STAFFORD – In his rise into one of the top short track racers in the country over the last two plus decades, raw emotion has hardly ever been a calling card for Ted Christopher.
Calling Christopher a hardened racer’s racer is hardly a stretch.
Though that wasn’t the case on Friday night at Stafford Motor Speedway.
Emotion took over in victory lane as the track’s all-time winningest driver scored his first victory of 2013 in the 40-lap NASCAR Whelen All-American Series SK Modified feature at Stafford.
Addressing the fans over the track public address system, Christopher’s voice cracked and he had to pause to compose himself.
“It’s been a tough week,” Christopher said as he wiped tears from his eyes.
Christopher’s father Bill died Wednesday. Bill Christopher had fought cancer for the last three years. Ted Christopher said he had recently made the decision to end treatments.
“It’s so hard to sit and watch him go,” Christopher. “He was my dad.”
It was the 99th career SK Modified division victory at Stafford for Christopher, of Plainville. Doug Coby of Milford was second and Woody Pitkat of Stafford third.
Christopher was running third behind leader Eric Berndt and Todd Owen on lap 35 restart and made the move low to take over the lead.
“The car wasn’t good and I was going to pit early and then they said [division points leader Ryan Preece] was out so I figured I’d take what I could get for the night,” Christopher said. “Next thing I’m up to fifth, then I’m third. On that restart, [Berndt] got really up into [Owen] and then he slowed his momentum and figured I had to stick it in. I stuck it in and that was it.”
Coby went to second on lap 36 and stalked all over Christopher over the closing laps. The two came to the checkered side-by-side, rubbing from turn four to the checkered flag.
“It really means so much to win tonight,” Christopher said. “It’s been such a tough week. And it’s been a tough year with the car. We’ve been struggling a lot with things. At the end of the race I was blocking, I’ll admit it to it. Sometimes you’ve got to do what you’ve got to do.”
Said Coby: “We got stuck in junk traffic like usual. On the outside, some of these can’t figure out how to get their cars to go. I just try to stay out of trouble and let them all do what they did. I don’t think we had really a winning car tonight but we were in position at the end and that’s kind of what we try do every week. I know it’s an emotional win for Ted so I’m not going to comment on the racing.”