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THOMPSON, Conn. – It took overtime, but Bobby Santos collected his 10th career NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour win Thursday night with his victory in the Budweiser King of Beers 150 at Thompson Speedway.
It was Santos' fourth win at Thompson and it came after he collected his fourth Coors Light Pole Award of the season. He also posted the fastest lap in practice.
Getting the win, however, was not so easy. Two green-white-checkered attempts stretched the race to 158 laps and Santos held off Donny Lia to take the checkered flag.
Eric Goodale finished third, followed by Doug Coby and Woody Pitkat.
Ron Silk, Jimmy Blewett, Jamie Tomaino, Todd Szegedy and Ron Yuhas Jr. rounded out the top 10.
Points leader Ryan Preece spun on the final lap and finished 13th. His championship lead – which was as high as 44 points four races ago – is down to 14 tallies over defending champion Coby with five races remaining.
In seven Whelen Modified Tour starts this season, the 2010 champion Santos has posted two wins and three additional top-five finishes. Having not participated in two events this year, however, he’s not in title contention.
Santos was strong out of the gate. From his pole position he led the first 111 circuits, but stalled his car during pit stops and came off pit road sixth. From there he was able to make up ground quickly, and was retook the lead on Lap 128, but the pass didn’t officially count as the caution came out before the lap was completed. Santos then made the decisive move on Lap 135 when he wrestled the lead back for good from Justin Bonsignore, with some contact between the two.
On both accounts, Santos was apologetic after the race.
“I screwed up, I stalled the car and lost us some spots, and I kind of lost my head a little,” Santos said. “I’ve got to apologize to my guys for that.
“I put a good move on Justin when we passed him the first time, then the yellow came out. I was a little frustrated and I knew I needed to get out front. I kind of moved him up the hill a little more than I should have, so I’ve got to apologize to him.”
Santos and the No. 44 Tinio Racing team have won two of the last three events at Thompson – the home track for both driver and team. From nearby Franklin, Mass., Santos said it was meaningful to nab the Bud 150 victory.
“It means a lot to win at Thompson,” Santos said. “I’ve won here in the fall and I’ve won here in the spring, but I’ve never won here in the summer. This means a lot to add the Bud 150 win. It means a ton to this team. It’s [Thompson] home for all of us.”
For Lia – who won last year’s Bud 150 – Thursday marked his second runner-up finish in a row, and for Goodale in third, it was the second podium finish of his season and career after starting the race 16th.
“We really struggled throughout the day in practice, and I didn’t do such a good job in qualifying,” Goodale said. “But we talked about the changes we wanted to make and [crew chief] Jason [Shephard] made all the right calls.”
Thursday marked the second race in a row that Preece encountered problems at the end. He had recorded top-five finishes in each of the season’s first seven events prior to a flat tire in the closing laps of the previous event at Stafford Motor Speedway. At Thompson he once again appeared to have a top-five car, but was involved in two different late-race incidents.
The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour will return to the track Wednesday, Aug. 21 for the Titan Roof 150 at Bristol Motor Speedway. The annual combination race with the NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour will air live on Fox Sports 2.
Bobby Santos drove to his fourth win at Thompson (Conn.) International Speedway Thursday night in the Budweiser 150. Darren McCollester/Getty Images for NASCAR