SANTOS IS THE STAR OF THE BIG ONE by Denise DuPont
Stafford Night Of Open Wheeled Racing Owned By One Driver
The Premier Racing Association's Big Car Series made its Northeast debut at Stafford Motor Speedway (CT) on Tuesday, August 15th for the Inaugural Big One Presented by CARQUEST. The incentive for drivers to race was more than just the average checkered flag. if a driver could win both the 100-lap PRA Big Car Series feature and the 30-lap non-wing "open competition" style Midget feature, CARQUEST, Valvoline, and Stafford Speedway offered to bump the first place prize money to $50,000.
Drinking the traditional drink of milk, Santos reflected on his victory
“We had a good run; the car was pretty good and fun to drive. I am disappointed because I thought my sister would have a top run here and it would have made this a lot better. We just will have to win the other race tonight and make it better. It is a lot of fun racing against any of these guys, the USAC and NEMA guys are all the same.”
After having won the Midget race, Santos had to make the decision whether he would take the Valvoline challenge and start race at the back of the pack in the Big Car feature to go for the $50,000 bonus purse by winning both the Big Car and Midget races.
The Valvoline Challenge was only open to the first 12 drivers to register, and were known as the "Dirty Dozen." Well, only six drivers actually signed up for the challenge - Teddy Beach, A.J. Fike, Ron Gregory, Kyle Nicholas, Dave Steele, and Bobby Santos III. So I guess you would say that they would be better known as the “Dirty One-Half Dozen” 100 lap PRA Big Car event.
NASCAR and Indy Car announcing legend, Bob Jenkins was the anchor announcer for “The BIG ONE” night. It was a return to the past for the television personality - Jenkins spent 20 years with ESPN’s Thursday Thunder, in addition to his coverage of ABC Indy Racing League events and the Indianapolis 500.
During the 30 lap non-wing "open competition" style Midget feature, Santos took the lead on lap nine from Dave Steele and went on to win the race. Santos drove the #4 Clorox sponsored car which he already taken to victory lane on the USAC National Midget circuit. Once Santos took the lead he maintained a strong lead ahead of the field. This is the second time this year that Santos took the checkers driving a midget in 2006.
The decision wasn’t hard.
“That is what we came here for and we are going for it!”
During the race Erica Santos brought out a red flag after a hard hit in turn three. Other cars involved in the incident were Ben Seitz, Tom Hessent, and Kyle Nichols.
The official top five finishers in the midget event were Bobby Santos III, Dave Steele, Ron Gregory, Teddy Beach, Kyle Nicholas.
When it was time for the big car event, the top six qualifiers made their track entrance driving TSI Harley Davidson motorcycles and it was Dave Steele who started the field of cars to the green and ran away from the pack.
The first caution came out on lap 22 as Jimmy Kite in car #5 hit the outside wall on the front stretch. The car went into turn four, went straight into the wall and rolled over twice before hitting the wall again. When the car made impact with the wall a second time, flames shot out of the car.
In 22 laps, Bobby Santos was able to go from his starting twenty second position up into the top 10.
The second caution came on lap 31 when Eric Gordon in #4 car spun close to the front stretch wall near turn one after he
and Bobby Santos touched. Santos did not appear to have any damage during the brush with Gordon. Gordon was able to pick up at the back of the pack without significant damage.
On lap 46, Bobby Santos passed Paul White in #99 car to take over the second position. He now set his sights on the lead and a challenge with Steele. Within 10 laps, Santos hit the back of Steele’s car when Steele braked for lapped traffic. Both cars continued on without missing a beat.
Lap 65, Santos passed Steele for the lead in lapped traffic. Steele stole the lead right back in the next lap. Bobby fought back and took over the lead again in lap seventy.
Santos never looked back from there. He went to victory lane in the #6 PRA Big Car winning the $50,000 Carquest bonus. Booby took another swig of milk – repeating what he did after the night’s first feature race.
Bobby Santos, III won the midget feature at Stafford... (Jim DuPont Photos)
Santos wheels his #6 to the front.
“That was awesome! Two great races cars. It was unbelievable. We have been looking forward to this race all year. To beat Dave Steele, you can not do any better than that.”
What will he do with the money? That answer came easy.
“Fix my sister’s race car!”
Steele led for sixty-nine laps until he was passed by Santos. He held on to second position and came across the finish line behind Santos
It was a strong third-place finish for Fike in the #32 car.
“The car was not good on the restarts and it cost me a couple of times,” said Fike.
Paul White and Dave Darland rounded out the top five finishers in the Big Car event.
...and then he backed it up by winning in the Big Car event as well.