LOUDON - Bobby Santos shot underneath Ted Christopher with a daring move in the final turn to win the NASCAR Whelen Tour Modified Sunoco 100 on the second attempt at a green-white checker finish Saturday at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.
The race was action-packed from start to finish despite the inordinate amount of laps that clicked off under caution late in the race. There were 30 lead changes - none of them involving Santos - until the decisive sprint to the checkers.
Santos started seventh in the ImperialCars.com No.44 and fell back as far as 13th before marching back to the front.
"On the last restart, Teddy chose the inside and I had the outside," the Franklin, Mass., driver said. "My goal was to be locked on his bumper in second place. I learned on the previous restart that I needed to stay as close to him as I could. I stayed to his right rear so I could cross him up and dive under him at the right time."
"I don't think Teddy made a mistake," Santos offered. "He was doing what the leader needs to do, trying to protect the bottom. I was hoping he'd wash up the track a bit, which is what happened. This is the biggest Modified win of my career. It's our Super Bowl."
"The car was too tight and I got in too low," Christopher said. "Call it driver error."
Christopher rose into contention soon after a competition yellow on lap 46. To that point, pole sitter Ronnie Silk, Ryan Preece and Todd Szegedy had slipstreamed past one another repeatedly at the front of the field.
Szegedy led lap 66, but dropped out with mechanical failure a few circuits later. At the time, Santos was running seventh, just behind Sprint Cup driver Ryan Newman, who spent many a lap in the top five. Doug Coby, who caught Christopher at the end to claim second, was holding down the eighth spot.
Coby started 14th in the Dunleavy's Repair No. 2. "The last three Modified finishes here have been fantastic," he said. "That should keep people talking about the Modifieds. It's almost always like this here. It gets stressful at the end because you want to win so bad."
Preece fought back from contact and a scrape along the backstretch wall on lap 96 to finish fifth, just behind Newman. Justin Bonsignore and Tommy Barrett Jr. were next in line. Granite State native Andy Seuss, of Hampstead, started 18th and ended with an eight-place finish. Silk and Chuck Hossfeld completed the top 10.
The win was Santos' third in six events this season. Unofficially, he remains second in the point standings behind Coby. The next Whelen Modified Tour event is the O'Reilly Auto Parts 200 at Monadnock Speedway July 19.