WMT CHAMP CHRISTOPHER WINS
DAY TWO IN PROVIDENCE
by Tracy Chirico
Drivers, crews, and fans all headed into day number two of the indoor races
in Rhode Island with enthusiasm. The four WMT drivers who took part in the
event did not fare as well as expected in the first night’s events, but that
did not hinder their efforts going into the event Saturday. For 2008 WMT
champion Ted Christopher, Saturday’s showing couldn’t have been any better,
as he walked away with the win.
Christopher started his heat from the second spot, with Mike Lichty
on the pole. Christopher took the lead on the second attempt at a start, but
Lichty was able to grab it back. Timex Morgan was also able to get past
Christopher, who ended up involved in an incident that also involved Paul
Lotier Jr. and Ryan Bartlett. The cars were given their spots back, and
Christopher went on to finish the heat race third. He was, however, roughly
half a lap behind Lichty, leaving his team with work to do prior to the
Mike Stefanik showed fans just how quickly he could adapt to TQ
racing indoors. Stefanik and Bobby Santos III were in the same heat race,
with Stefanik on the pole and Santos in sixth. Only the top four finishers
from the heat would transfer to the feature. Stefanik jumped out to the
lead. The caution came out for Santos on lap 6, and Santos was forced to
restart from the eighth spot. Another caution flew on lap 9 for Richie Coy
Jr. Stefanik continued to lead, and Santos was in sixth. Stefanik went on to
win the event in only his second day driving a TQ car. Santos finished sixth
and was forced to run the consolation event.
Santos started the consi from seventh, with only three cars
transferring to the feature. He spun on lap 2, drawing the caution and
putting him back to tenth for the restart. The red flag was displayed on lap
5 after Amanda Quinones’ car ended up on its roof, and Santos was in
seventh. On the restart, Santos quickly picked his way through the field,
coming into the second spot by lap 7. Santos went on to finish the event in
Billy Pauch Jr.’s luck did not improve with the new day. He started
his heat race from the tenth spot, and made his way up through the field. By
lap 5, Pauch Jr. had moved up to the sixth position. He was unable to
advance any further, however. With only four cars transferring to the main
event, Pauch’s sixth place finish put him into the consolation event. The
young driver started the consi third, and grabbed second on the initial lap.
He had the outside pole for the restart on lap 3, but he got shuffled back
on the outside. On lap 6, Pauch and Alison Cumens bumped wheels, sending
Cumens upside down and forcing Pauch to restart from sixth. A caution on the
restart involving many of the leaders allowed Pauch to move back into
second. He was once again shuffled back on the outside when the race
resumed. He made his way back up to the fourth spot by lap 8 and remained
there. Unfortunately for the driver, he was not in a qualified spot, and he
was again forced to watch the racing from the sidelines.
Due to the luck of the redraw, Stefanik started the race from the
sixth spot. Neither Christopher nor Santos was eligible for the redraw.
Mike Iles, the winner of Friday’s night’s 20-lap feature, started
on the pole with Mike Lichty on his outside. Iles grabbed the lead on the
start, with Lichty second and Matt Janisch in third. By lap 5, the leaders
encountered lapped traffic. On that lap, however, the caution waved for
Santos, who had spun at the exit of turn 4. On the restart, Stefanik was in
fifth, with Christopher ninth. With all of the cars still on the track,
Santos restarted from 22nd.
Iles and Lichty again led the field to the green flag. Iles again
took the lead, but Janisch came to second and Lichty was shuffled back to
third. Stefanik was in the fourth spot on lap 6, while Christopher came to
the sixth position. On lap 12, the front of the pack made its way into heavy
lapped traffic. Caution waved on lap 12 for an incident in turn 3 involving
several cars at the front of the field. Collected in the incident were Iles,
Lichty, and Janisch. Under the caution, Stefanik pulled off of the track. He
was not involved in the caution, but a bracket on the panhard bar in his car
had broken and he was forced to retire from the event. With the loss of the
cars from the head of the field, Timex Morgan inherited the lead and
Christopher restarted on the outside pole. Mike Tidaback was now third, with
Lou Cicconi – who was driving Matt Roselli’s car after wrecking his own car
in Friday night’s race - restarted fourth. Santos was up to 13th.
Morgan and Christopher bumped wheels on the restart and Christopher
muscled his way into the lead, but the pass was eradicated when the caution
waved immediately after for an incident in turn 1 that involved a number of
cars. Among those involved were Tim Adams, Lichty, and James Michael
Friesen. Adams hit the wall hard, and there was a chain reaction behind him.
The red flag was displayed to clean up the incident.
Morgan and Christopher were again on the front row, and Santos had
moved up to tenth. Christopher jumped out front on the restart. Further back
in the field, Santos appeared to have a problem on the restart and was
shuffled back. On lap 12, Cicconi got past Morgan for second. At the halfway
point, Christopher had the lead but was being pressured by Cicconi. Cicconi
got next to Christopher and inched into the lead. Within a matter of feet,
the duo came up on the lapped car of Don Zrinski, and Christopher used the
lapped car to grab the lead back. Caution waved again on lap 18 for an
incident in turn 1 involving Iles, Lichty, Friesen, and Glenn Heverin.
Christopher was on the pole for the restart, with Cicconi to his outside.
Santos had made his way back up to tenth.
Christopher shot out front on the restart. Cicconi, who
accidentally hit the kill switch on the restart, was passed by Morgan for
second, but he quickly got the car refired and took the position back. With
four laps remaining in the event, Christopher and Cicconi had built up
roughly a half a track lead over third-place Morgan. In the closing laps of
the race, Cicconi searched for a line around Christopher, but there was none
to be found. Christopher won the race, and Cicconi had to settle for
second-place honors. Morgan finished third. Santos finished ninth, while
Stefanik was credited with a 21st place finish.
“It feels great,” Christopher said in Victory Lane after being
presented with a check for $2,000 for winning the event. “This is the third
state I’ve won in already this year in 2009 and I hope the whole year goes
good like this. I’d like to thank all of the teams I’m driving for and
everybody that helps me.”
“I went into the turn real high and tried to stay with him, because
you only get one chance to pass Ted Christopher,” Morgan commented after the
race. “I knew I had nothing for him and I had nothing for Cicconi. Let those
two boys go fight it out. Every time I race them guys, it’s an education.”
Chirico / TheChromeHorn/com