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   The Chrome Horn - NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour



Thompson International Speedway
by Polly Reid

It was big. The buzz was there- the best of the best in the NASCAR North and South Tour modifieds came to Thompson International Speedway to compete in the 50-lap, $15,000 to win UNOH Showdown. The second year that UNOH and Thompson have collaborated to make this ‘the modified event of the year,’ it was Ted Christopher of Plainville, CT in the 3 Ole Blue making his move early for the lead and never looking backwent on to claim the coveted UNOH Showdown victory.
“We had a pretty good run going into the first race,” said Christopher. “Scott (Richards) said he’d make some adjustments to get it better and it really did. I really want to thank them- Mike Boehler, Scott, Greg, Rabbit, everyone on this crew for allowing me to drive after the unforeseen circumstances losing my other ride. It’s good to be back in a car, especially when you’re winning.” In addition to his payday and UNOH Showdown bragging rights, Dale Wolbrink awarded Christopher a special helmet painted by Ryan Young of Indocil Art in victory lane in honor of the late Charles Kepley. “I really appreciate this” said Christopher. “Charles did so much for the North South race, he is definitely missed.”

Jimmy Blewett came from a distant 27th starting position to finish second with Ryan Preece third, Donny Lia fourth and Doug Coby fifth.

The 32 car field was set by the finishes of the Town Fair Tire Northern 75 and the Green Pointe Energy 75, NWMT winner Justin Bonsignore brought the field to green with NWSMT winner Andy Seuss on the outside. Christopher lined up tenth and while Bonsignore was the leader early, Bobby Santos made his move to take the lead on the second circuit while Christopher passed for fourth by the first caution on lap 3.

Santos on the restart with Ryan Preece and Bonsignore the top three, Christopher turned his fourth into a second and by the time seven circuits were on the board, Christopher was the new leader. Holding off the challenges of first Preece, surviving a caution just before the half way mark and then a final surge from Jimmy Blewett in the final dozen laps, Christopher held on for the win and the lucrative payday.

“I really didn’t think my odds were that good starting tenth and I knew there were real good guys in front of me- it was really weird, under the warm up laps (NASCAR allowed a handful of laps prior to the green to scuff tires), I was really fast, I mean it was only warm up laps but as a driver you can tell how your car feels and I was like, this car is getting drive, I was thinking I just might have something for these guys. I was happy we lined up on the outside and got the run going good there, then I had to pass. I had to. I didn’t want to stay behind people. A lot of people always say ‘save yourself, save yourself’ and after all these years, I’m still not that mentality to do that. I had to go.” Christopher continued. “I’m happy for those guys, when I led laps at Bristol, it had been three years since they led a lap with that car so to lead laps and finally win with that car- that means a lot. They’re really nice people, great guys to work with. Scott and Greg are cool guys. I was disappointed at Bristol ‘cause I had such a great car and I’ve led so many laps there but haven’t been able to win there. Next year.”

A 50 lap shootout isn’t much time to make your way through the field. But someone forgot to tell Jimmy Blewett about that. Taking the green more in the back than anywhere else at 27th, that didn’t deter Blewett who used the spot as a launch to the front. “I’m just really proud of my guys, the only thing that stinks about this is my grandfather left after the first race, “this one’s for him.”

Blewett continued. “My car was just a tick off in the first race, it looked like I didn’t have any motor, like I wasn’t there, but the minor changes for the second race, it puts you right to the front. I enjoy doing runs like that because it proves to people that work with me how much I really appreciate it- they stick with me no matter how many good runs I have or how many bad runs I have. My grandfather funds my whole operation- he left to go home not realizing we were going to be in the second race.” The top ten transferred to the UNOH Showdown plus five each North and South provisional spots and two promoter’s picks, Blewett finishing 20th in the first event, it would be easy to see why the Howell, NJ driver might be watching this one from the sidelines.
“My grandfather said he was tired and was heading home but he told me don’t give up, keep going, keep your nose clean, try the best you can and where you finish you finish. He said he was proud of me. He puts his money into this and without him, our sponsors and our crew, I would not even be able to be standing here right now.”

Preece finished the day with a pair of top three finishes. “Thought I had something for the 3 there- I remember when driving for them, I had a lot of fun, congratulations to them. We had a phenomenal day. We’re definitely working our way forward to victory lane and I plan on being there before the season is done.”

“Making a tire adjustment and tightening up the car a little bit, that’s all we needed,” said Preece. “It made it almost a completely different car, even coming off the corner, it was unbelievable. It’s just the fine tuning that makes you that much better in the end. In the modified Tour, everybody’s right there, it’s almost like you have to be perfect to win these races and we’re close, definitely close. It’s all crew chief, crew, we drive the cars, we keep it out of trouble, but they’re the ones that get us up front, those are the guys that keep me, Teddy, Jimmy, Todd Szegedy, Ron Silk, Doug Coby all up front. It’s all crew chiefs, crew, a lot of hours in the race shop. We got it really racing today, we’re looking forward to the rest of the races this year.”
“We had some luck finally,” said Michael Boehler after the Showdown withOle Blue car owner Jan Boehler. “The first race, he was just too loose, a lot of guys were, he was just hanging on there getting in and coming off. It was a lot better this time, they tightened it up a little bit and the tires were good. This is good for the guys. It was tough at Bristol a couple of weeks ago leading and get a flat there. The guys worked hard, Teddy drove hard and finally, it all came together. It’s been like three years, a lot of races, a lot of tough luck, if it’s meant to be it’s meant to be, in life and in racing. The guys build this car in house, the chassis, the body, a lot of the suspension stuff, the bars, it’s even more gratifying to win. We’re still trying to keep everything going 55 years later.”

Crew chief of the Boehler 3, Scott Richards is doing his part to contribute to the Boehler legacy. “We didn’t do a lot of changes, we took a little bit of stagger away and put some spring rubbers in. He told us it was too loose going in and it was obvious to the naked eye that it was too loose, that helped us. I’m really excited, it’s been a long time since the 3 has been in victory lane and we do it because we love the race car. This car here, Greg Fournier and I actually built ourselves, the first one we built in the stable, it’s pretty exciting to have it in victory lane.” Richards laughed when asked how long he has been with the team. “Ah, like twenty years, twenty five years? Since I was a little kid. I grew up across the street from the shop. Michael and I were friends since we were little. We raced big wheels together, we raced lawnmowers, whatever we could get. I swept the floors, we played in the racecars, Lenny yelled at us for sitting in the racecars during the week- that’s how I learned it.” The likes of Richards, Fournier and others on the team and now Christopher, are indeed part of the what makes the Boehler legacy a continued success- 55 years and counting.

The anticipated weekend is in the record books. Donny Lia echoed best the general feeling of the last two days of competition. “I'm thankful to see Thompson and UNOH working together to do something like this, it's really great for the modifieds- the response of the southern guys coming up here, the whole thing, it's a good deal."

Next for the NWMT is the rescheduled Riverhead Raceway event on Saturday Sept 15th while the NWSMT heads to Caraway Speedway Saturday Sept 29th.

  Source: Polly Reid / TheChromeHorn.com
Posted: September 9, 2012

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