As the Bud: King of Beers 150 at Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park wound down, things appeared to be falling into place.
Bobby Santos III, filling in for the injured Dave Sapienza, had stormed to the front to take the lead, and was primed to give Sapienza’s race team its first-ever Whelen Modified Tour victory. For the third consecutive race, Doug Coby appeared to be in line for another tough-luck loss after once again leading the most laps, yet not being in position to win.
Then Blake Barney spun in Turn 4 to bring out the caution and bunch up the field. On the restart that came with less than 10 laps to go, leader Santos’ transmission failed.
“Broke a transmission,” Santos said. “It’s a bummer. I guess it happens… We had a good restart. I got a good initial jump. When I pulled it in high gear, it didn’t go.”
At the front of the field, all Hell broke loose.
After bashing into the rear end of Santos’ Modified, Coby shot to the lead, taking Bonsignore with him. Craig Lutz threaded the needle to grab third. Meanwhile, Santos fell to the back. While the rest of the field checked up to avoid Santos, Ron Silk suffered damage to his No. 85 car, forcing him to the pits for the remainder of the race. The wild episode was capped off by a Wade Cole spin in turn three that brought out another yellow flag.
Instead of a possible top-5 finish, Silk ended up running a dismal 19th, dealing the team a huge blow in the points. After coming into Wednesday night only 24 points back of Coby, Silk left the track tied with Bonsignore at 47 markers back.
“I don’t know what happened,” Silk said. “I was seventh or eighth and something got bottled up up front. Was trying to get on the brakes and slow down, but it’s hard to see through these cars, and whoever was behind me was pushing me pretty good and it just knocked the right front tie rod off.”
Coby went on to not only win the race but also lead the most laps, meaning the night provided maximum points for Coby in pursuit of title number six.
“It worked in our favor,” Coby said. “Santos checked us up a little bit after the pace car … He got a decent launch, but his car didn’t go into gear. Just a heads up move. I’ve been racing a long time and still have good reflexes and was able to snooker by there.”
A wild finish provided what history may remember as a season-altering moment in the championship hunt.