Emotional Overload: Mike Christopher Jr. Wins First SK Modified Feature At Stafford

Mike Christopher Jr. celebrates his first SK Modified feature victory Friday at Stafford Motor Speedway (Photo: Jim DuPont)

STAFFORD – The last nine months have been an emotional roller coaster for Stafford Motor Speedway SK Modified driver Mike Christopher Jr.

On September 16, 2017 his uncle, Stafford Speedway’s all-time winningest driver, Ted Christopher was killed in a plane crash.

In April Mike Christopher Jr. returned to competition in the SK Modified division at Stafford driving for a team fielded by his uncle’s widow Quinn, in the cars his uncle drove last year.

Friday at Stafford Speedway the roller coaster of emotion for Mike Christopher Jr. took sweeps that the 19-year old from Wolcott described as surreal.

From red hot boiling fury to breaking down in tears.

Mike Christopher Jr. held off Ryan Preece to get his first career SK Modified victory at Stafford Motor Speedway in the 40-lap NASCAR Whelen All-American Series feature Friday.

Mike Christopher Jr. joined his uncle and his father on the win list for the division. Ted Christopher’s 109 career SK Modified victories at Stafford leads the track’s all-time list. Mike Christopher Sr. sits fifth on the division’s all-time win list with 28 victories.

“It’s really surreal,” Mike Christopher Jr. said. “I don’t know man, I knew we had the car to do it. We were fast all day. I knew we had the car to do it all year. … We’d just get caught up in stuff. I knew something about tonight. We were definitely going to have the car to do it.”

Mike Christopher Sr. fought back tears in talking about the emotion of watching his son drive his late twin brother’s car to victory.

“It’s never easy,” Mike Christopher Sr. said. “It probably won’t ever be easy. But, you do the best you can, that’s about it. … The kid did a hell of a job. He showed me tonight that he can drive a race car. It was fun to watch.”

Free Play Unmuffled Quickcast: Raw Emotions With Mike Christopher Jr. & Mike Christopher Sr.

Preece, Berlin, was second and Keith Rocco of Wallingford third.

On lap 30 of the feature the emotion between son and father burned fiery over the radio. Mike Christopher Jr. lost the lead to Preece on lap 29. On the frontstretch on lap 30 Mike Christopher Jr. got into the back of Preece hard enough to send sparks flying and cave in the left rear of Preece’s car. The emotion then boiled over between father and son.

“I’ve probably been the hardest guy because I want to kill him every freaking time because I don’t see him drive it the way I want,” Mike Christopher Sr. said. “We got into a nice heated dispute there because he drove up on Ryan on the front chute. I yelled at him. … I was yelling, I don’t know what else I said. But he did what I wanted.”

Mike Christopher Jr. (82) takes the checkered flag ahead of Ryan Preece in the SK Modified feature Friday at Stafford Motor Speedway (Photo: Jim DuPont)

Said Mike Christopher Jr.: “We were going down the front straightway and I pulled low because I had the run and you know how it is coming down to the wire, you’ve got to block like that. He came down but I still had the run and drove up over him. I saw it like that, my dad saw it as I drove over him. So I started yelling and swearing and he didn’t like that. I guess that lit a fire under my ass and here we go.”

Mike Christopher Jr. then passed Preece back for the lead on lap 33 and never trailed again. Mike Christopher Sr. said the driver he saw the last 10 laps was the one he’d been looking for all year.

“Probably part of it was that my brother and I, we wanted to kill race cars when we drove them and I kind of can see that he can do that, but I never saw it the way I wanted it,” Mike Christopher Sr. said. “But he did a phenomenal job. When he got pissed, that’s the way I want to see a race car driven. You try to harp it into him, but when you get out there, you can’t make any friends, you’re not going to dinner with anybody at the end of the night and you need to show that you can beat these guys and he proved to me tonight that he can beat these guys.”

Preece, who competes part-time at Stafford and races on the NASCAR XFINITY Series for Joe Gibbs Racing, continued to challenge Mike Christopher Jr. right to the checkered flag.

“I knew I had to protect because Ryan had a really good car and he shows up here to win,” Mike Christopher Jr. said of the final lap. “He’s [a NASCAR XFINITY Series] winner, twice. I know he has the talent to get by me, so coming down to the last lap it was just defense at that point. I don’t know if I had to block like that, but it prevailed it so it is what it is.”

Said Preece: “He might have had Ted with him there.”

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  1. AWESOME, TOTALLY AWESOME. Great job MCJ,your hard work and dedication have paid off. I’m sure your dad and Aunt were estatic, and uncle Ted was smiling down from the heavens. The first win is the hardest, and I predict you will visit victory lane many more times. Congratulations to you, your crew and also to your aunt, who saw your talent and put you in uncle Ted’s car.

  2. Well done kid. Well done.

  3. Congratulations Mike Jr. The first is the toughest and I am sure there are many more to come.

  4. There’s a benefit to being a heritage driver and getting superior equipment early in your career. But the negatives outweigh it all and it was on display in victory lane. The poor kid had the weight of his family, the memory of a legend, Quinn and the people associated with the 13 not to mention sponsors and all of fandom. Sure everyone is supportive and tries not to place unfair expectations on someone they love but it just goes with the territory. And how fitting beating arguably the two best local teams and drivers. And not just with a rabbit running away deal with the clock running out but over half the race with lead changes. That there was a resume asterisk and confidence builder. Too bad only a few people got to see it.

  5. Congratulations!! It was awesome to be in the stands and see everyone so excited to see an awesome race to the end and a well deserved winner. It was an awesome end to the night. The sk lights put on an awesome race too.

  6. Congratulations to Mike Jr and the whole crew!!! Sr needs to calm down a little and enjoy the experience.

  7. Congrats beating two of the best just kills me I live on Long Island I should have stayed extra after tour show you guys have great racing up there

  8. It’s not as good as being there but you can keep tabs on the SK’s if it’s too long a haul for you on youtube.

  9. If Preece is going to take the time to pop into another SK race and comes from 15th to 2nd he at least deserves a special thanks. Not a big race, not a special night just Preece Lightning doing what he does best. Thanks.

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