Story By: KYLE SOUZA / JDV PRODUCTIONS – JENNERSTOWN, PA – Tommy Baldwin Racing is taking control of the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour.
On Saturday, at Jennerstown Speedway in Pennsylvania, the team was back in Victory Lane for the third straight Tour event – this time with Connecticut rising star Mike Christopher Jr. behind the wheel.
Christopher, who was making just his third Whelen Modified Tour start, took the lead from polesitter Tyler Rypkema with 11 laps to go in the Jennerstown Salutes 150 and held on for his first trophy. Christopher beat Rypkema, who led the field to the green flag for the first time in his career after winning the Mayhew Tools Dominator Pole Award, and New York native J.B. Fortin to the finish line after 150 laps.
“I’m really happy and really proud of what Tommy Baldwin has done this year,” Christopher Jr. said. “Doug (Coby) won the last two races, and I had this scheduled, and I had a lot of shoes to fill. I can’t give it up enough to the team. I have to thank everyone involved that helps out on the car, especially Tommy Baldwin. I’ve had a lot of fun with him over the years, but it’s just getting better. Tommy gave me an opportunity to run Tour cars, and with this being my first time coming here, I couldn’t be happier to park it here in Victory Lane.”
Rypkema led the early laps from pole position and led the field for much of the early stages of the race, topping the race at the halfway point. Shortly after, on lap 89, Jon McKennedy took the No. 79 to the top spot, leading the field across the line to the caution flag with 50 laps to go when Kyle Bonsignore crashed. However – on the pit stop during the caution period – McKennedy had pit road trouble, and shuffled back into the middle of the field.
The battle for the final 35 laps was between Rypkema and Christopher. It was Christopher shortly after the green who put the No. 7NY out front, but Rypkema passed him for the lead with 31 laps to go, and looked to be in control. But, Christopher didn’t let him get away. After hounding the back bumper, Christopher made the move late to rocket to his first career win. His only two previous Whelen Modified Tour starts were at Riverhead Raceway (2021) and the 2022 season opener at New Smyrna Speedway, where he finished third.
“It’s hard to be mad about this,” Rypkema said. “To lead over 100 laps… we were just so tight the last run and I held Mike off the longest I could. It’s a great day for us… we led a ton of laps and we have a good notebook going for here with a solid finish.”
J.B. Fortin posted a career best third-place finish, while Andrew Krause and Tommy Catalano finished the top-five. McKennedy rebounded to sixth, the last car on the lead lap at the finish, while Max McLaughlin, Justin Bonsignore, Ron Silk and Craig Lutz finished the top-10.
“We had a stout car from the beginning,” Fortin said. “On the long green flag run, the car was coming to me. It was a killer car. Third-place finish – the first podium for me.”
In Jennerstown Speedway house division action, Skylar Berkey from Jenners, Pennsylvania was champion of Jennerstown Salutes for the first time in the Fast 4’s. Nesquehoning, Pennsylvania’s Mike Sweeney captured the Late Model victory, while Boswell, Pennsylvania’s Doug Glessner was champion in the Modified division. In the Pro Stock feature, Kyle Burkholder of Mill Run, Pennsylvania was the champion of Jennerstown Salutes.
As part of a full day of racing, Jennerstown’s four house divisions and the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour kept fans on the edge of their seats – both in the grandstands – and live on FloRacing.TV. The pre-race ceremonies included a Blackhawk Helicopter flyover, while also remembering fallen heroes and Gold Star Families to celebrate Memorial Day. All NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour cars and Jennerstown Late Models carried the name of a fallen hero on their roof for the day. Multiple families of fallen heroes were also in attendance.
The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour and JDV Productions will return to the track at Monadnock Speedway in Winchester, N.H., on Saturday, June 18. The race will be the second of three in the Whelen Granite State Short Track Cup and third of four for JDV Productions in 2022.
NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Results: Jennerstown Salutes 150
- Mike Christopher Jr.
- Tyler Rypkema
- J.B. Fortin
- Andrew Krause
- Tommy Catalano
- Jon McKennedy
- Max McLaughlin
- Justin Bonsignore
- Ron Silk
- Craig Lutz
- Eric Goodale
- Austin Beers
- Patrick Emerling
- Timmy Solomito
- Dave Sapienza
- James Pritchard Jr.
- Kyle Ebersole
- Walter Sutcliffe Jr.
- Kyle Bonsignore
- Gary McDonald
- Melissa Fifield
- Spencer Davis