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BRISTOL, Tenn. – Rookie Tommy Barrett Jr. out-muscled veterans Bobby Santos and Justin Bonsignore with a dozen laps to go and drove on to his first NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour victory in Wednesday’s Bush’s Beans 150 at Bristol Motor Speedway.
Barrett, from Millis, Massachusetts, was running third in the late stages of the hotly-contested race when he drove through and by Bonsignore and Santos – who had been the dominant cars of the night – on Lap 139. The 19-year-old held on to the lead in his No. 22 Canto Paving/Ferguson Waterworks Chevrolet through one final restart on Lap 146 for the milestone first victory.
“The car was real good on the bottom, so I just drove it in and it stuck,” Barrett said. “I got by Justin and drove under Bobby. We were driving away and didn’t want to see that last caution, but I got a good restart and just drove away again.”
It was just his 10th career start, and first time competing at Bristol in the sixth annual combination race between the Whelen Modified and Whelen Southern Modified Tours.
“To get my first win here is amazing, it’s so exciting,” Barrett said. “I hadn’t even seen the track before today. My first time out [in practice] I didn’t even know what to think, it was crazy. This place is just so fast, so banked, the g-forces in the turns, there’s nothing like it.”
Santos held on for a runner-up finish and Ron Silk joined him on the podium in third. Whelen Modified points leader Doug Coby crossed the line fourth and NASCAR Sprint Cup Series veteran Ryan Newman was fifth.
Bonsignore, the event’s Coors Light Pole Award winner, slipped to sixth in the final running order followed by Eric Goodale, Timmy Solomito, Patrick Emerling and Ryan Preece.
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It was a missed opportunity or Santos, who came 12 laps shy of at what would have been a fourth victory this year. He led a race-high 70 circuits.
“Those last 15 laps we just got really tight, and a couple other drivers said they did too,” Santos said. “The track – I felt it getting tighter as the race went along – and we were just a little bit off.”
JR Bertuccio ended up as the highest-finishing Whelen Southern Modified Tour driver in the event, 13th overall, and was credited with a victory for that tour. Southern tour points leader Andy Seuss was scored 28th in the final rundown after a last-lap accident.
With Barrett’s effort Wednesday, his Our Racing team has won at Bristol two years in a row after Mike Stefanik drove the No. 22 to Victory Lane in 2013.
Barrett became the first Whelen Modified Tour driver to win in his rookie season since James Civali in 2006. He also became the first teenager to garner a victory on the tour since Preece and Erick Rudolph won at ages 18 and 17, respectively, in 2009.
Wednesday saw an event record established for lead changes with nine, as well as for the most caution periods with 12. Thirty cars finished on the lead lap, also an event record.
With four events remaining on the Whelen Modified Tour schedule, Coby leads Bonsignore 407-403 in the championship standings with Ted Christopher in third at 374. The Whelen Southern Modified Tour has seven events remaining and Seuss now leads George Brunnhoelzl III 301-286 with Bertuccio ranked third at 274.
The Bush’s Beans 150 will air on Fox Sports 1 on Aug. 31 at 12 p.m. EDT.
The NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour will return to action with the Bayport Credit Union 150 on Aug. 30 at Langley Speedway in Hampton, Virginia, while the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour will be idle until the Riverhead 200 on Sept. 13 at Riverhead Raceway on New York’s Long Island.
Tommy Barrett Jr. pilots the No. 22 Canto Paving/Ferguson Waterworks Chevrolet at Bristol Motor Speedway. Getty Images for NASCAR