NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour News & Notes - New England Dodge Dealers 150 * Christopher Looks to Build on Stafford Legacy * Tour Tidbits: Change in No. 28 Team * Five Questions: Glen Reen * Home Tracks: Rocco Strengthens Title Bid at ...
NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour News & Notes - New England Dodge Dealers 150
* Christopher Looks to Build on Stafford Legacy
* Tour Tidbits: Change in No. 28 Team
* Five Questions: Glen Reen
* Home Tracks: Rocco Strengthens Title Bid at SMS
Christopher Looks to Build on Stafford Legacy
The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour will reach the midway point of the 2008 season when it makes a stop at Stafford (Conn.) Motor Speedway for the New England Dodge Dealers 150 on Friday, Aug. 8.
Perhaps no driver in the series looks forward to returning to the historic half-mile more than Ted Christopher. A longtime veteran of racing in the northeast, Christopher has won so many races at Stafford that the track ownership has named part of the facility in his honor.
Already the winningest driver in the track's extensive history, Christopher reached the century mark in total wins at Stafford on June 13. His historic win came in the SK Modified Division, part of the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series. For reaching the milestone, the Arute family renamed Section A of the main grandstand after Christopher.
Of those 100 wins for Christopher at Stafford, eight have come in NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour races, including the Tech-Net Spring Sizzler on April 27. Since his milestone SK victory on June 13, Christopher added another win in the division on Aug. 1. A win in the New England Dodge Dealers 150 would not only give him 102 total at Stafford, but would mark the 29th of his NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour career. Christopher's next tour win would put him in sole possession of fifth place on the series' all-time wins list.
"I can't explain why, but for some reason I've adjusted well to that track," Christopher said. "Fortunately for me, I've been lucky enough to win a lot of races there."
Christopher is also the defending winner of this race, having captured the checkered flag in the 2007 New England Dodge Dealers 150. He led 91 laps in the race and beat Todd Szegedy to the finish line by nearly half a second.
Although Christopher has outdistanced himself from any other driver in track history in terms of total wins, Mike Stefanik is the all-time NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour wins leader at Stafford. His 19 victories at the track are 10 more than the next driver on the list, and his most recent series victory came there in last year's Fall Final. With four top-five finishes in seven starts this year, Stefanik should be a contender when the green flag drops Friday night.
Jimmy Blewett, winner of last Saturday's race at Riverhead (N.Y.) Raceway, will also enter the New England Dodge Dealers 150 as a contender for the checkered flag. After a slow start to 2008, he has earned top-fives the last two times out. Despite finishes of 23 and 31 in the first two NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour races at Stafford this year, he has four top-fives in nine SK Modified starts at the track.
"I've been able to get some laps there in the weekly races, which I enjoy," Blewett said. "I look forward to going back there [for an NWMT race]. We had some strong cars there at the beginning of the year, we just had no luck at the end of the race."
The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour teams will hit the Stafford oval Friday afternoon for a practice session from 2-3:30 p.m. Time trials are set for 5:30 p.m., and the race is slated to go green at 9:15 p.m.
The Race: New England Dodge Dealers 150
The Place: Stafford (Conn.) Motor Speedway
The Date: Friday, Aug. 8
The Time: 9:15 p.m. ET
Track Layout: 0.5-mile oval
Race Purse: $89,010
2007 Winner: Ted Christopher
2007 Pole: Tony Hirschman
Schedule: Friday, Aug. 8, Practice: 2-3:30 p.m., Qualifying: 5:30 p.m.
Driver Change for the No. 28 ... Team owner Don King has replaced James Civali as the driver of the No. 28 with a tandem of Doug Coby and Woody Pitkat for the remainder of the 2008 season. Coby is slated to drive the No. 28 this Friday at Stafford (Conn.). It is anticipated that Coby and Pitkat will get four races each in the No. 28 and both will run at New Hampshire in September, with the No. 88 being the second car. Civali, the 2006 NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Rookie of the Year, registered four wins and 23 top 10s in 43 career starts.
Pauch Finishes 15th at Pocono ... Billy Pauch Jr. took a weekend off from the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour to compete in the ARCA Re/Max Series at Pocono Raceway in his home state of Pennsylvania on Aug. 2. Pauch finished 15th out of 41 entries driving a Dodge for Evernham Motorsports.
Tour Drivers Compete in RC Race ... NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour drivers Kevin Goodale, Ryan Preece, Todd Szegedy and Glenn Tyler joined 2007 series champion Donny Lia for a remote control car race at Lia's track in West Babylon, N.Y., on Friday, Aug. 1. A night before the Miller Lite 140 at Riverhead (N.Y.) Raceway, the race provided a number of laughs for drivers and onlookers alike as the competitors tried to navigate the indoor road course. The drivers piloted battery-powered cars with NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series body styles. Lia, who has an RC national championship to his credit, protected his home turf by taking home the checkered flag.
Your Vote Counts ... For the first time, fans have the say in which racer is named the 2008 NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Most Popular Driver. Fans can vote once a day for their favorite Modified drivers from now until October 19 by visiting nascarhometracks.com. Results of the balloting will be announced at the postseason banquet.
News & Notes
The Race ... The New England Dodge Dealers 150 will be the midway point of the 2008 season and the third of four stops for the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour at Stafford in 2008.
The Procedure ... Starting Positions 1- 26 will be determined from time trials. The remaining five spots will be filled through the provisional process. The race is 150 laps (75 miles).
The Track ... A half-mile flat oval, Stafford Motor Speedway began as a horse racing track in the 1870s. After seven decades as a horse track, the half-mile dirt oval started holding auto races following WW II. Stafford became a NASCAR track in 1959 and was paved for the first time in 1967.
Race Winners ... There have been 27 different race winners at Stafford, led by Mike Stefanik's 19 victories, 10 more than Reggie Ruggiero. Ted Christopher had the longest win streak in the history of the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour at Stafford with four-straight victories from Sept. 30, 2001 to Aug. 23, 2002. Christopher and Chuck Hossfeld won the first two races at Stafford in 2008.
Pole Winners ... There have been 34 different pole winners at Stafford, led by Stefanik's 14. Ryan Preece and Hossfeld have captured the pole in the season's first two races at Stafford.
Five Questions: Glen Reen
How did you get started in racing?
My mom and dad raced cars and actually met at the race track. From then on it's pretty much been in my blood. I was supposed to be born on a Saturday, but I didn't come out, so they went to Riverside Park Speedway. The next morning I came out because I wanted to know what all the noise was about. I got my first go kart when I was four years old.
You've earned Sunoco Rookie of the Race honors three times. How
would you evaluate your first NWMT season so far?
I think we are doing pretty decent considering we are not one of the most-funded teams and we don't have the sponsorship backing. Everybody is new [the team] and they're all volunteering their time. There is only about two people that have worked on a real race car before, everybody else is just a best friend that I've grown up with. They're just putting forth everything they can to help me live my dream.
What has been the biggest adjustment you've had to make to your
driving style this year going from an SK Light to a Tour car?
The first thing has to be getting used to the power difference. The power is unreal compared to the SK Light. Once you get used to that, the biggest thing is the length of the races. Getting it into your head that in a 150-lap race you can be two laps down 80 laps in and still come out with a top-10 because the races are just so long. That's really the biggest thing, just learning to hang out and let things happen then shoot for it the last half of the race.
What other experiences have you had in auto racing?
I actually worked for Michael Waltrip Racing down in Huntersville, N.C. That was an unreal experience to be flown around the country in a private jet working for Michael Waltrip. It was just nuts to see how the other half lives.
What was your motocross career like?
All I did was break bones there, I didn't really go anywhere. I moved up in the rankings, but no real big moves to the pro series. I ran some AMA stuff for a while in the Arenacross, and I moved up pretty good there. After I shattered my ankle in the Arenacross, I figured I'd jump back into racing in something that had a roll cage.
Home Tracks: Rocco Strengthens Title Bid at Stafford
A leading contender for the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series national title, Keith Rocco has excelled at Stafford (Conn.) Motor Speedway so far in 2008 in the SK Modified Division.
Rocco, of Wallingford, Conn., entered August atop the national 500 NWAAS rankings with six wins in 32 total starts. Although just one of his six victories have come at Stafford, he has registered eight top-five finishes in 10 total starts. That kind of consistency has been crucial in keeping him atop the national leader board.
The driver that Rocco leads in the Stafford SK standings is Ted Christopher, the all-time winningest driver in the track's history. With his second SK win of the year on Aug. 1, Christopher trails Rocco in the division's standings by 34 points.
With a division-high three wins in 10 starts, Stafford native Woody Pitkat ranks third in the SK Modified standings with 366 points, 44 behind Rocco.
* Chuck Hossfeld is the current points leader and the only repeat winner so far in 2008. He has victories at Stafford (5/23) and New Hampshire (6/28).
* Ed Flemke Jr. captured the season-opener at Thompson, his first victory since 2004.
* Ted Christopher won the second race of the season at Stafford to move into a tie for fifth place on the all-time wins list.
* Ronnie Silk won the 75-lap green flag-only race at Thompson for his second career victory.
* Matt Hirschman earned his first career NWMT victory at Spencer on July 12.
* Jimmy Blewett won the most recent race, the Miller Lite 140 at Riverhead.
* James Civali, Bobby Grigas III and Ryan Preece have earned their first career poles in 2008.
* Ted Christopher has 28 career victories. The next win would put him in sole possession of fifth place on the all-time list, breaking a tie with Mike Ewanitsko.
* Todd Szegedy's next win would be the 13th of his career, which would place him in sole possession of 13th on the all-time list.
* Mike Stefanik has 40 career poles. The next would place him in a tie with Tony Hirschman for the all-time lead.
* Jamie Tomaino will extend his own series record by making his 493r d career start.
* Ed Flemke Jr. is expected to extend his record consecutive starts streak to 303.
Up Next: New England Dodge Dealers-Budweiser 150
The next stop for the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour will be at Thompson (Conn.) International Speedway on Thursday, Aug. 14.
The New England Dodge Dealers-Budweiser 150 will be the third of five NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour races at the .625-mile oval in 2008. Ed Flemke Jr. captured the season-opening Icebreaker on April 6 and Ronnie Silk took the checkered flag in the New England Dodge Dealers 75 on June 19.
Todd Szegedy is the defending winner of this race. Szegedy took his first lead of the race on Lap 107, which would be the last official lap of the event. The race was red flagged at that point because of the tragic accident that claimed the life of John Blewett III.
Mike Stefanik is the all-time NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour wins leader at Thompson with 14. He is followed in the record books by Jeff Fuller (10), Rick Fuller (8) and Tony Hirschman (8).
Hirschman, who is not competing in the series this year, will be honored prior to the race as part of NASCAR's celebration of 60 years of Modified champions. The five-time champion is third on the all-time wins list with 35.
Afternoon practice is scheduled for 2-3:30 p.m., and time trials are set for 5:30 p.m. The race is scheduled to go green at 8:45 p.m.