SZEGEDY FIRST ON TRACK, BUT LAST IN TECH AT ICEBREAKER
Ted Christopher Gets Winning Surprise After Thompson Race
Ted Christopher was just like the thousands of fans who were leaving the NASCAR Modified Series season opening "Icebreaker" Sunday at the Thompson (CT) Speedway. He drove out of the track's parking lot thinking that Todd Szegedy had won the race when he came up a little bit short after a late race charge to the finish.
The victory topped off a productive weekend for Christopher. He won the SK Modified feature at Thompson on Saturday, finished fourth in the SK Modified division Saturday night at the Waterford (CT) Speedbowl and ended Sunday's SK Modified feature at Thompson in the fifth position. He
didn't get to do much celebrating after the Modified Series win however.
"The crew was all in different places when we found out that we won," he said. "I had a nice dinner, but I don't do much celebrating anyways."
Christopher, Szegedy and Eddie Flemke appeared to have the three fastest cars all race long for the 150-lap event. All
"We passed a lot of cars to get to second," Christopher said immediately after the race. "We were running basically the same lap times as the #50 (Szegedy), but we had to pass a few cars towards the end. It would have been nice to have another caution just to see if we could catch him."
Christopher ended up getting something even better than another caution about an hour later. As he was heading home, his phone rang with a local reporter on the line. It turned out that Szegedy's #50 car was having trouble with NASCAR's technical inspection after the race and
Christopher might still have a shot at the win.
three drivers took turns out front. Jerry Marquis also led laps after he pitted before the 50-lap
mark for tires and used strategy and patience to make his way to the front.
Chuck Hossfeld was another a threat in the race, although he didn't lead any laps. The defending race winner started in the back after breaking an axle in qualifying. He passed two cars in the first lap on a steady march to the front.
With a handful of laps left in the event, Szegedy was the guy out front, but the other players all had him within their sights as they diced for position.
Shortly later, it became official that Szegedy's car was disqualified for an improper rear end gear ratio while Christopher's black and silver #13 got through the tech line without problems, which awarded TC the victory.
"Sometimes you win them that way - I know that I've lost them that way before," said Christopher. "It's not the greatest thing in the world for the fans when they find out later that someone different won, but tech is tech and you've got to play by the rules."
The Modified Series win was not the only victory for Ted Christopher during the weekend of racing of Thompson. (Ken Spring Photo)
The #4 team of Chuck Hossfeld did not let a broken axle in qualifying keep them from contending in the 150-lap feature.
The racing got a little bit too close with 24 laps to go. Marquis was nursing his older tires when Flemke and Hossfeld passed him entering turn two. The three made contact and Marquis ended up backing into the outside wall.
"They're saying the #4 (Hossfeld) got into me and got me sideways," said Flemke. "I backed into the #3 (Marquis) with the right rear. He actually saved me, but that wrecked him. I just feel really bad. It's hard racing and that's the way it goes, but I still feel bad."
With Marquis eliminated, the race focused on Szegedy, Christopher, Flemke and Hossfeld. None of the other drivers
Christopher had to make his way through the pack after pitting for tires early in the race. Here he passes Tony Hirschman. (Ken Spring Photo)
could quite catch Szegedy, but they put on a good battle trying to get to him.
The second, third and fourth positions on the track all changed hands within the final ten laps. At the end, Szegedy crossed the line first (but later got bumped down to the 38th and final finishing position)
followed by Christopher, Flemke and Hossfeld.
"Especially on the long runs, we were just riding and having a ball," said Flemke. "It took me a couple laps to get going. I'd get beat on the restarts and after a couple of laps, I could pass anyone out there. On the last restart there were eight laps to go and I spent two laps just getting the car going. We had the best car on the long runs and the third best car the way that the race went. But that's OK, we still had a good day."
Hossfeld lost a few positions in the last few laps and did not let his bad starting spot hurt his run.
"We were second with about fifteen to go, so all in all starting out back didn't hurt us," Hossfeld said. "We can leave here on a good positive note. We needed the car to be a little freer and in the end and I just couldn't carry the car through the center of the corner. It was as simple as that."
The revised finished order showed rookie Zack Sylvester in fourth and Tony Hirschman as the fifth place finisher.
The team of Tony Hirschman left Thompson with a top five finish to start out the season.
The next race for the NASCAR Modified Series will be next Sunday's Spring Sizzler at the Stafford (CT) Motor Speedway and Christopher is ready for another chance at victory lane.
"Stafford is even more of a home track to me than this is," he said. "I'm really looking forward to next week.