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   The Chrome Horn - NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour



by Polly Reid

With 15 to go, Ted Christopher made his made his move, committing low going into turn three, the Plainville, CT driver cleared Mike Stefanik for the lead and held off Stefanik to the wire scoring the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Town Fair Tire 150 win at Stafford Motor Speedway.

Stefanik crossed for second, Bobby Santos third, Eric Beers and Eric Goodale the top five.

“We were really tight in the beginning there but it probably played in our favor because I think everyone was getting loose,” said Christopher, “but in the end you just have to go with this thing. It’s weird because it started to get tight again so I had to run a little different line to hold Michael off - it was a lot of fun.”

The Town Fair 150 ran the first 116 laps under the green flag and while Coors Light pole winner Doug Coby led the 28 car field to green, it was outside starter Tom Rogers who powered on the outside to become the first leader of the night, the Patchogue, NY driver holding the position until Coby made his calculated move on lap 16 becoming the second leader.

With Coby out front, the field stretched out and while Christopher worked his way to second under green, the laps continued to tick off and at the half way mark it was Coby, Christopher, Todd Szegedy, Rogers, Beers, Santos, Justin Bonsignore, Ron Silk, Stefanik and Erik Rudolph the top ten.

Christopher finally closed the gap enough to take the lead from Coby on the 88th circuit and did what Coby had done earlier, checked out from the field.

Christopher’s lead all went away with a muddled incident on lap 116 in turn four. Coby and Szegedy running second and third took the brunt of it and while both drove away, their stellar night in an instant, evaporated.

Pit row came alive, the action heated up as Christopher led the way for fresh Hoosiers. But three tires later, it was Stefanik’s Flamingo Motorsports team that came off pit row first, the Coventry, RI driver moving from seventh to become the new leader of the night followed by Santos, Eric Goodale, Christopher and Rowan Pennink the top five.

A caution on the restart for a spin in turn two closed the field up again, Stefanik at the point with 20 to go was strong, but Christopher in the Eddie Whelan owned, Al-Lee Installations sponsored Chevrolet, was not going to let this one get away and made his move heading into turn three edging a nose, then completed the pass before coming out of four to become final leader of the night. While Stefanik stayed on Christopher’s bumper, it was Christopher at the line collecting his 41st career NWMT victory, his 11th at Stafford, his third of 2011.

“It was a lot of fun,” said Christopher’s crew chief Brad Lafontaine. “This is our third time here, the other two times, Teddy likes a loose race car, but every time we have a loose race we don’t win. This time here, I kept it tight, so it fell right into our plans because the race went so long without a yellow they just backed right up to us and then we were able to pull away from the rest of the field. I was hoping it would go green the rest of the way because there was no one coming and we were still pulling away.”

“When the caution came out, that was the last thing I wanted to see,” admitted Lafontaine. “We took three tires, made a wedge adjustment and came out fourth, the guys did an excellent job and Teddy took over from there. I said to Teddy, ‘I’m hoping you’re as hungry as me’ and he said, ‘I’m always hungry’.”

The newest car in the Whelan stable now has two wins in the four times it’s been on the track.

The pit stop became truly pivotal, crucial to the eventual outcome of the Town Fair Tire 150.
“This one’s for our team,” said Stefanik. The Eric Sanderson owned, Diversified Metals/R.B. Enterprises machine collecting a strong podium finish. “They put me out front - that was a fantastic pit stop - we were just a little too snug to hold it but it was great to have a car up front like that - it’s just hats off to the team - I can’t say enough for the hard work they put in and that pit stop showed it.”

Santos slipped out of the top five only once in the 150 lap event, but a strong pit stop put Bob Garbarino’s Mystic Missile Dodge, immediately back in the hunt lining up second on the final restart. “We had a good run,“ said Santos. “I just have to thank the guys who kept fighting and getting me an awesome pit stop that got us a good finish, I just got to thank the team for doing such a good job.”

Ron Silk’s seventh place finish was enough to keep the Norwalk, CT driver in the points lead by one over Rowan Pennink, the Huntingdon Valley, PA driver crossing sixth. Rudolph, Coby and Jimmy Blewett completed the top ten. Christopher’s win moved him up to third in the standings over Szegedy while Santos claims the fifth spot in points as the NWMT heads to Loudon, NH for the Granite State Classic Saturday August 13th.

  Source: Polly Reid / TheChromeHorn.com
Posted: August 6, 2011

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