By Jason Cunningham,
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Not even half way through the NASCAR Whelen
Modified Tour season, the third-winningest driver in tour history
suddenly found himself without a ride. That driver, known simply as
“TC,” is now nearly halfway home toward his goal of piecing together
the balance of the season.
Ted Christopher, the 2008 Whelen Modified Tour champion and owner of
42 career victories, was left without a ride when his former No. 36
team closed operations following the sixth race of the season at New
Hampshire Motor Speedway. With eight races left on the schedule at
the time, Christopher faced a tough challenge if he was going to
complete the full season, especially with no seats available.
Christopher, from Plainville, Conn., was able to team up with car
owner Joe Brady to run his No. 00 for the next race at Stafford
Motor Speedway and registered a fifth-place finish.
Christopher’s next opportunity came by chance. Leading Sunoco Rookie
of the Year contender Keith Rocco was injured on July 29 in a
practice crash at Thompson International Speedway, and the Boehler
Racing Enterprises No. 3 need a fill-in driver. After his one start
with Brady at Stafford, Christopher has filled in for Rocco in the
last two events at Thompson and Bristol Motor Speedway.
The owner of 13 Whelen Modified Tour victories at Thompson,
Christopher will once again be behind the wheel of “Ole Blue” for
this week’s tripleheader of touring modified action with the NASCAR
Whelen Southern Modified Tour at the .625-mile speedway. The
combination produced a fourth-place finish there together in August.
Christopher’s next win at Thompson will tie him with Mike Stefanik
for the Whelen Modified Tour victories record at the track.
Christopher put together a run of seven triumphs across nine races
at “Big T” from 2008-11 in the No. 36, but will be looking to end a
four-race drought there in this week’s Town Fair Tire Northern 75.
BRE is also looking to get back to Victory Lane at Thompson for the
first time since the 2007 season finale when Bobby Santos was behind
the wheel, a span of 17 starts with four different drivers.
Christopher is still not sure exactly what his plans will be for the
four races after Thompson, but he’s appreciative of another
opportunity with BRE this week, and as always, he’ll be one of the
favorites when the green flag drops at Thompson.
||Town Fair Tire
Northern 75 / UNOH Showdown
(Conn.) International Speedway
p.m. ET / 5:30 p.m.
.625-mile, high-banked asphalt oval
Coby / Doug Coby
Saturday, Sept. 8 - Practice 12-12:45 p.m., Final Practice
1:30-2:15 p.m., Qualifying 5 p.m.; Sunday, Sept. 9 - Driver
Autograph Session 10-11:45 a.m.
Dowd, 860-923-2280, firstname.lastname@example.org
The Race: The Town Fair Tire Northern 75 will be the third
of four events this season for the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour at
Thompson International Speedway. The 75 will be followed by the UNOH
Showdown exhibition combination race with the NASCAR Whelen Southern
The Procedure: The maximum
starting field for the Town Fair Tire Northern 75 is 25 cars,
including provisionals. The first 20 cars will have secured starting
positions based on two-lap qualifying. The remaining five spots will
be awarded through the provisional process. The race is scheduled
for 75 laps (46.875 miles) and it is a no-tire-change race.
The maximum field for the UNOH Showdown is 32
cars, including provisionals. The highest-finishing 10 cars from
both the Town Fair Tire 75 and the GreenPointe Energy Southern 75
NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour race will transfer to the UNOH
Showdown, with the remaining 12 positions filled through the
provisional process. The Showdown is scheduled for 50 green flag
laps (31.25 miles) and teams will have the option to take four new
tires prior to the race. Championship points will not be awarded for
the UNOH Showdown.
The Track: A .625-mile
high-banked oval that opened in 1940, Thompson was the first
entirely asphalt track in the nation, and was the largest in New
England for five decades. Thompson has played host to 118 Whelen
Modified Tour races all-time, more than any other track.
Race Winners: There have been 31
different race winners at Thompson, led by Mike Stefanik’s 14
victories. Doug Coby won both races in this event last year while
Ron Silk and Donny Lia have earned the victories in the tour’s first
two trips to Thompson this year.
Pole Winners: There have been
40 different pole winners at Thompson, led by Tony Hirschman’s 13.
Ryan Preece earned the pole for this race last year while Bobby
Santos set the tour’s track qualifying record at 18.237 seconds
(123.376 mph) on April 10, 2011.
THOMPSON RACE NOTES
Coby Looks for Showdown Repeat: Last’s year’s UNOH
Showdown proved to be a breakthrough event for current NASCAR Whelen
Modified Tour points leader Doug Coby. He won both the Whelen
Modified Tour and exhibition combo race with the NASCAR Whelen
Southern Modified Tour to sweep the day to launch a stretch where he
tacked on four more wins in the next 11 races crossing over to the
current season. In the first two events this year at Thompson he
recorded results of eighth and third, and had finished in the top 10
through the first eight races overall this year before the most
recent outing at Bristol Motor Speedway when he was relegated to
17th overall and 11th among Whelen Modified Tour drivers in the
75-Lap Races at Thompson: This
year’s September race will be 75 laps, compared to 125 a year ago.
That particular distance is nothing new for the Whelen Modified
Tour, which has contested seven previous races at the track of that
distance, most recently in June 2008. The first six such events fell
in the years 1986-89. Records are incomplete for the five races from
1986-88, but the in 1989 event caution laps did count, which will be
the case for this year’s edition. The 2008 75-lapper did not count
Four Weeks, Four Races, Four Tracks:
Just five races remain on the 2012 Whelen Modified Tour schedule,
but four of them will be contested on consecutive weeks, starting
this week at Thompson. Not only will durability be key for the teams
during this stretch, but adaptability as well. In succession the
teams will go from the high-banked .625-mile Thompson to
quarter-mile bullring Riverhead Raceway on Sept. 15, to the one-mile
New Hampshire Motor Speedway on Sept. 22 and ending on Sept. 30 at
the slightly-banked half-mile at Stafford Motor Speedway. There will
then be one week between Stafford and the season finale at Thompson
on Oct. 14.
Five Drivers Locked-In So Far for
Daytona: So far this year we’ve had five Whelen Modified
Tour drivers earn locked-in starting positions for the inaugural
UNOH Battle at the Beach by virtue of wins through the season’s
first nine events: Doug Coby, Donny Lia, Ryan Preece, Ron Silk and
Mike Stefanik. The UNOH Battle will take place Feb. 18-19 on a
temporary .4-mile oval on the backstretch at Daytona International
Speedway as part of 2013 Speedweeks. There have also been three
Whelen Southern Modified Tour drivers – George Brunnhoelzl III,
Brian Loftin and Brandon Ward – locked-in. Both tours will compete
in combination in the 150-lap exhibition race on Feb. 19.
HOME TRACKS: Preece Closing In On Track
Ryan Preece is closing in on his first Thompson
International Speedway track title with a commanding 104-point lead
on Kerry Malone in the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Sunoco
Modified standings. Preece has won nine of the season’s 17 features
as of Aug. 30. Woody Pitkat is second on the division’s wins list
this year with three while competing on a part-time basis. Ted
Christopher, who has 97 career wins at Thompson overall, has two
victories and is third in Sunoco Modified points, 180 behind Preece.
Through the latest Whelen All-American Series national points update
on Aug. 28, Preece ranked fourth and Christopher seventh, with Keith
Rocco leading the way in Connecticut and third nationally.
LAST TIME OUT: Bristol
The most recent NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour race was held
at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway on Aug. 22. Here are some
highlights from the UNOH Perfect Storm 150 combination race with the
NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour:
• Ron Silk gained the lead from Todd Szegedy after the two made
incidental contact on Lap 127 and drove away for his first victory
at Bristol, his second of 2012 and the ninth of his Whelen Modified
• The victory for Silk was the first by a NASCAR-approved SPEC
engine in Whelen Modified competition.
• Silk also earned the Coors Light Pole Award earlier in the day,
his second of the year and seventh of his career.
• George Brunnhoelzl III was the highest-finishing Whelen Southern
Modified Tour driver in the race – sixth overall – and garnered a
victory for that tour. It marked his second southern victory at
• Points leader Doug Coby was involved in a couple incidents and
finished 17th overall, which combined with Silk’s win, reduced his
points lead from 41 to 27 points on Silk.
NEXT TIME OUT: Riverhead
The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour will return to Riverhead
(N.Y.) Raceway for a second attempt at the Riverhead 200 following a
rain-out on the original scheduled date, July 28. This year’s
Riverhead 200 will be the 51st running of the Whelen Modified Tour
on the tight Long Island quarter-mile bullring. Justin Bonsignore
got the win last year at his home track while Mike Stefanik is the
tour’s active leader in career wins at the track with six. One of
the larger entry lists of the year is expected for the Riverhead
200, which annually attracts a handful of competitors from the
track’s NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Modified division.