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   The Chrome Horn - NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour



Whelen Modified Tour Veteran Ted Christopher Lets The Numbers Do The Talking

He can talk to you for hours on end about racing.

He can tell you how a race played out, both in front of him and behind him, in the closing laps of an event. He can tell you about top-end speeds and low-end horsepower. He can tell you exactly what each shock on each corner of the race car means in terms of performance.

Truth be told, he can also offer an unfiltered opinion on virtually every other racer in the garage, too, when you get him fired up enough.

But ask Ted Christopher about himself, and, well, he sort of clams up.

“I don't know,” was all the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour driver offered when asked what he thought of his career thus far. “I mean, everybody looks at statistics. I've got enough of those for a career, I know that.”

The statistics certainly do spin a pretty good story for Christopher.

Over the last 13 years on the Whelen Modified Tour, Christopher has never finished worse than ninth in the final standings, amassing 40 of his 42 career wins on the Tour during that span. From 1999-2011, Christopher won at least two races in every season with the exception 2007, when he won only once. He responded to that by winning four times the following year en route to the Tour championship.

Recently, Christopher won his 100th career SK Modified feature at Stafford Motor Speedway – where a section of grandstands is named after him – in NASCAR Whelen All-American Series action.

His 42 career NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour victories rank third, just two behind Reggie Ruggiero for the second on the all-time list.

“I'd like to get that accomplished if I possibly could, sure,” said Christopher, who is in his first full season with Boehler Racing Enterprises, driving the famed Ole Blue No. 3 on the Tour. “I don't really look at stuff like how many wins I have, but you do look at some of the goals you set. The 100 wins at Stafford, that's something that I look at. Would it be a goal to pass Reggie? Yeah. That would be something to look at later, for sure.”

In the end, the numbers alone aren't what will define Christopher. At 55 years old, he's in the longest drought of his storied Whelen Modified Tour career – 23 races without a win – yet he's as upbeat about his chances to win each week as ever.

He hears the whispers. He knows people think he's lost some zip on his fastball, and he also knows that his make-no-excuses style hasn't exactly endeared him to everybody in the garage over the years.

But he has the statistics to back him up.

“Some people think I should stop because of my age, but I'm still winning at Stafford,” Christopher said. “It's like anything – if I was with an established team that always ran up front, that would be a moot question. Everybody thinks I should stop, but I don't look at it that way at all.

“We knew going into this that this would be a building year a little bit. We had some issues getting the right power with the thing. I felt like we didn't have enough, and come to find out, that was true. We finally got a good motor in it for (New Hampshire Motor Speedway), and we almost won the thing. We kept the same engine in it for Stafford and ran third, and we're definitely going to run it again.”

Remarkably, for a driver so used to success each season, Christopher doesn't seem to be all that frustrated for a former champion who hasn't won a points race on the Whelen Modified Tour since September of 2011.

“There's a lot of people that want to win these races,” Christopher said. “It's a little bit frustrating from time to time, but not a real lot. It’s like anything starting out – we're building chemistry, building on different things. Overall, I'm actually pretty happy with how things have gone.”

With two races left on the schedule at Thompson Speedway, Christopher has reason to be optimistic. Thirteen of his 42 career wins have come on the banked, .625-mile oval – including a torrid stretch when he won seven times there in a nine-race stretch from 2008-2011. His one checkered flag in the BRE No. 3 came at Thompson last year in the non-points UNOH Showdown.

But for all the winning Christopher has done in Modifieds, it's not where he believes his legacy will come from. At least not entirely.

In one of the rare instances where “T.C.” opens up about what's mattered most to him in his racing career, he looks at just how wide a footprint he's left on the sport. He's run all three NASCAR national series, the K&N Pro Series (where he has 10 career wins in 92 starts), Supermodifieds, Super Late Models, and everything in-between. And he's won in virtually all of them.

That is where his legacy will lie.

“You never really think about your legacy,” Christopher said. “When I started racing, I never thought I'd be as successful as I have been. I just liked to race, and I was fortunate to win a lot of stuff.

“I've raced a lot of different stuff and won in a lot of different race cars at a lot of different race tracks – sometimes in cars I'd never driven or at tracks I had never even seen before. In my mind, that's my biggest accomplishment. I can't count how many times I've raced with people for the first time and won for them – in a Supermodified, in a PASS car, in all kinds of different things.”

Of course, that's where Christopher stops. If there's more to say, he either can't or won't say it – at least not about what he thinks his history in the sport will be, or how he wants people to remember him. He doesn't have to talk about things like his now infamous “Three Tap Rule,” or the grandstands named after him in Stafford, Conn., or being inducted into the Plainville Sports Hall of Fame (which he will be, this October).

Nope, Christopher is already talking about what's next, about the next chance to win – and maybe that's the secret to his success over the years. He's not dwelling on a 23-race winless streak; instead he's focused solely on winning next week at Thompson, and especially the following week at Bristol Motor Speedway.

“I'm really looking forward to Bristol,” he said. “Even though I missed a year there, I've still led more laps than anybody at that track. I'd like to win there.

“I would really like to win there.”

  Source: Travis Barrett / NASCAR
Posted: August 9, 2013

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