, but it is what it is and we’re trying to make the best of it right now. We’re still in contention for the owner’s championship and if Bobby doesn’t miss another race, I guess it’s possible that if he does really really well he could still be in contention [for a series championship].”

After four of 14 Whelen Modified Tour events, Santos is fifth in the standings, 25 points behind points leader Ryan Preece. Santos rebounded from an 18th place in the season opening Icebreaker at Thompson International Speedway on April 14 by winning the Spring Sizzler at Stafford Motor Speedway on April 28. He’s finished fifth in the last two events, at Stafford Speedway on June 14 and at the Waterford Speedbowl on June 22.

The next event for the USAC Midget pavement series is July 27 at Lucas Oil Raceway Park in Clermont, In. That event coincides with a Whelen Modified Tour event at Monadnock Speedway in Winchester, N.H., a makeup of a rainout from earlier this year.

Asked about the Monadnock event and if Santos will skip that too, Lawney Tinio said the team does not know what’s going to happen.

Attempts to reach Santos Thursday were unsuccessful.

Tinio said there is not truth to any rumors that the team is parting ways with Santos. Hirschman said he was asked to sub for Santos for one event.

“[Bobby] suggested to the team to call me and see if I was available and it just happened that it is an open weekend for me,” Hirschman said. “This event is really pushed by Jim Schaefer, the Long Island Mod Maniac, and he’s always been a real big supporter of mine. When the opportunity came here to do this, it was something that I really want to do in support of what he’s done.”

Santos won the 2010 Whelen Modified Tour championship running for Mystic owner Bob Garbarino. He and Garbarino parted ways after the 2011 season and Santos ran a part-time schedule for Tinio Motorsports in 2012, winning the final two events of the season.

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