NASCAR NORTHERN BANQUET NEWS AND NOTES by Mike Twist
Gifts, Silly Season News, Team Efforts and More
STEFANIK WINS MOD TITLE, SHARES SPOTLIGHT WITH FENDERED TEAM
Mike Stefanik and Grizco Racing both have a pair of NASCAR Busch North titles to their credit. Stefanik won the title in 1997 and 1998 driving for H&H Motorsports. Grizco followed that in 1999 and 2000 with Olsen behind the wheel.
When Leighton stepped out of the Grizco seat after the 2002 season, Stefanik took over in what seemed to be a natural fit. In the next three years, the pairing would contend for the championship every year, finishing second in points twice and fifth in points once. But they didn’t win a championship together.
So when Stefanik won the 2006 Modified Tour title, he made sure that his former team owners Steve and Peg Griswold and former crew chief Jerry Babb were at the head table of the banquet to enjoy the moment.
“I’m sorry that I couldn’t get you a seat at the head table in our three years together,” said Stefanik during his acceptance speech. “But I got you one here tonight.”
HOAR BOWS OUT OF BUSCH EAST GRACEFULLY
In 2007, Brian Hoar will cease racing in the NASCAR Busch East Series full-time. As the tour branches out to far away places like Tennessee, Minnesota and Iowa, the Vermont auto dealer will stay closer to home and race full-time with the ACT Late Model Tour.
Mike Stefanik and his trophy (Jim DuPont Photo)
“I’m leaving the series to try something different next year,” said Hoar. “I’m only going to run part-time. Over the last six years, I’ve made a lot of friends here. I understand where NASCAR is going with this series and I think that there are a lot of opportunities there, but I’m a hobby racer.”
Hoar isn’t getting rid of all of his Busch East Series equipment though. Expect to see him in a limited schedule of BES races next year.
MOD SILLY SEASON IN FULL SWING
One of the most visible teams in the Modified Tour pit area will have a new driver in 2007. Zach Sylvester has replaced Doug Coby in the Curt Chase-owned #77. Coby, who scored his first Tour victory at Stafford this year, is looking at other opportunities on the Tour. He’ll also race a SK Modified at Waterford Speedbowl in 2007.
That probably won’t be the only silly season change on the Tour. The rumor mill pegs several driver and team combinations within the top 20 of the standings to be changing before April’s Icebreaker at Thompson. Stay tuned to Speed51.com throughout the off-season to see what materializes next.
AWOL FOR ARCA
Two Busch East drivers had to miss the banquet because they were off driving racecars. Both Joey McCarthy and Pierre Bourque were at Daytona International Speedway over the weekend taking part in a pre-season ARCA test session.
CHRISTMAS COMES EARLY FOR MODSTERS
Whelen’s Phil Kurze played the part of Santa Claus at the Modified banquet. He presented each of the top 10 finishers in the standings a custom made watch for their achievements.
The top 10 point guys in Modifieds stand by with their gifts. Whelen's Phil Kurze is the tall man in the center of the row. (Rick Ibsen Photo)
A DESERVING SPORTSMAN
Championship car owner Eric Sanderson won the Sportsmanship Award at the Modified Tour banquet largely because of his team’s actions during theJuly race at NHIS.
Eric Beers was involved in a practice crash and did not have a back-up car. Before Beers’ #3 was even towed back to the pit area, Sanderson ordered that his team unload their back-up car to lend to Beers and his Boehler Racing Enterprises team. Then, the #16 team helped prepared the car and switch over any needed parts. Beers came back to finish in the top 10 of the race.
Eric Sanderson's championship winning #16 team. (Rick Ibsen Photo)
The watches could make a difference at the track next season.
“[Tour director] Ed [Cox] said that I need this watch, so that I can be on time for the drivers meetings next year,” said Ted Christopher.
But as nice as those gifts were, they couldn’t compare to what champion Mike Stefanik was given. Whelen presented Stefanik with an American Flag that was flown over the U.S. Capitol for a day in honor of the nine-time NASCAR Touring champion earlier this year.
GOULD IS BUSY AT BANQUET
Richard Gould was a busy guy on stage at the Busch East Series awards banquet. Not only, did he accept the award for finishing 20th in the standings as a driver, he also accepted a pair of awards for teammates who couldn’t make it. Gould stood in to receive the sixth-place car owner’s trophy for Glenn Rudolph and the sixth-place driver’s hardware in place of Joey McCarthy.
FLEMKE HAS SOME COMPANY
All drivers thank their crews during a banquet speech, but second-place points man Eddie Flemke brought things to a new level during the NASCAR Modified Tour banquet when he invited his entire crew up onto the stage during his speech.
“I didn’t get here alone,” said Flemke. “One thing that I’ve learned in 33 years of driving racecars is that no man is a mountain. You can’t do this alone. So I would like to ask all of my crew members to come up here and stand with me. You’re my team and my friends.”
BEERS GETS BACK AT MATT HIRSCHMAN
Since the final race of the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour season, there have been a few open shows for the Modifieds. Matt Hirschman won both the North-South
Eddie Flemke's team joins him up on stage. (Jim DuPont Photo)
Sanderson downplayed his actions, but the rest of the crowd sure didn’t.
“Anyone out there probably would have done that same thing that I did,” said Sanderson during his acceptance speech.
“Yeah, but you did!” yelled a voice in the crowd.
Later in the night, Team manger Chris Kopec referred to Sanderson’s action without any surprise.
“That’s just him,” said Kopec. “That is just his true character there.”
Shootout at Concord Motorsport Park and the Mason-Dixon
Meltdown at South Boston Speedway with Eric Beers finishing third and second in those two events.
Beers might have been beat in those two races, but he got the last laugh at the Mod Tour banquet by stealing Hirschman’s two drink tickets for the night and redeeming them himself at the bar.
FANS IN HIGH PLACES
NASCAR’s Managing Director of Racing Operations, George Silbermann, told the Busch East Series crowd about finding a few friends of the tour who are in high places recently.
“At a private dinner in Orlando recently, I was with Mike Helton, Richard and Judy Childress and Kevin and Delana Harvick,” said Silbermann. “Of all things, Richard brought up the Grand National Series at dinner. He wanted to talk about drivers, spec engines, schedules and who to keep an eye on out there. The next night, at the Busch Series banquet, Greg Stucker from Goodyear brought up the series. He was talking about future tire concepts that they want to try out here.
“The message is that there are a lot of people right now who are really paying attention to what is happening in this series.”