HAND IT OVER: Christopher Wins Modified Tour Opener At Thompson International Speedway

Sunday, April 10, 2011
Photo: Getty Images

It's like the old saying from your childhood: "Look, ma! No hands."

Ted Christopher fought off everything on Sunday afternoon at Thompson International Speedway – falling down two laps to the leaders early on, a penalty on pit road, a right hand with ligament damage and stitches, a brush with the inside wall off the backstretch and a freshly-injured left hand – to win the season-opening NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Icebreaker 150.

It was Christopher's eighth win in his last 10 Tour races at the track where he won a NASCAR Whelen All-American Series national championship in 2001.

Maybe he really can win while driving anything, anywhere. Even without full use of either of his hands.

"I've driven more (crap) than that was and won," Christopher said with a grin.

"We had a really good car, though. I was really happy for the first time being back with (crew chief Brad Lafontaine)... It was just a pretty good car."

It didn't start out that way, however. Even though Christopher swapped leads early with Bobby Santos, he spun off the backstretch on Lap 52. He knocked some of the suspension pieces out of whack with the incident, and hurt his left hand, too, in the process.

He fell two laps down to the leaders with the spin, penalty for pitting early and subsequent repairs on pit road, but he twice was the recipient of the "Lucky Dog" award to get back in contention.

When contending cars Ron Silk and Todd Szegedy were among those caught up on a multi-car incident on Lap 102 – one that brought out the race's second red flag – Christopher was prepared to strike. He passed Ryan Preece entering Turn 1 on Lap 115 and never looked back.

"I wasn't totally right. The spindle's all bent, the toe was all bent," Christopher said. "The spindle's the big thing. It really affects it when you get into the turn as far as the geometry in the car.

"I've pitted late. I've pitted with 30 to go here and won. It all just depends how it plays out for you. Sometimes the cautions fall in your favor, and sometimes they don't. But everything played out pretty good for us today."

Preece faded to fourth at the finish, while Rowan Pennink and Mike Stefanik finished second and third, respectively.

Santos, who set a track record in qualifying Saturday, blew an engine on Lap 16 and finished last in the 33-car field.

Ron Silk, who led 40 laps (second only to Christopher on the day), went airborne in the Lap 102 accident and saw his day cut short with a 23rd-place finish.

– TB