worked pretty well. I had a great set-up tonight. I wasn’t worried.”
Teams were not allowed to change tires during the halfway break without having to take a one lap per tire penalty. So with most competitors slipping and sliding before halfway, it appeared that every team would stop for fresh rubber at some point. The first caution period in the second half looked ideal for that exercise. For most of the field it was.
Cars pulled up to pit at the appropriate time and TC led the line. However, right before the commitment line, Hossfeld pulled high and faked Christopher out. It looked like a slick move at the time. In the long run, it did not work out.
NOBODY CAN BEAT CHRISTOPHER AT MARTINSVILLEby Mike Twist
Hossfeld and Stefanik Make TC Work For Historic Victory
If you look at the boxscore for the Whelen Made in America 300 at Martinsville Speedway (VA), it might look like it was a one horse race. Ted Christopher led the most laps in the race, led every single lap before a 15-minute halftime break and won over a field of NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour and Southern Modified Tour drivers. It sounds simple and boring, right? Not exactly.
Well, for the first half of the event it really was a two-horse race, Chuck Hossfeld was right in Christopher’s tire tracks the entire time. He just couldn’t translate an outside starting spot on the numerous restarts into the race lead.
In the second half of the race, it was a three-horse battle. Add Mike Stefanik to the mix and TC had to work to get the race victory.
It might have looked like work. But Christopher knew that his car was the one to beat the whole time.
“I had an awesome racecar man,” said Christopher. "Especially for Martinsville. It’s real tight here and the car
Tony HIrschman (L) and Eric Beers (R) sit before a the impressive-sized crowd before the start of the feature race.
“We tried to stay out and that wasn’t the hot thing to do,” said Hossfeld. “We were having good tire wear and went for the track position. It was a gamble that didn’t pay off.”
The decision not to pit did put Hossfeld into the lead over Stefanik, who had pitted for tires in the first half of the event. Hossfeld kept the lead until lap 157 when the leaders came upon a very slick track.
“All of a sudden, there was a ton of oil laid down,” said Hossfeld. “I thought that I had a right rear flat and I almost spun it. That took some more life out of the tires.
Stefanik saw what happened and scooted by into the lead.
The drivers of the historic first night race at Martinsville Speedway lined up as a group before the race. (51 Photos)
“That was interesting,” said Stefanik. “Fortunately, when you are running second you can see the first guy get into it and what happens to him. I had fresher tires and maybe that helped me get to the bottom quicker.”
With Hossfeld’s track position gone, things went downhill for him. Later on, contact with the #66 of John Blewett, III led to a spin and the loss of a lap. Hossfeld ended up finishing 18th.
“I don’t know what happened there,” said Hossfeld. "I couldn’t hear a thing. I didn’t know if the spotter said 'clear, clear' or 'he’s got a wheel,' so I left a lane open down bottom. I don’t know if he got in too hot or what, but it didn’t work out for us. We had a great car and didn’t capitalize on it.”
Meanwhile, Christopher was coming up through the pack with new tires.
Like everyone else, Christopher got to take a halfway break, but he couldn't get new tires until the race resumed.
“Track position was key, but our car was better than everybody else’s cars,” said Christopher. “It was real good on new tires.”
Stefanik was hoping for a long green run to keep TC at bay, but that didn’t happen thanks to a restart with 25 laps to go.
“It seemed like that I was OK if we didn’t have any restarts,” said Stefanik. “Obviously, he’s got a great restart gear in his car. Our shifter was coming apart in the car too, so I was really slow shifting.”
Once he was in the lead, nobody challenged Christopher again. Stefanik held on for second, while Blewett, Eric Beers and Doug Coby rounded out the top five finishers.
The win helped TC gain ground on point leader Tony Hirschman, who finished seventh.
“It’s maximum points tonight and that means a lot,” said Christopher. “The next races are all good ones for us. Maybe we can get back on the winning track and get a championship.”
One might think that after winning the first ever Martinsville race under the lights and collecting one of the legendary Grandfather clocks that the track gives away as trophies, Christopher would bask in the glory. That’s not his style. In fact, he’s not even going to keep the clock.
“I’m actually going to give it to my brother [Mike Christopher, who finished eighth],” said TC.
So what was on Teddy’s mind in victory lane? His next race of course.
“We’re going to Ace on Monday,” said Christopher referring to a NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour event on Labor Day. “I’m driving the #79 car and hopefully, we’ll win that too.”