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NASCAR notebook: Santos sweeps Modifieds at NHMS as drivers honor Ted Christopher

  • Christopher Bell wins the NASCAR Camping World Series Truck Series UNOH 175 auto race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon on Saturday, Sept. 23, 2017. (ELIZABETH FRANTZ / Monitor staff) Elizabeth Frantz—Monitor staff

  • Christopher Bell celebrates after winning the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series UNOH 175 race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon on Saturday. Elizabeth Frantz / Monitor staff

  • Christopher Bell approaches the finish line to win the NASCAR Camping World Series Truck Series UNOH 175 auto race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon on Saturday, Sept. 23, 2017. (ELIZABETH FRANTZ / Monitor staff) Elizabeth Frantz—Monitor staff

  • Christopher Bell wins the NASCAR Camping World Series Truck Series UNOH 175 auto race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon on Saturday, Sept. 23, 2017. (ELIZABETH FRANTZ / Monitor staff) Elizabeth Frantz—Monitor staff

  • Scenes from New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon on Saturday, Sept. 23, 2017. (ELIZABETH FRANTZ / Monitor staff) Elizabeth Frantz—Monitor staff

  • The NASCAR Camping World Series Truck Series UNOH 175 auto race took place at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon on Saturday, Sept. 23, 2017. (ELIZABETH FRANTZ / Monitor staff) Elizabeth Frantz—Monitor staff

  • Joey Logano (22) signs autographs following practice for the NASCAR ISM Connect 300 Cup Series auto race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon on Saturday, Sept. 23, 2017. (ELIZABETH FRANTZ / Monitor staff) Elizabeth Frantz—Monitor staff

  • Scenes from New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon on Saturday, Sept. 23, 2017. (ELIZABETH FRANTZ / Monitor staff) Elizabeth Frantz—Monitor staff

  • Joey Logano (22) removes his hat before practice for the NASCAR ISM Connect 300 Cup Series auto race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon on Saturday, Sept. 23, 2017. (ELIZABETH FRANTZ / Monitor staff) Elizabeth Frantz—Monitor staff

  • Matt Kenseth (20) removes his helmet following practice for the NASCAR ISM Connect 300 Cup Series auto race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon on Saturday, Sept. 23, 2017. (ELIZABETH FRANTZ / Monitor staff) Elizabeth Frantz—Monitor staff

  • Ryan Blaney (21) talks with his crew during practice for the NASCAR ISM Connect 300 Cup Series auto race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon on Saturday, Sept. 23, 2017. (ELIZABETH FRANTZ / Monitor staff) Elizabeth Frantz—Monitor staff

  • Bobby Santos wins the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour F.W. Webb 100 auto race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon on Saturday, Sept. 23, 2017. (ELIZABETH FRANTZ / Monitor staff) Elizabeth Frantz—Monitor staff

  • Bobby Santos (left) wins the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour F.W. Webb 100 auto race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon on Saturday, Sept. 23, 2017. (ELIZABETH FRANTZ / Monitor staff) Elizabeth Frantz—Monitor staff

  • Bobby Santos wins the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour F.W. Webb 100 auto race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon on Saturday, Sept. 23, 2017. (ELIZABETH FRANTZ / Monitor staff) Elizabeth Frantz—Monitor staff



Monitor staff
Sunday, September 24, 2017

LOUDON – Bobby Santos discovered his winning strategy back in July. He was shocked nobody else used it on Saturday.

Santos settled into the bottom lane with 15 laps to go, digging his tires into the adhesive compound waxed into the pavement in the corners for better grip. The groove pulled Santos under Patrick Emerling and into the lead all the way to the end of the Whelen Modified Tour’s F.W. Webb 100 on Saturday at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.

Santos swept the Modified events at NHMS this year. He won the 100-lap race on the Magic Mile back in July. The last driver to sweep the Modified events at Loudon was Ryan Newman in 2010.

Santos’s bottom-lane attack in the final laps carried him to victory in July as well.

“Come back here a couple months later and I’m the only one doing it, it kind of surprised me again,” Santos said. “It’s just a testament to a good car, good team and a good spotter up top.”

Santos is running a part-time schedule this year and is not competing for a championship. Saturday was his seventh race this year.

Doug Coby finished 14th and gained the top position in the championship points standings. Timmy Solomito, also battling for a title, dropped back to third in points after wrecking on the 86th lap and did not return to the track.

Ryan Preece entered the weekend as the points leader but did not compete at Loudon on Saturday. Preece instead took an opportunity to race for Joe Gibbs in the Xfinity Series at Kentucky. The absence dropped Preece to fifth place in points, 26 behind Coby.

Rowan Pennink finished second ahead of Emerling in third. Donny Lia placed fourth and Justin Bonsignore rounded out the top-five.

It was an emotional win for Santos, who confidently called himself Ted Christopher’s No. 1 fan. Christopher, a short-track racing star in the northeast, was one of two victims in a fatal plane crash in Connecticut last weekend. Christopher won five Modified races at NHMS and was the tour champion in 2008. 

“I had more fun sitting in the grandstands and growing up watching him,” Santos said. “What he did in a racecar, in my opinion, nobody else in the world can do. It’s amazing how he manipulated a racecar.”

Santos, a native of Franklin, Mass., recalled being a young fan watching Christopher at Thompson Speedway in Connecticut. When he grew older and began competing against Christopher on the track, he got the same treatment from veteran that everyone else did. One instance came at New Smyrna Speedway in Florida. Santos was 14 and competing in one of his first Modified races.

“He got a flat tire and needed a yellow (flag),” Santos said. “He was running in the top three and I was running about eighth or 10th. I was going to go by … and Teddy takes a left, comes across my nose, I spin out. He gets the yellow he needs, got new tires and he’s good to go.”

The Modified drivers honored Christopher with a four-wide salute before the race. The entire grid lined up in four lanes and slowly drove a lap before a moment of silence.

Victory Bell

Christopher Bell showed just how fast his Kyle Busch Motorsports Toyota Tundra could go.

Bell pulled away from Ryan Truex with 16 laps to go and cruised to the checkered flag in the UNOH 175 on Saturday at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.

It is Bell’s fifth win in the Camping World Truck Series this year, first at NHMS, and advances him to the next round of the playoffs. Bell, the regular-season champion, also won both stages.

“It was tough to pass all day but we just had such a fast truck that we could do it until we caught up to Ryan,” Bell said. “I kept trying to work down (the track) and he kept blocking my air. I got one run to go up in (Turn 1 and 2) and could get down and finally by him in Turn 3. It was a great battle.”

Bell led 73 of 175 laps. He became the first non-pole winner to win a truck race at NHMS in the last six races. Truex tied his career-best finish at second place.

The series turns to Las Vegas next weekend and then Talladega. The field will then be cut from eight cars to six for another set of three races.

Massachusetts native Kaz Grala, driving the 33 Chevy Silverado for GMS Racing, finished 10th. 

Logano’s timeout

Joey Logano, who considers Loudon his home track, had to sit in his car on pit road for 50 minutes during Cup Series practice Saturday.

Logano’s 22 Team Penske Ford failed technical inspection on four attempts Friday, missed qualifying and will start in the back of the pack in Sunday’s ISM Connect 300.

Fans walking along pit road took selfies with Logano and his parked car. Logano, strapped in with his helmet fastened, had to sit for the entire practice session on a clear day with temperatures in the 80s. 

Drivers often will sit out for a period of time during a practice to serve a penalty, but NASCAR said this is the first time a driver had to sit out an entire practice session.

“I don’t know why it has to be out on pit road,” Logano told NBC Sports. “I mean, a penalty is a penalty. That’s fine, but there’s no reason to sit out there. I think it’s dumb, but that’s coming from a guy that just sat in a car for an hour sweating. That may not be the best thing to say, but it’s true.”

Logano, who finished second in points last season, missed the playoffs this year.

ACT after dark

The American-Canadian Invitational was supposed to run 50 laps but the drivers had to settle for 18. Numerous wrecks delayed the race several minutes at a time and eventually darkness consumed the Magic Mile.

All the cars were sent down pit road except for one.

Woody Pitkat, the leader when the final caution flag came out, slowly crossed the finished line and was named the official winner. Pitkat dedicated the win to Christopher in Victory Lane. Pitkat drove Christopher’s Modified car in the F.W. Webb 100 earlier Saturday and finished eighth.

“You don’t want to win a race like that, but I wanted to win for Teddy today,” Pitkat said after the ACT race. “It was an honor to drive his car.”

(Nick Stoico can be reached at 369-3339, nstoico@cmonitor.com or on Twitter @NickStoico.)