STAFFORD – The king of SK Modified racing at Stafford Motor Speedway assumed his throne once again Friday at Stafford Motor Speedway.
On a night when the track memorialized one of the most successful Modified team owners in the history of the sport, Ted Christopher, the track’s all-time winningest driver snapped a nearly two-year winless streak in the SK Modified division.
After losing the lead near the midway point, Christopher, of Plainville, rallied back to win the 44-lap NASCAR Whelen All-American Series SK Modified feature.
The race was extended from its normal 40-lap distance in memory of New England Racing Hall of Fame team owner Mario Fiore who passed away Thursday. Fiore’s teams were most famous for running No. 44 cars.
“Mario, he was the epitome of Modified racing,” Christopher said. “I was really hoping I could win this race here for him tonight. It’s sad that he passed away.”
Ryan Preece of Berlin was second and Rowan Pennink of Huntingdon Valley, Pa. third.
It was Christopher’s all-time leading 102nd career SK Modified feature victory at Stafford, but first since June 27, 2014.
The 58-year Christopher said his wins last year regularly in the SK Modified division at the New London-Waterford Speedbowl showed that it wasn’t his age getting the best of him at Stafford.
“We’ve just struggled with the car here,” Christopher said. “This year we built a brand new car. I told people, it’s not like I race Friday night and I go Saturday and learn how to drive. I didn’t drive any different Friday to Saturday, my car just wasn’t any good. Nowadays you’ve got to have everything right. You’ve got to have the good motor, your setup has to be perfect. I knew I could still drive.”
Christopher went to the lead past Matt Galko on a lap 21 restart with Preece following to second place.
On a lap 23 restart Preece rocketed past Christopher to take over the lead, but lap later Christopher went back to the front with a low move into turn three. Christopher never trailed again.
“When I got to the lead he was able to reel me back in and I was just trying different things that I screwed up on last time,” Preece said. “It really didn’t work and he was able to get right by me. He had a really good car. They work hard. If I was going to try to do something it was going to be with two [laps] to go and once he started driving away there was nothing I could do.”