Return Trip: Bobby Santos III Takes Sully Tinio Back To NHMS Victory Lane In Northeast Classic

Lawney Tinio (left) and Bobby Santos III celebrate in victory lane Sunday at New Hampshire Motor Speedway after winning the Tour Type Modified feature of the Northeast Classic (Photo: Shawn Courchesne/RaceDayCT)

LOUDON, N.H. – The Tinio Motorsports Tour Type Modified team sat dormant for the 2019 and 2020 race seasons. 

But it didn’t mean team owner Sully Tinio wasn’t thinking regularly about getting back to competition, most especially when Modifieds were racing at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. 

Bobby Santos III won three NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour points races for Tinio Motorsports at NHMS between 2017 and 2018 and also won an exhibition All-Star Modified event at the track for the team in 2016. 

“This place was so special to him,” Santos said. “He really wanted to come here. Even when he wasn’t racing the last two years or so, when it came time for New Hampshire he was like ‘Come on, come drive my race car there.’” 

On March 13 Salvatore “Sully” Tinio passed unexpectedly at 72 years old

Sunday – with his sons Lawney and Damon continuing the legacy of his race team and Santos back behind the wheel – Sully Tinio got back to victory lane once again in spirit and memory. 

Santos, of Franklin, Mass., came out on top of a lead swapping showdown to win the 50-lap Tour Type Modified feature at the inaugural Northeast Classic Sunday at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. 

“I’m sure that this is special for his family,” said Santos, who scored a $5,000 payday for the Tinio Motorsports team. “It’s so awesome.” 

A photo of Santos and Sully Tinio celebrating on the roof of a car in victory lane at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in 2017 now adorns the back door of the Tinio Motorsports hauler. 

“This is great.” Lawney Tinio said. “It’s great to win here. To win here this weekend is huge for us. For my brother and I and our entire family. Dad is up there watching us right now and I know he’s having a good time.”

Chase Dowling of Roxbury was second and Ronnie Williams third. 

The race featured 25 lead changes total (official and unofficial), with 23 of those coming after the halfway competition caution. 

Mike Christopher Jr. led early in the event with Matt Swanson going to the lead on lap 10. Santos moved past Williams for fourth on lap 13 and got by Christopher for second on lap 18. 

A competition caution flew on lap 25 with Swanson leading, Santos in second and Christopher in third. 

On the restart Santos got the jump with Swanson getting shuffled back to eighth. Christopher moved to second and immediately set his sights on Santos. 

Christopher took the lead from Santos into turn one on lap 27 with Santos grabbing the lead back in turn three. They repeated that sequence on laps 28, 29, 33 and 34. On lap 34 Dowling got by Christopher for second and then took the lead in turn three from Santos on lap 35. 

On lap 36 Santos regained the top spot in turn one only to have Dowling grab it back in turn three. Santos went back to the lead on  lap 37, but a lap later Dowling took the lead from Santos once again in turn three. 

On lap 39 Santos went by Dowling for the lead in turn one with Christopher moving to second in turn three. Dowling took second place back from Christopher on lap 40 with Williams moving to second. 

On lap 42 Dowling got by Santos for the lead going into turn three with Santos taking the lead back on the next lap into turn one. 

Dowling went back to the front past Santos with a turn one pass on lap 46, but Santos fought back to take control once again in turn three. 

On lap 47 Dowling went by Santos for the lead in turn one but it was Santos making his winning move through turn three to take the lead for the final time. Williams was able to overtake Dowling for second on lap 47, but Dowling fought back in the closing laps to get back to second. 

“The first 25 laps was just to get a good read on your race car for adjustments at halfway,” Santos said. “That’s what it comes down to. We threw some stuff at it at the halfway and it was good enough to get it done.”


  1. Wish there were more cars but even with what there was it was still great racing, mods always are at Loudon.

  2. Congrats to Tinio Motorsports and Bobby Santos III on their win. Definitely a way to heal some of the pain from the loss of Sully Tinio.

  3. 🌈🦄2020 says

    Somebody said 42 super late models were signed up? Only 27 actually were there? 11 mods? Front stretch stands looked almost empty. Sorry but 11 mods is ridiculous.

  4. With Larry Barnett spotting and Bobby driving, how can you loose !

  5. What happened to Swanson? He fell back after a restart.

  6. 🌈🦄2020,
    For as long as I’ve covered racing I’ve always said people focus too much on car counts for individual events. I’ve seen events with 30 cars that were awful and events with five cars that were breathtaking.
    Sunday’s race was a blast to watch and the short field put on a show close to as good as most I’ve seen there with 25 cars or more.

  7. Darealgoodfella,
    Not sure if it was mechanical or over adjustment at the stop.

  8. Swanson was still fast, had some the better lap times after that restart.

    It was a 50 lap weekly race, almost all go-time. No room for error.

    Congratulations to Bobby III !!!!!

  9. Spot on Shawn!!!!!

  10. The Tinio boys did their dad proud today!

  11. A fans view says

    As a first time poster, many thanks to shawn! Awesome journalist and incredible asset to modifieds! But…the jets vs jaguars game might be the best game of the nfl weekend but id rather watch pats vs chiefs! I agree with atomic punk, wmt races are the best comp.

  12. Shawn, I’d add to your observation that even when there are “good” car counts, the race usually ends being all about 3-5 cars anyways. The same 3-5 cars. JBon, Silk, Coby, Preece, Santos, McKennedy, etc. Just a small handful of cars collect the major majority of wins in a season. Along with T5s and T10s.

    I’ve said this several times before, a race is usually divided into the competitive cars, the mid-packers, and non-competitive cars. It’s usually the same 3-5 cars in the lead at the end, maybe a typical mid-packer gets lucky and runs up front once in a while.

    We could get rid of the non-competitive cars and never miss them.

    From watching Race Monitor, it was pretty close racing at times. Not too much passing, but it was close racing. Very small deltas. Bobby had a plan and executed perfectly.

  13. My question is why 11 cars? What is wrong,? What is the difference between running Thompson last week and running NH today?

  14. Steve,
    I would say it mostly had to do with timing of the event.

  15. Fast Eddie says

    I was surprised not to see more Modifieds. I figured more of the MRS teams would be involved. Maybe the “no restrictor plates” kept some away. BUT… despite all of that the COMPETITION was excellent! Great late lap battle between Dowling an Santos, then between Dowling and Williams for second. This was definitely a case of quality over quantity.

  16. Congrats to Bobby Santos III, and the Tinio Motorsports #44 team. A great win. No doubt Sully was looking down today with glee. Great job guys.

  17. Most eventful race was Dowling. Fades to 7th before half time. Made some pretty good adjustments rallying back to 4th, gets out of line and it’s back to 6th. Rallies again trading the lead then the 44 and 25 team up to drop him back to 3rd then 4th as Goodale scoots by with 3 to go. Fights back, nips Williams charging to the checkers.
    All in all a good race for Christopher a relative new comer on the big stage looking like an experienced pro for much of the race. Until 11 to go, getting hung out to dry on the high side and could never make up the lost ground.
    Cars faster then the NWMT for sure with the different rules but only fractionally with no blown motors and no indication that they were over their heads speed and handling wise. Organizers knew what they were doing.

  18. Dareal if the back marker cars weren’t there you would definitely miss them. There are times in a race were the only excitement for a fan watching is when the front pack catches a lapped car and the driver’s must change there line,speed,lane any number of things that create an opportunity for a pass. Races would be quit boring on some occasions without those slower cars. Not to mention that not everyone’s pocketbook can produce a front running car so by your thought they should just give up and stay home? How would some of these drivers gain the experience to run a top notch car if not for less funded teams? If all the slower cars decided to pack it in eventually there would be 2 or 3 cars in every race and NO real race fan wants to see that.

  19. All I have to say is WOW! I now understand putting everyone into Thompson on Saturday. I realize where the priorities(full bodied super late models)are at Thompson. I figured as much. Great job by Bobby Santos III!

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