Striking At The Bowl: Bobby Santos III Scores Whelen Mod Tour Mr. Rooter 161 Win At Waterford

Bobby Santos III celebrates victory Saturday at the Waterford Speedbowl (Photo: Darren McCollester/Getty Images for NASCAR)

Bobby Santos III celebrates victory Saturday at the Waterford Speedbowl (Photo: Darren McCollester/Getty Images for NASCAR)

WATERFORD – Call it a bullring bash

Bobby Santos III said he was told by Donny Lia’s crew chief Dan Laferriere before Saturday’s NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Mr. Rooter 161 at the Waterford Speedbowl that he wasn’t going to be able to use the outside to pass Lia if the opportunity was there.

Santos heeded the warning. When it came down to a battle for the lead, instead of trying to go outside of Lia, Santos used some strategically timed bumping to set up a diving move to the inside and made it work.

Santos went by Lia for the lead on lap 133 then survived two restarts to win the Mr. Rooter 161 Saturday at Waterford.

“I try real hard to race clean and sometimes you’ve just got to stand up for yourself,” Santos said. “I felt like I’ve been pushed around in this division for years and I’m over it. I’ve just got to learn how to stand up for myself and tonight I did.”

It was the second victory in four Modified Tour events this season for Santos, of Franklin, Mass. It was his 11th series victory overall.

The race was extended to 165 laps because of a late caution.

Lia, of Jericho, N.Y., was second and Ted Christopher of Plainville third.

“I followed Donny the whole first half of the race,” Santos said. “I tried multiple times to pass him as clean as I could be. He roughed me up a little bit I felt like. But I just saved it for the end of the race when it counted. There should be no hard feelings there. I got a warning before [the race from] his crew chief that I wasn’t going around the outside of him.”

Santos, who drives for Tinio Motorsports, won a Whelen Modified Tour championship in 2010 for the Bob Garbarino owned Mystic Missile Racing team that Lia drives for now. Lia started on the pole and Santos second and the two spent plenty of time dicing at the front. They were first and second until Santos went to the lead.

“I’m good friends with everybody on the [Mystic Missile] team, I have a lot of respect for every one of those guys there,” Santos said. “They’re friends forever. But [Laferriere] pretty much said that I’m not going to go around him on the outside and [Lia] proved it in my opinion, that I wasn’t going to pass him on the outside. I felt like I raced him clean. On the long runs I could get to his bumper, and I tried to set him up multiple times and about got put into the outside wall three or four times. Then it was getting down to go time and I made a pass that I don’t think any other person in the pits wouldn’t have done.”

Santos said it was a case of giving back against Lia, who is well known for being one of the more aggressive competitors on the series.

“Donny is a very aggressive driver,” Santos said. “He’s got as much talent as anyone in the pits. He’s very aggressive. Every restart when he was leading, I felt my right [side tires] were up on the white line, which is fine and I didn’t fight back on him. I took the line he gave me. The one restart I was leading I said ‘Ok, I’m going to put you up on the white line’ and he wanted nothing to do with it. He was putting me in the infield.”

Asked about the incidents with Santos, Lia was succinct.

“I don’t know, what did [Tommy Barrett Jr.] do to him?” Lia said, referring to Barret, who has issues on a lap 154 restart while running second to Santos. “What’s his excuse for that one? He wrecked that kid? I don’t know. I had fun. This is what I do for fun, this is my hobby, that’s all that matters. It was a good race, they were just a little better than us.”


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  1. MCT 4 Fan says

    In Denial, Donnie Puke is by far the Dirtiest Driver on da Tour by a long shot !

  2. so which division drew more fans this weekend – MRS or Mod Tour?

  3. concernedracer says

    Stafford (Valenti) and Waterford (Tour) had great crowds and even better racing this past weekend….But what about Thompson, oh yeah , their not hosting another NASCAR event until the end of July….and I know I won’t be there…..

  4. -ask ?? why did – woody and Santos – run dirty all night ??

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