Santos wins Night Before the 500

Bobby Santos won last night's 61st running of the Night Before the 500 USAC National Midget race at Indianapolis Raceway Park. He dominated the 50 lap event, qualifying fastest and leading all but the first two laps. The star of the evening was...

Bobby Santos won last night's 61st running of the Night Before the 500 USAC National Midget race at Indianapolis Raceway Park. He dominated the 50 lap event, qualifying fastest and leading all but the first two laps. The star of the evening was 18 year old Stephanie Mockler, making her second USAC National Midget start, who moved from a 15th place start to finish third.

With a six-car invert, Santos started the race in the third row. He made quick work of reaching the front. He continued a streak that began last week when he won the 50 lap race at Concord, NC.

"I couldn't believe in the first five laps the way I drove by those guys in the beginning," Santos said. "The car was unbelievable, so when I got out front I knew I'd take my time and it was just a good race

"I finally got my first win. It took three years to do it, but now I got my second just a week later. I'm pretty excited. I had an awesome race car - I can't ask for a better race car, so that was pretty cool.

"We tested here, and we tested well. Honestly, we didn't have time to play with the car all day today because we were playing with the motor. I think I had three laps on the race track before the race started tonight. It was just good notes from the past, and good knowledge of the people setting up the race car. I was lucky I was the one to drive it."

There were six yellow flags last night, but Santos dominated each restart, never being seriously challenged and stretching his lead under the green.

"I didn't have to pass any lapped cars, so that made it easier like that," Santos said, "The yellows got a little frustrating because everyone kept catching up to you when you had a decent lead. But we had a good enough car we could have won with or without the yellows."

Ron Gregory finished second, four seconds behind Santos.

"I want to thank all my guys for everything that they've done, "Gregory said. "They've been working really hard this week, trying to get all these cars prepared. Everybody's working great tonight. Just unfortunate we wound up gaining a little bit of stagger tonight and got a little bit loose. But congratulations to Bobby and his crew. They did a great job tonight. Sure, it takes away from us a little bit, but we did all we could do."

Stephanie Mockler, running her fourth-ever Midget race and second National event, started 15th and quickly got the hang of it. By the tenth lap she had moved into the top ten and kept pushing her way up, not being intimidated by any of the veterans she passed along the way. She passed Michael Lewis for third with five laps to go, and almost made it past Ron Gregory on the final lap.

"I was just going for it, going for it," Mockler said, "and I had to make some kind of move on the last lap. I didn't quite get it done, but it was a great run for it. It was a lot of fun. I can't thank Ford and Clorox and East Enterprises enough. It was awesome.

"I would run the high line, run the low line, the car would work anywhere. That was great. I touched wheels with Michael Lewis going down low in one and two. I had no choice but to get around him because I was moving forward."

Mockler graduated from Westfield, IN, High School this week, with the graduation ceremonies to take place Tuesday.

Dave Steele, who finished eighth last night, remains on top of the National Midget Car standings. The next National Midget Race will be on June second and third at Knoxville, IA.

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Series USAC
Drivers Michael Lewis , Dave Steele , Ron Gregory , Stephanie Mockler , Bobby Santos