51 Leftovers: NASCAR Whelen Modified
Tour World Series at Thompson Speedway
TC Takes Win #4, Stefanik Comes Up Short, Berndt Leads Early & More
By Mike Twist and Matt Kentfield

Ted Christopher's Fourth Win Not Enough for the Title

Doug Coby Flies to the Front in the 52

Eric Berndt Puts on a Show With TC Early in the World Series

Preece Comes From Back to Finish Second

Ryan Preece had a lot of ground to make up during the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour portion of the Thompson World Series.  He qualified all the way back in the 28th position for the event, but charged his way up to eventually finish second to race winner Ted Christopher.

Afterwards, the young driver wasn't the least bit winded from the hard work of his day.

“That wasn't easy, but my team gives me such a good car that it wasn't hard either,” said Preece.  “I had a ton of fun today.  That was the most fun that I've had all season.  Maybe next year, I ought to just qualify like crap all of the time and come on through.  It makes it a ton of fun - more so than just to ride.  I'm not the kind of kid who likes to just ride around and finish where I finish.  I run hard every single lap of the race and I don't want to change my driving style.”

Preece has gotten the chance to refine that driving style at Thompson a bit by also running a Sunoco Modified at the track on occasion.  He finished third in the Sunoco Modified feature on World Series Sunday

“Thompson has always been a little tricky,” said Preece.  “With that, I really found something.  I found where I could run and where I couldn't.  That's big.  A lot of drivers will just run where they are and won't do anything different.  But I want to run hard every single lap and do what I need to do.”

Some early season struggles left Preece in a hole when it came to battling for the 2010 WMT championship.  But Preece does hope to contend for that title in 2011 with the #3 Boehler Racing Enterprises team.

“I think by what you saw here today, we will definitely be [able to contend for the championship],” said Preece.   “A lot has to do with luck in racing.  Preparation is another thing and my team does a great job preparing.  We just couldn't find the problem that was costing us all those races.  We had a shot at Martinsville and led a lot of laps there.  We had a shot here, we had a really good car at Stafford.  We've had great cars.  We've just been getting bit by problems.  Next year, if we don't have any problems, I think that we can run away with it.”

Stefanik is Left to Settle for Second Place in Title Fight

Finishing fourth on the racetrack at Thompson, but second in the run for the 2010 series championship was Mike Stefanik.  Winning titles hasn't become old for this veteran driver.  Although he already has nine career NASCAR championships (seven on the WMT and two in what is now known as the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East division), Stefanik was disappointed, but philopsohpical, in coming up short this time around.

“The last couple of years, we finished seventh in points so this is definitely better than seventh.  But it's all about the championship and that would have been nice, but it just wasn't meant to be.  So we'll try to sharpen up our program and go racing like we always have.”

Does coming so close to a tenth title give Stefanik any extra motivation for 2011?  Nope.  Then again, that isn't something he was lacking.

“I really didn't need any motivation, I'm always ready to go racing,” said Stefanik.  “I've finished second before and I finished second this year.  That's allright.  We know what it's like to win championships.  A lot of guys and teams have never had that opportunity.  So I'm thankful to have had this career so far.  I'm thankful thank Flamingo Motorsports got to experience a championship too.  They don't hand them out.  You've got to earn it and we didn't earn it this year.  We were good enough for second and that's what we got.”

Still, Stefanik can head into the off-season satisfied with the fight that his #16 Flamingo Motorsports team put up at Thompson.

“I'm proud of the effort that we gave here this weekend,” said Stefanik.  “The car was very competitive.  We ran hard and we ran up front all day, so we can't really complain about that.”

Civali Ends Busy Weekend With a Top Ten Finish

The World Series at Thompson ended a very busy weekend of racing for James Civali.  On the Thursday night before the race, he had a frustrating night at Charlotte Motor Speedway, where he entered the season finale for the NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour as its points leader and left sitting third in the standings after a tangle, or two, with LW Miller.  Then came some travel up north, where he qualified within the top ten on Saturday and finished tenth on Sunday.

“We struggled from the beginning of the race,” said Civali.  “The right rear tire wasn't good.  The stagger went through the roof, so we adjusted on it, adjusted on it and adjusted on it.  We finally got it better, but then we changed tires and the car was too tight for awhile.  It came to us in the end, but it was still off.  Close, but still a good run.  I'm glad that we came back through because we were running in the back for awhile and worried.”

Running two big races in two parts of the country within four days wasn't an easy task for Civali's Hillbilly Racing team, but it was one that they welcomed.

“We just had to be prepared for the first event,” said Civali.  “They went to the shop Friday, picked up this car and then came up here.  It was tough traveling.  We drove all day Friday coming up here, but now at least we are off for a few weeks before going to the North South Shootout.”

Myers Finishes Outside the Top Ten, But Has Fun Doing It

Also racing at Charlotte with just a day between that event at the World Series was Burt Myers.  But the 2010 NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour champion has a little bit of a different outcome at CMS than Civali did.  Myers entered that season finale fourth in the standings and came from behind to dominate the race and win the championship.  Then came a travel day on Friday before Myers was up at Thompson with the goal of just having fun in a rare “Northern” Modified Tour appearance.  His end result with a finish of 14th.

Still, it was a fun road trip for the Myers clan.

“We had a ball,” said Myers.  “We go to every race to win, but it's tough here.  It hard to just come in here and beat these guys.  This is there Bowman Gray or their Caraway.  I think that we found something there at the end, but track position is just critical.  The thing about this place, at least on the two times that I've been here, is that the track doesn't really wear your tires out.  It just gets greasy.  That is what makes track position so critical.  If you get behind someone, there just isn't enough grip to make a clean pass.

“The car is sitting here with all four wheels on it, so that's good.  From what I hear, the last race of the year up here is usually a slugfest.”

“After the season that we've had - winning the Bowman Gray championship, the state championship and then the [NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified] Tour championship, this was our weekend to come up and have a good time.  We blew off some steam, didn't have to worry about points and didn't have the normal stress.  All in all, we had a good time.  I love racing with these guys, they give me all the room that I need and I return the favor.  That's how it should work.”

Next up for Burt Myers is the North South Shootout open show at Concord Speedway (NC).  Myers is the two-time defending winner of that race, so it is a great way to end the season for him.

“We're going to run the car that won the last two races down there and we're looking forward to it,” said Myers.

Ted Christopher knows Thompson International Speedway.  He has won tons of Sunoco (SK) Modified weekly races there over the years and has also taken down several NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour wins at the 5/8-mile Connecticut track.

In the Sunoco World Series of Speedway Racing WMT finale at Thompson, Christopher added to his win total, scoring win number-four of the 2010 season on the Tour.

While his fourth win of the year tied him with Bobby Santos for the most wins on the year, Christopher still wound up 78 points behind Santos for the championship.
Doug Coby has been without a full-time NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour ride in recent seasons, but whenever he does get behind the wheel, whether it is in a one-off race or a partial schedule, more often than not, he makes the car run up front.

Coby got into yet another car in 2010 for the World Series WMT finale, the Wayne Darling-owned #52 that had been competed by Matt Hirschman, Dale Quarterley and Chris Pasteryak over recent seasons.  Coby put on a show at the end of the race, knifing through the field to get to the lead in the closing laps before mechanical problems left him third at the checkers.
Eric Berndt is another one of the part-time runners on the Tour that usually runs up front in his family-owned #54 car.  The former SK Modified competitor at Stafford and Thompson runs primarily at those Connecticut tracks with his WMT car, as well.

Berndt traded the lead back-and-forth with Ted Christopher in the early portions of the race in a thrilling battle that saw each driver run the other up towards the wall as they made passes for the top spot.

Berndt wound up 12th in the final rundown, but he is already excited about 2011.

Ted Christopher in victory lane.  (Rick Ibsen Photo)
Doug Coby   (Jim Dupont Photo)
Doug Coby's #52  (Ken Spring Photo)
Ryan Preece  (51 Photo)
Ryan Preece's #3 and Todd Szegedy's #2 Modifieds.  (Jim Dupont Photo)
Mike Stefanik  (Jim Dupont Photo)
James Civali (#79) and Burt Myers (#7).  (Rick Ibsen Photo)
Burt Myers  (Jim Dupont Photo)