New Hampshire Motor Speedway hosted their annual NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour All Star Shootout on Friday afternoon, which is one of the track’s standout events on Cape Cod Cafe Pizza Pole Day. The Shootout is a 35-lap (or 30 minute timed race) event.
20 drivers competed in the event, including Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series regulars, Ryan Preece and Ryan Newman. Andy Seuss was also in the field, and Andy is making his first career Cup Series start on Sunday in the Foxwoods Resort Casino 301. Justin Bonsignore won the race in 2018 and started 17th out of 20 cars on Friday.
Timmy Solimito took off with the early lead in the 35-lap feature, but Craig Lutz was on his heels. Lutz briefly stole away the lead in the early laps, but Solimito was quick to challenge him again as the two drivers swapped the lead back and forth for a handful of laps in true Modified fashion.
While battling it out with Craig Lutz for position on lap 5, Bobby Santos took a wild ride on the front stretch, coming across the track sideways in front of the full field of cars. Santos was miracuously able to save it, avoiding contact with any of his competitors as the field remained green. As Santos lost a handful of spots, Whelen Modified Tour powerhouse, Doug Coby, advanced up to fourth.
By lap 10, there was a 5-car breakaway at the front of the field. After starting back in twelfth, Ryan Newman powered his way up to sixth on lap 16. Bobby Santos battled his way up to the front after his early save in the race, making his way under Craig Lutz for the lead on lap 20.
The race had a pre-planned competition caution on lap 20. Drivers were able to come down to the pits for adjustments only, no tires. The field was also inverted by a random number of cars, which was to be decided by a fan in the stands under yellow. The top 5 cars were inverted, with Patrick Emerling leading the charge. Jon McKennedy, Timmy Solomito, Craig Lutz, and Bobby Santos were the top 5 drivers following the invert.
Ryan Newman quickly made his way up to third on the restart, but soon fell back to fifth. Ron Silk also got caught up on the inside line, falling back to eighth as Jon McKennedy powered into the lead.
Patrick Emerling was all over Jon McKennedy for the top spot on lap 27, but Bobby Santos was right on their heels. Santos found his stride that lap, advancing into the runner-up spot over Emerling.
Jon McKennedy and Bobby Santos were head-to-head for the lead on the restart, with Santos quickly taking control. Chase Dowling took the hard left down into the pits on lap 29, retiring the #99 machine for the remainder of the day.
Ron Silk was on the move in the closing laps, breaking into the top 5 on lap 31. Coming into the final lap, Patrick Emerling got a great run on Bobby Santos coming into turn 3. But, Justin Bonsignore was right there after sneaking his way to the front after starting back in 17th, taking the two drivers 3-wide coming to the finish.
Patrick Emerling beat out Bobby Santos by a nose, collecting the checkered flag after a .0022 second margin of victory. Justin Bonsignore, Jon McKennedy and Ron Slik rounded out the top five.
Patrick Emerling discussed the narrow margin of victory in his Victory Lane speech, praising the fast car that his team set him up with for the Shootout. “We just executed right there at the end…it was a real close one there”, he shared.
After a photo-finish today, the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour will go another 100 laps tomorrow, July 20th, at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. The race will take place at 2:00 pm and Bobby Santos will be loooking to defend his title in the Eastern Propane & Oil 100.
We hope to see you there!
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