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Near Perfect Santos Leads June Hunter Index

Whelen Modified Points Leader Off To Historic Start
Official Release
June 10, 2010 - 6:22pm

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – It’s fitting that Bobby Santos’ near perfect start resulted in him being a near unanimous choice for the top spot in June’s edition of the Hunter Index.

Santos became the first driver in NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour history to win three of the first four races of the season. In addition, the 24-year-old standout from Franklin, Mass., has collected three Coors Light Pole Awards and has built an impressive 89-point lead over nine-time NASCAR champion Mike Stefanik.

The Hunter Index is a new feature in 2010 on NASCARHomeTracks.com that will spotlight the top 10 drivers in the NASCAR Developmental Series in a monthly power poll. Drivers are ranked on their performance over the previous month. The rankings are compiled by a panel of auto racing writers and NASCAR representatives.

HunterIndex_June_Header_200While Santos picked up five of the six first-place votes, he wasn’t without his competition for top honors in the power poll. Keith Rocco and Craig Preble, who continue to match each other win for win and hold down the top spots in the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series national standings, ranked second and third, respectively.

In the last month, Rocco has five wins, eight top fives and 11 top 10s in 11 starts while running his asphalt Modified at three Connecticut short tracks: Thompson International Speedway, Stafford Motor Speedway and Waterford Speedbowl. Preble competes on a weekly basis in his crate dirt Late Model at I-80 Speedway in Omaha and Junction Motor Speedway in McCool Junction, Neb. Over the same period, Preble recorded six wins and nine top fives in nine races.

“I had a tough time choosing between Santos or Rocco at the top,” said Shawn Courchesne of the Hartford (Conn.) Courant. “Rocco was involved in some tough wars during the judging period and had a stellar record. I think one thing that gets forgotten with Rocco is that at two of the three tracks he's running at, he competes weekly against some of the top talent from the Whelen Modified Tour and he's obviously showing he's on par with those guys.

“Though for me, it came down to putting Santos No. 1 on the basis of Modified Tour vs. weekly short tracks coupled with the fact that Santos was perfect for the judging period.”

Eric Holmes, who has won two of the last three NASCAR K&N Pro Series West events, came in fourth in the voting, followed by NASCAR K&N Pro Series East rookie Max Gresham. Gresham has won the last two East races – including a high-profile victory in the annual East-West combination race at Iowa – and received the other first-place vote.

“When put to the test against the top drivers from NASCAR K&N Pro Series East and West, Max Gresham rose to the top,” said Tim Haddock of HaddockInThePaddock.blogspot.com, who covers racing on the West Coast and voted for Gresham. “He didn't have the most dominant car at Iowa Speedway, but Gresham put his car in position to win the race at the end.

“On the heels of a dominant performance at South Boston Speedway in April, when he won the pole and led all but four laps, Gresham showed he could win under more adverse conditions at Iowa Speedway. He won the race in Iowa on a green-white-checkered flag finish and had to regain the lead on the last lap of the race. On a day when the top drivers from the East and West raced on the same track, Gresham was the best.”

Brett Moffitt (NASCAR K&N Pro Series East) was sixth, followed by Burt Myers (NASCAR Whelen All-American Series), Darrell Wallace Jr. (NASCAR K&N Pro Series East), David Mayhew (NASCAR K&N Pro Series West) and Todd Szegedy (NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour).

D.J. Kennington, who won the NASCAR Canadian Tire Series presented by Mobil 1 opener at Delaware (Ont.) Speedway this past weekend, was one of four drivers to earn honorable mention.

The Hunter Index is named for Jim Hunter, NASCAR’s vice president of corporate communications and a longtime supporter of the weekly and touring series that make up the NASCAR Developmental Series.

The Index was designed in the off season as an opportunity to compare the top drivers from the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series all the way up to the NASCAR K&N Pro Series. It will also encompass drivers from the NASCAR Mexico Series, NASCAR Canadian Tire Series, NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour and NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour.

The NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour did not hold events since the previous Index was released.

The panel also included media members Courchesne representing the Northeast, Adam Fenwick of National Speed Sport News from the Southeast, Haddock from the West Coast, and Spencer Lewis, representing the Canadian publication Inside Track Motorsports News. They are joined by Brett Bodine, who is the chairman of the NASCAR Resumé Committee and represents the NASCAR competition side on the panel, and NASCAR public relations representative Jason Christley.

RANK DRIVER
1. BOBBY SANTOS (NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour)
  Why he’s here: The only race he didn’t win he was spun by a lapped car while dominating the early portion of the race, and still came back to finish second. His win at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway showed that even when he doesn’t have the strongest car early, he’s going to be a factor in the end.
2. KEITH ROCCO (NASCAR Whelen All-American Series)
  Why He’s Here: Second for the second straight month, he added another five wins and padded his national points standings lead.
3. CRAIG PREBLE (NASCAR Whelen All-American Series)
  Why He’s Here: Quietly keeping pace with Rocco while racking up the wins seemingly every weekend on the Nebraska dirt.
4. ERIC HOLMES (NASCAR K&N Pro Series West)
  Why He’s Here: That 20th-place finish in the season opener is a distant memory as the two-time series champion has climbed to second in points.
5. MAX GRESHAM (NASCAR K&N Pro Series East)
  Why He’s Here: Even tire issues at Martinsville can’t dampen the amazing performance the 17-year-old put together in winning at South Boston (Va.) Speedway and Iowa Speedway.
6. BRETT MOFFITT (NASCAR K&N Pro Series East)
  Why He’s Here: Gresham’s Joe Gibbs Racing teammate has been in dominate cars only to get wrecked three straight races. His luck changed at Martinsville as he drove to his third career win.
7. BURT MYERS (NASCAR Whelen All-American Series)
  Why He’s Here: The new ‘Madhouse’ king? Myers has three wins and five top fives in claiming the early points lead at Bowman Gray. He also finished fifth in the Tour race at Martinsville.
8. DARRELL WALLACE JR. (NASCAR K&N Pro Series East)
  Why He’s Here: Three is the magic number for Revolution Racing’s No. 6 Chevrolet driver. Third at Iowa and third at Martinsville has him third in the points standings.
9. DAVID MAYHEW NASCAR (K&N Pro Series West)
  Why He’s Here: He’s collected a pair of Coors Light pole awards, was the top West finisher at Iowa, and kept pace with Holmes at Roseburg. And he leads the series points.
10. TODD SZEGEDY (NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour)
  Why He’s Here: Rallied from a tire coming completely off the rim at Martinsville to finish third. He was also third in the previous race at Stafford, and is the only other driver besides Santos with a top five in every race.

HONORABLE MENTION: DJ Kennington (NASCAR Canadian Tire Series), Phillip Morris (NASCAR Whelen All-American Series), Trevor Sanborn (NASCAR Whelen All-American Series), Steve Carlson (NASCAR Whelen All-American Series).