JENNERSTOWN, Pa. – Bobby Santos left Jennerstown Speedway frustrated one year ago, vowing to come back stronger after being defeated by Jimmy McCune in the inaugural American Racer David D. Mateer Memorial.
Santos did just that on Saturday night, putting on a driving clinic to capture the second running of the event and pick up a victory in his first Must See Racing Sprint Car Series presented by Engine Pro start of the season.
After being squelched by rain and a call into action as a substitute driver on the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour for much of the summer, Santos came back to asphalt sprint car racing at the lightning-fast half-mile and proved quickly he hasn’t lost his touch at driving the methanol-fueled beasts.
Santos started fourth, but raced his way to the lead by the eighth revolution and set sail after that. He had two seconds in hand by lap 10 and when the lone caution of the race waved with five to go, the Franklin, Mass., veteran was more than eight seconds clear of his nearest pursuer.
Not even the ensuing restart could slow Santos down. He drove away from second-running Ryan Litt to take the checkered flag in front by 1.815 seconds at the finish.
Saturday night’s romp, worth $4,000, was the second Must See Racing victory of Santos’ career.
“These guys did an awesome job today. We made all the right adjustments and it was a lot of fun,” said Santos in victory lane. “It’s an honor to win this event tonight, with the caliber of field and the heavy hitters that were here. None of these wins are ever easy, but this one was definitely tough.
“Last year, we just weren’t good enough, and we had to make a couple of adjustments on it compared to what we had last year,” Santos added. “We continued to work on it throughout the day today. I was a little rusty through the first two practices with these things, just because I haven’t done it much this year, but my dad and everybody gave me what I needed and we put a good car where it belonged.”
The only incident in the 30-lap feature came when Joshua Sexton spun off the second corner and came to a stop on the backstretch, slowing the pace with 25 laps complete and setting up the final restart.
Litt, who drove past early leader Jason Blonde with 12 to go to secure the runner-up spot, said afterward that he simply had nothing for Santos as the laps wound down.
“Man, I knew that clean air would play a big role at a really fast tracks like this one, so once he got out there, I knew it wasn’t going to be easy,” said Litt. “My only shot was getting into turn one (on the final restart) and I tried him there and I was just sliding all over the place, whereas he had all the grip.
“This was a good run for us, but I just really want to win one of these things. I’m tired of being second.”
New all-time track record holder Brian Gerster, who turned a lap of 15.198 seconds in qualifying and had to start eighth due to the inversion, completed the podium in the Dick Myers Racing No. 50m.
“We didn’t have anything for Bobby, and I’m not sure anyone else did either,” Gerster admitted. “We wound up just being a little bit too free there in the feature. Bobby’s a hell of a race car driver. I mean, pavement fans know that he can drive anything and he’s real good, so it’s not really anything to hang your head about when you get beat by Santos.
“We don’t like running third, but we had a pretty good start,” Gerster added. “I thought we were going to have a shot at getting up there and racing with those guys, but Bobby got away from us a little bit late and I traded spots in there one time. We just weren’t quite good enough to get the job done.”
Charlie Schultz crossed the line fourth ahead of Jimmy McCune, with Blonde coming home sixth as the final car on the lead lap after pacing the first seven rotations around the Pennsylvania speed plant.
Polesitter Kevin Feeney finished eighth, one lap behind the frontrunners.
Anthony McCune lost the series point lead after fuel flow issues that he and his No. 8 team battled all afternoon prevented him from taking the green flag in Saturday night’s 30-lap feature.
Jimmy McCune, who came into the day 10 points back of his nephew, assumed command of the standings by virtue of his quiet fifth-place finish.
While only Sexton’s spin hampered the main event, two major incidents did mar heat-race action.
In the first heat, a broken right-front wheel center on the No. 7 of Tom Jewell sent the Michigan veteran hard into the outside wall at full speed in turns three and four working lap two. Jewell’s car grinded to a halt high off the exit of the fourth corner, and he climbed from his car and walked back to the pit area.
The second heat saw Bobby Komisarski’s No. 17 grenade a right-rear tire on the final lap of the heat in turn one. Komisarski tagged the outside wall and spun to a stop, done for the night, but was unhurt.
The Must See Racing Sprint Car Series season continues Sept. 28-29 at Rockford (Ill.) Speedway.
To view complete race results, advance to the next page.