Mike Stefanik, a former NASCAR champion, has died at age 61. According to reports on Monday, September 16, the nine-time champion was killed in a plane crash when his single-seated aircraft crashed in a wooded area near Rinconn Airport in Rhode Island.
NASCAR confirmed Stefanik’s death with a statement.
“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 in a statement. “His tough, competitive nature and excellence on the race track won him the 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.”
During his racing career, Stefanik won the Whelen Modified Tour Circuit seven different times. He won the Busch North Series twice. He was also named the Busch Series Most Popular Driver on four different occasions. Stefanik holds the Whelen Modified Tour record with 74 victories.
Our deepest condolences go out to Stefanik’s family and friends during this incredibly difficult time.
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