STAFFORD, Conn. — The 2017 SK Modified season at Stafford Motor Speedway has been one of the most competitive in recent memory, but when it comes to drivers who have racked up checkered flags, two drivers lead the list of winners and have been at the front of the pack time and time again.
That duo? Chase Dowling and Ted Christopher.
Christopher was killed in a plane crash en route to Riverhead Raceway last Saturday, but he definitely went out of competition on top of his game. He scored six victories behind the wheel of the No. 13 SK Modified in 15 races this year.
His last victory came on Friday, Sept. 8, a night where he held off Dowling to score the win.
On Tuesday when reached by Race Chaser Online, Dowling shared his thoughts on the passing of Christopher, called the ‘King of New England’ by many.
“It’s a huge honor to have driven with him on the track,” Dowling said. “You don’t really think about it when you’re at the track. It’s sad because sometimes you don’t realize things until someone is gone. I want to win the championship this year. It’s emotional for me. I wanted to say I beat Ted Christopher for a title at Stafford. I won’t be able to do that now.”
Dowling also shared that whether it was on or off the track, he always found a way to respect Christopher.
“Ted and I were actually close and friendly, even when I wasn’t racing Stafford, we always had a great conversation and a ton of laughs together. He’s was really a great guy,” Dowling said. “When he put his helmet on, he wanted to win a race just like everyone else out there. His goal was to win. We definitely butted-heads this year, but at the end of the day we are both competitors. It’s what racers are about.”
“On a personal level, I would have gone out to dinner with him any day. He made a change in modified racing with every car he ran. He impacted the whole racing world. To see it on social media this week its been unbelievable. He was the Dale Earnhardt of the modified racing.”
Although Dowling leads the SK Modified point standings, with the passing of TC, his gap opens at the top. Christopher was second in the championship, just 26 points from the lead before his passing.
Now, Dowling will have a 34 point advantage over Keith Rocco. It’s 40 points back to defending division champion Rowan Pennink.
“Adam Skowyra and the whole team prepare fast race cars every week for me. We have a ton of guys that work hard and when we get to the race track, its the fun part for us,” Dowling said. “We have a lot of guys that work at the shop. Stafford has a stiff competition and if you’re off a little bit, you’re a 10th place car.”
“We’ve been fast 90 percent of the time. It’s not easy to win there. It’s been almost a perfect year, we blew up once and we had one bad wreck, but we rebounded well both times. We won the SK 5K this year.”
Dowling has four victories this season, his first year driving for Skowyra and the No. 50 team. One of those victories came with Christopher finishing second. He also finished second, trailing Christopher across the line twice.
When asked about the rest of the season, Dowling made one thing clear: he is not going to stop trying to win races.
“We are not going to try to think about anything differently, we just want to do what we have been doing all year,” Dowling said. “There is a fine line between driving underneath someone that might chop or block you. Matt Galko and I went side-by-side for 20 laps last week; I could have easily been spun out. We want to win races, that’s the goal. If we win, we will be in the title hunt.”
Dowling’s success in the SK Modifieds this season has helped him put his name on the map in the modified community. He will be driving full-time on the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour next season for Rob Fuller.
“This has given me a lot of reconognition this year as a driver,” Dowling said. “I’ve been driving several different modifieds all year. Rob Fuller is going to be the backbone to my career. Adam with the SK deal has been amazing to me . Gary Casella put me in his car twice and we won. It has been a great year.”
“S&S Asphalt Paving has really been my backbone for racing, without them I would have stopped racing after Legends Cars,” Dowling added. “If they called me today and said they couldn’t help me, it’d probably be the end of my career.”
About the Writer
Kyle Souza is a Journalism major at the Roger Williams University in Bristol, Rhode Island.
Souza is a freelance reporter for NASCARHomeTracks.com, covering the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour, as well as a weekly columnist for Trenton, N.J.-based Area Auto Racing News and the lead New England correspondent for Race Chaser Online, covering everything from the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour to the NASCAR Whelen All American Series and the PASS North Super Late Models.
When not writing, Souza works at Seekonk Speedway as the track’s Friday public address announcer.
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