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Santos plays his cards well

Special to the Union Leader

July 16. 2017 3:36AM

Bobby Santos of Franklin Mass., celebrates after winning the Whelen Modified race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon in 2014. Santos won Saturday's Modified race. (Thomas Roy/Union Leader file photo)

LOUDON - Bobby Santos of Franklin, Mass., played hold'em poker Whelen Modified style and surged late to overtake Ryan Preece, Doug Coby and Ryan Newman and win the Eastern Propane & Oil 100 Saturday at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.

Santos made most of his own luck, but he was helped when Newman tried to thread the needle between Preece and Coby in the fourth turn approaching the white flag lap.

When Newman scrubbed Coby's right rear - sending them both around - the race went into green-white-checkers overtime and Santos was liking his chances.

"I saw Ryan's (Preece) right front and it was pretty much gone," Santos said. "I thought if I got in front him on the bottom, I didn't think he could get around me on the outside. There's nothing better than winning in a Modified here. It means a lot to me."

It was Santos' second Whelen Modified Tour win at NHMS. His first was in 2014,

Preece and Newman took up where they left off in Friday's Shootout event and tracked each about the Magic Mile the entire race while swapping the lead over a dozen times.

Coby joined the leaders on lap 80, triggering 20 laps of "who's-your-buddy-who's-your-pal" as the trio switched lanes and drafting partners, and swapped the lead back and forth.

Santos started on the outside pole in the Tinio Corp. No. 44 and ran in the top five for 40 laps before dropping back well away from the leaders.

"I wasn't as good as those guys in the outer lanes, but I found something on the bottom after I was getting pressured down there by Andy Seuss," Santos said. "I figured I should try it. I had a great long run car set up by Rob Fuller. I think the compound they put down really helped as the tires wore out."

Preece hung on for second place but was five car-lengths behind Santos at the wire. Dave Sapienza of Riverhead, N.Y., had his best Whelen Tour finish as the third-place car.

Brendan Bock of Franklin Square, N.Y., raced near the front much of the way and got home fourth ahead of Chase Dowling.

Positions 6-10 went to Seuss, Ted Christopher, Max Zachem, Rowan Pennink and Shawn Solomito.

The race was red-flagged on lap 19 when Coby and Timmy Solomito touched wheels exiting turn 4 while running in the top 10. The field quickly stacked up and the wreckage ended the day for Solomito, Ron Silk and Patrick Emerling.

At the halfway mark, when a competition yellow was thrown, Newman was the leader with Preece, Pennink and Coby next in line. When green flag racing resumed, Santos was eighth and lost more track position before beginning his march to the front.

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