MADISON, Ill. — Bobby Santos III took part in an unbelievable race-long battle with Bobby East before becoming a beneficiary of East’s problems late in the race, and held on in a final two-lap dash to win Saturday’s “Gateway 100” Traxxas Silver Crown race in the series’ return to Gateway Motorsports Park.
Santos led three times for 20 laps, but held on over Kody Swanson by just a .040-second margin at the end of the 80 laps around the 1.25-mile oval to capture his first win of the season aboard the Rotondo Weirich – Curb Records No. 17 Beast/Wallace Toyota.
“I knew I had a good car, but the motor was laying down the second half of the race, and we definitely almost gave it away at the end with it going away. I didn’t see (Kody) coming at the end, but I just felt that somebody was gonna be coming and make it close. That was a great race with Bobby (East) up at the front, too. We raced each other really hard and clean. I have a lot of respect for him and his family, and it’s nice to race that hard for the lead like that. It means a lot to win here and even get to race here. Places like this are right up my alley,” Santos said.
Santos’ teammate, Chris Windom, led the field to the green after posting a sizzling lap of 31.082 seconds to set a new Track Record of 144.779 mph. Windom held on to lead the opening lap, but East quickly dove under him into turn-one for the lead. That set off a race full of lead changes and back-and-forth battling at the front of the field.
Brian Tyler moved to the lead on lap ten over East as Windom hung with the lead pack, while Santos hung back in fourth. Tyler led the biggest single chunk of the race, even as East repeatedly looked low on him down the front-stretch. Finally, East cleared him on lap 29 getting into turn-one to take his second turn at the front.
Tyler did not take long to go back to the lead, as he brought Windom into the fray on lap 32. The three raced for the top spot while Santos reeled them back in from nearly a straightaway back. Just after Santos got by Windom for third, East snuck under Tyler coming to complete lap 38.