LOUDON, N.H. – A wild finish featuring a mind-blowing 20 lead changes in the last 20 laps, Bobby Santos III found a way to keep points leader Justin Bonsignore in his rearview mirror for the last few turns to earn a hard-fought checkered flag at the Musket 200 presented by Whelen Saturday afternoon during the third annual Full Throttle Fall Weekend, earning his sixth win at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. Wayne Helliwell Jr. won the ACT 75 while Shaun Buffington won both Granite State Legends Cars events.
Santos hung back in the pack until lap 167 when he slingshot around a trio of frontrunners going into turn three and pulled a similar move a few turns later to take the lead, setting up a thrilling string of lead changes with Bonsignore. The two traded the lead 20 times over 20 laps; Bonsignore dominating turn three and Santos showing how to pass going into turn one. Over and over they traded places, with Ron Silk briefly nudging his way into second, with four laps remaining. Bonsignore took the spot back, but not before Santos took advantage and drove just far enough away from the other leaders to keep from being caught before the checkered flag waved.
“Unbelievable finish. I love this track, love these cars, this is the best field in the country and drivers love racing here at New Hampshire because it is really fun and we are all so close in speed,” said Santos after celebrating in victory lane. “This place has been good to me.”
Bonsignore, Silk, Anthony Nocella and Craig Lutz rounded out the top five.
Santos was presented with an engraved musket that was made in Rochester, N.H., traditional Revolutionary War-era tricorn hat and a trophy that, taking on its New England roots, is a replica of the Minuteman statue in Concord, Mass., weighing 30 pounds and measuring 32 inches tall. This was his second musket trophy in three years.
A late race caution was about the only way the field could close any ground on Wayne Helliwell Jr., who powered his way to an easy finish in the ACT 75. Helliwell took the lead in the early stages and dominated.
“This thing was unbelievable! We got a second set of tires on it, and it was lights out,” explained Dover, N.H.’s Helliwell, who spoke to fans from victory lane. “I have never had a car that could turn so well and get on the throttle so fast again, everything worked out our way today at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.”
Jimmy Hebert, Bryan Kruczek, Tom Carey and DJ Shaw rounded out the top five.
Buffington took the Road Course Series win Friday evening after the Granite State Legends Cars raced on the 0.95-mile modified road course. Teammates Jack Walker (second) and Darren Gallant (third) landed next to him on the podium.
Saturday morning saw Buffington at the top of the podium again for the Oval Series race on the 0.25-mile mini oval in turns one and two of “The Magic Mile” with Walker earning another second place finish and Bob Weymouth third. Although this was the championship race for the Oval Series, the points are currently tied, so a tie-breaker will be issued in the coming days to determine who will be named the 2020 Oval Series champion.