(Stafford Springs, CT)—Stafford Motor Speedway’s 2015 Rookie of the Year program will award $7,000 for its five NASCAR Whelen All-American Series divisions. New in 2015 was the addition of $1,600 for the Rookie of the Year Runner Up bonus bringing the total rookie awards to $8,600. The Runner Up bonus is provided by Magnus Transmissions and is distributed among the 5 divisions. Taking home the Rookie of the Year Runner Up honors and a $400 bonus in the SK Modified® division this year was Mike Christopher, Jr., driver of the #82 Mohawk Northeast Chevrolet.
Christopher made the move up to Stafford’s premier SK Modified® division after a year spent between the Legend Cars and SK Light divisions. Christopher won twice in the Legend Cars and he posted 3 top-7 finishes in 5 SK Light starts. While it took Christopher 10 races to record his first top-10 finish in the SK Modified® division, he came alive in the second half of the season and finished with 2 top-5 and 6 top-10 finishes.
“We struggled for the first half of the year but after the halfway point of the season at the SK5k, we pretty much figured things out and we started running in the top-10,” said Christopher. “We got caught up a few times in some things that we didn’t have any control of but other than that, it was a really good learning experience. I think I learned more in the SK’s this year than I did in any other car. Hopefully we can be up front next season and contend for a couple of wins and go from there. The wrecks really hurt us this year. It affected my confidence and it put a lot of stress on my Dad and the crew having to fix the car. We missed the rookie of the year by just a little bit but we came on strong at the end of the season.”
Although Christopher endured through the trials and tribulations of his rookie season, he can look to his Legend Cars experience for inspiration. Christopher didn’t win once during his first year of Legend Cars competition but in his second year, he won a total of 27 feature events and finished third in the national points standings.
“My first year in the Legend Cars I didn’t win anything, we had a couple of top-5’s and mostly top-10’s,” said Christopher. “Going into my last year of Legend Cars we did really well and I felt the same way after the end of the year this season. I felt like I really figured things out and how to potentially win some races by the end of the year. Going from winning 27 races in the Legend Car to running in the back and mid pack sometimes puts a little bit of a damper on you, but after everything I learned this year I think we can be really good in 2016.”
Whenever Christopher needed some advice, he could turn to his father Mike, Sr., who won 3 SK Modified® track championships at Stafford and who is still ranked fourth on the all-time SK Modified® winners list at Stafford with 28 career feature victories.
“I owe all my success to my father,” said Christopher. “He’s taught me everything from go karts to right now. He’s always on top of me and he’s brutally honest with me at the track. He’ll tell me what I’m doing wrong but he’ll also tell me what I need to do to fix things. I learn a lot from him and he was a big reason for my success in the Legend Cars and hopefully how well I can do in the SK’s next season. Having him on the radio with me was also a good thing, he would tell me if I was catching guys, pulling away from guys, or if I was catching someone he would tell me where I was better and where they were bad and to set up a pass. Throughout the year I learned more and more about the drivers and how the car reacts and how much different it is to be racing a full size car rather than the Legend Car.”
In addition to his father, Christopher could also turn to his crew, who worked with his father when he was driving the #82 in the SK Modified® division.
“The whole crew, they’re all the old crew guys who worked with my father on his car,” said Christopher. “We did the average age of the crew and it came out to 51, but I don’t think of them as old, I think of them as the smartest guys in the pits. They certainly know how to get things done. I have to thank JJ, Mohawk Northeast with Al Heinke, he was a big help especially when we got caught up in wrecks, the guys at Troyer were a big help getting the car in and out of the shop so we could get it ready for the next Friday night, Tick Free Organic Tick Control, they’re a great bunch of people and a great family, Green Construction Management, Wayne Green and his son and daughter, they come to the track every week to support me and they’re a great group of guys, Sign Pro and Pete Rappoccio helps us out with stickers and lettering, Waddell Communications, FK Rod Ends, VP Racing Fuels, Eolas come on at the end of the season, Connecticut Trailers, Goodrich, and all the contingency sponsors, NAPA, Dunleavy Truck and Trailer Repair, Call Before You Dig, Xtra Mart, and especially Magnus Transmissions for this bonus. I’m looking forward to getting back out there in 2016.”
For being the Rookie of the Year runner up, Christopher will receive a $400 bonus from Magnus Transmissions that will be paid out in $100 increments for the first four races that he runs during the 2016 season at Stafford Motor Speedway.
For more information, contact the Stafford Motor Speedway track office at 860-684-2783 or visit us on the web at www.staffordspeedway.com.