Column By: PHIL SMITH / RPW – WESTERLY, RI – Last weekend marked the first anniversary of the passing of Ted Christopher who lost his life in an airplane accident while on his way to a NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour event at the Riverhead Raceway on Long Island.
Christopher was the all-time winningest driver at Stafford Motor Speedway, with 131 wins, and Thompson Speedway, where he had 99 career victories. He also raced regularly at the New London-Waterford Speedbowl, where he had 48 career victories. The bulk of those victories came in each track’s weekly SK Modified division. He was also the the third winningest driver of all time on the Whelen Modified Tour.
At the Stafford Motor Speedway on Friday night the track paid tribute to Ambulance, EMS, Fire, Police, and all First Responder personnel. The track also had a moment of remembrance for Ted Christopher on the one year anniversary of his passing prior to the start of the SK Modified® feature. After Tom Fearn wrapped up the Late Model track championship one week previous, two more championships were decided as Ronnie Williams locked up the SK Modified® title and Jeremy Lavoie took the Limited Late Model crown. Scoring feature wins on the night were Mike Christopher, Jr. for the second week in a row in the SK Modified® feature, Darrell Keane scored his second win in the Late Model feature, Andrew Molleur took down his fourth win in the SK Light feature, Ryan Fearn scored his fifth win in the Limited Late Model feature, and Johnny Walker scored win #4 in the Street Stock feature.
In the 40 lap SK Modified feature, Keith Rocco took the lead shortly after half way with Christopher and Todd Owen side by side for second. Owen took second on lap-26 but Ron Williams moved into second behind Rocco on lap-27. As the two leaders came off turn 4 they touched with Rocco doing a 360 spin to bring the caution out. Williams was sent to the rear for the contact with Rocco, putting Owen and Christopher on the front row for the restart.
Josh Wood, Dowling, and Rocco got into the turn 1 wall on the restart to bring the caution right back out. Christopher got a good run in the outside lane and he took the lead from Owen on the next restart. Glen Reen followed Christopher in the outside lane and moved into second. Reen then almost took the lead from Christopher in turn 4 on lap-29 but he settled back into line. Michael Gervais, Jr. was now third with Owen back to fourth and Tom Bolles up to fifth.
With 5 laps to go, Christopher was still in command with Reen holding off Gervais and Owen for second and Eric Berndt now fifth. Christopher took the checkered flag to pick up his second consecutive win and third overall of the 2018 season. Reen finished second with Owen, Gervais, and Berndt rounding out the top-5. Ronnie Williams rebounded from his penalty to finish 6th, which was good enough to make him the 2018 SK Modified® track champion. Rocco ended up 16th.
Williams later admitted that he dumped Rocco on purpose as a payback from a previous incident.
At the Riverhead Raceway on Long Island, it was a busy night of NASCAR Whelen All American Series racing with some 270-laps of feature event racing presented highlighted by the Whelen Engineering Night Twin 50’s for the NASCAR Modifieds. Kyle Soper of Manorville won the opening 50-lapper while John Beatty Jr. of Merrick topped the second 50-lap race. With a runner-up finish in the second race Soper will take a 11-point lead over defending NASCAR Modified champion Tom Rogers Jr. into the season finale September 29th.
On the speedway stock market scene this week, two of the three speedway stocks were up. Dover Entertainment dropped 0.01 to 2.10 while Speedway Motorsports went up 0.19 to 17.77 and the International Speedway Corporation went up 0.30 to 44.50. NASCAR cup sponsor Monster Beverage dropped 0.81 to 59.33 and NASCAR tire supplier Goodyear dropped 0.08 to 23.64 while NASCAR fuel supplier Sunoco (Energy Transfer) went up 0.02 to 22.27. The car manufacturers had a positive week. Ford went up 0.17 to 9.45, General Motors went up 0.71 to 34.63 and Toyota went up 2.98 to 122.28. In the home improvement sector, Home Depot went up 2.33 to 209.07 and Lowes went up 4.29 to 113.89. In big team sponsor’s stocks, McDonalds dropped 3.06 to 160.84, Target dropped 0.80 to 87.94 and Dow/Dupont dropped 2.02 to 68.58 while Coca-Cola went up 5.23 to 184.09, Fedex went up 9.45 to 255.44 and Stanley Works Black and Decker went up 9.12 to 148.34.
On the tube this week:
Thursday, September 20
5:00 PM, NASCAR America, NBC Sports Net
5:30 PM, Dale Jr. Download, Episode 14, NBCSN
6:00 PM, NASCAR Race Hub, FOX Sports 1
Friday, September 21
5:00 AM, Beyond the Wheel, FS1
8:30 AM, NASCAR Xfinity Series Richmond practice, NBC Sports App
10:00 AM, NXS Richmond final practice, NBC Sports App
11:30 AM, Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Richmond practice, NBCSN
12:30 PM, NASCAR the Decades – the 1970s, NBCSN
1:30 PM, MENCS Richmond final practice, NBCSN
3:30 PM, MENCS Richmond final practice re-air, NBCSN
4:30 PM, NXS Richmond qualifying, NBCSN
5:30 PM, NASCAR America, NBCSN
6:00 PM, MENCS Richmond qualifying, NBCSN
7:00 PM, NXS Countdown to Green, NBCSN
7:30 PM, NXS Richmond race, NBCSN
9:30 PM, NASCAR the Decades – the 1990s, NBCSN
10:30 PM, NASCAR the Decades – the 1980s, NBCSN
Saturday, September 22
4:00 PM, MENCS Richmond final practice re-air, NBCSN
5:00 PM, MENCS Richmond qualifying re-air, NBCSN
6:00 PM, NASCAR America, NBCSN
7:00 PM, MENCS Countdown to Green, NBCSN
7:30 PM, MENCS Post Race, NBCSN
11:30 PM, Racing Roots: Chase Elliott, NBCSN
Sunday, September 23
12:00 AM, Racing Roots: Martin Truex, Jr., NBCSN
12:30 AM, Racing Roots: Ryan Blaney, NBCSN
Monday, September 24
2:30 PM, NASCAR 120: MENCS Richmond race re-air, NBCSN