The Chrome Horn News



    Whelen Modified Tour driver Mike Stefanik ended a 27-race winless drought Sunday afternoon by taking the lead from Matt Hirschman on lap 92 of the CARQUEST Fall Final at Stafford Motor Speedway and driving on to a convincing victory. Stefanik, who already leads the tour in career wins, extended the record to 68. Stefanik has gone winless since the 2006 season opener at Thompson International Speedway.
    “There was a pit party before the race and all I heard were things like, ‘When are you going to retire? What’s the matter with your car? Why can’t you fix it?’ It gets so hard to swallow. It’s horrible when you can’t even walk through the pits and hold your head up. It’s a humbling game. When things are going good you think you have all the answers, but things aren’t going good they are really bad. Hopefully this will silence the critics a little bit. (This win) feels good and we needed it bad,” Stefanik said.
    Stefanik exceeded even his own expectations on Sunday afternoon after a qualifying effort left the team with a 14th place starting position.
    “I walked out of the motor home, looked around and said, ‘Wow, what a great day to go out and ride around.’ On Saturday, we tried a bunch of things that I’ve been wanting to try and they didn’t work. Basically, after practice and after qualifying, we went another route with the car. My crew chief went and talked to the guys who run the program for the 19 car and they basically let him look through their book. We didn’t take their set up, but it gave us an idea of where we should be. I don’t know whether it was luck or what, but I guess we’ll find out at Thompson. If our car drives good again at Thompson, then we’ll have seen the light at the end of the tunnel.”
    The Coventry, RI-native attributes an exceptional pit stop as key to taking the checkers. The #16 Diversified Metals Chevrolet pitted at lap 60 despite some of the leaders electing to stay out. The team came into the pits running ninth and was the second car out of the pits to line up fifth for the restart. Stefanik and his Flamingo Motorsports crew knew that, even though the fresh rubber would level out after a run of 15-20 laps, that they had enough car to make it out front. They just needed to do it in a hurry.
    “The car was fast and it didn’t matter which lane we were in. Once they singled out we just went to work,” explained Stefanik. “But the real key to getting this win was the work the guys did in the pits. Only one car beat us and they put two tires on and we put the maximum allowed of three. That was spectacular.”
    It didn’t take long for Stefanik to get out front. On lap 92, Stefanik drove under Matt Hirschman for the lead.
    “We had new tires and it was a huge advantage for a short run. When I got to Matty I had quite a bit more grip than he did due to my fresh tires,” Stefanik said. “There was a little contact, but nothing major. Nothing for anyone to be really upset over. In fact, the Hirschman’s were the first to congratulate me.”
    The Whelen Modified Tour has one more event on tap before the season comes to a close – the World Series of Auto Racing at Thompson International Speedway. Stefanik is hoping that the team has finally gotten the monkey off their back, and their winning ways will continue.
    “I feel like an enormous weight has been lifted off our shoulders, but this isn’t the end. We have one race to go, and that could set the tone for everything. We need to have another good finish to keep the moral up and to keep the momentum going through the offseason. I have to say this: there are a lot of people that have supported this team through good and bad. People like: Diversified Metals, Sanderson and McCloud, Ace Moulding, RB Enterprise, Ceric Fabrication, and Sheraton Harborside Portsmouth. They’ve never given up on us and for that we’re all thankful. Hopefully, we can give them some more reason to celebrate next week.”


Source: Penny Aicardi/Mike Stefanik PR
Posted:  October 3, 2007

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