TC FINALLY GETS FIRST SPEEDWEEKS WIN by Jeremy Troiano
Veteran Wins As SLM Field Falls Apart Before & During Race
One of the biggest stories of Speedweeks 2006 at New Smyrna Speedway was the struggles of veteran Short Tracker Ted Christopher.
TC finally got his first win of 2006 Speedweeks. (Howie Hodge Photo)
Christopher, better known as “TC,” normally wins several nights in the NASCAR Tour-Type Modifieds. Last year, he got hooked up with Jay Cushman and became a threat in the Super Late Model division as well, winning races and almost winning the championship title.
This year though, TC has been in a drought. No win in the Modifieds. No wins in the Super Late Models.
On Friday night, TC finally added his name to the list of Speedweeks winners in 2006.
“You just can’t ever give up,” said TC, who has also been battling a horrible cold all week long at New Smyrna. “These are the hardest working group of guys for it just being four or five of them. They kept working on the car and working on it and working on it. I knew we had a good car after last night’s 50-lapper.”
TC qualified 10th and was the lucky recipient of quick qualifier BJ McLeod pulling a 10-pill, putting TC on the front row for the 30-lap race.
TC was also the lucky recipient of a race that became paired down of talent both before and during the event.
Perennial hot shot Wayne Anderson skipped the race on Friday. Travis Kittleson, who has been the quickest car all week long, blew an engine in qualifying and was out on Friday. B.J. McLeod also pulled out of the event. Several other big names fell out of the event as things started.
But none of that was to take anything away from TC. He jumped to the lead on lap one and never really felt a challenge from behind.
“Starting up front is what is key here though,” added Christopher. “It just worked out good for us. Hopefully, we can get one in the Mod as well. We changed deals there and that seems to be pretty good. So we’ll see what happens.”
And it almost happened. TC finished second in Friday night’s modified event. Maybe, Saturday’s Speedweeks finale will be TC’s day all around.
Only time will tell.
NIGHT EIGHT NOTES: SLM
TC's #29 races past Trevor Stewart (#91). (Hodge)
POLE SITTER DOESN’T RACE
It isn’t too often that the fastest car at the track doesn’t race. That is what happened on Friday night.
Friday night’s quick qualifier BJ McLeod packed up and left after redrawing a 10 in post qualifying tech, which would have made him start 10th in Friday night’s 30-lap feature.
“There are only 20 cars and they ended up pulling a 10 for the inversion,” said McLeod. “I got out of the car and told one of the officials that if it is possible for me to draw a 10, I will. I asked one of Landon’s (Cassill) crew members if any of them were lucky. The crew chief said he was pretty lucky. I told him he was drawing. He went in and drew a 10.
“I looked at the lineup and saw that there was 20 cars and just 30 laps. There are eight or nine good cars in front of me. It just wasn’t going to happen. I didn’t want to risk tearing the car up in the race.
“So I just decided to pack it up and wait until tomorrow night. I’ve got a good hot rod for tomorrow.”
KITTLESON’S CHANCES FOR TITLE GO UP IN SMOKE
Travis Kittleson has said all week long that he’s at Speedweeks to win races. And he’s been doing that, winning two along the way and being the quick qualifier four of the first five nights.
Kittleson has also said, all week long, that he’s not at Speedweeks to win the championship, but if it happened, it would just be “icing on the cake.”
Well, following qualifying on Friday, he can quit dreaming about a title. Kittleson blew the engine in his #88 during time trials and was forced to sit out the night’s 30-lap feature.
“I think we’ll get it fixed for tomorrow. The motor builder is on the way. We’ll work here until we get it done, however late that is. We’ll be here on Saturday.”
SLM RACE SHOWS LOTS OF ATTRITION
Friday night’s Super Late Model feature was weird. Not only did Travis Kittleson and BJ McLeod not take the green, but neither did Wayne Anderson, who didn’t even show up to the track and unload his #84. Jack Landis and Jerry Artuso, two drivers that ran up front all week long, loaded up and went home after Thursday night’s big accident.
But when the green flag feel Friday night, big-name cars started dropping out like flys.
First it was Donald Long. Then Mario Gosselin. Then Jeff Choquette. Then Eddie Van Meter. Then Trevor Stewart. Then Junior Neidecken.
“I’m so damn mad and disappointed right now,” said Kittleson. “I had a gut feeling last night. I just had a feeling about something. It is day eight of Speedweeks and we still had all four corners on the car and nothing had broke.
“We just took off for qualifying today, were going through the gears and hit the chip. I thought the collector had popped off so I stayed in the gas and the thing popped and it was dead silence after that.
“I try not to focus on the points. You can’t do that. This is Speedweeks. You just have to go balls out every night as it is. We were tied in the points. Winning the points would have just been icing on the cake. The feeling of working hard and it paying off is great.
Travis Kittleson works on changing his engine late into the night.
BJ McLeod (51 Photo)
Trevor Stewart (#91), Jeff Choquette (#70) and Eddie Van Meter (#23) all fell out of the SLM race early on Friday night. (51 Photo)
Points leader Landon Cassill actually finished the race, but spent a good portion of it on and off pit road and was several laps down at the finish.
By the end of the night, less than half of the original field was running.
“I guess the 91’s guys (Trevor Stewart) told one of my crew members that he blew a clutch or something,” said Choquette, who got together with Stewart. “We were just going to take it conservative and have a good points night. With Travis (Kittleson) not in the race, we were hoping for a good points night but we just got caught up in somebody else’s accident. It’s not his fault because his clutch went out but it’s unfortunate.”
Stewart was also looking for a good night.
“We had a bad qualifying run with a good car and that set us back. I got lucky enough to redraw the front row but unlucky enough to wipe out a clutch. It slipped up on the start, but once we got going it would be okay. I didn’t want to be in anyone’s way or cause any more wrecks because there’s been plenty of those this week.
“We didn’t expect a lot coming down here. If we keep the car in one piece it’s okay but you still need a lot of luck to run good down here. The car’s the best it’s been all week so hopefully we’ll be alright for the 100 lapper tomorrow night. If we can shake this bad luck we should be able to run in the top five for sure. “
Despite all of the bad luck for Cassill, he might still come out of Friday night with the points lead when they are released on Saturday.
“We had a maintenance failure in the throttle,” said the youngster. “It’s pretty frustrating. I think we actually extended out points lead which is good, but it’s just stupid how we didn’t get to finish the race. We’ll just go out there tomorrow to hopefully accomplish our goals that we had going into this week, to win two races and the championship. We can still do that.”