IT’S THE BROTHERS CHRISTOPHER AT NHIS by Bob Dillner
Stefanik Felt As If He Were in a Formula One Race
You’ve seen it in Formula One for the past decade, teammates following team orders to a one-two finish. Michael Schumacher and Rubens Barrichello for Ferrari in the last few years and their predecessors David Coulthard and Mika Häkkinen for McLaren made them famous.
“We did it together,” explained the winner, TC. “My brother told me yesterday that he had a good car and he definitely proved that. That’s my engine in it too. Our boss (Jim Galante) is going to be so happy. He spends oodles and oodles of money on this stuff and he hasn’t even been to the races since the ‘Sizzler,’ but he always calls a finds out how we’re doing and this is going to tickle him to death.”
The teamwork the Christopher boys showed wasn’t appreciated by all.
“Michael must have had team orders like in Formula One
In the Mods though, teams barely have enough money to complete the whole schedule, let alone run two teams. From what we can tell, in the modern era of the Mods (since the tour inception in 1984, then known as the Circle of Champions) it had never been done… until Saturday at New Hampshire Int’l Speedway.
The brothers Christopher, Teddy and Mike, worked together to score a teammate one-two finish at the Magic Mile for team owner Jim Galante. After a mid-race pitstop, that duo worked together to cruise through the field, take
because he never put a move on Teddy,” stated third-place finisher and six-time Modified Series champ Mike Stefanik. “I could do it all by myself if it was one-on-one, but they had team orders, man. Michael had a quicker car than Teddy and Michael never even tried him. He let Teddy win.
“I said if the 77 goes with me I’ll try it, we agreed to it; I did it and he didn’t. I lost two spots because of that. I learned my lesson.
the point and fend off all challengers at whatever risk. It was also the first, one-two finish for the Christopher boys on the Featherlite Modified Series.
“We’ve been coming here for 25-years, racing go-karts when we were kids and all. We’ve always had great runs and we’ve finished one-two there before, but to finish one-two in the Modifieds is really special,” said Mike, who finished second to his twin and more famous brother Ted.
Teddy (#13) and MIke (#82) Christopher worked together... like brothers... to finish one-two at New Hampshire on Saturday. (51 Photo)
Twins Mike (left) and Ted (right) pose for photos at New Hampshire. (51 Photo)
“It’s Loudon, you need buddies, you need friends and I found out I didn’t have any today. You can’t do it by yourself, especially when you have team cars that were running as good as they were. “
“The only way to really pull away from anybody is to work together and that’s what we did,” admitted Mike Christopher. “I was running a little hot, so I’d pull out a little bit, get a run and then push him into the corner. That was the best because he’d tell me, ‘Keep doing it because we moving away from them.”
And it’s not as though Stefanik didn’t try to get by the
John Blewett (#77) was able to make a run at TC, but only when Mike wasn't around.
Christophers. In fact, the 6-time NHIS Mod winner did get up underneath Mike Christopher on two occasions.
“I did try them and I got completely beside Michael, but when I did, he held me pretty tight. We were grinding pretty good,” Stefanik said as he smirked.
“He jammed me over there in one and two,” said MC with a laugh. “He put the car right to me and I said, ‘I don’t think so.”
“I looked in the mirror and I saw the 77 didn’t go with me and I knew I was DONE,” continued Stefanik. “I went back behind the 50 and I was really aggravated. I knew when I got back up there and I saw Michael not even trying to pass Teddy that, without help, I could get one, but I couldn’t stay there. They were just too strong together.”
Stefanik wasn’t the only one who felt the wrath of the Christopher brothers.
“We were running for third place today because that second place guy wasn’t going to let nobody by,” claimed defending Featherlite Mod champ Todd Szegedy, who crashed with John Blewett late in the race while running in the top-5. “He was going to wreck us before he let us by; he proved that when he cut Mike Stefanik off down the middle of the straightaway. It’s racing; I guess that’s the way it works with team cars.
“We can play that sh_t as much as they can. We’ll have team cars the next time we come here. It’ll be like the Nextel Cup soon.”
“We were better through one and two, but that last caution killed me because I had my plan,” MC revealed. “We had a shot; I knew I was going to drive into the corner hard because he was getting slow getting in. Then they put the speedy-dry down and I said, ‘You know what, I’m just going to follow him, do what I’m doing and finish second.”
“He might have been better than me,” Teddy said. “I know he was going to try and get me there at the end because he was rotating through the center better than me, but the caution changed all that. I expected a little more bumpin’ and rubbing, but we have a lot more respect for each now than we did in the old days.”
“I think I probably was the better car, but eh, what are ya going to do,” Mike said with a shrug of his shoulders. “I’m not a second-place finishing type of guy, but to finish second to him, here, is not all that bad.”
Was Mike even trying to get by Ted? Some say no way! (Howie Hodge Photo)
TC has always been a master magician at the Magic Mile. He’s completed the trick (the win) in the Busch North Series four times and he’s won poles in both divisions. Yet, in 25-Modified races at NHIS, he had never been able to pull the rabbit out of the hat... until Saturday.
“I’ve tried so many times. We’ve been so fast, sat on poles and led tons of laps and never could finish the book. The first few chapters have always been good, but we could never write the last one,” explained TC is poetic fashion.
“Then this weekend, it (the car) was fast in both practices, fast in time trials and fast in happy hour. All I had to is win the race and we finally did it. We pulled the sweep; we got the broom out!
“It means so much to win here in the Modified finally. This time I said I was going to leave my Busch car home and totally concentrate on the Modified and it paid off. Next time I come up though, I’m going to try to do the Busch North, Modified sweep. Mike McLaughlin is the only one that’s done it. I’ve come close, now I want to put my name next to his.”
He may just do it too. But one thing is for certain, the brothers, teammates, Formula One imitators, whatever you want to call them, wrote their names in the history books at NHIS this time, together.