THOMPSON, Conn. — Story and audio by Race Chaser Online New England Correspondent Kyle Souza — Maddie Meyer/Getty Images for NASCAR photo —
While 2016 may be a different season and different story for former NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour champion Bobby Santos III, the veteran driver from Franklin, Mass. still has the same goal in mind — chase another title.
While Santos will behind the wheel of the same family-owned No. 44 Tinio Racing modified that he has piloted since __, he will have a brand new chassis underneath him. Santos and the team snagged a brand new LFR Chassis over the offseason — the same chassis department that fielded a car for defending champion Doug Coby in 2015.
“We expect to win (with the new chassis), it’s the same expectations we’ve had the last few years,” Santos told Race Chaser Online during a break from an open test session at Thompson.
The change is something Santos hopes changes things for the better and bolsters the team to the top of the pack. Though Santos finished inside the top-1o in eight of the 14 races, he struggled to run consistently throughout the season inside the top-five. That’s something that he hopes to improve upon with the brand new LFR car.
“We didn’t have the greatest season in the world last year, so we were looking to change a couple of things around to try and get better. As the racing changes, we are really just trying to make sure we keep up with it.”
The 30-year-old has competed on the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour since 2004, running every season except the 2005 campaign. His biggest accomplishment is his 2010 championship season while driving the Mystic Missile for Bob Garbarino, but he has also finished inside the top-10 in 54% of his career starts.
After 16 poles and 13 career wins, including one at Martinsville Speedway in 2010 and one at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in 2014, Santos will be visiting some different race tracks this season compared to what he has with the Tour car recently. That’s something he is looking forward to — maybe more than most.
The tour will join the International SuperModified Association (ISMA) during Budweiser Internationa Classic weekend at Oswego Speedway on Sept. 3, then follow that up with a trip to the third-mile Seekonk Speedway for the AnytimeRealty.com 150 on Sept. 10.
Santos has had success at both tracks, winning races in the Supermodifieds at Oswego and the NEMA Midgets at Seekonk in the past.
“I like going to new tracks, I think it’s really good for the Tour,” Santos said. “I’ve got some experience at both tracks, I’ve won at both and I am looking forward to them. I love that we’re going up (to Oswego) on Classic weekend, I like racing the Supers up there. I was really excited when I saw that on the schedule.”
Since the tour visits some different tracks in September, Santos said that the start of the season at Thompson, Stafford and New London-Waterford will be important to a title run because drivers will have to get out of the gate well.
“We’ve gotta start the year right, it’s about the momentum you can build,” Santos said. “The morale of everyone is high if you run well, it’s important to start the year well and keep it going.”
The brand new LFR car is one that Santos is extremely excited to get on track with in race conditions. Coby switched over to the car for 2015 and scored seven victories in dominating fashion, including winning the final three poles and races of the season.
However, though Coby had complete success and only a select few cars have the brand new LFR Chassis at their disposal, Santos isn’t quite sure yet that his team will have any advantage.
“That’s still yet to be determined,” Santos said of what the initial breakdown in performance throughout the field will be. “Doug and the whole No. 2 team are a great team no matter what car they have there. I hope we’re a step ahead of everyone. LFR gave us a great brand new chassis and hopefully we can do our job and have it up front.”
Tinio Racing and Santos will go into their fifth consecutive season together on NASCAR’s oldest touring series this season, having assembled a strong group of team members and partners to make the run possible.
“It’s a huge team effort to make this happen,” Santos said. “Obviously the Tinio Family, Curb Records, the guys in the shop — Danny, Bobby and everyone that helps make this happen. Danny Kelly helps us with tires. We have a lot of great people in this team and I really think it’s going to show this year.”
Santos and the other stars and cars NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour will unload to officially start their season on April 9-10 at Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park, with the running of the Icebreaker 150.
To listen to Race Chaser Online’s full interview with Bobby Santos, click on the player below:
About the Writer
Kyle Souza is an aspiring Journalism major at the Roger Williams University in Bristol, R.I. Souza is Race Chaser Online’s New England motorsports insider, covering everything from the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour to the NASCAR Whelen All American Series and the PASS North Super Late Models.
When not writing, Souza works at the Seekonk Speedway as the track’s Friday night public address announcer and press writer, and is also the Media Director for both the Granite State Pro Stock Series and the Tri Track Open Modified Series.
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