PROVIDENCE, R.I. – Ted Christopher came back from a fiery incident that occurred in the pit area, and, with left hand tightly bandaged, raced his to the lead by Patrick Emerling with eight laps remaining in the 40-lap Coffee Cup three-quarter midget main event inside the Dunkin’ Donuts Center Monday.
The win for Christopher was his sixth indoors and by far the most dramatic.
Christopher’s night started out fortuitously when he ran the second quickest time trial lap and won his heat race. When he and the other drivers left the arena floor after the heat for a routine post-race fuel sample inspection, his car burst into flames. Christopher escaped with a badly burned left hand; the car sustained little damage.
“It never hurt at all until now,” said Christopher in a post-race trackside winner’s interview. “It must have been the adrenalin. I have to thank the crew who got the car back in shape after the fire. This win is for them.”
Emerling, who set the fastest time and started on the pole position for the ‘Coffee Cup’, held off an array of early race challengers including Paul Lotier, Jr., and Jon Gambuti, both of whom ran a close second to Emerling.
But Lotier and Gambuti were involved in early crashes. Christopher, who had started sixth in the race, moved to second behind Emerling by lap seven and put on the pressure.
Christopher himself was challenged by Anthony Sesely, and the pair swapped second place back and forth several times during a series of mid-race restarts for accidents further back in the field.
Finally, Christopher got Emerling just a bit out of shape and drove by on the inside to take the lead, an advantage he would not relinquish. Sesely followed Christopher by Emerling and was on the leader’s bumper at the finish.
“We finally got this car running right,” said Sesely, who started seventh. “The inside lane was definitely the place to be on the restarts. I lost a bunch of spots when I was up there. On the last lap off turn four, I got under him and I thought I might have had him.”
Emerling was a disappointed third after leading most of the distance.
“Teddy got into me a little bit but that’s Teddy,” Emerling said. “I’d have probably done the same thing if the situation was reversed. My car was getting a little off as it was. This is just the second time I have driven one of these things indoors and I think we will be a threat in Atlantic City next month.”
Tim Buckwalter, who had flown in from a race the night before in Tulsa, Okla., was fourth and Joey Payne, added to the field in 26th and last starting position as a provisional starter, claimed fifth.
Cody Sieber won the 25-lap Champ Kart feature race fashioned when he passed Brandon Rusczek on the eleventh lap and then held off the late race charge of Danny Bouc and a resurgent Rusczek. Mike Perry and Glen Meisenhelder completed the top five which crossed the finish line nose-to-tail.
“It feels great to win indoors,” said Sieber, who races karts outside almost exclusively on dirt tracks. “It was close out there, good hard, clean racing.”