Class of 2021: Mike Stefanik
by Tom Jensen June 18, 2020
New England native won a record-tying nine NASCAR championships in two different divisions.
Setting records and winning championships was nothing new for nine-time NASCAR champion Mike Stefanik, who joins Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Red Farmer in the NASCAR Hall of Fame Class of 2021.
One of the most successful racers in the sport’s history, Stefanik is one of only two drivers to win nine NASCAR championships, the other being Hall of Fame Modified racer Richie Evans (2012). Stefanik captured seven titles in the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour and two more in the NASCAR Busch North Series (now ARCA Menards Series East). In 1997 and ’98 Stefanik won championships in both series concurrently, and during his career, he earned 74 race victories in Modified competition and 12 more in the Menards Series East.
The Massachusetts racer earned numerous other honors in his career, including being selected as one of the 10 Greatest Drivers in the Whelen Modified Tour, and one of the Top 10 Drivers of the first 25 years of the Menards Series East. In addition, Stefanik was the 1999 Rookie of the Year in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series (now NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series).
Here are six Hall of Fame moments from Stefanik's career:
1999, Truck Series Rookie of the Year
While best known for his work in the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour, Mike Stefanik drove in 26 races each in the NASCAR Busch Grand National Series (now Xfinity Series) and the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series (now NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series). In 1999, Stefanik was the Truck Series Rookie of the Year, posting one top-five and nine top-10 finishes.
2011, Lime Rock Park
At the very technical 1.53-mile Lime Rock Park road course in Lakeville, Connecticut, Mike Stefanik posted a hard-earned second-place finish in only his second appearance at the track. But given Stefanik’s ability, the strong run was no surprise.
2013, UNOH Battle at the Beach
During the Whelen Modified Tour UNOH Battle at the Beach, Mike Stefanik took the lead on Lap 127 of the scheduled 150-lap race, which was run on the backstretch of Daytona International Speedway. Stefanik appeared to have the race well in hand, but a late caution flag bunched up the field and on the last lap, Stefanik got punted out of the lead by the second-place car, driven by Steve Park, who took the checkered flag.
Rebounding from his bitter disappointment at getting wrecked while leading on the final lap at Daytona International Speedway, Mike Stefanik responded like a champion does, by winning his next race. In this case, Stefanik qualified on the pole for a race known as the Icebreaker at Connecticut’s Thompson Speedway, where he took the lead for good with 10 laps to go and held on for the win.
2013, Stafford Springs
Winning races is one thing. Winning championships is something else entirely. And do enough of both and fans will flock to you. Nine-time NASCAR champion Mike Stefanik embraced his fan base in the Northeast. For his career, Stefanik won 74 races in 29 seasons spent on the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour. He also amassed a considerable fan base during that period.
2014, Whelen All-Star Shootout
NASCAR Hall of Fame Class of 2021 inductee Mike Stefanik put together an incredible body of work that included seven NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour championships and two more in the NASCAR Busch North Series, along with 74 Modified wins and 48 poles. Stefanik was named one of the Modified Tour’s 10 Greatest Drivers in 2003 and holds the series records for championships, race wins, poles, top fives and top 10s.
The NASCAR Hall of Fame is open Wednesday through Monday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. To purchase tickets, go to nascarhall.com/tickets.