Modifieds: Thrilling finish goes to SantosBy TOM HERZIG
Special to the Union Leader
July 22. 2018 1:17AM
LOUDON - Whelen Modified Tour fans were treated to a heart-stopping thriller at New Hampshire Motor Speedway Saturday as Bobby Santos beat Chase Dowling to the line by a foot to win the Eastern Propane & Oil 100. The official distance between the two was timed at 0.014 seconds.
Santos, as is his custom, emerged as a factor late in the race and swapped the lead with Dowling, Ryan Newman and Justin Bonsignore during the scintillating final laps.
The Franklin, Mass., driver of Sully Tinio's No. 44 won both Whelen Modified races at NHMS in 2017 in similar fashion, though by bigger margins.
Santos started 14th and was nowhere to be seen during the first half of the race.
When a red flag was thrown on lap 86 to enable clean-up after Andy Seuss' engine blew up, Santos was sitting in seventh place.
At that point, Tour points leader Justin Bonsignore had the lead with Dowling alongside and Newman and Eric Goodale in row two. Bonsignore and Dowling spent most of the race at or near the front of the field.
Down the stretch, Dowling and Newman had brief control of the lead with Bonsignore, Santos, Newman, Goodale and Ron Silk close by. Santos first held the lead with six laps remaining.
Newman's slingshot move put him ahead in turn three on the next to last lap, but Santos regained it in short order and then managed to keep Dowling at bay.
"We were just running our race," Santos said. "The guys put me in position to win when it mattered. I'm very happy! This is awesome! We came here with a new motor and then had to change it. To win after that means a lot."
"You've got to be first or second on the last lap. Third won't do on the last lap, you get flushed out of it," Santos said.
"I was hoping those two would wad each other up," Newman said, "but that didn't happen. That was good hard racing. If you didn't like that, you need to find another hobby."
"Racing like that, outside and inside with the draft, is great," Dowling said. "I tried to lift for a second and cross Bobby over when he washed up. I had momentum, but I didn't quite make it."
The next event on the Whelen Modified Tour is the Starrett 150 at Stafford Motor Speedway in Connecticut on Friday, Aug. 5.
The Modifieds return to New Hampshire Motor Speedway for the Musket 250 on Saturday, Sept. 22.
Eastern Propane & Oil 100
New Hampshire Motor Speedway
Top 20: 1. Bobby Santos 2. Chase Dowling 3. Ryan Newman 4. Justin Bonsignore 5. Eric Goodale 6. Rowan Pennink 7. Ron Silk 8. Matt Swanson 9. Patrick Emerling 10. Ronnie Williams 11. Jon McKennedy 12. Robbie Summers 13. Dave Sapienza 14. Woody Pitkat 15. Anthony Nocella 16. Andrew Krause 17. Tommy Solomito 18. Tommy Catalano 19. Craig Lutz 20. Bryan Dauzat