Ted Christopher Finally Earns the “TC” By Denise Dupont
Ted Christopher Crowned “The Champion” at NASCAR Modified Tour Banquet
The 2008 NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour season culminated on Saturday, December 13th with Ted Christopher being crowned the series' champion during the annual awards banquet at Mohegan Sun Resort.
The emcee of the evening's activities once again was NASCAR on FOX television announcer Mike Joy. Joy's history with New England racing coupled with his friendship with Christopher added a personal twist to the evening's event. His many stories of TC and his racing ventures added additional entertainment for all.
Christopher's 2008 title quest included four wins, ten top fives and thirteen top tens. Piloting the Al-Lee Installations #36 car, Christopher steered it to the front to take the checkered flag at Stafford Motor Speedway, Mansfield Motorsports Park, New Hampshire Motor Speedway and Thompson International Speedway.
Over the years, Christopher has established a reputation of being able to race any type of car, anytime, anywhere. He has also won multiple track championships and the 2001 NASCAR Whelen All-American Series National Championship.
“Most folks kept asking me why I never won a tour championship. But I was always too busy trying to address the race at hand,” said Christopher.
After fifteen years of competing, he finally captured his first NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour championship.
“I focused on the big picture for 2008 trying not to make the mistakes I made before. I guess I did something right because I am the last one speaking. ”
Christopher also remembered all of the car owners that helped get him to the point in his career where he could become a champion.
Ted Christopher (left) and NASCAR's Chad Little (right). (Rick Ibsen Photo)
“Throughout my racing career I have been very fortunate to have driven many different types of race cars for many different car owners,” Christopher said. “From people like Joe Brady, who I won my first Modified tour race with, to Curt Chase, Gary Cretty, Jim Galante, Eddie Whelan and many in between, one common denominator was: I always loved to drive a Modified.”
Christopher's night also included taking home the “Whelen Engineering Winner of the Race Award”, a Leather Hoosier jacket, the Champion Ring and, for the first time in his career, the “Most Popular Driver Award”. Yes it is true, the same driver who is booed more then he is cheered on at tracks, won the computer NWMT “Most Popular Driver Award”!
In addition to the coronation of series champion Christopher, the top drivers and owners and special award winners from the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour were also honored Saturday night.
“It looks line the line outside the principal's office,” said Mike Joy said as he prepared to introduce the top ten.
Glen Reen recieves the Rookie of the Year trophy. (Jim DuPont Photo)
Second generation driver, Matt Hirschman, was recognized for his second place runner-up efforts. Hirschman went into the last race down by thirty-five points but was unable to catch TC, but he still completed an impressive year with his first two NWMT career wins. Todd Szegedy, the 2003 NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Champion rounded off the top three in points.
Additional awards were given to drivers who achieved notable milestones. Ronnie Silk received the Featherlite Most Improved Driver Award. Seven-time series champion Mike Stefanik, received his third consecutive “POWERade Power Move of the Race Award”. Eric Beers was recognized as the winner of the “Coors Light Pole Award”. Brad Lafontaine brought home the “Champion Crew Chief” Award. Jamie and Cheryl Tomaino were recipients of the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Women's Auxiliary awards.
Glen Reen earned 2008 Sunoco Rookie of the Year honors after finishing an impressive first year in the series.
“This was just a dream a year ago,” Reen said. “It wasn't until February that my uncle and I were talking about which direction to go in for the 2008 season and I said something about going Tour racing and he said, 'hey, let's do it.' In a few short months we pieced together our team and did what we needed to do to my SK Light car ready and here we are at the end of the season with the Sunoco Rookie of the Year Championship.”
Prior to the banquet event, NASCAR officials took the opportunity to award Ryan Preece the trophy for his win at Martinsville Speedway. Finishing in second place, Preece was declared the winner of the 500th Modified race after a technical inspection found Bert Myers car illegal.
“First of all I was to thank my crew. I also want to thank the Boehlers for giving me the opportunity this year,” said Preece as he accepted the trophy for his first ever NASCAR Whelen Modified Series win. This win also placed Preece in the history books as the youngest driver in the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour to win a race.
The Modified teams and fans will now take some time to enjoy the holiday season. Then as we go into the New Year, racers will share another historical year as the “Modified Series” celebrate its Silver Anniversary with 25th years of ground pounding.
Ryan Preece shows off his Martinsville trophy - finally! (Jim DuPont Photo)