Christopher Wins Race, But Preece Steals Show in Spring Sizzler by Amie Campbell
Veteran Takes Over at Stafford When Youngster Has Engine Trouble
The story about the Spring Sizzler NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour race at Stafford Motor Speedway (CT) could be about how Ted Christopher won his 28th career Tour race.  It could be about how Christopher nudged eventual second place finisher Eric Beers out of the way with just 30 laps remaining to accomplish his win.  The story could even be about the triumphant return of third place finisher Chuck Hossfeld to the Whelen Modified Tour, after he only sporadically raced this last season.
Christopher has often taken great pleasure during his career in being the guy that the fans love to hate, and what could be seen as confidence by some often comes across as cockiness to others.  Still, it's hard to deny his record at Stafford, where he is the reigning SK Modified champion, and has scored right of his career Modified Tour victories.

“It was real fun. I like passing cars,” said a happy Christopher.  “I don't want to start up front and just ride around.  Maybe that puts me in a tough situation some times, but I love doing that.”

Beers, while expressing some frustration about being moved from the lead, still was able to walk away from the race knowing he had given his #46 team, which he made only his second start for in this race, their best ever finish. 

“It's disappointing when you're leading and someone bashes you like that,” said Beers.  “But what are you going to do?  He [Christopher] pitted, he had fresher tires, and he made a good move off of [turn] 2.  He caught us on the backstretch.   But other than that, I'm just happy the way this team is going.”

Hossfeld, the point leader after two events was just thrilled with the way his season has begun thus far.
“We were second and third so far, and I'm sure if we keep hanging around the top five, then a win will be coming,” explained Hossfeld.  “We came back from some adversity there in the beginning when we got hit and spun out.  To wind up third after all that, I'm pretty happy with that.  I really need to thank my team for their hard work.”
Ryan Preece (Top - Rick Ibsen) might have been the star of the show at Stafford, but his also had an early exit from the race.  (Bottom - Jim Dupont Photo)
Preece, who was credited with a finish of 29th, won't have to wait long for that chance.  The next race on the Whelen Modified Tour schedule is May 23rd at Stafford Motor Speedway.

NASCAR WHELEN MODIFIED TOUR-Tech-Net Spring Sizzler Results
Stafford Motor Speedway
Stafford Springs, CT
Lap length: 0.5 miles
(Start position in parentheses)

1. (5) Ted Christopher, Plainville, Conn., Chevrolet, 200 laps, 56.057 mph, $8,320.
2. (4) Eric Beers, Northampton, Pa., Chevrolet, 200, $4,820.
3. (8) Chuck Hossfeld, Ransomville, N.Y., Dodge, 200, $3,320.
4. (10) Mike Stefanik, Coventry, R.I., Pontiac, 200, $3,320.
5. (12) James Civali, Meriden, Conn., Chevrolet, 200, $3,020.
6. (18) Rowan Pennink, Huntingdon Valley, Pa., Chevrolet, 200, $2,620.
7. (19) Richard Savary, Canton, Mass., Chevrolet, 200, $2,720.
8. (11) Jamie Tomaino, Howell, N.J., Chevrolet, 200, $2,920.
9. (23) Todd Szegedy, Ridgefield, Conn., Ford, 200, $2,220.
10. (22) Glenn Tyler, Hampton Bays, N.Y., Chevrolet, 200, $2,020.
11. (9) Kevin Goodale, Riverhead, N.Y., Chevrolet, 200, $1,920.
12. (29) Ken Heagy, Calverton, N.Y., Chevrolet, 200, $2,245.
13. (34) Glen Reen, Wilbraham, Mass., Chevrolet, 200, $1,450.
14. (6) Matt Hirschman, Northampton, Pa., Chevrolet, 200, $1,899.
15. (17) Anthony Sesely, Matawan, N.J., Dodge, 200, $1,050.
16. (28) Danny Sammons, Hamilton, N.J., Chevrolet, 199, $1,760.
17. (33) Tom Abele, Jr., Norwich, Conn., Chevrolet, 196, $1,025.
18. (14) Eric Berndt, Cromwell, Conn., Chevrolet, 193, $975.
19. (35) Sean Patterson, Wading River, N.Y., Pontiac, 193, $950.
20. (2) Frank Ruocco, Cheshire, Conn., Chevrolet, 185, accident, $925.
21. (21) Wade Cole, Riverton, Conn., Chevrolet, 185, $1,620.
22. (25) Billy Pauch, Jr., Frenchtown, N.J., Dodge, 184, accident, $1,595.
23. (3) Jimmy Blewett, Howell, N.J., Chevrolet, 179, accident, $1,670.
24. (16) Erick Rudolph, Ransomville, N.Y., Chevrolet, 174, accident, $825.
25. (24) Carl Pasteryak, Lisbon, Conn., Chevrolet, 156, $800.
26. (26) Renee Dupuis, Glastonbury, Conn., Chevrolet, 153, suspension, $1,200.
27. (30) Ed Flemke, Jr., Southington, Conn., Chevrolet, 109, $1,620.
28. (13) Ronnie Silk, Norwalk, Conn., Pontiac, 103, $1,620.
29. (7) Ryan Preece, Kensington, Conn., Chevrolet, 91, engine, $2,120.
30. (27) Bobby Grigas, III, Marshfield, Mass., Chevrolet, 60, oil pressure, $1,520.
31. (20) Joe Hartmann, Calverton, N.Y., Chevrolet, 59, accident, $1,520.
32. (31) Reggie Ruggiero, Rocky Hill, Conn., Ford, 54, ignition, $1,520.
33. (1) Rob Summers, Vernon, Conn., Chevrolet, 50, drive shaft, $800.
34. (15) Rick Fuller, Auburn, Mass., 26, timing chain, $1,520.
35. (32) Jake Marosz, Middletown, Conn., Chevrolet, 11, accident, $1,200.

However, it wasn't the bumping or the cautions (of which there were many) or even the pit strategy that made this race one to remember or kept people talking the next day.  Long from now, this will be the weekend the Modified Tour was introduced to Ryan Preece as “the kid to be reckoned with,” rather than the kid who might have seemed too immature and impatient to be racing with the big boys.  Though he often spoke of his plans to drive patiently, it wasn't a strategy he often practiced - until an epiphany this winter changed that.

“I realized that I needed to pick my battles,” explained Preece.  “I want to succeed, I want to win races, but I need to be patient about it.  I've said it before, but now I'm actually really practicing it.”

That approach first became clear to the Modified community when Preece won a feature during the World Series at Asphalt Stock Car Racing at New Smyrna Speedway in February.  But the New Smyrna races are short features and it might be easy to dismiss his performance because of that.  Most Modified Tour events are 150 to 200 laps in length, so that is where Preece would really be tested in his ride aboard “Ole' Blue”, the #3 entry of Boehler Racing Enterprises.

At Stafford, Preece performed exactly how he needed too and that was clear to anyone in attendance this weekend.  Though the redraw stuck the pole sitter back in seventh, and several early cautions hampered his efforts to work through the field, by lap 27 Preece had taken the lead and showed no signs of relinquishing it.  But it wasn't just that he was pulling away from the field that had the attention of those who watched, it was the way he approached lapped traffic, taking the time to safely navigate through rather than pushing through like a bull in a china shop.

Unfortunately for Preece, his engine simply wasn't up for task of winning this race, and on lap 91 he pulled into the pits, with no power in the car.

“I was going down the front stretch and heard the clattering in the engine,” explained Preece.  “And I knew.  It was disappointing, but how can I be upset when this team showed how good we can together?  The rest of the field better look out - we'll be after them all when we come back to Stafford.”
It was an especially wild race at Stafford for some drivers - like Joe Harttman (#05) and Eddie Flemke (#10).  Both drivers finished in the top five int he last Mod Tour race, but their fortunes changed on Sunday.  (Rick Ibsen Photo)
Ted Christopher enjoys a swig of milk in Stafford's victory lane.  (Jim Dupont Photo)