STAFFORD – It was an epic battle between the premier young gun at and the track’s all-time winningest driver.
And the ultimate winner on the night proved the fans in the grandstands at Stafford Motor Speedway.
It all came down to 56-year old Ted Christopher and 23-year old Ryan Preece putting on a show for the ages in the SK Modified feature Friday at Stafford Motor Speedway, with veteran prowess coming out on top.
After a memorable lead-swapping festival over the final half of the event, Christopher held off a charging Preece to win the 40-lap NASCAR Whelen All-American Series SK Modified feature Friday at Stafford.
It was the 101st career SK Modified victory at Stafford for Christopher, of Plainville, and his 122nd victory overall at the track.
Preece, of Berlin, was second and Michael Gervais of Southbury third. It was the first victory at Stafford for Christopher since July 19, 2013.
“One thing I’ve really got to thank first off is my crew who have really stepped it up and stood by me,” Christopher said. “We’ve struggled for a while here, but they really got it right.”
Christopher and Preece traded the lead, in dramatic style, seven times over the final 22 laps.
“That was a great race to race,” Christopher said. “I’m glad I won, but either way it was going to be a good race. Finally once they got all those cautions over with we started racing. I knew it was going to develop into a good race between him and I at the end. That was what you like. I hope the fans liked that one.”
Preece went the lead past Doug Coby on a lap 17 restart. A lap later Christopher used a restart to go by Preece.
Preece battled back off turn two on lap 20 to retake the top spot, only to see Christopher go back by to the front in turn two on lap 22. On lap 28 Preece used a move turn two to move back to the front, only to see Christopher wrestle the lead back one lap later.
Preece went back by Christopher for the top spot on lap 36, with the two racing side-by-side for lap 37 before Christopher took the lead for good going into turn three on lap 38.
Preece gave Christopher a tap on the backstretch on the final lap, but it wasn’t enough to change the running order.
“When you’re comfortable racing with people it comes down to that,” Preece said. “Teddy, he raced me hard and we were touching, but that’s racing and we were definitely racing hard. I’m happy everybody had a good show out there.”