Former NASCAR Champion Mike Stefanik Dies at 61 in Plane Crash

Tyler Conway@jtylerconwayFeatured ColumnistSeptember 16, 2019

LOUDON, NH - JULY 14:  Mike Stefanik, driver of the #66 Canto & Sons Pvng/Robert B. Our Co. Ford, celebrates in Victory Lane after winning the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Town Fair Tire 100 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on July 14, 2012 in Loudon, New Hampshire.  (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Jared Wickerham/Getty Images

Mike Stefanik, one of the most accomplished drivers in NASCAR history, died Sunday in a plane crash.

He was 61.

“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 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.”

Stefanik won the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour seven times during his career and twice took home the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East trophy. He is the winningest driver in the Modified Tour's history before retiring in 2014.

Stefanik began flying after his retirement, telling RaceDayCT that he's a "thrill seeker."

“I’m not one to sit on the porch and I do like a little bit of thrill,” Stefanik said. “I’m a little thrill seeker. … I can’t wipe the smile off my face every time I go fly that thing. I call it a flying lawn chair. But it’s actually a pretty cool little airplane.”

The circumstances behind the crash are yet to be reported. 

Stefanik is among the drivers who are nominated for the 2020 NASCAR Hall of Fame. 

Related

    Updated State of the 2020 QB Class

    @nfldraftscout looks at every QB's draft stock after Tua's injury

    Featured logo
    Featured

    Updated State of the 2020 QB Class

    Matt Miller
    via Bleacher Report

    Nunn Breakout Not an Accident

    He studied Steph and KD. His work ethic impresses Jimmy Butler. It’s no surprise Kendrick Nunn is thriving ➡️

    Featured logo
    Featured

    Nunn Breakout Not an Accident

    Jake Fischer
    via Bleacher Report

    Jacoby Brissett Is Holding Back the Colts

    Indy can't move forward next season with Jacoby Brissett as its QB1

    Featured logo
    Featured

    Jacoby Brissett Is Holding Back the Colts

    Brent Sobleski
    via Bleacher Report

    Why Are We Overlooking Giannis' Historic Season?

    Greek Freak is on pace to produce one of the greatest individual seasons we've ever seen

    Featured logo
    Featured

    Why Are We Overlooking Giannis' Historic Season?

    Grant Hughes
    via Bleacher Report