Youngest Champion in Whelen Modified Tour History
Daytona Beach, FL — The campaign by Bobby Santos for the 2010 NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour championship was full of triumphs and milestones.
Santos, from Franklin, Mass., had a breakout season that was highlighted by four wins and four poles behind the wheel of the No. 4 “Mystic Missile” Dodge. In addition, his championship run achieved a number of milestones.
Santos became the youngest champion in the 26-year history of the Whelen Modified Tour when his sixth-place finish in the season finale on Oct. 17 at Thompson (Conn.) International Speedway clinched the crown. Santos turned 25 on Oct. 3, the same day of his fourth win of the season in the CARQUEST Fall Final at Stafford (Conn.) Motor Speedway. Todd Szegedy was the previous youngest champion at the age of 27 in 2003.
Overall, Santos is unofficially the second-youngest champion in the 63 years of NASCAR-sanctioned Modified competition. Red Farmer was 23 during his 1956 title campaign while Wally Campbell turned 25 in July of his 1951 national championship run.
Santos also became the first driver in Whelen Modified Tour history to capture the championship in his first full-time campaign. While he had made 29 starts from 2004-09, Santos’ previous season high was 11 during the 16-race 2007 season.
Statistically speaking, Santos recorded other notable accomplishments during his title run. He set track qualifying records at Thompson and Stafford to begin the year and was the Coors Light Pole Award winner in each of the first three races on the schedule, which tied Ted Christopher’s 2009 mark for consecutive poles to begin a season. Santos also became the first driver in Tour history to win three of the first four races to begin a season with triumphs at Thompson, Stafford and Martinsville Speedway.
“It just feels really good,” Santos said of his first title. “I’m really excited and really happy that we could finish the year with a championship.”
Santos earned the championship behind the wheel of Bob Garbarino’s “Mystic Missile,” same as Donny Lia had done in 2007 and 2009. The pairing of driver and team came late in the offseason as Garbarino scrambled to find a successor to Lia, who departed for the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series.
“It came together last minute, and it was really neat to be able to get that phone call [from Garbarino] and put it all together to be able to win the championship, Santos said. “It doesn’t get much better than that. It has really sunk in the last week here and it’s really exciting.”
As a result of yet another championship season, Garbarino joined the late Len Boehler as the only car owners to collect three Whelen Modified Tour titles. He also became the sixth team owner to earn back-to-back crowns, but just the second to do it with two different drivers. Boehler’s three-year run started with Wayne Anderson in 1994 and continued with Tony Hirschman in 1995-96.
Santos, Garbarino and the rest of the Mystic Missile Racing team will be recognized for their accomplishments as part of the festivities surrounding the NASCAR Night of Champions Touring Awards Gala on Dec. 11 at the Charlotte Convention Center’s Crown Ballroom in the NASCAR Hall of Fame.
Sources: Jason Cunningham/NASCAR WMT PR