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Author Topic: REPORT- Bobby Santos III 2008 Turkey Night Champion  (Read 29 times)
RIS-Ed Hollowell
RIS Editor
Sr. Member

Posts: 296

« on: November 28, 2008, 11:50:32 AM »

IRWINDALE, CA-RIS- Bobby Santos III has joined the list of winners of the “Turkey Night” Grand Prix. Santos lead the final eight laps after passing veteran Davy Hamilton who had lead laps 57 to 89. Hamilton ended up second with Darren Hagen taking third place.

The race started with Bobby East on the pole and Bobby looked as if he would continue his domination that he had established at Phoenix three weeks before as he took the lead at the start. That would not last long as Tracy Hines slid to a stop on the front straight bringing out the caution flag after only one lap. On the restart Chuck Gurney Jr. got the jump on East and took the lead while East began a slow slide to the rear to finish 16th. Gurney lead only three laps before Jason Leffler passed him to take the lead and to grow his advantage to several seconds. Gurney held on to second while Billy Wease ran in third. That was the way they ran until nearly mid race.

On lap 44 Davey Hamilton began to assert himself as he took third from Wease. Two laps later he took second from Gurney and was looking like the fastest car on the track. On the 51st lap Garrett Hansen and Scott Pierovich were involved in an accident in the second turn and brought out the second caution of the race.

While Leffler had been leading the race and looking untouchable, he had a problem which was starting to rear its ugly head during the caution. His rear axle was starting to seize up. On the restart Hamilton passed him for the lead in the second turn while Leffler struggled on to a fifth place finish. After the car was stopped following the race it was found to be difficult to even push.

Hamilton appeared to have everything his way in the second half of the race and the attention shifted back to tenth place where Cole Whitt was fighting for a good enough result to take the National Midget title from Tracy Hines, who was having an even worse night after his early spin. In the end Whitt finished in eleventh place and took the season title by one point from Hines.

Chuck Gurney Jr. spun on lap 67 and brought out the final caution of the night. Hamilton was the leader with Leffler still hanging on to second, Darren Hagen in third and Bobby Santos III in fourth. On lap 80 Santos began to show his stuff and moved past Hagen to third. On the 85th lap he took second from Leffler. The 'moment of truth' came on the 90th lap when Santos dipped low in the fourth turn and passed Hamilton to take the lead. Hamilton had nothing left to fight back with and had to be satisfied with second. Darren Hagen got past the crippled car of Leffler to take third in the closing laps.

It was the first time that Santos had finished a Turkey Night Grand Prix. He had lead a substantial part of the 2007 race but had been put out with a flat tire.

“This is my favorite race. I look forward to it more than any other race every year. It's the kind of race that I feel like I'm at my best at. I've been so disappointed here over the past few years and this makes up for it.” “It's the one race I wanted to win more than any other in the world. I'm so happy.”

“I wanted that one so bad. I really wanted that one, but we came up short.” Said Hamilton

Third place Darren Hagen thanked his car owner Steve Lewis who is not going to be fielding a team next year. He will be putting his team on a self described 'hiatus' for 2009 after winning 10 national championships and six Turkey Night GP wins.

Supporting Events:

Tracy Hines took the historic Morales “Tamale Wagon” to it's first win in many years as he won the 40 lap USAC Western Sprint Car feature. Starting fourth, Hines passed Chris Windom for second on the second lap. The race was stopped on the fourth lap when Porter Smith slowed on the front straight and John Sarale ran over his rear wheel and flipped. Both drivers appeared to not to have been injured.

When the race resumed Hines got beside Kaplan and three laps later he made the pass and took the lead. On laps 24 through 26 the leaders were in heavy traffic and Kaplan was able to close but was not quite able to catch Hines. The race leader would encounter more traffic right up until the end of the race but Kaplan was never in a position to take advantage.

The storied Tamale Wagon, owned by the Morales family and raced for generations is one of the great names in California sprint car racing. The current version of the Tamale Wagon is a eight year old J&J chassis with a nine year old Shaver built engine. After the race Hines joked that maybe they would buy a new engine now as the current one is down by 40 horsepower. Hines continued so show his concern over the midget title and race later saying “It's where I wanted to be in a midget, not a sprint car.”

The USAC Ford Focus Midgets also ran a 40 lap feature on the 1/3 mile oval at Irwindale which was won by Alex Bowman. Ian Miille finished third to claim the California Ford Focus Dirt Series title for 2008.
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