Photo Finish: Mike Stefanik Wins Thrilling Whelen Modified Tour Town Fair Tire 100 At NHMS

LOUDON, N.H. – Fans being on the edges of their seats is hardly uncommon during NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour events at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.

Whelen Modified Tour photo finish in Loudon between Mike Stefanik and Ron Silk Saturday (Photo: Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images for NASCAR)

Saturday in Loudon, even the race winner couldn’t help but find the edge of his own seat.

Coming to the checkered flag side-by-side with Ron Silk, Mike Stefanik craned in the driver’s seat to try and get a better view of the finish at the line.

It turned out to be exactly the view he wanted to see.

In a breathtaking finish, Stefanik edged Silk by three one-thousandths of a second at the finish line to win the Whelen Modified Tour Town Fair Tire 100 at NHMS.

“This feeling I have today never gets old,” said Stefanik, a seven-time series champion and the division’s all-time winningest driver. “I’m 54 years old and I still feel like I’m 21.”

It was the 72nd career Whelen Modified Tour victory for Stefanik, of Coventry, R.I., and his eighth all-time at NHMS, which leads all drivers for series victories at the track.

Doug Coby of Milford was third.

Stefanik and Silk, of Norwalk, waged a feisty battle for the top spot over the final 48 laps, trading the lead 17 over the span.

Stefanik took the lead from Silk on lap 97 and took the white flag as the leader. Silk got a run off of turn two on the final lap and made a diving move under Stefanik going into turn three.

Silk pulled ahead through the corner and ran Stefanik up the track through turn four, opening the door for then third place Rowan Pennink to make an attempt in the low lane to go by both of them.

But Pennink made contact with Silk coming off of turn four, causing Pennink to fall back and Silk to wiggle slightly as he came to the frontstretch just ahead of Stefanik.

Stefanik fought back on the outside lane to get back to even with Silk before winning the drag race to the line.

“I was thinking, ‘Oh boy, this is going to be tight.’” Stefanik said of the run down the frontstretch to the checkered flag. “I actually physically sat up in the seat as much as I could and kind of like peered over the front of my car and just rolled my eyes over to see which bumper was ahead. It’s kind of funny that you would actually think about doing that. I just wanted to win after such a hard fought battle. You hate to give them away. They don’t come enough.”

Said Silk: “Whenever you get in the lead draft here at New Hampshire, crazy stuff is happening the whole time. I don’t know what it looked like from outside, but it was a lot of fun in the car. Mike did an awesome job there on the last lap. I got a run on him. I even ran him up a little bit and he was able to hang on to it up in the marbles a little bit and beat me back to the line.

“I was in the spot I wanted to be in on the last lap. I wanted to be in second coming off of turn two. I got the run down the backstretch but I couldn’t get him. I knew this morning in practice, I was around him a little bit drafting and I knew his car was good. It was one of the few cars that could really suck up on my car really well. Those guys did a great job.”

Silk said the contact from Pennink may have been the difference. Pennink fell back to a sixth place finish.

“He was just going to the bottom trying to get by the both of us,” Silk said. “It just clipped me in the left rear a little bit. That might have been the difference. We might have won the race if it wasn’t for that, but that’s what happens. I think that was probably worth three-thousandths [of a second].”

It marked the closest finish for a Whelen Modified Tour event at New Hampshire Motor Speedway since Chuck Hossfeld beat Ted Christopher by one one-thousandth of a second in June 2008 at NHMS.

“It sucks being on the wrong end of it I can tell you that,” said Silk, who was the pole-sitter for the event and led the first 48 laps of the race before a NASCAR mandated halfway break.

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