By Richie Murray
Brownsburg, Indiana (May 27, 2022)………A 10-car invert wasn’t going to serve as any hindrance to Bobby Santos on Friday night during the Carb Night Classic USAC Midget Special Event feature at Lucas Oil Indianapolis Raceway Park.
After setting the top speed in time trials, which utilized practice times as the official lap of record due to a lengthy rain delay, the Franklin, Mass. native drew a “10,” signifying his starting position for the 30-lap main event as outside row five.
It took Santos just 12 laps to carve his way through the field in his 3 Stooges Racing/Indy Performance Composites – Carpenter’s Crew/Beast/Stanton SR-11 as he dove past early race leader Dakoda Armstrong in turn three before carrying on to a 1.934 second margin of victory.
The score marked Santos’ fourth career midget triumph at IRP and his third over the past 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 win a midget feature at IRP in three consecutive years.
But most of all, Santos enjoyed how he had to earn it. How he had to charge. How he had to steadfastly poke and prod through the thick of the cool air in order to put himself into contention and into a position to pounce.
“(My team) gave me a great racecar and we were fast in practice, which got us the pole,” Santos recalled. “Then we did it the fun way; we got to start in the back and pass cars. I really enjoy that.”
Armstrong broke out to the early lead from his pole starting position as the 2004 USAC Kenyon Midget titlist held serve over the first third of the race while 2020 Northeastern Midget Association (NEMA) champion Todd Bertrand slotted into second ahead of 2005 USAC National Midget champ Josh Wise in third.
Defending Carb Night Classic midget winner Kody Swanson pulled to the pits on lap five while running in the 8th position, signaling an early end to his repeat bid while Santos continued to blitz through the field, upping himself from 10th to 4th to 3rd and to 2nd by lap nine before shooting right to the tail tank of Armstrong in the race lead.
A yellow flag flew on lap 11 as Nick Hamilton slowed to a stop on the front straightaway while running 9th, only momentarily subsiding Santos’ drive. On the ensuing restart, Santos took just a lap and a half to scope out and size up Armstrong before striking as he shot to the inside of Armstrong entering turn three, made the move stick as he transitioned right back into the groove and into the lead with 19 laps remaining.
Santos checked out on Armstrong to the tune of a half-straight at the halfway point and to a 3/4 of a straightaway length with 10 laps remaining, precisely 3.328 seconds ahead of Armstrong and NEMA standout Jake Trainor.
However, the yellow was displayed for the stalled car of Annie Breidinger on lap 21 as she stopped in turn four. She was running 12th at the time, and the stoppage proceeded to bunch up the field with just less than 10 to go.
The biggest benefactor was Trainor who got by Armstrong on the bottom at the entrance of turn one a lap following the restart on lap 21. At the time, he resided just a half second behind Santos, but with the laps winding down, Santos turned up the wick and that was 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 Medway, Mass. driver, was impressive as he cut 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 feature in his C & A Motorsports/Meristem/Beast/Stanton Toyota, but gave way to eventual winner Santos on lap 12 and finished off the 30-lap main event with a solid 3rd place result.
USAC MIDGET NON-POINTS SPECIAL EVENT RACE RESULTS: May 27, 2022 – Lucas Oil Indianapolis Raceway Park – Brownsburg, Indiana – Carb Night Classic – .686-Mile Paved Track
QUALIFYING: (Times based on practice times due to rain) 1. Bobby Santos, 98, 3 Stooges-21.027; 2. Buddy Kofoid, 67, 3 Stooges/Kunz/Curb-Agajanian-21.264; 3. Kody Swanson, 44, Bertrand-21.411; 4. Jake Trainor, 29, Seymour-21.441; 5. Tanner Swanson, 17, RMS-21.478; 6. Chuck Gurney Jr., 51, 3 Stooges-21.514; 7. Josh Wise, 55, Bowman-21.534; 8. Todd Bertrand, 47, Bertrand-21.551; 9. Kyle O’Gara, 67K, SFHR-21.591; 10. Dakoda Armstrong, 7A, C & A-21.636; 11. Cole Carter, 7, Bertrand-21.683; 12. Cody Gerhardt, 60, Western Speed-21.776; 13. Nick Hamilton, 7K, Irwin-21.795; 14. Davey Hamilton Jr., 4, Klatt-22.026; 15. Nathan Byrd, 47D, Bertrand-22.030; 16. Johnny Zych, 9, Zych-22.064; 17. Blake Brannon, 40, Western Speed-22.125; 18. Chad Nichols, 67z, Team 17-22.189; 19. Annie Breidinger, 80, Breidinger-22.574; 20. Maria Cofer, 57, Abacus-22.802; 21. Ryan Shilkuski, 48, Shilkuski-NT.
FEATURE: (30 laps, starting positions in parentheses) 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
FEATURE LAP LEADERS: Laps 1-11 Dakoda Armstrong, Laps 12-30 Bobby Santos.
NEXT USAC MIDGET SPECIAL EVENT: June 30, 2022 – Lucas Oil Indianapolis Raceway Park – Brownsburg, Indiana – Thursday Night Thunder Homecoming