Late Caution Fuels Victory for Santos
Ryan Preece, Ryan Newman and Doug Coby passed each other for the lead on seemingly every turn around New Hampshire Motor Speedway. But just when it looked like one of those three would be visiting Sunoco Victory Lane, Newman and Coby went spinning in Turn 4 on Lap 99 of Saturday's Eastern Propane & Oil 100 Whelen Modified Tour race. A caution ensued, a restart followed, and it was Bobby Santos who took advantage of Preece's worn tires, cruising to the victory.
It was Santos's second win and his fourth top-three finish in his last six starts at the 1.058-mile oval. He also won last July's Whelen Engineering All-Star Shootout, which was won by Preece on Friday.
"On the final restart, I knew if I could get to the bottom groove that Ryan wouldn't be able to catch me," said Santos, who is running a part-time schedule in the Whelen Modified Tour this season. "Those guys had a great battle up there and I was able to take advantage late in the race. I am so happy to get another win here - this is just huge."
Preece, who was unavailable for comment because he was racing in the Overton's 200 XFINITY Series race, finished second despite running in the top-three for every lap of the race.
Dave Sapienza, Brendon Bock and Chase Dowling round out the top-five.
For Sapienza, it was his second straight podium finish, having finished second at Riverhead Raceway on June 24 and third at NHMS on Saturday.
"Coming out of here finishing third - because we had a couple bad experiences here the last couple of years - we feel lucky," said Sapienza, whose previous best finish at NHMS was ninth. "Bobby made some moves and I tried to follow him, but he was the dominant car today."
The Whelen Modified Tour points leader entering Saturday, Timmy Solomito, had his day come to an end early. Coming out of Turn 4, Solomito bumped into Coby and went hard into the wall before bouncing back into the pack, causing a total of eight cars to spin out. The pileup saw three cars go behind the wall, including Solomito, who would finish 29th.
Preece bumped Newman on the final lap to win Friday's Whelen Engineering All-Star Shootout. Newman promised that Preece would see a lot of him on Saturday. And he did, with the two trading positions for the lead during much of the Eastern Propane & Oil 100. It wasn't until the final 20 laps that Coby stuck his nose into the duel, creating a three-car battle that eventually saw Santos creep in with less than 10 to go.
The four cars raced hard before Newman tried to squeeze between Coby and Santos. Newman's right front caught the left rear of Coby, sending both cars spinning and leaving the door open for Santos to take advantage of his fresher tires on the restart.