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LOOK WHO'S BACK: Mike Stefanik Returns To Whelen Modified Tour Victory Lane At NHMS

Saturday, August 13, 2011
Photo: Getty Images/NASCAR

LOUDON, N.H. – For Mike Stefanik, it was worth the wait.

Stefanik held off the furious challenges of Todd Szegedy and Woody Pitkat over two attempts at a green-white-checkered finish to win the Granite State Classic at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on Saturday afternoon. The Coventry, R.I., driver added his 71st-career Tour victory to the resume – the Tour's all-time mark – and posted his seventh career New Hampshire win.

"The whole team, they've all been waiting for this," Stefanik said. "This is our big Daytona of the Modified (Tour). Who says you're old at 53 years old on the Whelen Modified Tour? I felt 18 out there again."

Pitkat finished second, with Szegedy in third. Justin Bonsignore and Eric Beers rounded out the Top-5.

 

The battle for the lead intensified following a restart on Lap 104. Stefanik first had to keep Szegedy at bay, before Pitkat pulled onto the leader's bumper with less than half a lap remaining.

Stefanik, Pitkat and Szegedy fanned out three-wide across the frontstretch under the checkered flag.

"We were both probably better than Mike was," said Pitkat, who posted his best career Whelen Modified Tour finish after choosing not to pit for tires or fuel. "He seemed like he was a little tight, but he was just running a different line than we were."

Stefanik's victory was his first at New Hampshire since 1998.

"That's a long time," Stefanik said. "All weekend, we adjusted on this car. They had some great changes and the car was just awesome."

Point leaders Ron Silk and Rowan Pennink encountered trouble on Lap 75, when Silk spun off Turn 2 and Pennink was collected. Silk also was part of a multi-car pileup on the frontstretch with eight laps remaining.

Silk rebounded to finish 11th, while Pennink finished 16th.

– TB