Double Up: Mike Christopher Jr. Gets Second World Series Sunoco Mod Win Of The Weekend At Thompson 

Mike Christopher Jr. celebrates victory in the Sunoco Modified feature Sunday at Thompson Speedway (Photo: Fran Lawlor/RaceDayCT)

THOMPSON – It’s fair to say the bulk of the 2022 season has been frustrating for Mike Christopher Jr. with his family owned SK Modified team. 

But the Wolcott driver used the closing month of the season to create some optimism going to the offseason. He recorded a victory in the second to the last event of the season at Stafford Speedway.

And Christopher’s positive closing kick proved to be doubly on display for Sunoco World Series weekend at Thompson Speedway. 

Christopher backed up a victory in Saturday’s Sunoco Modified feature by returning to the track to win Sunday’s 30-lap Sunoco Modified feature. 

In addition to the two wins, Christopher was fourth in the 30-lap Sunoco Modified feature Friday. 

“I think we were strong Friday night too,” Christopher said. “We broke a push rod and I was down a cylinder, but we still had a good run. The team has been really good the past two months. We’ve just been building on the car. It showed at Stafford and we just proved it here.” 

Todd Owen of Somers was second and Cory DiMatteo of Farmington third. 

Owen moved to the lead on lap two with Troy Talman following him to second. On lap four Christopher made the move to third place. 

On lap seven Talman got under Owen into turn three with Owen getting pushed out of the groove through turn four, allowing Talman to take over the lead and Christopher to move to second. 

On lap 11 Christopher found a way under Talman through turns one and two and took over the top spot down the backstretch. On lap 13 Owen got under Talman off of turn two to go back to second place. 

Stephen Kopcik of Newtown was fifth to clinch the 2022 Sunoco Modified championship. 


  1. Congrats again to MCJ and team. Great job.

  2. Congrats to Mikey!

    Unrelated to racing I made a mistake and drained my personal car battery on Sunday. Thanks to the Hoosier Tire crew who loaned me their battery pack after the Tour Mod race and got me back on the road. Thank you to the Hoosier Tire crew !

  3. Pete Duhamel says

    At least you gave the series champion some recognition by putting in a short sentence at the end of the article – he only won four straight features.

  4. Pete,
    If you look below you can find links to the four stories written this season about Stephen winning four races at Thompson, and also some other links to stories written about him winning races this year at Stafford and even a Digging Deep With Denise article from late last season. Let’s not act like anything positive Stephen has done has gone udocumented or without recognition on RaceDayCT.

    On Sunday, after the SK Modified feature I went to speak with Stephen to do a story about him winning the championship there. I waited for 10 minutes outside of his trailer with another reporter. Stephen clearly saw us waiting out there, but took his time to change his clothes, put his shoes on, neatly fold his fire suit, go through some cabinents, dig through some bags and do other random stuff, all while we stood out there missing the next event on the track. And while we stood there I had one of Stephen’s family members chirping in my ear that I should write stories about other people that are cheating who haven’t been penalized for it. Eventually Stephen came out of the trailer, very clearly in an angry mood, and said there was plenty he wanted to say about what happened at Thompson over the weekend. When I told him he could say whatever he wanted to say he then said he didn’t want to say anything and turned around and walked away. Obviously he knew he wasn’t going to say anything 10 minutes before that when he saw us standing out there, but he chose to purposefully let us wait and waste our time as part of the whole theater of childishness. I didn’t go over there looking to write anything negative about anything involving Stephen or anyone else. To the contrary, I was going over there to write a story about what a great season he had at Thompson. And that’s what happened. Not going to write a story about how great it was winning a championship when the guy who did it doesn’t want to say anything. I missed the entirety of the Limited Sportsman feature and most of the SK Light Modified feature waiting to get nothing. So that’s how that went.

    And yes, I’m pretty sick of hearing about how everything on this site ever posted about Stephen is negative when that very clearly is not the case. And I’m sick of hearing about how Stephen is the only driver I ever write about getting penalized when there’s a story published on this website about any driver that gets disqualified from an event. I’ve written stories about Todd Owen getting disqualified before, he doesn’t think I’m out to get him. I’ve written stories about Keith Rocco getting disqualified before, he doesn’t think I’m out to get him. I’ve written stories about about Tom Fearn, Adam Gray, Kevin Gambacorta all getting disqualified before, and none of them think I’m out to get them. But somehow Stephen and those who surround him, think I’m out to get him because when he gets caught doing things that lead to disqualifications it gets written about. It all gets really really really old. Again, take a look at that links below, even though I know you’ve probably seen them all and you’re just hear chirping just to chirp.

    Firsts Aplenty: Stephen Kopcik Wins Sunoco Mod Feature At Thompson Icebreaker
    Make It Two: Stephen Kopcik Stays Perfect In Sunoco Modified In 2022 At Thompson
    Tackling The Competition: Stephen Kopcik Gets Third Consecutive Sunoco Mod Win At Thompson Speedway
    Perfect Roll: Late Drama Helps Stephen Kopcik Stay Unbeaten In Sunoco Mods At Thompson In 2022
    One Up: Stephen Kopcik Tops SK Modified Shootout At Stafford
    Double Up: Stephen Kopcik Scores Second Consecutive SK Modified Victory At Stafford
    Finding The Groove: Stephen Kopcik Wins SK Modified Feature At Stafford Speedway
    Digging Deep With Denise: Visiting With Stephen Kopcik

    Also, feel free to go digging through archives for plenty of other positive stories about Stephen from all his wins in recent years at Stafford and also stories about his efforts as a crew chief previously on the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour. But yeah, keep on saying how the only things ever on this site about Stephen are negative and how I’m just out to get him.

    And lastly, Stephen took the Champion’s medal rewarded to him by the track promoters and threw it in Todd Owen’s car. I’d say that obvisouly shows that winning the title really didn’t mean that much at all to him, so I’d guess he really doesn’t care one way or another about getting any recognition for it.

  5. Melissa Kopcik says

    Shawn Nobody is saying you haven’t posted anything positive in regards to Stephen but you are certainly quick to post the negative when it comes to certain drivers and not so much on others racing will never be a level playing field which is unfortunate. The lack of investigative reporting from you on what transpired throughout the weekend screamed favoritism. “Chirping In Your Ear” was not the way it went down I questioned your lack of investigative reporting after another competitor was DQ’d by Tech officials for approximately 2 hours on Friday night )prior to being overturned by the series manager who where worried about there car counts) for having an illegally machined carburetor and questionable tires (If this was the case for the 21 you would have done an article faster than a modified with soaked tires) you stated you knew it, it sucked and you didn’t know how to write the article to report on it, imagine a guy like you was at a loss for words. You continued to profusely apologize all the while pretending to have our best interest in mind you acknowledged the fact you where well briefed on what transpired in Tech both Friday and Saturday evening. Saturday the same competitor was found to have an under weight axle in tech and once again was given a pass with a fine of $100.00 instead of being DQ’d or losing his points he was rewarded by starting P2 on the outside pole the next two races paying a fine is an admission to cheating you knew it and chose to take the high road once again then you wanted an interview? Maybe you should have left the pit stall when you where asked the first time instead of looking to bait Stephen once again you are upset because he didn’t bite plane and simple, especially since you felt inconvenienced , you could have used that time to come up with the whole story of what transpired this weekend not just your narrowed down point of view.
    Lastly the metal you claim was the Championship Metal was a P1 finish metal same with the hat so again check your facts. We are proud of our Championship it was earned by a well deserving competitor, car owner, crew and sponsors, so while you feel you are “stating the obvious” your view from the cheap seats must be obscured. Unlike others our crew/team will NEVER take a hand out we EARN our Championships it’s truly unfortunate we where dealt a stacked deck the last few years but I am able to hold my head high and get a good nights sleep not sure about others.

    Should you choose to discuss further feel free to give me a call.

    Congratulations TBR Racing and MCJ on your winnings! The 7NY looked sharp out there all season!

  6. Melissa Kopcik,

    One, it was never my intention to make what happened Sunday something for public consumption, but then someone in your circle decided to come on here and pull the passive aggressive backhanded criticism garbage and open that door to it.

    I’m done with the whole escapade. I’ve told Stephen to his face multiple times in recent years that I think he’s one of the smartest and most talented young people in short track racing in Southern New England. I’ve written that same thing on this website, I’ve talked about that same thing on podcasts and I’ve said that same thing to many people within this sport.

    But I’ve learned in this sport that respect isn’t always a two-way street. What happened Sunday was beyond ridiculous and uncalled for. I went over there to do a story about Stephen winning a championship and ended up dealing with an absurd mess from a bunch of people.

    I’ve covered short track racing for 28 years and in that time I’ve made an effort in most situations to respect people’s space after events. When I went over to that trailer on Sunday Stephen looked me dead in the eye when I got to the edge of the door. He knew I was there to talk to him. He knew why I was waiting there. If he didn’t want to talk he could have very easily walked over and said he didn’t want to talk and I would have walked away and gone about the multitude of other things I needed to accomplish Sunday. Instead, he played a childish game, folding his clothes, going through his bags, going through the cabinets, all the while continuing to look over and make sure I was still waiting there. I didn’t say a word to anyone, just respected the space and waited. He knew exactly what he was doing and because of his antics I didn’t get a chance to properly cover Larry Barnett winning a record sixth Limited Sportsman championship at the track.

    While we’re on the topic of respect, let’s talk about this, another thing that I’ve never spoken about publicly.

    Last year when the decision was made by Stafford Speedway to disqualify Stephen from his last SK Modified victory I published a story when Stafford officials announced the penalty. Before the penalty was made official I spoke to Stephen about it. He knew it was coming. He knew when Stafford did announce the penalty I was going to publish a story about.

    Less than an hour after the story was published, while I was at dinner with a friend, my phone rang. I gave Stephen the respect enough to answer the call and what I got when I did answer the phone was a petulant child calling me every vulgarity and obscenity in the book because I wrote a story about a penalty decision made by the management of a race track. I didn’t make the call to disqualify him, I didn’t decide to do it to him and I had nothing to do with the timing of how it happened. But, just for reporting it I got that phone and got called every vulgar name in the book for doing it. Why? For what? And you know what, the next Friday I went over and talked to Stephen and he half-heartedly apologized and I accepted that apology and moved on from the whole thing.

    And let’s continue on the path of “respect” and look at something you did recently.

    On Sept. 27 Stafford Speedway announced, just after 5 pm, that Anthony Bello was being disqualified from an SK Modified victory the previous weekend because of the actions of Stephen in victory lane following a race. I reported this penalty after it was posted publicly on the Stafford Speedway penalty page.

    At 8 pm you went on Facebook and made personal accusations directed at me and questioned the legitimacy of what I had published.

    You stated: “Would love to know where Shawn got his information on regards to yet another “Hit Job” prior to Stafford posting any penalties?”

    You posted this nearly three hours after Stafford announced their penalty and still chose to publicly accuse me of making it up by saying Stafford had not posted any penalties at that time. It was your way of trying to make people believe I made something up even though you knew the truth, which was that the penalty had been announced hours before that. You chose to try to make me look bad and make me the enemy because I reported a penalty decision by a race track.

    You say I’m “quick to post the negative when it comes to certain drivers”. What does that even mean? When a track make the final call on a penalty and it’s a penalty that has some resounding change in a race finish, typically meaning someone gets disqualified from a win or a finish near the front, I report it. It doesn’t matter who it is, I report it when the track makes it official.

    I knew what was happening Friday evening at Thompson while it was happening. No call on a disqualification was made on Friday so there was nothing for me to report. Nobody was disqualified on Friday. Was there an official who had a question about a part? Yes, there was. Was a final decision made on Friday on the legality of that part? Absolutely not. Was there ever officially any disqualification of any competitor from Friday night’s event? No, there was not. So there was nothing for me to report. If it had been Stephen as the driver with the part being questioned Friday I would not have written anything if there was no call made on a penalty, so for you to say I would have, you’re 100 percent wrong.

    I stated to you Sunday that I knew what happened Friday night and that I couldn’t write a story just writing about something that was ultimately never a penalty. And you continued to chirp in my ear about why I didn’t write about other perceived infractions by other competitors at Thompson and Stafford that never resulted in penalties. I never “profusely apologized” for not writing the stories you want to see written. I explained to you that I can’t just write stories about what people think other people might be doing that is against the rules.

    You said here: “Maybe you should have left the pit stall when you where asked the first time.”

    While I waited the 10 minutes (with fellow reporter Paul Lambert), nobody asked us to leave. That was when you came over and started talking to me and telling me what stories I should be writing about. At no point did anyone ask me or Paul to leave up to that point. And then Stephen walked out of the trailer to speak to myself and Paul Lambert.

    You say I was “looking to bait Stephen.” When? Where? How? Remember, I have a recorder going, so I can play back exactly what transpired. Stephen walked out, walked up to myself and Paul and asked which one of us was going to write what he really wanted to say? Here’s exactly how it went.

    Stephen: So which one of you is going to write what I’m going to say?
    Me: When have I not taken the words you’ve said and written them for a story?
    Stephen: Many times. I don’t really have much to say. I saw what I needed to see this weekend. We’re going to leave it at that.
    Me: What did you see that you want to talk about?
    Stephen: You won’t write it.
    Me: If you say it I’m going to write it. Just say what you want to say. I can’t just make it up for you.

    And then he turned around and walked away. Nobody was baited. Stephen was the one that acted like he wanted to say something and then didn’t say anything. And that’s fine. And at that point I went to leave and was stopped by Nick Kopcik at the back of the car, who began to explain to me why he was upset about what had gone down over the weekend. And while Nick was speaking to me very calmly, someone else from the team came over screaming for me to leave, even though Nick was having a conversation with me that I was patiently listening to and hearing him out.

    And as far as whatever the medal was that Stephen threw away, it doesn’t matter if it was a championship medal or a P1 medal or any other sort of trophy of recognition. It was a childish display. There are people that work their butts off in short track racing for decades and never get a trophy for it, never get a plaque, never get a medal, never win a race. To take something of recognition like that and throw it away or throw it in the car of another competitor like Stephen did is a slap in the face to all those guys in this sport who have worked for years and have never won anything like that. And it’s a slap in the face to the track operators who took the time to choose what to award competitors with and gave them a place to go out and race and win what they were offering. No matter how worthless you might see that token as, throwing it away is simply a classless display in my opinion.

  7. Emotions running high. A good time to let things settle down. Nonetheless…
    It’s an old story. Teams insisting on writers, not just in this case but all writers view events through the prism of their own self interest. They work real hard, racing is winner take all sport, team members not to mention moms fiercely loyal and they extend that to the coverage they perceive they deserve.
    Won’t mention them but there have been numerous racing personalities that have crossed swords with RaceDayCt over the years. Most in time smoked the peace pipe. I know for a fact Courchesne is the consummate professional, remembers dusts ups but never carries a grudge affecting reporting. Almost to a fault.
    I’m pretty sure the Kopcik clan has a bunch of smart people contributing to the overall group effort. Which makes me wonder why it’s so hard for teams to figure out that in the long run it’s best to have amnesia about whatever they interpreted as bad coverage and consider the latest interview as the start of a new opportunity. That’s what the Kopcik’s passed up on at their trailer over the weekend. A golden opportunity to highlight the success of the Stephen Kopcik Motorsports, their associations with Jenson and Bello and advance their best interests. Instead doing the exact opposite dredging up an old grudge and looking a little foolish and petty doing it.
    If Courchesne’s life depended on it he couldn’t give you the first clue about how to set up and drive a car to the front in a local race. Conversely drivers and teams are best served remembering they are not qualified to cover local racing and write stories for a diverse audience with different views and interests.

  8. I like Kopcik, but he sure seems to cry a lot. He has been caught cheating with the shocks – the Bello incident is not really cheating but he did break the rule. Why is he so concerned about other competitors cheating when he is beating them on the track…(at Thompson) I could see if he finished second behind the winner but he won the race on Friday.

  9. Rafter fan says

    So, Melissa Kopcik suggests that Todd Owen was “almost” DQ’d twice at the World Series??

  10. Rafter Fan,
    And I would say she’s not really being accurate with that statement.
    But I guess it depends on how you define “almost” getting disqualified. To my knowledge involving Friday’s question with the carburetor, there’s a “Go/No Go” inspection gauge and it passed on that and a tech inspector deemed that they didn’t like how it looked and wanted to DQ, him even though “how it looks” is not a valid reason to DQ anyone for a part. It was decided that another inspector from a regional series independent of the Thompson tech staff would inspect it on Saturday and when that happened it was deemed by that inspector to be fine.
    So was he “almost” DQ’ed because an inspector wanted to penalize him for a part that passed the standard check gauges and was deemed legal by an independent inspector? And my understanding of the underweight axle was that the scale used to weigh it couldn’t do that with enough accuracy to actually definitively prove it was truly underweight. But even still, it was not a violation that would have led to a disqualification.
    So I think it’s hard to say he was “almost disqualified” twice when he was never disqualified. It’s like saying I almost bought a pair of shoes because you walked by them at a shoe store. Did you almost buy them if you looked at them, or if you picked them up, or if you carried them to the register and then put them down? If you were never really close to the register to pay for them did you really ever “almost” buy them?

  11. When exactly did RaceDayCt become an investigative publication?
    Ms Kopcik’s post is worth a couple/three reads to get the gist of her slant on the clans relative position in local racing circles. Not by just this publication but more importantly by Stafford as well as Thompson.
    Her target RaceDayCt. To be clear not only does Shawn Courchesne have any say in tech decisions he self admittedly de-prioritizes tech not being completely comfortable in that area of expertise. But why is Ms Kopcik venting so much in the direction of a reporter?

    “Unlike others our crew/team will NEVER take a hand out we EARN our Championships it’s truly unfortunate we where dealt a stacked deck the last few years but I am able to hold my head high and get a good nights sleep not sure about others.”

    That’s quite a heaping serving of perceived oppression and grievance is it not? Mr. Courchesne naturally defending his decisions as a professional but this is more about tracks and tech. Apparently both Stafford’s and Thompson’s tech officials routinely play favorites. Not just play favorites but somehow do it in concert with each other even though they have different hierarchies and people in the paddock responsible for the decisions. Sounds like a conspiracy theory a little bit doesn’t it?
    A lot of we fans have followed and admired Stephen over his career. I first locked in on him with his tremendous SK Light success. Then the move to SK’s then to LFR to hone his chassis and technical skills. Not a gifted driver at first like perhaps Dowling but over time became a really good driver while all the time getting better and better at mastering the entire dynamic of race car fabrication and setup. I don’t think it’s over stating the fact he’s one of the elite set up guys in modifieds today.
    If you took a poll I’d be willing to bet that up until recently the overwhelming majority or local race fans would have a favorable opinion of Kopcik. For some of us a glowing opinion. Then there was the shock deal last year. The infield rumble, not a big deal I’m thinking but more confusing the image of him crouching by Bello’s car in victory lane. For a person with so much experience, that clearly knows the rules, behavior we never see in victory lane how does that happen?
    Mom has pretty well expressed the teams position rightly or wrongly. They feel they are being discriminated against with regard to their treatment. At the core not so much by RaceDayCt, more a symptom but by tech crews and perhaps the race promoters themselves. At not one but two tracks it would appear.
    Do fans and their opinion count at all to racers? If not just do what you’re doing it’s not like we fans are sending you checks anyway. Go full Nick Anglace if you like. But If they do the Kopciks could use a good publicist. Over the last couple years that plucky young upcomer has seen a downward trajectory in the admiration factor, culminating in mom’s post above. Stephen leaning toward passive aggressive, mom laying their open wounds out there for everyone to see.
    First order of business might be show a little contrition at times even if they think the whole world is against them it just plays better. Young Bello got a coveted SK win erased by Stephen’s inexplicable behavior in victory lane and I can’t recall any regret expressed by the team for that. Losing the generic aggrieved, oppressed, no one appreciates how good we are act may go a long way as well.
    Remember Todd Owen and the tire treating incident at Thompson? He moved past that, we followed and now it’s barely remembered by old farts like me with nothing better to do then recall racing minutia. Stephen Kopcik with a mild attitude adjustment can turn it around starting now.

  12. Shawn – thanks very much for elaborating on the “almost” DQ claims. It seems that Post race tech can involve objective (go/no go), subjective (“it doesn’t look right”) and/or potentially misleading (imprecise scale) observations. However, in the end, it sounds like Thompson race officials made the right calls over the weekend.

  13. Stuart A Fearn says

    Also, for what it’s worth, I’m almost DQ-ed almost every week if I’m lucky.
    Pretty close on weight, almost too light!
    Sway bar diameter? Almost too big!
    Chassis height? Almost too low!
    On occasion there is a momentary lapse of judgement in the tech area where an initial question of legality is thought on or the rule book checked a little closer and it turns out it’s not specifically illegal so by omission that makes it legal.
    One time many moons ago, when the kids were in Street stock (dare stock), i noticed while combing over the rules while watching the snow outside the wording did not specifically disallow a particular way of making a suspension piece so I did up both cars and was very happy with the result. Mid way through the season one of the kids is in tech. They ask for that specific part. I bring it into the tech “room of doom” wrapped up in rags to cover the ingenuity, place on counter, and slowly unwrap to unveil the unexpected modification. The official says “wow, I’m sorry Stu you know we have to DQ you for this”. Calmly I say lets check the rules and sure enough I walked out happy. Sometimes all is not how it appears.

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