THOMPSON, Conn. – For the second time in as many starts at Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park in the 2022 Outlaw Open Modified Series season, Mike Christopher Jr. was in Victory Lane Wednesday at the Connecticut oval. Christopher rocketed to the lead with 58 laps complete in the Nutmeg State 75 presented by Twisted Tea and held off multiple challengers on multiple restarts to win the $5,000 prize.
Story by Souza Media
Christopher continued a dominating stretch for Tommy Baldwin Racing, where the team has been to Victory Lane in three straight NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour races, and now both Outlaw Open Modified Series events at Thompson. Christopher held off two of the top names in Modified racing at Thompson in the last decade – Keith Rocco and Ryan Preece – to capture the win. He also won $10,000 at the Icebreaker 125 at Thompson in April.
“Tommy has it hooked up right now,” Christopher said in Victory Lane. “The Tour wins and now the Open wins. Two in a row here at Thompson, it feels really good and it’s really cool. I had to go through some restarts there, but the car was really good. That last yellow we had tightened up the car a little too much, but we were still able to put it in Victory Lane.”
Christopher passed early race leader Preece for the top spot on lap 36 and led until the caution on lap 49, when multiple of the lead challengers pitted. Christopher was the first of the drivers with new Hoosier racing rubber to get to the front and he was able to take full advantage – driving by Matt Swanson to the lead with 17 laps to go.
A flurry of late cautions slowed the race, which allowed Rocco and Preece to pass onto the podium. Matt Swanson finished fourth, while Chris Pasteryak followed in fifth. Ronnie Williams was sixth, followed by Matt Galko, Woody Pitkat, Colbey Fournier and Spencer Davis.
In support division action, Derek Gluchacki made it two-for-two in the Thompson Late Models, dominating the second half of their 25-lap event and rolling to another win. Early in the race, Gluchacki had to fend-off the challenges of Rick Gentes, while Gentes spun racing for the lead on lap seven. Then, Gluchacki had to hold off Matthew Lowinski-Loh, and Ryan Morgan, on two different restarts, to come out on top. At the checkered flag, Morgan would place second, with Lowinski-Loh rebounding from a wreck in the first race of the season to finish third. Woody Pitkat and Brian Tagg, two former track champions, finished the top-five.
The Sunoco Modified feature went to Stephen Kopcik, as the Connecticut native also made it two-for-two to open the Thompson season. Kopcik, Todd Owen and Keith Rocco thrilled fans in a three-car battle for the lead during the middle of the race, but it was Kopcik gapping out his challengers over the final stretch of the 30-lap event. Owen would finish second, with nine-time track champion Rocco in third. Troy Talman and Danny Cates finished the top-five.
It looked like Steven Chapman was going to make it a second straight in the SK Light Modifieds, but Nathan Pytko wasn’t going to be denied. Pytko rolled to the top spot right from the drop of the green and had to hold off Chapman for the entire 25-lap distance. Holding him off was no easy task – as Chapman crossed under the white flag essentially glued to the back bumper for the lead. In the final corner, Chapman mounted a charge to the inside, but missed the victory by .059 seconds at the line, finishing second to Pytko. John O’Sullivan, who missed practice and heat race laps due to mechanical failures, charged through the field to finish third.
Dave Trudeau was a winner in the Mini Stocks, coming out on top of their 15-lap feature over Kevin Moore. With Trudeau’s victory, the Mini Stocks now have three different winners in three races, with Moore finishing second by just .224 seconds. Chris Ivory tried the back bumper of Trudeau’s ride for much of the race, but slipped in the final laps and finished fourth. Defending Mini Stock champion Jared Roy slid by Ivory on the final lap to finish third.
Jason Chicolas went to Thompson’s Limited Sportsman Victory Lane after finishing third on the track, but becoming the first driver to pass post-race inspection. Original winner Ryan Waterman, second-place Scott Sundeen and fourth-place Zach Robinson all fell victim to post-race inspection. The official top-five finish at the end of the race was Chicolas, Larry Barnett, Corey Fanning, Aaron Plemons and Nick Hovey.
Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park will return to action on Wednesday, July 13 for the Midsummer 75 for the Outlaw Open Modified Series. The Sunoco Modifieds, Late Models, SK Light Modifieds, Limited Sportsman and Mini Stocks will also be part of the racing action, which will begin at 6 p.m. More information on the event will be available closer to race day.
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