And now with three-top-fives in three races, with two victories to boot, Christopher is the Mod Tour point leader heading into this weekend’s event at Thompson Speedway in CT, where coincidently his first victory of the season came. Yet the win at Riverhead symbolized that much more.
“This place is the place that you judge for your championship possibilities,” TC suggests. “Everybody always says, ‘If you can get through Riverhead and finish in the top-five then you got a shot at the title.’ Now we got a couple wins going in three races and we’ll see what happens.”
Does this mean the ever-tough TC-monster is thinking points this early in the season?
“I was just trying to stay to the bottom and if he could get there (to the outside) he would get there,” explains Teddy. “He was getting probably to the right rear which wasn’t real close, but eh, what are you going to do? When you are in second you are able to do whatever you want to do. The guy leading is going to try to run a safe line; you don’t want to do anything stupid.”
But at the end of the race, it’s the leader who has the secret weapon… his mirror.
“I might have used a little extra real estate,” Christopher admits. “My spotter was pretty good.”
“His car was wide, real wide, the whole race,” says Beers, who wound up second. “I went up, I went down; I tried everything to get by him. We were definitely a little better than him getting through the turn and getting up off, but he was pinching the car coming up off so I couldn’t get to the bottom.
TC TAMES ‘EM IN WILD RIVERHEAD SHOW by Bob Dillner
Beers Returns with Strong Second in Whelen Mod Tour Battle
Picture this. It’s Victor Frankenstein’s lab just moments before the monster on the table awakens for the very first time. The wind is blowing outside, the thunder clatters and the voltage is flowing through the room in every direction. It’s a crazy-scary-electric atmosphere and the same feeling you had this past weekend at Riverhead Raceway if you witnessed the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour unleash its fury on the tight quarter mile oval on Long Island.
The monsters in this battle did not scars on their forehead like Frankenstein, but their rage was much the same; Ted Christopher vs. Eric Beers, Jerry Marquis vs. Donny Lia, Rick Fuller vs. Chuck Hossfeld, Ed Flemke vs. Chuck Steur, Frank Vigliarolo vs. Jimmy Blewett and six-time champ Mike Stefanik vs. the world.
“Five laps a minute; where else can you do that?” says Stefanik as he explains the chaotic nature of the 150-lap event. “It takes them five minutes to go a lap these days in some of the bigger series. You can pass and you might bump and grind, but that’s what short track racing is all about. I hope I didn’t get anybody too mad at me (he did and we’ll have more on that in leftovers in days to come), but it does say speedway out there, so it is time to go. I always have a good time here, win lose or draw.”
“Everybody was pushing the envelope tonight,” describes defending race winner Jerry Marquis. “It just seemed like that was the only way you were going to be able to get up to the front. I never played bumper tag this hard anywhere, not even Riverside Park (where Marquis is a former track champ). Here it was just phenomenal how hard we all beat each other.”
“Passing Frank Vigliarolo at Riverhead, on the outside, was a tough deal. I knew he was real tight in the middle so I knew the only chance I really had was if I could run side-by-side with him on the restart. I worked for me and then it was on cruise control for a while.”
Cruise control until Eric Beers, making his return to the Modified Tour since suffering multiple injuries in a wreck at the season-opening event nearly two months ago, came alive at the end of the race and began to hunt down Christopher for the lead.
“I tried to get next to him with a couple laps to go and I got right up next to him and he just drove me up to the fence. What are you going to do?”
That’s exactly Christopher’s point as well.
“Screw that, I’m not giving up a win with just a couple of laps to go. I’m protecting it for all I’ve got.”
“I got into him a few times, but I didn’t want to end up wrecking both of us,” continues Beers. “He’s been around a long time; he knows where to park the car in the turn so you can’t get next to him. The one time we did get the big run up off of four there the track needed to be about four feet wider for me to be able to fit.”
TC was king of this Monster's Ball. (Howie Hodge Photo)
And if you are going to have a rough and tumble evening with plenty of thrills to wake even the souls from years gone by, one might expect Ted Christopher to be involved. The go-for-broke racer passed Vigliarolo on the outside during a restart and then held off a hard-charging Eric Beers to pull down his second victory of what has been a very short season (only three races) and his second victory at the electrifying Riverhead Raceway.
“This place is so difficult because your concentration level is so high,” says TC. “You try not to screw up and you’re bound to a couple times in a 150-lap race, but usually here, it’s the guy who makes the least amount of mistakes and gets to the front early that’s going to win and that’s what we did tonight.
There aren't very many big races for Hirschman to be the first time winner of anymore. (51 Photos)
But if the roles were reversed, would Beers’ car become as wide as Christopher’s was late in the race?
“I don’t know. It’s hard to say. Late in the race you have to protect, but he could have given me a little bit of a lane,” Beers says. “Maybe if the roles are reversed the next time he’ll give me the same courtesy and run me clean. I’m going to store this one in the ol’ memory bank.”
The guy working the caution light switch got plenty of exercise at Riverhead. (Howie Hodge Photo)
“No, no. I’m not that type of racer. You watched me race
for years and you know I race to win and I get real upset when I don’t.”
And when he doesn’t win, look out, because that’s when the monster inside of Ted Christopher is unleashed.
Speed51.com's Bob Dillner talks with Eric Beers after the Riverhead race. (Mary Hodge Photo)
TC (#13) runs in front of Beers' #3 in the closing laps at Riverhead. (Mary Hodge Photo)