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BUMP STOPS: Taps, Talladega and The Oxford 250

Thursday, April 21, 2011
Photo: GWC Motorsports Marketing

It's Thursday again. Time to dust off the old Mini Stock for a spin around the cul-de-sac at the end of the street...

For those among us that harken back to the "good ol' Halcyon days" of local stock car racing, you've got to love Ted Christopher.

I mean, you don't actually have to love the guy – in fact, a trip through the grandstands at either of the Connecticut short tracks where he competes weekly would suggest that a fair amount don't.

What Christopher does represent, though, is that old-time short-tracker who would show up and race just about anything anywhere anytime.

Christopher is off to a pretty sensational start to this season, too. He won the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour season opener at Thompson International Speedway two weeks ago and then flew south to steal a victory from the regulars on the NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour last Sunday at South Boston.

Both wins came with injured hands – one from a wreck at Caraway Speedway in March and the other from a spin at Thompson's Icebreaker 150.

Like I said, whether or not you're a fan of Christopher's, uh, "style" – who doesn't know about the TC 3-Tap Rule?* – is irrelevant.

What is relevant is that when Christopher shows up for a race, it takes on the feel of an event. He's a challenger for the victory, he's not afraid to mix it up on the race track, and he's certainly not around to make friends.

Personally, I'm a big fan of watching that kind of a racer. No one can say it doesn't thicken the plot on any given race day.

* By the way, for those of you that don't know, here's the TC 3-Tap Rule – The first tap tells you that he's behind you, the second tap tells you to pick a lane and the third tap tells you you're too late and he already picked one for you. Love it.

WITH THE ANNOUNCEMENT by Oxford Plains Speedway and Kyle Busch Motorsports this week that Busch will be making the return to the TD Bank Oxford 250 in July comes an interesting development. Busch is not only running the 250-lap event for the ACT-legal Late Models, but he's also entering a Super Late Model in Saturday night's PASS-sanctioned support race.

Over the past few years, many of us – myself included – have lamented the fact that Saturday of Oxford 250 weekend had taken on the feel of just another race day at the track. The flair of the Oxford 250 week, the weekend-long race frenzy, the buzz in the air had disappeared and been reserved largely for the Sunday-only crowd.

My guess is that with Busch's appearance on the Saturday night card this year, that Saturday night Brackett Mechanical/RB Performance 150 could be nearly as difficult a ticket to secure as Sunday's TD Bank 250 admission. Busch is one of the very select few NASCAR Sprint Cup Series drivers with the universal appeal that makes fans want to watch him – for the good, bad and ugly (see: Ted Christopher, above). Having him on the track for Late Model and Super Late Model practice all day Saturday and for the races on both Saturday night and Sunday afternoon is a home run for Oxford Plains and fans of the 250.

Of course, the onus is now on track owner Bill Ryan not to gouge fans for tickets on Saturday given that his own golden ticket fell in his lap this week.

INTERESTING START TO the ACT Late Model Tour season at Lee USA in and of itself, with I think just about everybody wishing for about 10 more laps at the end to see if Brad Babb really had anything for winner Brian Hoar.

But though the racing on the track was phenomenal, the officials at ACT dropped the ball post-race.

Babb was informed during post-race technical inspection that his car had failed due to an unapproved left front tire. Unfortunately, nobody else was told about it until late the next morning.

I've stood on this soapbox before when it comes to local auto racing, and I'll stand on it again. It's disrespectful to the media that turns out to cover one of your events when you can't be bothered to hand them an "official" race results sheet and inform them that post-race tech has been completed, with or without issue.

It today's world of dwindling media coverage at every corner, it's more imperative now than ever to make sure that public relations is taken care of the right way.

GOT KIND OF an interesting backhanded compliment at Lee USA Speedway last weekend, when someone suggested that I could afford to take on a new client at GWC because I could delegate the work over to someone on my staff.

"My staff." That's funny stuff, right there. Maybe I'll do that...

"Hey, self. There's a phone call for you on Line 1. It's yourself."

BOOK IT NOW. Brett Moffitt will get that NASCAR K&N Pro Series East championship for his resume this season.

THE BEST SHOW on television right now is FX's "Justified." This is not open to debate.

ACT LATE MODELS never as good anywhere as they are at Thunder Road International Speedbowl, and it makes perfect sense considering they were developed and fine-tuned as a weekly division there. But boy, oh boy, Lee USA is becoming a close second.

I'M SORRY, BUT I'm just not buying that drivers think the two-car draft at the restrictor plate tracks is "more intense" than being in the middle of the traditional 30-car pack all afternoon long. I'm not.

All last Sunday's race at Talladega Superspeedway did was reinforce for the casual fan that the only thing that matters in NASCAR are the "last 20 laps."

Seriously, I think drivers and teams work harder now at running 400 miles at Auto Club Speedway or 300 miles at New Hampshire Motor Speedway than they do at Daytona and Talladega.

THERE'S NOT A better independent team on the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East when it comes to driver development than Dave Davis Motorsports.

That's not a knock on the other independent teams in the series, teams like that of Eddie MacDonald or D.J. Shaw. Their teams are based more on the competition side, where DDM is there for hire for young drivers that aren't necessarily on the radar of Cup development programs.

What Davis does as an independent is simple – he provides a strong team, solid preparation and, above all else, fast race cars for the young talent he works with.

WHY DO THE same people who complain about the Stanley Cup playoffs stretching into June never complain about the NFL season lasting well into February every year?

Yeah, why is that? I'll have to run that one by my staff.

TRY THE VENISON stromboli and don't forget to tip your waitress. Hank Williams Jr. is here, so stick around.

– TB