STEFANIK CAPTURES DUAL NASCAR TITLES
Gardiner, ME — Nobody would be surprised to see a blue shirt with a big red “S” when Mike Stefanik of Coventry, R.I. takes off his driving suit. After all, he has just accomplished a rare feat, winning two NASCAR Regional Touring Series Championships in the same year – the NASCAR Busch North Series, Grand National Division and the NASCAR Featherlite Modified Tour.
Stefanik’s concurrent titles are a modern-era NASCAR record, and it has only occurred one other time in NASCAR’s 50-year history. Lee Petty of Randleman, N.C. picked up NASCAR Grand National (now NASCAR Winston Cup) and NASCAR Late Model Short Track Championships in 1958. The NASCAR Late Model Short Track Series ran from 1951 through 1959.
Using airplanes, helicopters and automobiles, Stefanik managed to make all but one race on the two series’ 1997 schedules. In one case, for example, he flew from the NASCAR Busch North Series race at Watkins Glen on Saturday afternoon to compete in a NASCAR Featherlite Modified Tour event at Riverhead, N.Y. that evening.
But he had to make a tough choice when he was faced with a NASCAR Featherlite Modified Tour event at Jennerstown (Penn.) Speedway and a NASCAR Busch North Series event at Beech Ridge Motor Speedway in Scarborough, Maine at the exact same time.
He chose to skip the NASCAR Featherlite Modified Tour event, which adds even more significance to the fact that he wrapped the NASCAR Featherlite Modified Tour title up with one race remaining on that schedule – the November 1 General Mills/Ukrop’s Fall 150 at Richmond (Va.) International Raceway.
After the finale for the NASCAR Busch North Series, Grand National Division at Lime Rock Park in Lakeville, Conn., Stefanik admitted that he uncharacteristically allowed a number of drivers a “free pass” in an effort to finish the race and lock up the title. “If they worked hard enough to catch me, they deserved a free pass. I wasn’t interested in getting involved in any serious side-by-side racing,” said Stefanik.
But it was the side-by-side racing on two of NASCAR’s most competitive regional touring series that brought Stefanik to his new page in the NASCAR record books, and he is already looking forward to defending his titles in 1998.
So is his growing legion of fans.
Sources: NASCAR PR