(Stafford Springs, CT)—After finishing 8th in his NAPA Spring Sizzler® debut last season, Stafford SK Modified® regular Michael Christopher, Jr. is set to once again chase Sizzler® glory. Christopher will be behind the wheel of Rob Fuller’s #17 LFR chassis car with power from Tony’s Competition Engines and sponsorship from M & T, Mohawk Northeast, HMS Motorsports, VP Lubricants, and Pro Fab Headers.
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“I’ll be driving for Robby Fuller and this deal was put together through Robby, my father, and Tony’s Competition Engines,” said Christopher. “We didn’t have anything lined up for the Sizzler® and with the Sizzler® being the biggest race of the season, we wanted to do anything that we could to be a part of it.”
In 11 previous Open Modified starts at Stafford, Christopher has 1 win (2021 CBYD 81) to go along with 5 top-5 and 7 top-10 finishes. Despite being behind the wheel of a different car from his first 11 Open Modified starts, Christopher feels just as confident about his chances of being a front runner as he always does when he races at his home track of Stafford.
“I feel confident,” said Christopher. “This is my first time working together with Robby [Fuller] and from the test sessions we’ve run so far, it seems like he’s putting his best foot forward and any changes that I want to be made, he’s fixed so that’s good as well. We’re putting together a good team for pit road and a strategy for the race itself, so he’s really invested as are a lot of other people with this program like Tony with the engine program. Everyone wants to win the Sizzler® and that’s all I can ask for.”
Having participated in last year’s NAPA Spring Sizzler®, Christopher will be familiar with the unique qualifying format for the Sizzler®, which consists of two 40-lap NAPA Duel races, and he says that those two races will be a key component of putting together a winning formula for the 100-lap NAPA Spring Sizzler®.
“Winning is our goal and testing has gone well for us, now it’s just a matter of going into the 40-lap Duel race and see how the car handles on a long run,” said Christopher. “I think that 40 laps is going to be close to the maximum number of laps that we’re going to run during the Sizzler® on a set of tires before we change them and that will be a good precursor as to how the race is going to go. We’ll see how the Duel goes on Friday, make any changes if need be, which hopefully there won’t be any, and get a good starting position for the Sizzler® and go from there.”
In order to be a contender to take home the winner’s trophy, Christopher will have to contend with a who’s who of modified drivers with names such as defending Sizzler® winner Matt Hirschman, Jimmy Blewett, Doug Coby, Chase Dowling, Bobby Santos, III, Jon McKennedy, Woody Pitkat, and a field of nearly 50 cars.
“I feel like last year’s race was a lot different than the other Open 80 races that I’ve attended in the past,” said Christopher. “Most times it seems like guys set a pace of like 60% or 70% but in the Sizzler guys were going a lot harder and it didn’t really fall off a lot so I’m not sure if that was just down to the higher level of competition or what. The Sizzler® is definitely a race that you have to go right from the start and pit stops and pit strategy was really important so we have to make sure we have that right. The Sizzler® put up some great competition last year and I expect it to be the same this year and maybe even a little harder because this is a race that everyone wants to win. We’ll have to go as hard as we can.”
While Christopher will be looking to join his Uncle Ted on the list of All-Time Sizzler® Winners, he has another goal in mind that a Sizzler® victory would help greatly with.
“Joining my Uncle on the Sizzler® winners list would be one thing, but even more importantly publicity-wise, I’ve been doing a lot of research into the next steps in going from short track racing in the Northeast to higher levels of racing and not a lot of people have eyes on us like they do on kids from down South or in the Midwest,” said Christopher. “Winning the biggest race in the Northeast would be a huge step in the right direction of getting noticed by the right people and showing that you’re the guy.”
In addition to the NAPA Spring Sizzler®, Christopher will also kick off his 2023 SK Modified® season with the #82 New England Turf / Eastport Feeds / PT Watts Chevrolet. The 2022 season was a bit of a down season for Christopher, but he closed out the season on a high note with a win in the TC 13 Shoot Out as well as a 40-lap feature win and he is looking to carry that momentum over to the start of his 2023 season.
“We were strong at the end of last season so we’ll roll off of that momentum from last season and knowing that we have a fast car, we’ll see how it goes,” said Christopher. “We were fast at Thompson but we did get into a wreck and we had to put the car back together. The numbers all matched up 2 weeks ago when we put the car on the scales so the car is a beast and while it might not look pretty, it goes fast.”
The 51st Annual NAPA Spring Sizzler is set for Friday, May 12 & Saturday, May 13. The NAPA Spring Sizzler® kicks off on Friday, May 12 and will consist of two 40-lap NAPA Duel qualifying races for the Open Modified division. The 40-lap races will each pay $3,500 to win and will set the field for Saturday’s NAPA Spring Sizzler®. The American Canadian Tour (ACT) will make its return to Stafford Speedway on May 12th with a 75-lap feature with over 40 cars expected for the race. Limited Late Model and Street Stock feature events will complete Friday’s racing program.
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Saturday, May 13th will play host to the $20,000 to win 51st NAPA Auto Parts Spring Sizzler®. Filling out Saturday’s racing card will be qualifying and feature racing for the SK Modified®, SK Light Modified, and Late Model divisions along with last chance qualifiers for the NAPA Spring Sizzler®.
For more information, visit staffordspeedway.com, follow Stafford Speedway on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or contact the track office at 860-684-2783.