Lee, NH — After three restart attempts, Bobby Santos III had “had enough.” Driving the family #98, Santos powered past Jeremy Frankoski heading into lap nine and went on to a convincing Northeastern Midget Association victory Friday night at Lee USA Speedway.
After the restart problems, the feature went 17 green laps to the checker and Santos took full advantage. He was a quarter lap in front of point leader Randy Cabral at the checkered. Joey Payne Jr. was third.
Jesse State started last, had the lead five laps in and won the NEMA Lites feature, his second straight. Jake Stergios and Anthony Marvuglio followed.
Starting seventh, Santos used a lap three restart to move from fourth to second. He was on Frankoski’s tail when the second yellow showed five laps later. Three times the restart was negated by spins. The fourth time Santos beat Frankoski into the turn and immediately began opening up a gap.
“I just got a good run on the outside,” he said. “It’s the place to pass here if you can get the car up there and make it work.” It was his ninth career NEMA victory.
Santos knew “right off the bat” he had a winning car. “Sometimes you just have that feeling even when you’re not the fastest car,” he explained. “But Randy was back there and you never know what can happen, not the way he’s running.”
It was the second straight runner-up finish for Cabral after two wins. Despite advice from car owner Tim Bertrand and his father Glen, Cabral asked for more stagger in the feature. “It was wrong,” he said. “Had I left it alone like they suggested I would not have beaten Bobby but it would have been closer.”
The Santos team, relying on history,” tightened up the car” for the feature. “A driver’s track, we always have a lot of fun here,” he said.
Payne emerged from a battle with Frankoski and Adam Cantor to take third on lap 16. Cantor and Frankoski completed the top five.
Chris Leonard brought the 21-car field to the green and was in the lead when his engine expired bringing out the first yellow.
State, in the family owned #18, wasted no time coming through the field. He caught pole sitter Marvuglio on lap eight and then it was only cautions that delayed his run. Stergios got by Marvuglio later in the race that was cut to 23 laps by the time limit.
NEMA now heads to Thompson on Thursday, July 3.
RESULTS: 1. Bobby Santos III, 2. Randy Cabral, 3. Joey Payne Jr., 4. Adam Cantor, 5. Jeremy Frankoski, 6. Erica Santos, 7. Jeff Abold, 8. Greg Stoehr, 9. Nokie Fornoro, 10. John Zych Jr., 11. Barry Kittredge, 12. Aaron Wall, 13. Doug Cleveland, 14. Neil Blatt, 15. Matt O’Brien, 16. Lee Bundy, 17. Mike Luggelle, 18. Mark Irving, 19. Abby Martino, 20. Chris Leonard, 21. Kevin Park.
NEMA LITES: 1. Jesse State, 2. Bill Stergios, 3. Anthony Marvuglio, 4. Russ Wood Jr., 5. Todd Bertrand, 6. Stephanie Doty, 7. Paul Luggelle, 8. Mike Luggelle, 9. PJ Stergios.
Sources: Pete Zanardi/NEMA PR