Mike Stefanik Eyes End To Speedbowl Victory
Mike Stefanik takes the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour point lead into
Saturday’s Whelen 150 at Waterford Speedowl. The six-time national NASCAR
Modified champion hopes to finally reach the ‘ Bowl’s Victory Lane.
The Speedbowl is one of the few places where Stefanik,
who has 67 career Modified Tour checkereds, has failed to win. “Don’t know
why,” he says. “It’s not that I don’t enjoy racing there. I don’t really
dwell on statistics a lot but, yeah, I’d like to get a win there.”
Even without a win, the Rhode Islander still has an
incredible Speedbowl resume in both Modified and Busch East competition. He
has seven top five finishes in the Modifieds including a pair of seconds,
the last in the spring of 2004.
“We led the whole race and I got into some dirt on the
last lap and somebody (Eddie Flemke) got by me,” Stefanik continues.
Fact is, there is no place Stefanik would rather be
Saturday night. “All those years, all those running both tours, I was always
thinking about being someplace else,” he reports. “Right now, I am happy
being right where I am. I am not thinking about someplace else.”
It will be the 11th Speedbowl Modified Tour race since
the facility returned to the NASCAR fold in 2000. Two drivers – Ed Flemke
and Jerry Marquis - have won twice over that span. Marquis drove Bob
Garbarino’s Mystic Missile to victory in last fall’s race.
The Whelen Tour joins the Speedbowl’s SK-Modifieds
(35-lap feature), Late Models (30), Sportsman (20) and Mini Stocks (20).
Action gets underway at 5 PM with WMT qualifying.
Donnie Lia (currently third in points), Modified icon
Reggie Ruggiero (seventh), Todd Szegedy (eighth) and Chuck Hossfeld, hope to
join Flemke and Marquis in the two Speedbowl win group.
Five-time champ Tony Hirschman and Eric Beers,
currently second and fifth in points, head up a gang looking for the initial
While experience definitely counts at the Speedbowl,
Stefanik points out surprises do happen. “Sometimes somebody just hits on
something,” he says, pointing to Dave Berghman’s victory in the spring of
2002. “He just passed everybody on the outside.”
The outside could well be a factor again, a possibility
that could benefit a group of “experienced” Speedbowl drivers, led by 2005
SK-Modified champion Rob Summers. Chris Pasteryak, currently in the 2006
Speedbowl point chase, and Summers are probable double dippers Saturday.
Only three drivers have won both Modified Tour and
SK-Modified features at the Speedbowl – Rick Donnelly, who won the first
tour visit back in 1985, Flemke and Ted Christopher.
Summers and Pasteryak would like to join that club as
would Ron Yuhas Jr. and Eric Berndt, both in the top-10 in all-time SK wins.
That possibility also awaits James Civali, the 2004 Modified Nationals
winner, Dennis Charette and Doug Coby, the latter coming to the Speedbowl in
July 20, 2006