Chased Down: Mike Christopher Jr. Uses Late Pass To Get Open Mod Win At Sunoco World Series

Mike Christopher Jr. celebrates victory in the Tour Type Open Modified feature Saturday at the Sunoco World Series at Thompson (Photo: Shawn Courchesne/RaceDayCT)

THOMPSON – Since the 2019 season when they began working together, it seemed the pairing of driver Mike Christopher Jr. with car owner Tommy Baldwin Jr. was always on the cusp of a huge victory. 

Saturday it finally came on a stage seemingly perfectly worthy of the buildup. 

Mike Christopher Jr. went past Chase Dowling for the lead on lap 66 and left the field behind in winning the 75-lap Tour Type Budweiser Modified Open at the Sunoco World Series Saturday at Thompson Speedway. 

It was the first career Tour Type Modified victory for Christopher, of Wolcott.

Baldwin, the son of late Modified veteran Tommy Baldwin Sr., is also a NASCAR Cup Series and Whelen Modified Tour team owner. 

“I love this crew,” Christopher said. “I love Tommy and all the guys and how they operate and I’m excited to be here. 

“Tommy is a big name in this sport, not only in Modified racing, but it extends to the highest echelon of racing. We’ve grown a great relationship. I feel like we get along great. We stay calm on the radio and just do what we have to do.” 

Christopher earned a $5,000 first place purse for the event, which feature a field of 30 cars. 

Dowling, of Roxbury, who led the first 65 laps, finished second. Keith Rocco of Wallingford was third. 

“It’s been good,” Baldwin said. “We’ve run good and had some crazy things happen. But he’s done a really good job in this car. This car just works wherever we take it and no matter who’s driving it. But this kid is good. He’s done a really good job. That was fun.” 

Baldwin said the key to the day was the decision to swap left side tires. On lap 36 most of the lead lap cars came to pit road under caution. Christopher was running second to Dowling at the time. 

Teams were allowed to put on two new tires during the event. While most teams used the pit stop to put on new right side tires, Baldwin had decided to not only to put the right side tires on but also to swap the left side tires, putting the left front to the rear and the left rear to the front. 

The decision dropped Christopher outside of the top-10 for the restart. 

“I made up my mind Tuesday that I was going to swap [left side tires] and give up track position but I knew with these tires that’s what we were going to need to win the race,” Baldwin said. “And that’s what it did.

“I knew that left rear tire at the end was going to win it for us. The car was good in the beginning. He was behind Dowling in the beginning and not trying to pass him. The car was just good.”

Said Christopher: “The pit stop, Tommy decided, which was a good move at the end, to swap the left side tires. At the end the car had a lot of drive in it. I saw that [Dowling] was losing his [drive]. At the end of the day, I think the tires helped us and we were able to get around him and pull away.” 

BUDWEISER MODIFIED OPEN
Pos., Start Pos., Driver, Car #, Hometown, Laps
1. ( 4 ) Mike Christopher Jr. ( 7NY ) Wolcott, CT , 75 Laps
2. ( 1 ) Chase Dowling ( 00 ) Roxbury, CT , 75 Laps
3. ( 9 ) Keith Rocco ( 57 ) Berlin, CT , 75 Laps
4. ( 6 ) Joey Cipriano ( 1 ) Plymouth, CT , 75 Laps
5. ( 12 ) Matt Swanson ( 3 ) Harvard, MA , 75 Laps
6. ( 16 ) Dave Ethridge ( 34 ) Portland, CT , 75 Laps
7. ( 29 ) Trevor Bleau ( 44NH ) Troy, NH , 75 Laps
8. ( 15 ) Eric Goodale ( 58 ) Riverhead, NY , 75 Laps
9. ( 11 ) Brett Meservey ( 79 ) Brewster, MA , 75 Laps
10. ( 7 ) Max Zachem ( 23CT ) Oakdale, CT , 75 Laps
11. ( 5 ) Troy Talman ( 44 ) Oxford, MA , 75 Laps
12. ( 23 ) Craig Lutz ( 46 ) Miller Place, NY , 75 Laps
13. ( 2 ) Brett Gonyaw ( 87 ) Vernon, CT , 75 Laps
14. ( 10 ) Dan Meservey ( 45 ) Brewster, MA , 74 Laps
15. ( 3 ) Tommy Barrett ( 9 ) Millis, MA , 74 Laps
16. ( 30 ) Joe Doucette ( 93 ) Framingham, MA , 74 Laps
17. ( 21 ) Carl Medieros Jr. ( 50 ) Westport, MA , 74 Laps
18. ( 19 ) Glen Steger ( 48 ) Copiague, NY , 74 Laps
19. ( 18 ) Jim Gavek ( 21 ) Effort, PA , 74 Laps
20. ( 27 ) Christopher Jensen ( 179 ) Wolcott, CT , 73 Laps
21. ( 14 ) Anthony Flannery ( 25CT ) East Hampton, CT , 55 Laps
22. ( 17 ) Ryan Doucette ( 55 ) Framingham, MA , 53 Laps
23. ( 24 ) Josh Zentek ( 81X ) East Haven, CT , 51 Laps
24. ( 31 ) Todd Owen ( 81 ) Somers, CT , 42 Laps
25. ( 26 ) Andrew Molluer ( 35 ) Shelton, CT , 35 Laps
26. ( 22 ) Chase Cook ( 27 ) Norwich, CT , 8 Laps
27. ( 25 ) Rob Richardi Jr. ( 12MA ) Taunton, MA , 4 Laps
28. ( 13 ) Richard Savary ( 99 ) Holbrook, MA , 3 Laps
29. ( 8 ) Ronnie Williams ( 25 ) Tolland, CT , 2 Laps
DSQ ( 20 ) Andy Shaw ( 66 ) Center Conway, NH , 0 Laps
DNS ( 28 ) Dylan Izzo ( 04CT ) Monroe, CT , 0 Laps
Lap Leaders:  Chase Dowling, 1-65; Mike Christopher Jr., 66-75. (1 lead changes among 2 drivers)
Time of Race: 54 minutes, 20 seconds   Margin of Victory: 1.903 seconds 
Cautions: 6 (laps 3, 15, 35, 42, 51, 53) 
Heat Winners: Tommy Barrett, Ronnie Williams, Keith Rocco

Comments

  1. congratulations to mike jr and tom baldwin jr big win for mike there is a huge smile shinning down from above

  2. “We stay calm on the radio and just do what we have to do”
    Gee I wonder who Mike Jr is comparing that to. Speak of the devil there’s dad in victory lane basking in the glory of a big victory.
    Was getting sick of seeing Skowyra do so well last year I got a Ken doll, put a racing suit on him with a big 50 on it, placed it on my satanic altar and have been reciting ritualistic chants invoking bad fortune all season. Apparently the Cassella 25’s engine got caught up in it and you can see what happened. I love the 25. I’ll release the spell for this afternoon so whatever happens to the 50 has nothing to do with voodoo. No promises for the TTOMS race.
    Tough race for engines. Two in one race the 25 and Owen’s. You never see that in this day and age. Is that going to be a problem for the Cassella/Coby/Bonsignor TTOMS team effort coming up?
    That race was foreshadowing the makeup of the TTOMS race wasn’t it? Spec’s are a non factor on the big track like the short ones it would appear. That’s a good thing.

  3. Mikey!!!!

    A great week for Mike Jr. After seeing Tom Baldwins pic from the garage earlier this week it makes you think. Maybe Uncle Teddy was watching from above.

  4. What are the chances that we see the 7NY and/or Mike, Jr. in the 10/24 TTOM series event at Stafford?

  5. Thirty eight cars registered and my guess is we’ll see the 7 ny pop up as early as this week after they get everything put away and organized after an extremely busy and successful weekend. Wouldn’t it be a hoot if they did two cars with Christopher and McKennedy like Horn and Cassella are doing.

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