The all-time winningest driver in NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour history will drive an RPM Motorsports car in the ACT All-Star Challenge at New Hampshire Motor Speedway this weekend, RPM owner Rick Paya announced Monday.
Stefanik, who is one of only two drivers in history to win nine NASCAR touring championships, will drive the No. 57 RPM Racing Engines Ford as he makes his debut in an ACT Late Model.
“The whole newness of it is what's exciting for me,” said Stefanik, who has eight career wins at New Hampshire, including six in a Modified. “I really don't know what to expect. I've been told that I've got a really good car, and it usually comes down to the car.
“As long as I'm smart with it, I should be OK. It will be on-the-job training.”
Stefanik has 70 career Whelen Modified Tour victories and is a seven-time champion of the open-wheeled division. In 1997 and 1998, he won Tour championships while simultaneously winning the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East titles the same years, joining Lee Petty as the only drivers in NASCAR history to win two NASCAR touring championships in consecutive seasons.
His nine overall NASCAR championships tie him with the late Richie Evans, who will be inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame next spring, for the most touring series titles in history.
“I know he can get the job done,” Paya said. “He's successful in anything he gets into. Is he going to go through a learning curve? For sure. These cars are different from anything he's ever driven, but I think he'll adapt pretty quickly.”
“We're thrilled to have him race with us at New Hampshire,” said Tom Curley, ACT president. “Mike brings a level of success and instant credibility with him, and we can't wait to see how he performs this weekend against an All-Star crop of Late Model drivers from this region.”
Andrew Hill of Georgia, Vt., will serve as Stefanik's crew chief for the ACT All-Star Challenge. Qualifying for the event takes place on Friday, August 12, with the 80-lap, two-segment main event the following day. He will be a teammate to RPM's full-time driver Brian Hoar, a seven-time ACT champion and the series' all-time win leader.
Stefanik joins the likes of Brad Leighton, Eddie MacDonald, Tom Carey and Hoar as former NASCAR K&N Pro Series drivers with a track record of success at New Hampshire – all of whom now compete on the ACT Late Model Tour.
“I guess it will be like old home days for me,” Stefanik said. “There are a few guys I've spent some time racing against (in NASCAR) that I'll get to race with this week. I'm just going to have some fun with it and see what I can do.”
“To have that kind of caliber of driver in one of my cars is pretty cool,” Paya said. “It's cool for the series, and it really shows how far our series has come. The Stefaniks, Hoars, MacDonalds and Leightons – it's cool to have five for six of those guys in our series.
“It's really a neat thing.”