Sunday, April 28, 2013

Santos Puts The Spring In The Spring Sizzler

Sometimes it's all about one guy.

Stafford Speedway opened its season at the end of April, and the Spring in Spring Sizzler was redefined with stunningly good weather on Sunday.   The Whelen Modified Tour was the big show of a Sunday feast of racing that began with Stafford's SK Modifieds, a 40-lap feature that compressed a plethora of yellows and some good battling up front into the first 20 circuits before Ryan Preece put it away in the final 20 laps.   Mod Tour veteran Mike Stefanik had not driven a Stafford SK since 1993 yet was pressed into a relief role as track regular Keith Rocco was nursing a wrist injury.

The SK feature was the warmup for several drivers competing in the Sizzler 200-lapper, notably Preece, Ted Christopher, Woody Pitkat, Rowan Pennick, and Stefanik.   SK veteran Todd Szegedy was on the Tour feature's front row alongside pole-sitter Bobby Santos III.   A native of Franklin, MA, Santos' youthful quality makes one forget he's been a Tour regular since 2004 and has also raced in the Nationwide Series, notably last July at Daytona in Tommy Baldwin Jr's Chevrolet; he also raced Daytona's February 300-miler in Jimmy Means' car in 2011.

His attempts at the big leagues so far haven't borne fruit, and he's car-hopped in the Mod Tour with such teams as Joe Brady, Boehler Racing, Bob Garbarino, his own cars, and lately Sully Tinio's #44.  It's illustrutive of the general sense of neglect by NASCAR toward the Modified Tour that Santos won twice in 2012 yet had to miss five of fourteen races.   But there's reason for optimism for Santos right now, as he cleaned house at the Sizzler by leading 197 of 200 laps and was never threatened at any point of the race, even with several late yellows (including a brief red flag for a Lap 150 melee involving Bryon Chew, Ken Heagy, Ronnie Silk, and Gary McDonald) and the likes of Ryan Preece, Christopher, Pennick, and Justin Bonsignore making spirited efforts into the front five.  

That Teddy was even in contention was surprising, as his Boehler #3 never seemed hooked up and he spent a long time outside the top ten; he managed to get into the top seven and then nearly got waylaid with fifteen to go in a three-wide slugfest ending in a four-car crash and Szegedy's elimination from the race after a frustrating day. 

In the end Teddy and Bonsignore, like everyone else, had nothing for Santos.   The win is Santos' third in the last four Modified Tour races, and it showed that sometimes it's all about one guy - it was certainly about Santos at Stafford's Spring Sizzler in 2013. 

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