No Bull: Mike Stefanik Wins Whelen Modified Tour Season Opening Icebreaker 150 At Thompson Speedway

THOMPSON –The wicked scowl and angry words of Mike Stefanik became the definition of the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour when the division ran the UNOH Battle at the Beach at Daytona International Speedway on Feb. 19.

Mike Stefanik celebrates in victory lane Sunday at Thompson Speedway (Photo: Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images for NASCAR)

On that night on the temporary track on the backstretch of Daytona International Speedway, Stefanik got wrecked out of the lead by Steve Park on the final lap of the exhibition event and then let his anger billow over on live national TV, dropping an uncensored swear in the process.

It was a moment that quickly went viral online and landed him days later as part of a Jay Leno monologue bit on the Tonight Show.

Sunday at Thompson International Speedway the scowl was replaced by celebratory smiles for the seven-time series champion.

Stefanik, of Coventry, R.I., went to the lead past Rowan Pennink on a late restart and went on to win the Whelen Modified Tour season opening Icebreaker 150 at Thompson.

It was the third Icebreaker victory for the 54-year old Stefanik, the division’s all-time winningest driver.

“I’m getting a little too old for all this excitement,” Stefanik bellowed in victory lane.

Pennink, of Huntingdon Valley, Pa., was second and Ryan Preece of Berlin third.

Stefanik started on the pole for the event but a miscue in the opening seconds of the race left him rallying before the first lap was completed. Stefanik drove high into turn one at the start of the race and then made contact with Preece in turn four, dropping him to fifth before lap one was complete.

“I made a driver error,” Stefanik said. “I drove it off way too hard into [turn] one with my cold right front tire and pushed up and there was a little action there with Ryan off of [turn] four, made it a little frustrating. But [crew chief Brad LaFontaine] kept his composure on the car. He told me what was going on. He made the calls and we were patient. He told it would come around and just ride for a while. He made some adjustments and he put the tires on and made the final adjustments and felt so good having them fresh tires with 40 laps to go. It’s just like days of old, we used to pit late and come from the back.”

The caution flew on lap 109 with Preece leading, Pennink in second and Stefanik in third. Preece and Stefanik went to the pits for tires, handing the lead to Pennink.

Preece restarted 11th and Stefanik 12th, but it was Stefanik that found the line better through traffic on the way back to the front.

“Experience, luck and everything went his way,” Preece said. “Every time I thought my lane was going to go the guy [in front of me] would slip. Being patient wasn’t the key today. You had to be aggressive and move your way to the front and you couldn’t wait for it to happen.”

The caution flew again on lap 136 and on the lap 141 restart Stefanik used the low lane to power by Pennink off of turn two. Pennink was left to hold off a charging Preece over the closing laps.

“It took the car a couple laps to get going after restarts,” said Pennink, who had pitted for tires on lap 56. “Mike, with new tires there, with the forward bite he was able to get the car cut and turn up under me there. Once I got it back going I was right with him. But I had some guys right on me so it was tough to try and hold guys off and try and get back by Mike. We just didn’t need those cautions there.”

Said Stefanik: “I knew Rowan had a strong car, he just didn’t have the fresh tires that we did. We were just able to buzz right through the center of the corner and just get position on him. I just didn’t want any more restarts, I just wanted it over. … I didn’t want to battle anybody, I’m too old to battle people.”

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  1. Ray Skoglund says

    Good for Mike and Team.
    They got screwed in Daytona!!

  2. rich lumpkin says


  3. glad it wasn’t teddy

  4. Great job Mike. Good luck in your future races and I hope that you take the championship this year.

  5. SBochneak says

    Congrats to the 22 team! 93 was fastest in practice, 3rd qualifier and led most (79) laps. Preece fast and Hossfeld (72) will be fun to watch too. Gonna be a good year!

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