STAFFORD SPRINGS, Conn. – A pair of legendary last names teamed up to win Friday night’s Call Before You Dig Open Modified 81 at Stafford Motor Speedway.
Driving for Tommy Baldwin Jr., Michael Christopher Jr. took the lead from NASCAR Cup Series competitor Ryan Preece on lap 50 and led the remaining distance in the first of four open modified races at the half-mile paved oval this season.
Christopher banked a total of $5,000 for the victory, including contingency bonuses of $1,000 from GAF Roofing and $500 from New England Racing Fuel.
The race took the green flag with Chase Dowling taking the early race lead ahead of Christopher and Patrick Emerling, who were side by side for second. Christopher won that duel and took second on lap three, with Ronnie Williams in fourth and Joey Cipriano in fifth.
Preece was sixth in line followed by Keith Rocco, Stephen Kopcik, Todd Owen and Craig Lutz.
Dowling slowly stretched out his lead over Christopher in second, while Williams made a move to the inside of Emerling to take over third place on lap 11 and Preece overtook Cipriano to move into fifth. Preece took fourth place from Emerling on lap 18, while Dowling was still comfortably in the lead over Christopher and Williams.
That running order held until 29 laps were completed, when the caution came out for a spin on the backstretch by Lutz.
Dowling took the lead on the restart with Christopher and Williams going side by side for second. Preece was fourth in line with Rocco in fifth place. Emerling was in sixth place followed by Cipriano, Cam McDermott, Woody Pitkat, and Marcello Rufrano.
Just before he was about to complete lap 34, Dowling abruptly pulled his car to pit road through the mini mile, which handed the lead over to Christopher. Preece moved to second behind Christopher with Williams, Rocco, and Cipriano making up the top five.
The caution came back out with 47 laps complete for a spin in turn two by Eric Goodale.
Under the caution, every lead lap car with the exception of Noah Korner and Anthony Nocella came to pit road for a change of two tires and adjustments. Cipriano won the race off pit road, followed by Preece, Williams, Christopher, Matt Galko, Emerling, Goodale, Chris Pasteryak, Kopcik, and McDermott.
Nocella took the lead on the restart with Korner and Preece right there with him, but the caution came back out with 48 laps complete for Goodale, who dropped off the pace on the backstretch as the car of Tom Abele Jr. came to a stop there as well.
Nocella took the lead on the restart but Preece made a three-wide move in turn four to take the lead. However, Preece’s time at the front was short as Christopher shot under Preece in turns one and two on lap 50 to move into the lead. A lap later, Burt Myers spun on the backstretch to bring the caution flag back out.
Christopher took the lead back under green with Preece and Cipriano right behind him. Emerling was fourth in line followed by Williams, a side-by-side duel between Nocella and Pasteryak, McDermott, Pitkat, and Galko.
With 10 laps to go, Christopher was still in the lead with Preece several car lengths behind in second. Cipriano was third followed by Emerling, Williams, Nocella, McDermott, Goodale, Rocco, and Owen.
From that point home, Christopher led Preece to the checkered flag to win, with Emerling, Nocella and Cipriano trailing the lead duo at the finish.
1. Michael Christopher Jr., 2. Ryan Preece, 3. Patrick Emerling, 4. Anthony Nocella, 5. Joey Cipriano, 6. Eric Goodale, 7. Ronnie Williams, 8. Cam McDermott, 9. Keith Rocco, 10. Todd Owen, 11. Chris Pasteryak, 12. Marcello Rufrano, 13. Burt Myers, 14. Craig Lutz, 15. TJ Bleau, 16. Dave Etheridge, 17. Woody Pitkat, 18. Matt Galko, 19. Stephen Kopcik, 20. Michael Gervais Jr., 21. Noah Korner, 22. Mike Willis Jr., 23. Earl Paules, 24. Dana DiMatteo, 25. Tom Abele Jr., 26. Chase Dowling.