FINISH A DISAPPOINTMENT FOR STEFANIK
An out-of-round tire was the cause of Mike Stefanik’s
early departure from Thompson International Speedway’s Whelen Modified
Tour ICEBREAKER Sunday afternoon. The suspension on the
championship-winning #16 Diversified Metals Chevrolet essentially fell
apart as a result of the intense vibration caused from the tire.
“They impound our tires right after qualifying, so these
tires sat somewhere for a week,” Stefanik said. “Within one lap after
the green flag, the tire was just the biggest bouncer I’ve ever had. One
of the competitors said it looked like a circus tire it was so visibly
out of shape.”
Stefanik started the race from the eighth starting position after a
solid qualifying effort the week before. Heavy downpours and flood
threats caused NASCAR officials to postpone the season-opening race for
one week. Nothing but beautiful skies and mild temperatures greeted the
anxious fans and drivers.
Stefanik, the defending race winner and champion, was
optimistic for Flamingo Motorsports’ chances at a victory. That is, he
was optimistic until the completion of the first lap.
“I’ve never had a tire go from good to bad so quickly,” he
said. “I thought we had a loose wheel. It shook our car violently for
20-some laps. I probably should have pitted, but I didn’t want to go a
The first caution flew at lap 18, and Stefanik headed
straight to the pits. The team went a lap down while on pit road, but
soon made it up. A caution waved one circuit after the restart and
resulted in a lucky dog pass that allowed Stefanik to reclaim his lap.
Stefanik’s day came to an end at lap 35 when the suspension
failed. The team assessed the damage and decided they would park the
“The vibration from the tire shook our right front so bad
that a lot of parts were broken,” explained Stefanik. “Imagine driving
down the road with square tires on your car. Things were just coming
apart. We decided that it just wasn’t worth going out there not knowing
what else had broken on the car. It’s just too high of a price to pay if
something goes wrong.”
Stefanik and the Flamingo Motorsports team ended the day with
a 36th place finish – not particularly the way a championship winning
team likes to begin their title defense.
“The last two years we’ve finished every lap of every race,”
said Stefanik. “This wasn’t a good way to start the season. You have to
take the good with the bad – it’s all part of the racing game.”
The Whelen Modified Tour makes it’s next stop at Stafford
Motor Speedway on Sunday, April 29th.
April 23, 2007