Streaker: Bobby Santos III Grabs Second Consecutive Whelen Mod Tour Spring Sizzler Win At Stafford

Bobby Santos III sprays the winner's milk in victory lane Sunday at Stafford Speedway (Photo: Rich Schultz/Getty Images for NASCAR)

Bobby Santos III sprays the winner’s milk in victory lane Sunday at Stafford Speedway (Photo: Rich Schultz/Getty Images for NASCAR)

STAFFORD – It’s a safe bet that few around the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour garage at Stafford Motor Speedway watching the trials of defending Spring Sizzler 200 champion Bobby Santos III Saturday would have put him in the category of race favorite for Sunday.

It would have been no knock on Santos or his Tinio Motorsports team to leave them out of the favorites chatter, considering the team struggled in practice, struggled in qualifying and struggled to get motor issues repaired Saturday at Stafford.

But Sunday it was a story of struggle to sizzle for Santos.

Santos held off the charges of Doug Coby over the closing laps to win the Whelen Modified Tour Spring Sizzler 200 Sunday at Stafford Motor Speedway.

“It’s pretty cool,” said Santos, of Franklin, Mass., who started eighth. “You really realize the history of it. Winning here in general is awesome, but the Sizzler, it’s the greatest race in the history of spring.”

Coby, of Milford, was second and Rowan Pennink of Huntingdon Valley, Pa. third.

The victory actually marked the third consecutive in Modified Tour Sizzler events for Santos, who also won the race in 2011 and did not participate in 2012. It was the 11th career Whelen Modified Tour victory for Santos and the sixth overall at Stafford for the 2010 series champion.

And it proved the perfect elixir for Santos, who was 18th in the season opening Icebreaker 150 on April 6 at Thompson Speedway.

“We didn’t start the season great,” Santos said. “We came here and kind of stepped on it a little bit. We didn’t run good in practice and didn’t qualify good. But the guys just did an awesome job of keeping their heads down and [engine builder Billy Mathis] worked his butt off to fix the motor issue we had.”

Santos passed pole-winner Tommy Barrett Jr. for the lead on lap 115 and never trailed again, though Coby gave him plenty to handle in the closing stages.

Coby got a jump on Santos on a lap 181 restart, but Santos battled back on the inside down the backstretch. In turn three contact between the two sent Coby up the track and actually set off a chain reaction wreck behind the leaders.

“I’m not happy with the door shot I got in turn three that actually caused a wreck behind us,” Coby said. “That was, that’s what you do when you’re trying to win a race, but that’s using up a little too much racetrack. But I can’t say that I wouldn’t be guilty of that.”

Said Santos: “I definitely used him up a little bit. I have a lot of respect for Doug, we’ve raced hard against each other for a long time. It was racing for the win with 10 [laps] to go. I’d have no hard feelings if he did that to me. I guess this time I came out on top.”

Over the final 10 laps Coby pestered Santos’ bumper, but on the final lap the car of T.J. Zacharias – running nine laps behind the leaders – proved a perfect ally for the leader.

Santos went to the outside and used Zacharias as a pick to close off the low lane on Coby coming to the checkered.

“I’m usually really good at these top-three finishes, kind of just taking it and saying it was a good run, but I’m freaking pissed off man,” Coby said immediately following the event. “We had a really good car. I want to congratulate [Tinio Motorsports] team, but [my] car was coming at the end. Then a couple lapped cars, I think we lapped them about eight times today and when there’s two cars battling for a win, the spotter’s really just got to tell them to get out of the way. Bobby did what he was supposed to do. He pulled up next to the lapped car and used it as a pick.”

Said Santos: “Doug was definitely better than us at the end. … I knew that if he was within a bumper of me he probably could have tried something going into [turn three]. But the lapped car there prevented that from happening. When I saw the lapped car on the bottom I knew we were pretty safe from there.”

Coby, who finished third in the Icebreaker 150, left Stafford tied for second in the standings with Woody Pitkat, who was fourth Sunday. Justin Bonsignore, the winner at Thompson, who finished fifth Sunday, holds a two-point lead over Coby and Pitkat.

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