(Stafford Springs, CT)—When the green flag falls on the 44th Annual NAPA Auto Parts Spring Sizzler on April 25-26 at Stafford Motor Speedway, the track’s premier SK Modified® division will see second generation driver Mike Christopher, Jr. among its rookie crop of drivers. Christopher began the 2014 season behind the wheel of a Legend Car but he finished out the year driving the final 5 races in the track’s SK Light division. He is now making the move into the SK Modified® division where he will race against his Uncle Ted and the rest of the SK Modified® field on a weekly basis with the same #82 that his father made famous to Stafford race fans.
“We did those 5 races in the SK Lights and I learned a lot about modifieds and the track,” said Christopher, Jr. “So we thought lets throw me to the wolves in the SK’s, start in the back, and see what I can do this season. We’re going to have a good piece and we have a lot of good help so I think we should be good.”
Christopher, Jr. joins a robust rookie class of 10 drivers that will all be competing for the record $1,100 bonus from SPAFCO Race Chassis and Parts for winning Rookie of the Year honors. Christopher would like to take the SPAFCO bonus home with him at season’s end, but with such a large rookie class it will be a tough battle to win.
“Winning the SPAFCO bonus would be great, the more money the better,” said Christopher, Jr. “That’s the goal for the season. I know Tyler Hines and Branden Dion are moving up, it’s going to be a good battle for Rookie of the Year and it’s going to be a big challenge. I’d like to be the top rookie, hopefully get a top-10 or even a top-5 finish, and I’d like to be in the top-15 or top-10 in points and then we can go into the offseason feeling pretty good about how the season went for us.”
Christopher’s father Mike, Sr. and his Uncle Ted have combined to win 12 SK Modified® track championships and 129 features, which is better than a 1 in 5 ratio for the history of the division. While Christopher, Jr. would certainly like to make his own mark in the Stafford record books, he knows that getting to that point will be a huge challenge.
“I can’t wait to get out there and hopefully make the show,” said Christopher, Jr. “I think there’s going to be a lot of cars in the field this year. Chase Dowling and Ronnie Williams did pretty well as rookies last year so I think we can be pretty good this year for being a rookie driver. I know I’m going to be starting in the back so we’ll see what we can do. The biggest goal would be to beat Teddy one night and I’m really excited to get started. The competition at Stafford every Friday night always seems to come down to the last lap and it’s probably the best competition anywhere in the entire United States for NASCAR Hometracks racing. You have guys like Teddy, Rowan, Ryan, Woody, there’s so many guys you can name who are in the top-10 every week that it’s going to be tough just to get a top-10 finish. I think a top-10 finish is a realistic goal for me, but it’s going to take a long time to reach that goal.”
Christopher already has five races under his belt on the half-mile layout and while he has a comfort level of getting around the track, he will have to get used to the extra power of the SK car and the changes he’ll need to make to the setup of the car.
“Last year the track was pretty easy to get used to,” said Christopher, Jr. “Turns 1 and 2 are different from 3 and 4 and I got that down as well as I could and I watched videos of last year in the SK Lights, and my Dad gave me some advice on what I could do better. The SK Light and the Legend Car is as fast as I’ve gone so I’ll have to get used to the power that the SK car has. I think with the 5 races we ran last year I learned a lot about the track and I really liked the outside groove. That seemed to work out pretty well for me and I even liked the outside when I raced at Waterford so when in doubt jump to the outside. From there it’s just a matter of working on the car to make changes to the setup to get me more comfortable. We have a lot of great help for the crew and we’re going to have a good car, so it’s all going to be up to me as the driver. I’m not really feeling any pressure now but I’m sure in the weeks leading up to the Sizzler I’ll be rattling in my boots, but I can’t wait!”
While Christopher can’t yet take his #82 around the track for real, he can hone his skills on the computer with iRacing. Christopher used iRacing to help him get ready for his SK Light debut last season and he can stay sharp racing against his fellow competitors during the off-season.
“Pretty much the whole offseason I’m on iRacing,” said Christopher. “Ronnie Williams is always online and there’s about 10-15 guys from Stafford who are online and it’s pretty close to the real thing. It helped get me used to the track when I first started racing the SK Lights. The only difference is that in iRacing you can’t dive into the grass in turn 1, that move doesn’t work. When I went to Virginia International Raceway back in December with the Legend Cars, I got used to the track and where the turns were on iRacing, so it definitely helped me out.”
Christopher, Jr. will kick off his rookie season in the SK Modified® division with the running of the 44th Annual NAPA Auto Parts Spring Sizzler on April 24-26. Tickets for the “Greatest Race in the History of Spring” are on sale now at the Speedway Box Office. Tickets are priced at $38.50 for adult general admission tickets, $5.00 for children ages 6-14, and children ages 5 and under are admitted free of charge when accompanied by an adult. Reserved seating is priced at $42.00 for all ages. As always, Stafford Motor Speedway offers free parking with overnight parking available. All tickets are good for both Saturday and Sunday admission. All ticket prices include 10% CT Admission Tax.
For more information on the 44th Annual NAPA Auto Parts Spring Sizzler, or to order tickets, contact the Stafford Motor Speedway track office at 860-684-2783 or visit us on the web at www.staffordspeedway.com.