STEFANIK FINISHES FIFTH IN FIRST FLASH RACE
The Whelen Modified Tour made the trek to Wall Township Speedway for the
series’ newest format - a flash race. In the event, a pair of 50-lap
qualifying heats determined the starting line-up for a 50-lap feature.
No cautions were counted, and teams were limited on the tires they could
use. Mike Stefanik and the Flamingo Motorsports crew put aside their
objections to the format and posted a fifth place finish in the feature
“It was pretty bizarre the whole thing,” said Stefanik.
“There were a lot of cautions, the race was very lengthy, and it was
very combat-like. I started ninth and I finished fifth. The only passing
you could do was on a restart or if someone ahead of you had problems.
It was frustrating because the track was a fast track.”
It was the first time Stefanik had ever turned a lap at the
high-banked one-third mile oval behind the wheel of a Modified car.
Practice was important to the nine-time NASCAR Champion. But under the
rules of the flash event, teams were limited to two sets of tires, and
one set was needed for the heat race and one for the feature race.
“Teams were afraid to practice with new tires on for fear of
putting a heat cycle in them,” said Stefanik. “So, basically, everyone
had to try to practice on tires they couldn’t run. It’s very difficult
to set your car up under those circumstances.”
Still Stefanik and the Flamingo Motorsports crew held out
hope for a good show.
The heat race was a race within a race. It determined your starting
position, and on a track where there wasn’t much passing, it became
imperative to get a good finish. Stefanik raced in the second heat and
brought home the No. 16 Diversified Metals Chevrolet ninth.
“I’d really thank to thank all my teammates who supported the
effort to go there and do this flash race – right from the truck driver
to crew chief and everyone in between,” Stefanik said. “It was a long
day and I’m sure there were a lot of other places they would have rather
been, but I want to thank them for signing up for the tour of duty. They
did a great job and gave me a strong car for the heat and for the
Several cautions plagued the feature event, though the
caution laps were not counted. Thoughout the course of the 50 green flag
laps, Stefanik did enjoy side-by-side duels with drivers Todd Szegedy
and Jamie Tomaino.
“We had some good races out there, and I did enjoy that,” he
said. “I just felt like I was stuck in the spin cycle of a dryer. I
never spun out. It just seemed like the race went on and on. The
top-five cars didn’t pit, but restart after restart was pretty tough on
Stefanik and his crew are happy to have the race behind them.
“Tony Hirschman, a five-time champion and top competitor in
this series decided not to go to this event. Will this start a trend?
We’ll just have to wait and see,” said Stefanik about the flash race.
“I’d hate to see the addition of this format chase drivers of his
caliber away. It would lessen the impact of a championship in this
series. The caliber of the 48 team is what you want to beat out for the
title and not because they didn’t go. That’s not what racing is all
about. You want to beat him out on the track.”
The Whelen Modified Tour will return to action on May 25th at
Stafford Motor Speedway.
May 11, 2007