Bobby Santos in victory lane at Lucas Oil Raceway Park. (Photo by David Nearpass)
CLERMONT, Ind. –A 10-car reverser wasn’t going to get in the way of Bobby Santos Friday night during the Carb Night Classic USAC Midget feature at Lucas Oil Indianapolis Raceway Park.
After setting the top speed in the time trials, which used practice times as the official record lap due to a long rain delay, Santos shot a 10, signifying his starting position for the 30-lap main event outside the fifth row.
It took Santos just 12 laps to force his way through the field in his 3 Stooges Racing/Indy Performance Composites – Carpenter’s Crew/Beast/Stanton SR-11 as he dove past race leader Dakoda Armstrong at turn three before moving to a 1.934-second margin of victory.
The score marked Santos’ fourth career midget triumph at IRP and his third in the last three seasons, but his first on Memorial Day weekend at IRP since the night before the 500 in 2006. He became the first driver since Tracy Hines in 2012-13-14 to earn an IRP midget feature for three consecutive years.
But above all, Santos appreciated how he had to earn it. How he must have charged. How he had to punch through and push firmly through the thickness of the cool air in order to come into conflict and in a position to pounce.
“(My team) gave me a great race car and we were fast in practice which got us pole position,” Santos recalled. “Then we did it in a fun way; we have to start at the back and overtake the cars. I really appreciate that.
Armstrong took the lead from his starting pole position as the 2004 USAC Kenyon Midget title roster held the first third of the race while 2020 Northeast Midget Ass’n Champion Todd Bertrand placed second ahead 2005 USAC Midget National Champion Josh Wise in third.
Reigning Carb Night Classic midget winner Kody Swanson pitted on lap five while racing in 8th position, signaling the premature end of his repeat attempt as Santos continued to blitz the field, passing from 10th to fourth to third and second. on lap nine before firing directly at Armstrong’s rear tank leading the race.
A yellow flag flew on lap 11 as Nick Hamilton slowed to an immediate stop at the front as he raced to 9th, only momentarily slowing Santos’ drive. On the ensuing restart, Santos took just a lap and a half to assess and measure Armstrong before striking as he fired inside Armstrong entering turn three, ensured that the move held as he raced straight back into the groove and into the lead. with 19 laps to go.
Santos checked Armstrong at the height of a half-half straight and 3/4 of a straight length with 10 laps remaining, precisely 3.328 seconds ahead of Armstrong and NEMA standout Jake Trainor.
However, yellow was displayed for Annie Breidinger’s disabled car on lap 21 as it came to a stop in turn four. She was running 12th at the time, and the stop continued to regroup the field with just under 10 to go.
The biggest benefactor was Trainor who passed Armstrong on the bottom entering the first corner per lap after the restart on lap 21. At the time, he resided just half a second behind Santos, but with the rounds winding down, Santos got the bit and that’s all he wrote.
He was followed to the line by Trainor, Armstrong, Chuck Gurney Jr. and Tanner Swanson who rounded out the top five.
Trainor, the 17-year-old from Medway, Mass., was impressive as he raced through the field from his 7th starting position to finish 2nd in his Seymour Enterprises/KTron – Indy Performance Composites – John Chambers/Spike/Stanton SR- 11x.
Armstrong (New Castle, Ind.) led the first 11 laps of the event in his C&A Motorsports/Meristem/Beast/Stanton Toyota, but gave way to eventual winner Santos on lap 12 and finished the 30-lap main event with a strong third-place finish.
Characteristic (30 laps, starting positions in brackets): 1. Bobby Santos (10), 2. Jake Trainor (7), 3. Dakoda Armstrong (1), 4. Chuck Gurney Jr. (5), 5. Tanner Swanson (6), 6. Buddy Kofoid (9), 7. Josh Wise (4), 8. Davey Hamilton Jr. (14), 9. Cole Carter (11), 10. Nathan Byrd (15), 11. Blake Brannon (17), 12. Maria Cofer (19), 13. Todd Bertrand (3), 14. Annie Breidinger (18), 15. Kyle O’Gara (2), 16. Nick Hamilton (13), 17. Cody Gerhardt (12), 18. Kody Swanson (8), 19. Johnny Zych (16). NT