Rocco Still Leads, TC Moves Up, in WAAS Title Fight
National Championship is Still Up For Grabs
When Ted Christopher announced his ambitious 2009 schedule, he made his intentions clear: He was gunning for the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series national championship.

The Plainville, Conn., driver captured the 2001 national title and was the 2008 NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour champion. While busy defending the latter crown, Christopher added a full season of running on a weekly basis at Thompson (Conn.) International Speedway to his weekly duties behind the wheel of an SK Modified at his home track of Stafford (Conn.) Motor Speedway.

Ambitious scheduling is nothing new to Christopher, who has long had a reputation for racing as often as he can. But while his NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour season got off to a blistering start, the weekly side was a little more sluggish.

No longer.

Christopher’s win at Thompson and runner-up finish at Stafford this past weekend ran his streak to six races of finishing either first or second, and helped him move from 17th to sixth in the national standings. When you consider all five drivers have reached 18 starts, and Christopher still has two races to go before he can start dropping his bad finishes, Christopher is a threat to move even higher.

A driver’s top 18 finishes are counted toward U.S. state and Canadian provincial championships and the overall NASCAR Whelen All-American Series title.

Christopher’s Connecticut rival, Keith Rocco, continues to maintain his hold on the top spot.

The Wallingford, Conn., driver wrecked at Thompson but bounced back to beat Christopher at Stafford for his 11th win of the season. He leads the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series with 790 points.

Defending champion Philip Morris of Ruckersville, Va., is second with 765. He was third at Motor Mile Speedway in Radford, Va. Bill Leighton Jr. of Omaha, Neb., was third at Junction Motor Speedway in McCool Junction, Neb., and is third overall with 699 points.

Iowa City’s Andy Eckrich is fourth with 699, and CE Falk, of Charlotte, N.C., is fifth with 618.

Following Christopher in seventh with 578 points is Les Siebert, who races against Leighton at Junction Motor Speedway and Omaha’s I-80 Speedway. Marty Ward collected his series-leading 12th win at Greenville (S.C.) Pickens Speedway and is eighth with 576.

Nick Joanides, ninth with 576 points, had an open weekend at Toyota Speedway at Irwindale (Calif.). Joanides, who only has 13 races so far this season, continues to lead the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series with his 44.1 points per race average. Rocco is second at 43.9.

Jason Romero, racing at All American Speedway in Roseville, Calif., rounds out the top 10 at 568.

Running twice a week, Christopher has plenty of opportunities before the Sept. 13 deadline for finishes to count toward the championship to make up for the first half of the season.

While Christopher won the first four races he competed in in the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour and NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour, he wasn’t so fortunate in his weekly program. Through the end of May, he had three top fives and four finishes of 10th or worse.

He followed with a sixth at Thompson, and a second and seventh at Stafford.

But since returning to Victory Lane at Thompson on June 25, he has been nearly unstoppable. Christopher has recorded four wins and two seconds, and has moved from 50th to just outside the top five.

The NASCAR Whelen All-American Series champion also earns a secure spot in the NASCAR Toyota All-Star Showdown, to be held at the Toyota Speedway at Irwindale in 2010.

Under the points structure for the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series, the race winner will receive two points for every car in the event up to 23 cars. Second place will receive two fewer points, and so-on through the field. For example, if there are 23 cars, the winner receives 46 points, second gets 44 and third 42. If there are 15 cars, the winner receives 30 points, second gets 28 and third 26. Race winners receive an additional five bonus points.

       National Top 500 NASCAR Point Leaders

       Pos     Driver  Track   Starts  Wins    T-5     T-10    Points

       1       Keith Rocco     Waterford Speedbowl     25      11      19      20      790
       2       Philip Morris   Motor Mile Speedway     20      7       15      17      765
       3       Bill Leighton, Jr       I-80 Speedway   19      5       17      17      699
       4       Andy Eckrich    Dubuque Fairgrounds Speedway    24      4       20      21      640
       5       C E Falk, IIII  Langley Speedway        17      6       14      15      618
       6       Ted Christopher Stafford Motor Speedway 16      5       10      13      579
       7       Les Siebert     I-80 Speedway   19      0       8       16      578
       8       Marty Ward      Greenville-Pickens Speedway     16      12      14      14      576
       9       Nick Joanides   Toyota Speedway At Irwindale    13      9       13      13      573
       10      Jason Romero    All American Speedway   17      6       11      16      568
       11      Andrew Kosiski  I-80 Speedway   19      2       8       16      560
       12      Mike Wallace    I-80 Speedway   19      0       11      16      560
       13      Tommy Lemons, Jr        Motor Mile Speedway     21      3       7       10      557
       14      Matt Buller     I-80 Speedway   18      3       8       15      555
       15      Nick Smith      South Boston Speedway   20      4       9       12      524
       16      John Moore      All American Speedway   17      2       13      15      524
       17      Roger Powell    Greenville-Pickens Speedway     16      2       14      16      522
       18      Jake Meier      Dubuque Fairgrounds Speedway    23      1       7       16      521
       19      Anthony Anders  Greenville-Pickens Speedway     22      1       14      19      503
       20      Jacob Gomes--R  The New Stockton 99 Speedway    19      2       14      17      500
       21      Juan Pitta      All American Speedway   18      1       8       17      499
       22      Jeff Larson     Dubuque Fairgrounds Speedway    16      5       10      14      495
       23      David Wilson--R Hickory Motor Speedway  25      3       17      22      491
       24      Jonathan Mawhinney      All American Speedway   17      0       11      16      490
       25      Jeff Strunk     Grandview Speedway      13      2       8       11      486   

This week's Keith Rocco victory lane photo  (Jim Dupont Photo)