After closing out the 2013 season with back-to-back NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour victories, Bobby Santos III said he thought the Tinio Motorsports team he was driving for was ready to make the jump from part-time to full-time status in the division.
Fans will get to find out this year if Santos judged right.
After starting nine of 14 events last year with Santos behind the wheel, the Mendon, Mass. based Tinio Motorsports team will take on the full 14-event Modified Tour scheduled in 2013 with Santos once again as their driver.
“The end of the season last year was obviously a big component in making our decision,” said Lawney Tinio, son of team owner Sully Tinio. “We had a fairly good season with the limited showings that we did. …. At the end of the season it all came together with those two wins right in a row.
“We think have a great package. We have a great team that works together well and we have a great crew chief and drive combination. It was a pretty easy decision to decide we were going to do this.”
Santos, of Franklin, Mass., had two victories and four top-five finishes in nine starts with the Tinio Motorsports team last year.
Before connecting with Santos last year, Tinio Motorsports fielded a Whelen Modified Tour car for three events in 2011 at Thompson International Speedway for driver Rick Gentes, with a best finish of 18th. Tinio Motorsports also fields a Late Model at Thompson Speedway weekly for Sully Tinio’s son Damon Tinio.
Santos got the team its first victory in the Fall Final last year at Stafford Motor Speedway and followed that up by winning the season ending World Series event at Thompson.
“To get that first win, it was a very surreal moment,” Lawney Tinio said. “To get that win for my father was really the key there. He had done so much financially and put so much energy into working on and building the cars. It was unbelievable when it happened. You’ll never get that feeling again like that first win, but the second win felt pretty good too.”
Lawney Tinio said one of the keys to the consistency of their team’s success in 2012 was the relationship that developed between Santos and the team’s crew chief, Steve Lemay.
“I can’t stress enough the ability of Steve Lemay and what he did to make that car work for Bobby,” Lawney Tinio said. “The interaction between those two on and off the track in making slight adjustments just to get us a little better is really what made that car that perform and allowed the drive to perform the way that he did with the piece of equipment that he had.”
Santos won the 2010 Whelen Modified Tour championship driving for Mystic team owner Bob Garbarino. Lawney Tinio said, despite being the team joining the full-time ranks of the division this year, he sees a group prepared to chase another title for Santos.
“We are 100 percent going for a championship run this year,” Lawney Tinio said.
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