UP TO THE
Mike Stefanik wants to win another
championship, if for no other reason than to get another shot at Boris Said.
As a perk for winning the 2006 NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour
off season included the opportunity to take part of the Geoff Bodine Bobsled
Challenge at the Lake Placid, N.Y.
“That was probably one of the most exciting things I’ve done
in a long time,” said Stefanik of the event, which was presented by Modified
Tour sponsor Whelen Engineering. “That was definitely neat. I was so happy
that Phil Kurze from Whelen invited me.”
It was the first time in a bobsled for the nine-time NASCAR
champion. It was also his first visit to the upstate New York town that
hosted the 1980 Winter Olympics.
“I pulled in there and saw the track,” Stefanik said, “and it
wowed me – like pulling into Daytona for the first time, and you look over
your shoulder and see turns 3 and 4 and this massive wall of concrete.
“As you go down (the track), you keep accelerating and you
keep going faster and faster and you have no idea what’s coming next. It
just keeps coming at you and you have no idea what’s coming around the next
corner. I just felt like I had very little control.”
Stefanik finished third in the Challenge, which was won by
Said – the road-course ace and an experienced sledder.
“You can’t go in green and expect to beat him,” Stefanik
said. “I certainly want to win another championship, because I certainly
want to go back and do that.”
Stefanik fulfilled his other need for speed in the offseason
jumping on his Suzuki GSX-R 1000 whenever possible.
It has been, of course, modified.
“I got it pretty fast,” Stefanik said. “It’s like a
street-legal Formula One car.”
With seven NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour titles and a pair of
NASCAR Busch East championships, Stefanik is well versed in the offseason
After racing wrapped up, he spent a weekend at the Mohegan
in Connecticut for the Whelen Modified Tour and Busch East postseason award
shows, a week in New York City as part of the NASCAR champions' events, and
a visit to New Hampshire International Speedway for their awards banquet.
He still found time to relax. His favorite activity was ice
skating on Johnson’s Pond in front of his house with his two daughters. And
since Christmas, the 48-year-old Stefanik said he has increased his
commitment to what he called “a healthy lifestyle.”
“I just said enough’s enough,” Stefanik said. “I took off
some fat and feel really good.
“I’m just on a mission. I just want to be in the best shape I
can be. I don’t want my health to be an issue.”
Especially if he’s going to give Said a challenge next
Christley/NASCAR WMT PR
April 10, 2007