CHRISTOPHER WINS MADE IN AMERICA WHELEN 300 AT MARTINSVILLE SPEEDWAY, LOFTIN IS TOP-FINISHER AMONG WHELEN SOUTHERN MODIFIED TOUR DRIVERS MARTINSVILLE, Va. (Sept. 3, 2005) -- Ted Christopher won the Made in America Whelen 300 at Martinsville...
CHRISTOPHER WINS MADE IN AMERICA WHELEN 300 AT MARTINSVILLE SPEEDWAY, LOFTIN IS TOP-FINISHER AMONG WHELEN SOUTHERN MODIFIED TOUR DRIVERS
MARTINSVILLE, Va. (Sept. 3, 2005) -- Ted Christopher won the Made in America Whelen 300 at Martinsville Speedway, the first NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour event held at the track since 2002 -- and the first night race held at the historic .526-mile track. Mike Stefanik finished second, followed by John Blewett III, Eric Beers and Doug Coby in fifth place.
Brian Loftin, of Lexington, N.C., was the top-finishing driver from the NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour. Loftin finished 12th overall but will be credited with first-place points towards the Whelen Southern Modified Tour championship.
Despite the magnitude of the win, Christopher remained focused on the season championship picture for the northeastern-based Whelen Modified Tour.
"This means a lot," said Christopher, who collected $9,750 for the win along with Martinsville Speedway's traditional Ridgeway Grandfather Clock winner's trophy. "We've had a pretty rough run in the middle of the summer, with tire problems and other things and we had lost a bunch of points. Tonight we gained maximum points. If we can keep doing that and finishing well ... at the races we're coming up to, our car is really, really great. The races that are coming up are ones that I'm really looking forward to."
Christopher, of Plainville, Conn., started on the pole after qualifying seventh and scoring the front-row starting position via the Tour's re-draw of the top eight qualifiers. Christopher battled New York's Chuck Hossfeld during the opening laps while Beers and Eddie Flemke chased the leaders.
Christopher continued to set the pace over the 43-car field until lap 125, when the race was halted for a mandatory halfway break. After the break, Christopher returned to the lead followed by Hossfeld and Rick Fuller, who had advanced from the 11th starting position to third during the first half of the race.
Pit strategy became a factor during a caution period from laps 138-145. The race leaders headed down pit road for a fresh set of tires -- which teams were not permitted to change during the halfway break. Hossfeld, however, made a bold decision to remain on the track and inherited the lead. By lap 157, Hossfeld's strategy to forgo fresh tires was coming up short, as Stefanik and Jay Hedgecock -- who had pitted for fresh tires before the mandatory halfway break -- passed Hossfeld and took over the first and second positions.
Following another restart, Christopher was soon back in the hunt. The former NASCAR Dodge Weekly Series national champion had returned to the top five by lap 175, just as Hedgecock drifted back and Hossfeld ran in the second position behind Stefanik. Hossfeld spun on lap 203, placing Blewett in the top three behind Stefanik and Christopher. Christopher then charged past Stefanik on a restart with 25 laps remaining and seized the lead for the final time.
The 250-lap event, which was preceded by a 50-lap "last chance" qualifying race won by Connecticut's Reggie Ruggiero, was the 30th Whelen Modified Tour race held at Martinsville since 1985. The race lived up to its billing as a "can't miss" event for Modified fans -- it was attended by the largest stand-alone (non-NASCAR NEXTEL Cup) crowd in the track's history. The race is tentatively scheduled to be televised by SPEED Channel in December.