JENNERSTOWN, Pa. – Two legendary names in Modified racing came together for a landmark victory Saturday night at Jennerstown Speedway.
Mike Christopher Jr., nephew of the late Ted Christopher, wheeled the No. 7NY Modified owned by Tommy Baldwin Jr. to his first NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour victory during the Jennerstown Salutes 150.
It was the third-straight victory for team owner Baldwin after six-time NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour champion Doug Coby drove to consecutive victories in the last two events at New York’s Riverhead Raceway and New Hampshire’s Lee USA Speedway.
“I’m real happy,” said the 23-year-old Christopher. “I’m real proud of what Tommy Baldwin has done this year. Obviously Doug has been in the car the last two races and he won. I had this scheduled to run this race and then Doug wins the two races. I guess I had a lot of shoes to fill.”
Christopher started eighth and slowly worked his way to the front of the field while Tyler Rypkema led the way after starting from the pole. Christopher moved into third on Lap 71 and quickly caught Rypkema and second-place Jon McKennedy.
McKennedy took the lead from Rypkema on Lap 88, with Christopher following him past to take second. A dozen laps later caution flag would wave when Kyle Bonsignore came to a stop between Turns 1 and 2.
All of the leaders hit pit road for tires, but McKennedy mistakenly stopped in the wrong pit box and was forced to come back around to the pits a second time.
That gave Tommy Catalano the lead with Christopher alongside him for the restart. Christopher quickly dispatched Catalano only to lose the lead to Rypkema, who restarted third, a few laps later.
From there it was a cat and mouse game, with Rypkema leading Christopher by at most a few car lengths for the next 20 laps.
Christopher made the race winning with 11 laps left, diving low in Turns 1 and 2 to take the lead from Rypkema. He ultimately pulled away to a 1.7-second victory, his first NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour triumph in just his third start.
“This is our first time coming here and I can’t be any happier than to park it in Victory Lane,” Christopher said.
Rypkema, who had never led more than five laps in a NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour race before Saturday night, settled for second after leading more than 100 laps.
“It’s hard to be mad about this,” Rypkema said. “We were second in practice and sat on the pole for the feature and then lead over 100 laps. We were just so tight that last run. I held him off as long as I could. I knew he was getting better runs off the corner and I just couldn’t make it happen.”
J.B. Fortin scored his best Tour finish in third, followed by Andrew Krause in fourth and Catalano in fifth.
McKennedy, Max McLaughlin, Justin Bonsignore, Ron Silk and Craig Lutz completed the top-10 finishers.
A replay of Saturday’s Jennerstown Salutes 150 at Jennerstown Speedway will be broadcast live on USA Network on Thursday, June 2 at 2 p.m. ET.
The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour season continues Saturday, June 18 at Monadnock Speedway in Winchester, New Hampshire. The event will be shown live on FloRacing.