NASCAR Modified legend Mike Stefanik dies in plane crash

LOUDON, NH - SEPTEMBER 19: Mike Stefanik, driver of the #1 Paquin Insurance Chevrolet, stands in the garage area during qualifying for the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour F.W. Webb 100 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on September 19, 2014 in Loudon, New

Mike Stefanik, one of two drivers in NASCAR history to win nine national series or touring championships, died Sunday in a small single-seat plane crash.

He was 61. Stefanik was killed when a plane crashed near the border of Rhode Island and Connecticut. The Rhode Island driver won seven Modified Tour championships and last competed in 2014.

According to NASCAR, the winningest driver in the history of the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour, Stefanik’s career stretched nearly 30 years. He won the tour championship seven times, and in 1997 and ’98 completed the remarkable feat of winning the Whelen Modified Tour and Busch North – now NASCAR K&N Pro Series East – titles simultaneously.

“Mike Stefanik was one of the most successful drivers in NASCAR history, but even more so, he was a true representative of our sport,” NASCAR Chairman and CEO Jim France said. “His tough, competitive nature and excellence on the race track won him the respect and admiration of fans and competitors alike. His career stretched more than 30 years, bridging the generations between Jerry Cook and Richie Evans to our current drivers. He recorded achievements in this sport that are likely untouchable, and his legacy as a champion will endure. We will keep his wife Julie and his family and friends in our prayers.”

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