THOMPSON, Conn. – And the old is new again. Or the new is old again. It's one of those, and it doesn't matter which.
Ted Christopher found what worked on a brand new race car Thursday night at Thompson Speedway, gaining 13 spots over the final 26 laps to win the Budweiser 150. The hair-raising charge to the front marked Christopher's fourth straight Tour win at the track, and his seventh victory in the last nine races held here.
And this time, that old familiar feeling of seeing the Plainville, Conn., driver back in Victory Lane left jaws agape across the grandstands.
"That's some carving in 25 laps, huh?" Christopher said with a sly grin. "Turn 3's the best here, isn't it? I love Turns 3 and 4 here. Sometimes, I wish I could watch some of this (stuff)."
Christopher made several pit stops over the first two-thirds of the event, holding off on taking tires until he came in for a final time on Lap 120. He gave up the 12th spot in the running order when he headed to pit road – and came out to restart in 14th.
It took him fewer than six laps to make it all the way up to fifth by Lap 131, and he was sitting third on Lap 134.
In Turn 3, he passed both Rowan Pennink for second and Ron Silk for the lead. Silk and Pennink would finish second and third, respectively.
"I told them, put some wedge in it and just leave the stagger up," Christopher said of his final pit stop. "I want to be able to turn and pass people – and that's what it did."
Silk got one final shot at Christopher on a restart with four laps to go and got a great run off the outside of Turn 2 – but Christopher drifted up off the bottom just enough to stall Silk's momentum.
"It was either clank it off the fence or stay in line," Silk said. "It's early in the season to be racing for points – and I'm not saying we're points racing – but you've kind of got to keep the big picture in your head, too.
"With (his) new tires, even if I'd gotten him there, he probably would have gotten back to the lead in the next three or four laps."
But halfway through the event, nobody would have suspected Christopher had a shot at victory.
He'd qualified on the pole but later missed the driver's meeting – relegating him to a dead-last starting spot in the 27-car field. He never really made any momentum – battling a loose condition that didn't seem to get significantly better after any of his several visits to pit road.
He spent the majority of the evening fluctuating between 11th and 15th.
Christopher, though, still had an ace up his sleeve in the form of fresh tires waiting for him on Lap 120. As poorly as the car handled early – and with a couple of long green-flag runs – he said he never was tempted to throw the tires on any earlier.
"No, I never take tires (early)," said Christopher, who now has 40 career victories on the Tour. "That's not our plan. It's always, 'Adjust the car to get it to be somewhat good.' Then when you put tires on it, it's going to be great. So, no, that's never our deal – we don't do that at all."
What Christopher did do, however, was break out a new race car. He said it only had 40 laps on it at Thompson in a Tour-type Modified open show earlier this month and just a handful of practice laps Thursday afternoon. Part of the problem with the car's handling early on had to do with a lack of track time – "In hindsight, I probably should have run 10 laps of practice," he joked – and the team just needed to iron out the bugs.
That they did.
And the bad news for the rest of the Whelen Modified Tour? Christopher's planning on running a second consecutive race with a new piece underneath him – the F.W. Webb 100 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in two weeks.
"This is the first time I've had a new car in five years," he said. "And I've got another new one for Loudon, too."