When the race was over and the dust settled at Thompson, it was Marquis who not only survived a race full of carnage, but won it while Christopher saw his chances at the 2005 championship disappear because of simply being in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Two different racers with two very different results.
“Everything went our way today,” said Marquis after the race.
MARQUIS AND TC HAVE DIFFERENT FATES AT THOMPSONby Mike Twist
Tony Hirschman Comes From Behind to Win Title, Marquis Comes Through for Race Win
If there is such a thing as Karma in racing, it very well could have set the storyline at Thompson Speedway’s World Series race for the final NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour race of the season. Just consider the stories of Jerry Marquis and Ted Christopher.
Marquis is a gentleman racer. He’s well liked by his peers, generally keeps his nose clean and wins his share of races without using his front bumper.
On the other hand, Ted Christopher is a hardcore, “win-at-all-costs” type. He’ll rub and rumble for a win and he’s not the least bit shy about it. TC is not the most popular driver in the pit area, but that’s ok. After all, he’s won seven Modified Tour events this season. Nobody else can claim that. In fact, nobody can brag about having more than five victories in a season since 1999.
...while Jerry MArquis ended the day in victory lane. (Mary Hodge Photo)
“Today is over with and the championship is over with,” said Christopher of the twice-postponed event. “It sucks to wait a month to go race and have it taken away from me in 10 laps, but what are you going to do?”
Christopher entered the race knowing that a finish of seventh or better would win the title over Tony Hirschman. On paper, that didn’t look hard to do since he had already won two of the three previous Thompson Mod races this season.
But it didn’t take long for Christopher’s day to go bad. He was running where he needed to on lap 10, when contact was made between his car and the #18 of Donny Lia. Christopher’s #13 hit the wall hard and the result was heavy damage to the right front of the car. There was no dirty racing or wheel-to-wheel combat involved. It was just being in the wrong place at the wrong time when Lia wasn’t expecting him there.
Ted Christopher ended his race against the outside wall... (Mary Hodge Photo)
“Donny’s spotter told him ‘clear’ and I was still out there,” said Christopher.
Although he was dejected, Christopher wasn’t even mad. He was actually philosophical about what happened.
“I wasn’t hot about it,” said Christopher. “You can’t control what other people do to you.”
While Christopher’s day was going bad, Hirschman’s couldn’t have been better for the first 45 laps. He started on the front row, raced his son Matt for awhile and led the early part of the race. On lap 46, he pitted for two tires and played it safe after that. Hirschman ended up finishing 12th, which was good enough to take the title. We’ll have a complete story of his championship later on this week.
When Hirschman pitted, Marquis inherited the lead. However, it was Mike Stefanik who was on a mission. Stefanik started ninth and made steady progress through the pack. Marquis pitted just before the 100-lap mark and that left Stefanik chasing John Blewett on the racetrack.
That’s when Stefanik’s race went south. First, his shifter broke. Stefanik had his hands full on restarts being stuck in high gear, but after a few laps he could hold his own. He got to the rear bumper of Blewett late in the race, but went a little too far. Blewett spun into the turn two wall while Stefanik slowed and Marquis skating by. From there, it was only a matter of staying out of trouble for the rest of the race for Marquis to win.
And that is exactly what he did on both counts.
“You always have to have a gift once in awhile and that was a gift,” said Marquis. “Stefanik and the #66 got tangled up and that basically gave me the lead.”
But there is also some skill involved in just making it to the finish when only 17 cars were able to do so. That is the kid of skill that Marquis has perfected in his years of Modified racing.
“You have to really think about what is going on and be patient about what happens,” Marquis said.
And a solid team, like Marquis’ #4 Mystic Missile bunch doesn’t hurt either.
“The guys did an awesome job today, we had some problems with the racecar and we came in and straightened it all out. Basically, we drove the wheels off the damn car trying to get it out front and it worked out well.”
As Marquis celebrated, Christopher didn’t pout.
“It’s disappointing, but it’s over with,” said Christopher. “It was a good year and we won a bunch of races.”
And instead of looking back, TC looked forward after the race. Choosing to focus on trying to win next weekend’s North vs. South Shootout at Concord Motorsport Park (NC).
“Yup,” said Christopher with a hint of a smile showing on his face. “That’s what we are going down there for.”
Speed51.com will have more from Thompson, including our race leftovers and a championship story on Tony Hirschman’s fifth career Tour title, coming soon.
Marquis (#4) races with the #66 of John Blewett. (Howie Hodge Photo)