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Thompson Icebreaker Notebook: Christopher Fends Off Elements, McKennedy for Open Modified Win

Jeff Brown/Short Track Scene

Mike Christopher Jr. and the No. 7NY team didn’t show their hand until it mattered most. 

On a day filled with rainbows, hail, and thunder, Christopher took the lead from Anthony Nocella on the final restart with 26 laps to go and held off Jon McKennedy to pick up the win and $10,000 in the Icebreaker 125 at Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park. 

Saturday marked the second start for Christopher at Tommy Baldwin Racing in 2022.

“I hate to say it, but [McKennedy] definitely had the better car on that long green flag run,” Christopher said. “I was trying to match him, couldn’t, burned the rear tires up pretty damn bad. When the yellow comes out and we put tires on, it kind of equals out… After that, it’s pretty much a brand-new race.”

Third was Eric Goodale, followed by Anthony Nocella and Bobby Santos III. The top-10 was rounded out by Chris Pasteryak, Teddy Hodgdon, JB Fortin, Todd Owen, and Buddy Charette. 

Christopher had worked his way up from his starting spot of 13th to second, but was a full straightaway behind McKennedy until a caution came out with 26 to go involving Keith Rocco and Artie Pederson. 

When all five lead-lap cars came down pit road, a fast stop from Christopher’s pit crew got him ahead of McKennedy and onto the front row alongside Nocella. 

“What got us that win… was the pit stop by Tommy,” Christopher said. “Thanks to him and his guys for putting me there. It’s up to the driver from there.”

Christopher dove past Nocella in turn one, and was able to fend off McKennedy the rest of the way.

McKennedy once again had to settle for second, an outcome that has become frustratingly common for him at the ⅝-mile oval.

“Looking at the whole deal, we just probably needed to beat the 7 off pit road,” McKennedy said. “I thought we were pretty evenly matched. There were times he could pull me, and then I could catch him… Disappointed. Obviously, we led so much, but it is what it is.”

Once McKennedy got behind Christopher, there wasn’t much McKennedy could do to get back by. 

Christopher and Baldwin will be back together for the Spring Sizzler at Stafford Motor Speedway in two weeks’ time. There’s only one goal in Christopher’s mind.

“Win,” he said. 

Owen started on the pole and led the first lap. On lap three, Matt Swanson took the lead in turn one. 

The first yellow flag came for a Kevin Nolan spin on lap 18. 

Goodale took the lead five laps after the restart. 

McKennedy took the lead on lap 45 and began to pull away from the rest of the field, lapping all but the top four. His advantage was lost when Rocco and Pederson clashed in what would be the final incident of the race. 

Saturday’s program was delayed from last Sunday due to weather, and was delayed from its scheduled start time by more than five hours due to repeated storms that dogged the track. 

The full results can be found below:

  1. Mike Christopher Jr. 
  2. Jon McKennedy
  3. Eric Goodale
  4. Anthony Nocella
  5. Bobby Santos
  6. Chris Pasteryak
  7. Teddy Hodgdon
  8. JB Fortin
  9. Todd Owen
  10. Buddy Charette
  11. Carl Medeiros Jr.
  12. Artie Pederson
  13. Anthony Bello
  14. Sal Accardi
  15. JP Puleo
  16. Keith Rocco
  17. Chace Cook
  18. Kevin Folan
  19. Matt Swanson
  20. Tommy Barrett
  21. Ronnie Williams
  22. David Arute
  23. Josh Zentek

Other Features…

Corey Fanning took the win in the Limited Sportsman feature over Aaron Plemons and Larry Barnett…

The Mini Stock feature went to Kevin Moore over Steve Michalski and Scott Michalski…

Steven Chapman won the SK Light feature over George Bessette Jr. and Tyler Chapman…

The night was rounded out by the Late Model feature, won by Derek Gluchacki over Brian Tagg and Nick Johnson.

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Paul Lambert is an aspiring collegiate journalist. A writer and broadcaster, Paul's excited to cover New England short track racing in 2022. Paul has also been published in the Boston Herald, Speedway Illustrated and on Autoweek.com.

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