51 Leftovers: Icebreaker at Thompson
Before Things Sizzler at Stafford, Relive The WMT Season Opener
By Mike Twist
Did Teddy Pit Too Late?

On lap 59 of the Icebreaker NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour race at Thompson International Speedway (CT), the entire field, except for one man, pitted for new tires.  That lone renegade who stayed out was Ted Christopher, who waited to pit until lap 98 for his fresh rubber.

After pitting, Christopher restarted 19th.  He eventually made it back to the fourth finishing position, but did pitting late kill his chances of winning?  Christopher didn't think so.

“Sometimes that works, but sometimes it doesn't - like tonight,” said Christopher. “This is a whole new set-up for the team, so you just don't know what to do all the time.  The strategy is one that I liked.  I always love doing that.  We just over tightened it so it just wouldn't rotate through the center enough.

“I would have  liked a few more cautions.  When we cycled the tires through the heat cycles, I think that I would have had an advantage.”

The race winner Bobby Santos, III and runner-up Ryan Preece weren't too worried this time around about a possible late-race charge by Christopher on new tires.

“Not really,” said Santos when asked about his concern for Christopher.  “I was more concerned when he was racing with us because he was still competitive.  I didn't really think about him taking on tires until they told me was there.  But where did he get back to?  [Santos was told that Christopher finished fourth] So he made a pretty good charge.”

”You're always worried about Teddy because he's a great driver in a great car, but I really wasn't too worried about him today because it just didn't seem like he was as strong as Bobby was or I was,” said Preece.  “But you never know.”

Szegedy Starts Out Season on the Right Foot

Todd Szegedy wasn't spectacular on his way to finishing fifth at the Icebreaker.  In fact, at one point it even looked like he might be going backwards on the final laps, but he was happy nevertheless about a top five finish to start off the season.

“I got loose one time and got it gathered it and kept going.  The car was good.  It wasn't as good as the guys in front of me,” said Szegedy.  “It was a little free through the race and lacked forward bite.  It was a good finish.  Fifth is good for me.  I like top fives.”

Szegedy is the 2003 NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour champion and he knows the importance of starting the season with a strong finish if a driver wants to be in the hunt for the title.

“This is real important because over the last couple years, the start of the season wasn't good for us.  I think it's been awhile since we had a top five at the start of the season.”

Coby Gets a Hometown Ride

Ralph Solhem's famous #0 Modified had a hometown driver for the first time in its history at Thompson.  The Milford, Connecticut-based team enlisted Doug Coby, also from Milford, to wheel the car after regular driver Tim Arre could not make it to Thompson.

“It's pretty cool.  This came together at Friday about 2:30pm,” said Coby.

Despite both parties being from Milford, whose claim to fame is also being the hometown of Subway, Coby had never set foot in the #0 race shop until he got the ride.

“It's funny.  I had never been over there.  Ralph and I just started being friends over the last few years or so through Ronnie (Silk) and Ryan Stone.  They go over there quite a bit.  In fact, Ronnie was over there earlier this week hanging out and called me to come over there, but I was busy and I didn't go.  My Dad used to go over there all of the time with his buddies.  So I knew where it was.

“I got there, got in the car and ran the Icebreaker.”

Coby started on the front row of the Icebreaker, but mechanical problems dropped him out of the race on just the second lap of the race and left him with a finish of 37th.

Coby didn't think that he would be driving the car again this year, but stayed open to any opportunities that come around.

“This was just a temporary thing that came up at the last minute,” said the driver who also won the Modified Racing Series season opener at Waterford Speedbowl last month.  “I'm not on an interview and it's not like we're planning on doing anything.  But maybe someone else will have a problem at Stafford and I could run another car.”  

Well, it turned out that Coby's hopes came true.  Arre will not be able to race at Stafford according to a Friday Hartford Courant story, so Coby will be back in the car for the Spring Sizzler as well.

Ferrante Sits on the Sidelines This Time

Tony Ferrante was at Thompson, but dressed in street clothes instead of his usual firesuit.  Ferrante, who has only run a limited schedule of Tour races in recent years but usually find a way to race at Thompson, told us that his car is Tour-legal and ready to race and he plans to run a few underdetermined shows this season on the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour

Ordway Watches, and Looks for a Ride

We ran into ISMA Supermodified pilot Mike Ordway, Jr. sitting in the stands at the Icebreaker.  He told Speed51.com that he has no ride in anything lined up for 2010 although his father Mike Ordway, Sr. will drive the #1 Supermodified for car owner Vic Miller.

Last season, Ordway ran an ACT Late Model is several events, but that deal dried up for this season.  This year, he is looking to run another Late Model, Modified, Supermodified or something else.

“I'll race anything,” said Ordway.  “I don't care if it is a Mini Stock.”

Ordway's desire to race anything paid off.  One week after the Icebreaker, he got a ride to drive a Modified in the Modified Racing Series show at Albany-Saratoga Speedway.  Unfortunately for him, the race was rained out.

Speedshots

-  Two drivers who have been familiar faces on the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour in recent seasons, Glen Reen and Bobby Grigas, III were not at Thompson and aren't expected to run many, if any, events in 2010.

-  Although Grigas wasn't competing in the Icebreaker, his family's business, Triple G Scaffold, was an associate sponsor on Ted Christopher's #36 Modified.

-  Mike Stefanik sported a new blue and black paint scheme on his Flamingo Motorsports #16 Modified at Thompson.

-  NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour drivers Burt Myers and Andy Seuss were both pitted next to each other at Thompson, leading to a quip that their haulers made up the “Southern” pit area.

-  Race winner Bobby Santos, III was sporting a King Racing #28 Woody Pitkat T-Shirt in the pits after the race.  Does this mean it could be a good luck charm in the future?

“I guess so, I'm going to start wearing that every week,” laughed Santos.  “It's a good race day shirt isn't it?”



Ted Christopher's #36.  (Rick Ibsen Photo)
Todd Szegedy's #2 Modified.  (Jim Dupont Photo)
Doug Coby  (Jim Dupont Photo)
Mike Stefanik's #16 Modified  (Jim Dupont Photo)
The pits of Andy Seuss and Burt Myers.  (Jim Dupont Photo)