The media has tabbed defending champion Ted Christopher as the favorite win the title this year, according to the 2009 NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Preseason Poll.
Christopher, who earned his first NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour crown in 2008, garnered 236 points and 13 first-place votes in the pole conducted among the tour’s media. The Plainville, Conn., driver compiled four wins and 13 top 10s in 16 starts during his championship season a year ago. Christopher already has a victory under his belt in 2009 as he captured the NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour season opener at Concord (N.C.) Speedway on March 21.
Todd Szegedy, who finished third in the championship chase a year ago, received the second-highest points total in preseason balloting at 187. Szegedy, of Ridgefield, Conn., earned the 2003 NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour title and has finished in the top five in the championship standings in each of the past three seasons.
Norwalk, Conn., native Ron Silk collected the second-most first-place votes with five and finished third overall in the poll with 179 points. Silk was fifth in the 2008 NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour standings on the strength of a pair of wins and top-five finishes in half of the races.
Mike Stefanik, the most-successful competitor in the 24-year history of the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour, finished fourth in preseason balloting. The Coventry, R.I., resident garnered 177 points and three first-place votes from the media. Stefanik will enter 2009 as the tour’s all-time record-holder in nearly every statistical category, including championships (seven) and wins (69).
Donny Lia, from Jericho, N.Y., finished fifth in the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Preseason Poll. Lia, who competed in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series last year, is returning to the same team he captured the Modified championship with in 2007. He earned three first-place votes in balloting and collected 172 total points.
Poll vote totals were weighed on a points scale that ranged from 10-1, with 10 points for first place and one point for 10th place. The voting pool was made up of members of both print and electronic media who cover the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour.
The 2009 campaign will mark the 25th season of the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour, which held its inaugural event at the Icebreaker on March 31, 1985 at Thompson (Conn.) International Speedway. The Silver Anniversary season will commence at the same spot when the 2009 Icebreaker opens action on April 5. For ticket information, please visit Thompson’s official Web site (www.thompsonspeedway.com).
Preseason Poll Top 10
Driver Points (1st-Place Votes)
1. Ted Christopher 234 (13)
2. Todd Szegedy 187 (1)
3. Ron Silk 179 (5)
4. Mike Stefanik 177 (3)
5. Donny Lia 172 (3)
6. Jimmy Blewett 103
7. Ryan Preece 102 (1)
8. Eric Beers 90
9. Ed Flemke Jr. 56
10. Rowan Pennink 33