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Bobby Santos III Recaptures Point Lead in Thunder Valley
Finishes Fourth in Bristol Motor Speedway Debut
BRISTOL, TENN. (August 19, 2010) - Heinke Baldwin Racing (HBR) Development Driver Bobby Santos III drove his No. 4 Mystic Missile Dodge to a fourth-place finish in the UNOH Perfect Storm 150. Santos recaptured the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour (NWMT) point lead in his Bristol Motor Speedway (BMS) debut.
Santos made his first laps at the "World's Fastest Half-Mile" early Wednesday morning for first practice, posting the 13th-quickest lap-time of 15.129 seconds (126.829 mph). The Mystic Missile team worked on the car and improved their time in final practice with a third-fastest lap of 14.986 seconds (128.040 mph). As qualifying came, Santos and the No. 4 Dodge continued to show improvement and posted a lap of 14.842 seconds (129.282 mph) for a third-place starting spot.
Santos took the green flag for the UNOH Perfect Storm 150 from the inside of the second row. At the start of the race, the inside line had trouble getting up to speed, and Santos lost a few spots. When the first caution of the night flew on lap 13 for a spin on the front stretch, the No. 4 Mystic Missile Dodge occupied the seventh position.
In the next segment, Santos battled to pass NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Ryan Newman for the sixth spot. As they rode nose-to-tail, Santos could not pass Newman, as he began to have brake trouble. The high-banked track allowed Santos to stay out, but the brake trouble hindered his lap times.
The yellow flag flew for the second time of the night for a spin on the backstretch. Santos stayed on the track and restarted in the eighth position, just in front of fellow HBR development driver Erick Rudolph. By the halfway five-minute break, Santos sat in the ninth-place spot. The Mystic Missile team utilized the mandatory time in the pits to resolve the brake problem. The team tied off the brake lines to the rear brakes, which gave Santos use of his front brakes.
With more confidence going into the corner, Santos was ready to move through the field in the last 75 laps of the race. The green flag waved on lap 81 with Santos in the ninth position. The inside line was slow to start again, and Santos dropped to the 11th-position as he was caught on the inside for the restart. Santos quickly recovered and worked his way to the seventh position by lap 95.
Continuing the green flag run, Santos muscled to the sixth spot on lap 132. Driving it hard into turn three on lap 133, Santos worked to pass the No. 2 car for the fifth position. Coming out of turn four, the No. 4 Dodge got sideways and caused Santos to lose some ground. As he struggled to pass the No. 2 on the inside for six laps, Santos finally powered passed Todd Szegedy for the fifth position.
With the championship standings weighing on his mind, Santos was calmed when trouble hit championship-contender Ted Christopher. Christopher had engine problems, relegating him to a 26th-place finish in the combined field. Knowing he would have a good point day, Santos focused on hitting his marks and finished in the fourth position in his BMS debut.
A tight point-battle continues, as Santos recovered the NWMT point lead. He now sits 32 points ahead of NWMT veteran Ted Christopher with three races remaining.
"It was a good day for us," explained Santos. "We had some brake trouble early, but thankfully, we had the intermission to fix it. We were much better in the second half of the race. I was pushing it hard through the final laps. As soon as I saw that Ted had trouble, I kept reminding myself to be conservative and get a solid finish. I am happy we finished fourth and reclaimed the point lead. I had a lot of fun out there and am proud of my first finish at Bristol."
The NWMT will be back in action September 18 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. Santos will steer his No. 4 Mystic Missile Dodge around the one-mile oval for the F.W. Webb 100.