NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour News & Notes - Stafford * Christopher Looks To Continue Historic Run * Preece Strives To Break Through At Home Track * Stafford's Pallai To Test Tour Waters Christopher Looks To Continue Historic Run In Return To...
NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour News & Notes - Stafford
* Christopher Looks To Continue Historic Run
* Preece Strives To Break Through At Home Track
* Stafford's Pallai To Test Tour Waters
Christopher Looks To Continue Historic Run In Return To Stafford In the world of NASCAR Modified racing, Ted Christopher is king.
The Plainville, Conn., racing veteran earned his first NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour championship in 2008 on the strength of four wins and has rolled that momentum over to the current season where he has put a stranglehold on not one, but two divisions.
There have been two NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour races to-date in 2009, and Christopher has his name all over both. In the opener at Thompson (Conn.) International Speedway on April 5, Christopher earned the Coors Light Pole Award and then went on to lead 111 of 154 laps en route to his second trip to Victory Lane in a row at the track where he closed 2008 with a win. Christopher then moved on to Stafford (Conn.) Motor Speedway and dominated yet again with another pole and race win on April 26.
In the process, Christopher has become the first driver in the 25-year history of the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour to win each of the first two races to start a season, and he is the first Tour driver to earn three-consecutive wins since Donny Lia in 2007. The last driver to earn four or more victories in a row was Mike Stefanik, who tied Richie Evans' Tour record in 1997 with five straight triumphs.
And all of that just concerns his full-time title chase in the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour. Christopher has also dominated the NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour in a limited schedule to start 2009 as well.
The NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour runs a top-heavy schedule with five races on the slate before May, an opportunity that Christopher annually takes advantage of. This year he won the Southern Tour's season opener at Concord (N.C.) Speedway on March 21. He missed the second race of the Southern Tour season because he was busy winning up north at Thompson, but in his second start down south Christopher wound up in Victory Lane once again, this time at Caraway Speedway on April 11 in Asheboro, N.C. Christopher tasted defeat for the only time so far in 2009 on April 18 when he led 34 laps at Lanier National Speedway in Braselton, Ga., but finished seventh.
Christopher's NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour ventures now appear over as he concentrates solely on another championship in a row in his regular No. 36 Al-Lee Installations Chevrolet up north. He will take all of that momentum from both series back to Stafford - where he is the winningest competitor in track history - for the third race of the 2009 NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour season.
The TSI Harley-Davidson Classic will be the third race on a 14-event schedule, and the second of four stops for the Tour at Stafford in 2009. Action will begin on the track with practice at 2 p.m. and qualifying at 6 p.m. Green flag for the 100-lap event is scheduled for approximately 9 p.m. For TSI Harley-Davidson Classic ticket and race information, please visit Stafford's official web site, staffordmotorspeedway.com.
Preece Strives To Break Through At Home Track
Ryan Preece may have earned the first win of his young NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour career at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway in 2008, but Stafford (Conn.) Motor Speedway has been a place to call home.
A recent high school graduate from nearby Berlin, Conn., Preece's familiarity with the local asphalt oval has provided a level of comfort and confidence that he has at few other places.
"I've been coming here since I was a little kid," Preece said. "When I come here, I feel like it's home. It's 30 minutes from my house; I can come here and watch a race every week. I just get this feeling that when I come here [to race], that I'm not alone, like somebody's there with me in the car and I can just put it on cruise control and drive this track all day long."
Preece led more laps than any driver at Stafford a year ago, and he was strong once again in the first 2009 stop at the track with nine laps lead and a third-place finish in the Tech-Net Spring Sizzler presented by CARQUEST. Preece also earned his first career Coors Light Pole Award at the track in 2008, but the goal that still remains is a win at the historic half mile.
"I always come back here [Stafford] looking up because I know we have a real good car here," Preece said. "Every race we come here we just get it better and better."
While Preece is hungry for his first NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour win at his home track, the teen also remains focused on the big picture.
"Hopefully the next race, we'll be the one in Victory Lane, but if not, a top five or top three will be good enough for me," Preece said. "I'm looking for that championship win, the big No. 1. That means you get bragging rights for the whole year, not just week-to-week."
Home Tracks: SK Driver Pallai To Test Tour Waters Richie Pallai Jr., a regular competitor in Stafford (Conn.) Motor Speedway's SK Modified Division, is set to make his NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour debut at his home track in the TSI Harley-Davidson Classic.
While he has found success in auto racing at an early age and experience level, the senior at Berkshire School in Sheffield, Mass., has spent most of his life focused on hockey, a sport he will play collegiately this winter at Connecticut College.
"Growing up, I was big into hockey, so I really never had racing on the agenda," Pallai said. "But I also grew up around the Modifieds."
Pallai's father, Rich Sr., is the vice president of marketing for CARQUEST Auto Parts. The elder Pallai took his son to many events over the years and that's where he caught the racing bug.
In 2005, Jack Arute Jr. helped get the younger Pallai into racing as he competed in Mini Sprints. Pallai moved up to an SK Light Modified in 2006 and quickly graduated to the SK Modifieds -- Stafford's premier NASCAR Whelen All-American Series division -- the following year.
Pallai, from Yorktown Heights, N.Y., earned his first career Stafford SK win on April 26 in the Tech-Net Spring Sizzler presented by CARQUEST.
Pallai will make his NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour debut as a teammate to Todd Szegedy for Mike Smeriglio Racing.
"I'm looking forward to getting into the show. I've never time-trialed before," Pallai said. "If we can get in the show, get some laps and some seat time and run consistently throughout the race, then we'll be happy."
Pallai also plans to team up with MSR for the remaining two races at Stafford along with possible additional dates at Chemung (N.Y.) Speedrome and Thompson (Conn.) International Speedway.