CHRISTOPHER CAPTURES MODIFIED CROWN
WITH WIN AT THOMPSON
First Series Title For
As one of the most accomplished short-track racers in NASCAR, Ted
Christopher had nearly done it all. Christopher filled in the
biggest remaining gap in his resume Sunday at Thompson International
Speedway when he wrapped up his first NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour
championship in grand style.
Christopher (No. 36 Al-Lee Installations Chevrolet) won the Xtra
Mart World Series 150, the final race of the season, to earn the
title by 127 points over runner-up Matt Hirschman. Hirschman (No. 59
Furnace & Duct Supply Chevrolet) finished 25th on Sunday.
"I’ve really got to thank Eddie Whelan for giving me this ride a
couple years ago and Brad Lafontaine, my crew chief. We won a couple
championships here together when I drove for him back in the SK
Modified days. Everybody in this whole team, we’ve really got a
great group of guys," said the 50-year-old Christopher, from
Plainville , Conn. "Brad said the best thing would be to win the
race and the championship and be the only car up here in Victory
Christopher's title was virtually wrapped up when Hirschman
suddenly slowed on lap 118 after battling for third place. Hischman
came down pit road five laps later, while Christopher was running in
the top five on the track. Hirschman's crew pushed the car behind
the wall a short time later, effectively allowing Christopher to
clinch his championship. Christopher passed Ronnie Silk on lap 135
for the lead following a late-race restart and cruised to the win
and the title.
Chuck Hossfeld, Ronnie Silk, Doug Coby and rookie Erick Rudolph
rounded out the top five.
"It was pretty nerve-racking," Christopher said, "but I want to
thank all of my competitors. Everybody ran me really clean knowing
what me and Matty (Hirschman) had on the line."
Christopher started fifth in the World Series, two spots in front
of Hirschman and leading by 35 points. Both pitted, along with most
of the leaders, on lap 69. Hirschman came out 10th and Christopher
12th. The two made contact on the front stretch on the lap 71
restart when the outside lane was slow coming up to speed, but both
were able to maintain control and continue without incident.
"Its more relief than anything," Christopher said. "Everyone says
you’ve won all this stuff in your career and you’ve never won the
Christopher made his NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour debut in 1988 when
he ran three races. He had finished in the top six in points in each
of the last eight seasons. Twice he was runner-up - in 2002 by 50
points to Mike Stefanik and in 2005 by 18 points to Matt Hirschman's
father, Tony Hirschman Jr. In the latter, Christopher entered the
final race of the season in a similar situation as Sunday. He led
Tony Hirschman by 36 points and needed a finish of seventh or better
to clinch. An early wreck at the World Series, however, relegated
him to 30th and cost him the title.
Christopher won the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series championship
in 2001 running in the Sunoco Modified division on a weekly basis at
Thompson. He has 31 career NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour wins,
including four this year. He is the winningest driver in all
divisions at Stafford ( Conn. ) Motor Speedway, and has made starts
in all three of NASCAR's national series, as well as the NASCAR
Camping World Series and the Grand-Am Rolex 24 at Daytona.
As the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour champion, Christopher earned a
secure spot in the NASCAR Toyota All-Star Showdown. The Showdown,
contested in NASCAR Camping World Series cars, will be Jan. 23-24,
2009 at Toyota Speedway at Irwindale ( Calif. ).
Christopher had led Hirschman by has many as 99 points following
his win at New Hampshire Motor Speedway Sept. 13. But Hirschman had
whittled down the lead by finishing better than Christopher in three
consecutive races leading up to the World Series.
Matt Hirschman was the crew chief on his father's championship
teams in 2004 and '05. His best points finish as a driver was third
place last season. He was 11th in points in his first full season as
a driver in 2006.
Christopher's championship capped a season-long celebration by
NASCAR and series sponsor Whelen Engineering of the 60 Years of
Modified Champions. Prior to the race, three-time Modified champion
Bugs Stevens was honored, along with the late Fred DeSarro and Bill
Christopher's official coronation will come Saturday, Dec. 13 in the
NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Awards Banquet at the Mohegan Sun Resort
in Uncasville , Conn.
NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour-Xtra Mart World Series Results
Sunday At Thompson International Speedway, Thompson, CT
Lap length: 0.625 miles
(Start position in parentheses)
1. (5) Ted Christopher, Plainville , Conn. , Chevrolet, 154
laps, 74.806 mph, $7,000.
2. (4) Chuck Hossfeld, Ransomville , N.Y. , Dodge, 154,
3. (8) Ronnie Silk, Norwalk , Conn. , Pontiac , 154, $3,000.
4. (9) Doug Coby, Milford , Conn. , Chevrolet, 154, $2,600.
5. (22) Erick Rudolph, Ransomville , N.Y. , Chevrolet, 154, $2,178.
6. (32) Jamie Tomaino, Howell , N.J. , Chevrolet, 154, $2,850.
7. (18) Richard Savary, Canton , Mass. , Chevrolet, 154, $2,100.
8. (28) Todd Szegedy, Ridgefield , Conn. , Ford, 154, $2,000.
9. (20) Tony Ferrante, Jr., New Hyde Park , N.Y. , Chevrolet, 154,
10. (6) Eric Beers, Northampton , Pa. , Chevrolet, 154,
11. (16) Glenn Tyler, Hampton Bays , N.Y. , Chevrolet, 154, $1,625.
12. (25) Rowan Pennink, Huntingdon Valley , Pa. , Chevrolet, 154,
13. (30) Ken Heagy, Calverton , N.Y. , Ford, 154, $1,575.
14. (3) Ryan Preece, Kensington , Conn. , Chevrolet,
15. (1) Jimmy Blewett, Howell , N.J. , Chevrolet, 154,
16. (26) Kevin Goodale, Riverhead, N.Y., Chevrolet, 154, $1,075.
17. (17) Carl Pasteryak, Lisbon , Conn. , Pontiac , 153, $1,050.
18. (23) Woody Pitkat, Stafford , Conn. , Chevrolet, 152, $1,025.
19. (14) Keith Rocco, Wallingford , Conn. , Chevrolet, 152, $1,000.
20. (13) Tom Abele, Jr., Norwich , Conn. , Chevrolet, 152, $1,375.
21. (27) Andy Seuss, Hampstead , N.H. , Chevrolet, 146, accident,
22. (11) Glen Reen, Wilbraham , Mass. , Chevrolet, 146, accident,
23. (29) Ed Flemke, Jr., Southington , Conn. , Chevrolet, 146,
24. (2) Mike Stefanik, Coventry , R.I. , Pontiac , 145,
25. (7) Matt Hirschman, Northampton , Pa. , Chevrolet,
26. (21) Renee Dupuis, Glastonbury , Conn. , Chevrolet, 90,
27. (19) Rob Summers, Vernon , Conn. , Chevrolet, 86, ignition,
28. (15) Charles Pasteryak, Lisbon , Conn. , Chevrolet, 66,
29. (31) Danny Sammons, Hamilton , N.J. , Chevrolet, 48, accident,
30. (24) Rick Fuller, Auburn , Mass. , 48, accident, $1,350.
31. (12) Bobby Grigas, III, Marshfield , Mass. , Chevrolet, 35,
32. (10) Bobby Santos, Franklin , Mass. , Chevrolet, 27, radiator,
Time of Race: 1 hour 17 minutes 12 seconds
Margin of Victory: 0.080 seconds
Fastest Qualifier: E.Beers (122.080 mph, 18.429 seconds)
Caution Flags: 11 for 49 laps.
Lead Changes: 6 among 5 drivers.
Lap Leaders: J.Blewett 1-12; R.Preece 13-28; J.Blewett 29-43;
R.Preece 44-67; W.Pitkat 68-85; R.Silk 86-134; T.Christopher
Standings: 1. T.Christopher, 2441; 2. M.Hirschman, 2314; 3.
T.Szegedy, 2260; 4. C.Hossfeld, 2251; 5. R.Silk, 2158; 6. E.Beers,
2115; 7. M.Stefanik, 2102; 8. R.Pennink, 2016; 9. J.Blewett, 1969;
10. R.Preece, 1948.