Stafford Springs, CT — With the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour heading back to Stafford on May 27th for the 21st Annual TSI Harley-Davidson 125, one driver who will be looking to knock the door down to victory lane is Mike Stefanik. Stefanik is the Tour’s all-time winningest driver with 70 career victories, but he hasn’t won on the Tour since Martinsville in 2009. Stefanik heads into the TSI Harley-Davidson 125 with two top-5 finishes in each of the first two races of the 2011 season, but he says his Diversified Metals team are still searching for speed in his #16 machine.
“We’re struggling right now,” said Stefanik. “We’re just not quite firing on all 8 cylinders right now. It seems like our car is good on the shorter runs, 20 or 30 laps, but once we get to a run with 40 or more laps, the car isn’t good. To win on the Tour, you need to have all of your ducks in a row and right now we need to get a couple of our ducks back in that row. We’re working hard and we’ll get it straightened out, we always do. The top-5’s are nice, but we want to win races. It’s a short schedule and if you want to win the championship, you have to win races. Racing isn’t as easy as it looks and right now we’re having a tough time getting towards the front once we get into the top-5.”
Perhaps the best remedy for Stefanik’s woes is a return to Stafford. Of his 70 career victories, 20 of them have come at Stafford. While Stefanik hasn’t won at Stafford since the 2008 Fall Final, his worst finish in the four Stafford races in 2010 was a 7th and he finished 5th in the CARQUEST Tech-Net Spring Sizzler in April.
“We need to get back into victory lane, it’s been a while since we won a race,” said Stefanik. “Stafford is as good a track as any to win at, but like I said, if the car isn’t handling, then you aren’t going to win, no matter what track you’re racing at. We’re working with Doug Chenard from Rowan Pennink’s team and we’re coming with a new package for Stafford, so we’ll see how that works out. We can be fast in practice and fast in qualifying, but we need to work on our race setup. Because no matter how fast you are in practice or qualifying, you need to have the car working for you in the race or you’re going to go backwards.”
With the TSI Harley-Davidson 125 being 25 laps shorter than the standard distance of 150 laps, Stefanik says that pit strategy could play an important role in determining the race winner.
“I think with this race you might see some different pit strategies,” said Stefanik. “Some guys might pit for tires and some guys might be able to stay out for the whole 125 laps on one set of tires. With these Hoosiers, if your car is right, you can stay out on one set for a long time. But it all comes down to the chassis, it has to be working for you. I think that the new tires vs. old tires is not worth as much as it used to be, so you may see the race winner be able to go the whole way on one set of tires.”
Tickets for the 21st Annual TSI Harley-Davidson 125 are on sale now at the Speedway Box Office and are price at $30.00 for adult general admission tickets, $5.00 for children ages 6-14, and children ages 5 and under are admitted free of charge when accompanied by an adult. Reserved seating is priced at $32.00 for all ages.
For more information, or to order tickets, contact the Stafford Motor Speedway track office at 860-684-2783 or visit us on the web at www.staffordspeedway.com.
Sources: Scott Running/Stafford Motor Speedway PR