TC Wins The Mod Tour Season Finale…
Ted Christopher has always been better at winning races that gathering points. It's true that he has won a NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour championship and a NASCAR Weekly Series National title. But those crowns have come as a result of winning races frequently.
Christopher started out the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour season with a pair of back-to-back victories, but winning frequently wasn't something that happened after that point. It took until the season-ending race at Thompson, the recent World Series, for Christopher to win again.
Christopher entered the final race of 2009 with a mathematical shot at the championship, but he didn't run conservatively in the race. Christopher raced hard, pitted late and drove his heart out to take the race victory. He claims that no matter what the points situation was like, that is what he always wants to do.
“I'm going to do that no matter what,” said Christopher. “It was a good win. The car was good, but I was driving my balls off too. I wanted to make a statement in the last race and not annihilate people doing it…. Well, maybe annihilate the champion.”
It looked like making a late race pit stop could have hurt TC's chances of a strong finish, but he didn't waste any time getting back to the front.
“I like to pit late for tires, that's my game. I get to do what I like best then - pass cars.”
Christopher ended up finishing third in the 2009 WMT point standings, which he contributes to plain old bad luck.
“This is a luck game more than anything. I had some bad luck in some races and that hurt us. Every time that we go to the track and every time that we practice, we are fast. We have a good car, but you have to have some luck in this game.”
Christopher can even pinpoint where things went wrong the most this season. In his mind, it was at Stafford Motor Speedway's Fall Final, where he finished 31st after early contact with eventual runner-up Doug Coby.
“It probably shouldn't have been the way it was at Stafford, but some people you can race with and some people you can't. One that you definitely can't with is Doug Coby. But that's past tense now.”
…While Donny Lia Takes The Season's Crown
Donny Lia only needed to stay out of trouble and finish fifth or better to lock up the Tour championship for 2009. He finished fourth and insured himself of his second title on the Tour.
“It takes everything that you learn through the years in racing. You just need to keep your head screwed on and not do anything stupid,” said Lia of his top five finish.
But Lia was quick to tell everyone after the race that his accomplishment was a team effort, and not just an individual one.
“This is awesome and I'm just so happy,” said Lia. “But really, this is for the entire race team. They just work so hard. This means a lot for me to be able to deliver on my end and do what I need to do. Everyone on this team has a role and I have to make sure that I do what I need to do in my role. Everyone did what they needed to do this year and that is how we won this championship.”
Second is The Story For #3 Team and Preece
Ryan Preece finished as the runner-up to both Ted Christopher in the World Series race and to Donny Lia in the chase for the Tour.
The teen racer wasn't crying about being a double bridesmaid though.
“Second in the race and second in the points. That's real good,” said Preece. “I'll take second, or first or even third, fourth or fifth any day of the week. Even a top ten is good. To finish in the top five or top ten on this Tour is an accomplishment in itself. Plus, I have a bigger trophy than I got last year.”
Preece turned 19 on the same day as the Thompson race, and many observers have been asking how he has been successful at such an early age. Preece has a not-so-secret weapon for his success.
“You know what my secret is? A great car,” said Preece. “A great car that can turn, stop and go right every week is how you beat people. I can't thank my crew enough for giving me that car.”
Preece's car was good enough hat he was able to race it quickly at places on the track where nobody else even tried to.
“That inside line works here. Everyone thinks that the outside line is the way to go, but I'll tell you that inside line works. I think I had the only car that ran the bottom. I don't know why other drivers didn't drive it but my car was a rocketship down there.”
Preece's day could have had a very different outcome though. He was spun out by Todd Szegedy within the first ten laps of the race. He didn't get wound up though - he just worked back through the field.
“That was just a nudge, whatever. It was just enough to get me around. It wasn't like he harpooned me or anything.”
So what went through Preece's mind when he was spinning. We don't exactly know, but we can guess.
“Well, the word [that I said] isn't appropriate for this article,” said Preece. “But we kept the front out of trouble and kept it in the race.”
Coby Ends Tour Season With a Podium Finish
Doug Coby started deep in the pack after qualifying was rained out and the field for the World Series was set by points. At the end, he looked like he might have had something to contend for the victory, but ended up third instead.
Could Coby have passed Christopher for the win if he could have caught up to him?
“No,” said Coby. “Ted was a little tight, which was interesting. On restarts, he wasn't that great but he was so fast when he was by himself that I would have had to do a whole lot to get by him. My car was a little snug on entry and that was killing me off. Ryan was there and I knew he needed every point that he could get to get by Donny. I wanted to pass him, but he didn't want me to go by and I wasn't going to rough him up.
“Maybe if there were another 50 laps and some more double file restarts, anything could have happened, but
Ted's car was fast, Donny's car was fast and Preece's car was fast. Plus those guys that we were running with started in the top four and we started 21st. We had to come through traffic and use up the car. But we stayed out of trouble and came through with a top five. That's a good way to end the year. That's two top threes in a row.”
It remains to be seen though if Coby and the #19 Major Motion Transport team owned by George Bierce will be back on the Tour next season.
“I don't know what next year holds,” said Coby. “George needs somebody who can bring money to the table and I need someone who can bring stuff to the table. I think that we'll talk over the winter, but if we can't situations by January or February, maybe we can run a limited schedule together. He wants to go full-time, I want to go full-time, but neither of us can really afford it. Maybe we both can find people who can. But it's a good time. I love driving the car, it's fast and I love being up front on the Tour. That's really fun and much better than running back in 20th or something.”
Those Are The Brakes For Glen Reen
Glen Reen might have finished 16th in the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour portion of the World Series at Thompson, but that finish doesn't even begin to tell the story of his race.
The fact that Reen was able to nurse his #17 MotoStar Modified to the finish line, much less in a top 20 position, was remarkable considering what he was missing for most of the event.
“I had rear brakes only,” admitted Reen after the race. “We blew the master cylinder within the first ten laps and that really played with my mind. Every time that I would go into the corner, I wondered if the brakes would work or not.”
A lesson learned from another young driver helped Reen get through the Thompson race.
“I just had to pump it up every time,” said Reen. “[ARCA RE/MAX Series and NASCAR East Series race winner] Sean Caisse told me that he did that one time and I remembered it. It's a good thing that he told me because when the brakes go like that, I needed to do something. You could hit it one time and the pedal would go all of the way to the floor. Other times, there would be a little bit there.”
Reen almost managed to even get his Modified into the top 10 despite his mechanical problems.
“I think that we had a good run,” said Reen. “We got to 12th and I was faster than the next two cars, but I got a little greedy. I tried to outbrake one of them and with only rear brakes, there was no way that I was going to do it. So I got loose and spun around. Everyone around me did a great job. I looked out my driver's side window and there was a bumper right there. He still didn't hit me though, so I've got to hand it to them.”
Thompson isn't one of Reen's favorite racetracks, so to be able to get through the 150 laps race in one piece despite the brake problems put a smile on his face after the race.
“It was a tough day, but to go through the whole race and not get into any of the wrecks that happened right in front of me was good. We met the monster and threw him right out of here.”
Pasteryak Ends a Consistent Year With a Consistent Finish
Chris Pasteryak finished sixth in the World Series. He also finished sixth in the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour standings for 2009.
That's pretty good,” said Pasteryak. You know, on the Tour we just kept riding along. We had a couple of bad races - the opener, the first one at Loudon and a few other ones during the year, so that kind of hurt us in the points but it was still a really good year.
“We ecstatic about where we finished in the points. We learned a lot and we are ready to come back next year and try it again.”
At Thompson, Pasteryak wheeled a blue #52 Modified. The metallic color is one that his father Charlie Pasteryak made famous to Modified fans. Chris Pasteryak has been doing most of his racing in metallic orange and white racecars and that will also be the case again in 2010.
“He's repo'ing it,” Chris Pasteryak said of his father's blue car. “This is the last time that I'll get to run it. He's going to race it next year and I'll have a new orange car along with the white car for the Tour races.”