[media-credit id=62 align=”alignright” width=”225″][/media-credit]While it was almost too close to call, veteran NASCAR Whelen Modified racer Mike Stefanik took the checkered flag in the Town Fair Tire 100 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.
Stefanik, in the No. 66 Canto & Sons Paving/Robert B. Our Co. Ford, scored his 72nd career win over competitor Ron Silk by just 0.003 seconds. He is the sole leader with Modified victories at New Hampshire Motor Speedway with eight, including two of the last three.
“Believe it or not, I came out of Turn 4 and I thought this was going to be tight,” Stefanik said. “I actually physically sat up in the seat as much as I could and peered over the front of the car and rolled my eyes to see which bumper was ahead.”
“I just wanted to win after such a hard fought battle,” Stefanik continued. “You hate to give them away because they don’t come often enough.”
For Stefanik, this was indeed the closest finish of his long and storied career. And he made clear that he never tires of that winning feeling.
“I’ve lost them, but not by that little bit,” Stefanik said. “Literally, I was looking across the cars to see which one was ahead. I’ve never done before that in my 36 years of racing.”
“This feeling I have today never gets old,” Stefanik said. “I’m 54 years old and I still feel like I’m 21.”
Stefanik has also been very good at the ‘Magic Mile’, a track that he has raced since the days of the Busch North Series. And his magic recipe for winning at New Hampshire Motor Speedway is fairly simple.
“Put yourself in real good equipment, surround yourself with smart people, that’s A-1 because you can’t do it with a slug,” Stefanik said. “I like to overdrive the entry in this type of format and have a ballet-type perfect balance.”
“It’s just a style of racing that I picked up on in the 90s and I don’t care if you win practice or where you start, just give me that nice set the tires down in the corner and some steam under the hood and we’ll be all set.”
Stefanik’s prime competitor was Ron Silk, who finished that very close second in his No. 6 Reynolds Auto Wrecking/Schnitzer race car.
“It was a lot of fun,” Silk said. “Whenever you get in the lead draft at New Hampshire, crazy stuff is happening the whole time.”
“I don’t know what it looked like but it was a lot of fun in the car,” Silk continued. “Mike did an awesome job.”
“I ran him up and he was able to hang onto it and beat me back to the line,” Silk said. “Congratulations to him.”
This was also the closest finish that Silk has seen in his racing career. In fact, he was not sure even at the end of the race who won.
“If it was 0.003 of a second, I’d say it was the closest finish I’ve been involved in,” Silk said. “But it sucks being on the wrong end of it I can tell you that.”
The driver of the No. 52 Reynolds Auto Wrecking/Furnace & Duct race car, Doug Coby finished third. And he had to overcome quite a bit of adversity to achieve his best career finish at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.
“My race was a little different than Ron’s because I pitted four times before the break, “ Coby said. “We were just struggling on that Nationwide rubber and Cup rubber really bad.”
“We made the right adjustments at the break,” Coby continued. “We tried to make some smart moves at the end and ended up third.”
“It feels awesome.”
Eric Beers, piloting the No. 45 Horwith Freightliner/John Blewett, inc., and Todd Szegedy, driving the No. 2 Dunleavy Repair/A&J Romano Construction Ford, rounded out the top five finishers in the Modified Tour.
Cup driver Ryan Newman, behind the wheel of the No. 7 Menards/Aggressive Hydraulics, finished 30th after a tire problem ended his promising run.