Mike Stefanik will go down as one of the best Modified drivers of all-time. Stefanik has always been a threat to win every time he shows up to a race track. Even this year in a part-time campaign that saw him run just four races, he still scored a top-10 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in September and he finished third at the same track in the inaugural Whelen All-Star Shootout in July.
So what does the future hold for “Mighty Mike?” Is he retiring? Was his tenth-place finish at NHMS in September the last time we will see Mike Stefanik behind the wheel of a ground-pounding Modified?
“Realistically it probably was my last race,” Stefanik told Speed51.com powered by JEGS. “But if something comes up and I want to do it, I don’t want to have to listen to people say ‘Oh, I thought you were retired?’ So I’m a little reluctant to say I’ll never drive another car again. I don’t want to say that and then something comes up that I want to do like a fun thing or something.”
Although Stefanik refuses to label himself as retired, he is confident that he’ll never compete full-time on the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour again.
“I’m not going back Tour racing,” he said. “I’m not going back to chasing points. That much I do know. Will I never ever race again? I really can’t say with 100% certainty.”
He emphasized that he doesn’t have a ride “in the works.” Nor is he actively trying to find a ride.
“There’s no effort on my part to do it,” he said. “But if I wanted to run a race somewhere I don’t want to hear ‘I read that you retired.’ Because then you have to explain yourself. This way I won’t have to explain myself to anybody.”
Stefanik has nothing left to accomplish at this point in his career. He’s a seven-time NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour champion and a two-time NASCAR K&N Pro Series East champion. He has 74 career NWMT wins. He leads just about every NWMT stat category there is. There’s nothing out there that Stefanik wishes he’d been able to achieve.
“I got to do something that I enjoyed doing,” he said. “I made a living doing something that I enjoyed doing for 38 years. You always want it to be better, but I don’t think anybody is going to feel sorry for me in New England as far as stats go and wins and championships and what I’ve been able to do.
“You’ve got to surround yourself with good people and good equipment and I had that throughout my career. It’s not a one-man band.”
Stefanik was nominated for the NASCAR Hall of Fame for the first time at the beginning of this year. With his long list of accomplishments, it’s hard to see Stefanik not being inducted to the Hall of Fame soon.
“That’s pretty humbling to even think that I’m now one of the nominees,” he said. “It’s quite humbling to look at who’s in there and think someday I can be brought into that fraternity. It’s pretty damn cool. It’s quite an honor.”
– Rob Blount, Speed51.com Regional Editor (Long Island, CT, and NJ) -Twitter: @RobBlount
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