Wild Stafford Finish Finds TC on Top  by Amie Campbell
Coby Earns Top Five in Mod Tour Return
The stats for Saturday night’s Whelen Modified Tour race at Stafford Motor Speedway are ugly, but fortunately, the racing was not.

Ted Christopher shook off a season’s worth of bad luck to finally emerge in victory lane, and he did it on a night when he didn’t have his crew chief or his usual spotter.

“It was a little tough because of the cautions,” said Christopher. “But it turned out to be a pretty good race.”

Christopher won his first race of the season by passing eventual third place finisher Mike Stefanik on lap 114, and holding off a strong challenge from Todd Szegedy.  Christopher’s strong end run wasn’t without drama however, as he was having clutch woes while the laps ran down.

“He had a bit of a better car then I did,” explained second place finisher Szegedy.  “Then he started having clutch problems and because of that I was getting really good restarts, going real good on the outside. So when he was having problems I could tell.”

The result was vindication for Christopher, who felt he had a car capable of routinely winning races, but didn’t have the results to back it up.  Saturday ended a string of accidents and bad breaks that seemed to befall the driver of the #36 car at every race.

“This car has been so fast all year,” said Christopher.  “Even last week at Riverhead we were fast, so I was a little disappointed.  All throughout the year we lead a lot of races, laps at the Icebreaker, the Sizzler, the last time here at Stafford.  To have pit (stop) problems with people stepping on our air hose, or the stud going through the hub.  It’s just been so many different things. It was great to put on a performance like that and it’s good to get back to Victory Lane at Stafford.”
There were plenty of spins and things that went bump in the night at Stafford.  (Top - Ken Spring Photo, Bottom - Rick Ibsen Photo)
13 cautions.  3 red flags.  4 cars that required the ‘double hook’ to be removed from the track.
Having Szegedy being the driver tailing him in the closing laps most certainly worked to Christopher’s favor.

“Once we got going, he was a little stronger than me,” said Szegedy.  “So, it was going to be a lot of sparks flying to get by.  Maybe I could have got by him, maybe not.  Maybe we would have wrecked.  I did what I thought was right and backed off when I got that run on him, and finished.  I finished 2nd and we were definitely a 2nd place car.”

The win moved Christopher up to sixth in the points. 

COBY GETS TOP FIVE IN TOUR RETURN

When the Whelen Modified Tour season began in April, it did so without Doug Coby.  Coby, who earned his first Tour victory at Stafford last season, was out of the #77 Curt Chase owned ride he’d been in for the last two years, replaced by Zach Sylvester.

But the parting between Coby and Chase was a friendly one, and when Sylvester decided to pursue other options just prior to the race at Riverhead, it was Coby who got the call to fill the seat.

To say Coby simply filled the seat though would be doing him an injustice.  He finished the race in fourth after starting 20th, and made one of the moves of the race on the lap 110 restart, going from fifth to second.


“Something happened to Stefanik and I got a really good run,” said Coby explaining the dramatic move.  “A hole opened up, I took what was there and scooted up Matt Hirschman and Donny Lia.  I almost got Bobby Grigas III, but he backed out of it a whole lot.”

Though no permanent driver has been named for the #77 at this time, expect to see
Coby back behind the wheel at least once more.

“I’ll be at Thompson, definitely,” Coby confirmed.  “We’ll probably be bringing the same
car to Thompson.  As long as things go well, I think we’ll be trying to go race by race. 
I know they’re going to Mansfield and Martinsville.  I don’t know if I’ll be the one driving
it though.”

Whatever happens in the next few weeks, Coby had fun at Stafford and was happy for
the opportunity.

“It was nice to be back,” said Coby.  “Nice to go out and have a strong race for the team
and let them know we can have some fun and get back to the way it was.  It was fun. It was eventful.  It was like putting on an old but comfortable pair of socks.  The crew fits well.  The car fits well.  Everything about today was like it was the last two years.  We just went out and did our deal and got good results.”

Coby will be looking for an early birthday present when he and the rest of the Modified Tour head back on track again Thursday at Thompson Speedway for the Budweiser/New England Dodge Dealers 150.

NASCAR WHELEN MODIFIED TOUR
Stafford Motor Speedway
Stafford Springs, CT

(Start position in parentheses)

1. (8) Ted Christopher, Plainville, Conn., Chevrolet, 150 laps, 51.311 mph, $7,300.
2. (2) Todd Szegedy, Ridgefield, Conn., Ford, 150, $4,000.
3. (21) Mike Stefanik, Coventry, R.I., Chevrolet, 150, $4,850.
4. (20) Doug Coby, Milford, Conn., Pontiac, 150, $2,600.
5. (4) Donny Lia, Jericho, N.Y., Dodge, 150, $2,850.
6. (6) Matt Hirschman, Northampton, Pa., Dodge, 150, $2,500.
7. (25) Jerry Marquis, Broad Brook, Conn., Chevrolet, 150, $2,150.
8. (12) Eric Beers, Northampton, Pa., Chevrolet, 150, $2,050.
9. (16) Jimmy Blewett, Howell, N.J., Chevrolet, 150, $2,250.
10. (19) Woody Pitkat, Stafford Springs, Conn., Pontiac, 150, $1,850.
11. (10) Dick Houlihan, Bridgewater, Mass., Chevrolet, 150, $2,400.
12. (5) Tony Hirschman, Northampton, Pa., Chevrolet, 150, $2,175.
13. (29) Billy Pauch, Jr., Frenchtown, N.J., Dodge, 150, $1,500.
14. (26) Eric Berndt, Rocky Hill, Conn., Pontiac, 150, $1,075.
15. (27) Jamie Tomaino, Howell, N.J., Ford, 150, $2,000.
16. (13) Renee Dupuis, Glastonbury, Conn., Chevrolet, 150, $1,025.
17. (3) Danny Sammons, Trenton, N.J., Chevrolet, 150, $1,850.
18. (24) Wade Cole, Riverton, Conn., Chevrolet, 150, $1,675.
19. (28) Rowan Pennink, Huntingdon Valley, Pa., Chevrolet, 150, $1,800.
20. (7) Ronnie Silk, Norwalk, Conn., Chevrolet, 150, $1,875.
21. (23) Charlie Pasteryak, Lisbon, Conn., Chevrolet, 138, accident, $900.
22. (11) Richard Savary, Canton, Mass., Chevrolet, 134, $1,575.
23. (1) Bobby Grigas, Marshfield, MA, Chevrolet, 132, electrical, $1,250.
24. (30) Glen Tyler, Hampton Bays, N.Y., Chevrolet, 130, accident, $1,225.
25. (17) James Civali, Meriden, Conn., Chevrolet, 129, $1,950.
26. (15) Reggie Ruggiero, Rocky Hill, Conn., Chevrolet, 117, accident, $1,164.
27. (22) Kevin Goodale, Riverhead, NY, Chevrolet, 115, accident, $1,450.
28. (14) Eddie Flemke, Southington, Conn., Chevrolet, 114, $1,550.
29. (32) Jake Marosz, Middletown, Conn., Chevrolet, 114, $750.
30. (18) Ryan Preece, Kensington, CT, Chevrolet, 84, $1,450.
31. (31) Joseph Hartmann, Calverton, N.Y., Chevrolet, 72, radiator, $1,150.
32. (9) Bobby Santos, III, Millis, Mass., Chevrolet, 6, accident, $750.

Time of Race: 1 hour 27 minutes 42 seconds Margin of Victory: .430 seconds
Fastest Qualifier: T.Hirschman (98.966 mph, 18.188 seconds)
Caution Flags: 13 for 73 laps.
Lead Changes: 11 among 5 drivers.

Lap Leaders: B.Grigas 0; T.Szegedy 1-14; D.Lia 15-18; T.Christopher 19-76; D.Lia 77-85; B.Grigas 86-111; M.Stefanik 112-113; T.Christopher 114-125; T.Szegedy 126; T.Christopher 127-137; T.Szegedy 138-140; T.Christopher 141-150.
Standings: 1. D.Lia, 1439; 2. M.Hirschman, 1347; 3. T.Szegedy, 1310; 4. R.Silk, 1232; 5. J.Civali, 1226; 6. T.Christopher, 1220; 7. Ji.Blewett, 1216; 8. M.Stefanik, 1186; 9. J.Tomaino, 1099; 10. J.Marquis, 1066






Ted Christopher (#36) and Todd Szegedy (#2) battle at Stafford.  (Rick Ibsen Photo)
Coby's #77   (Rick Ibsen Photo)