The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour is set to open the 2013 season with the running of the Icebreaker on April 14 at Thompson International Speedway.
Will the division be at Thompson under traditional officiating or will they be competing by the no holds barred standards seemingly set in place in three events at last week’s NASCAR Battle at the Beach at Daytona International Speedway.
“I don’t know whoever signed up for that type of racing but it’s certainly not the type of racing that I want to sign up for,” Stefanik said of the events at the Battle at the Beach.
In the first Battle at the Beach event on Monday Feb. 18, Kyle Larson blatantly spun C.E. Falk out of the lead coming out of the final corner. He was allowed to keep the win.
“When I saw the [the Whelen All-American Series event] when Kyle Larson basically just kept running into the kid in the lead until he turned him and they were all set and fine with that, that kind of set the tone,” Stefanik said. “In the driver’s meeting it got a little ridiculous with some of the antics and questions that were being asked about if anything goes or is this the new way we’re going to race.”
In the Whelen Modified Tour race, the first of two events on Tuesday, Stefanik was spun out of the lead on the final lap by eventual race winner Steve Park, who was also being hit from behind on the final lap by Eric Goodale beind him.
“I’m not sure what NASCAR is looking for any more as far as, are we are totally in the entertainment business because that certainly isn’t racing?” Stefanik said. “But we really haven’t been in the racing business for 20 years now. It seems to be more about entertainment and what seems to please the fans and gets the ratings. But it’s not really what built up the sport, knocking people out of the way to win a race? I thought there was rules and referees and that’s why they have rules and referees? If no calls are going to be made it’s going to get a lot uglier than that.
“All that does is just cause hate and discontent within the series. We don’t have huge sponsors where we can just throw away cars, and people get hurt doing that stuff too. I don’t know what they’re going to say at our first driver’s meeting, but something’s got to change because if that format is going to last too long, you’re going have so much hate and discontent and car owners going broke and people getting hurt and crew members not wanting to be a part of it.”
Stefanik said the abuse the .4-mile temporary track at Daytona caused on motors coupled with NASCAR’s decision to essentially not officiate aggressiveness during the event flew in the face of the sanctioning body’s continued mantra that they are trying to keep costs down for teams in the division.
“Our series is so concerned about the cost of engines and how high we turn them, but everybody is on the chip at 8,400 rpm or so on that track they built? That was a very expensive race to run. Not only was it 1,500 miles for most people going, that was a very expensive race to beat up on your equipment like that. One minute they’re saying we need to make it more cost effective, on the other hand, what was that all about? It’s hard to follow. I’m not sure what they’re trying do and where they’re trying to go with it. I really have a lot more questions than answers.”
One positive Stefanik said he did get from the event was the optimism that his Chris Our owned team is ready to compete for a Whelen Modified Tour title. Our is in his first season as a full-time team owner. Last year Our combined with team owner Ed Marceau’s operation to field cars for Stefanik on the tour.
“It’s just one race, but obviously I’m pretty happy to come out of the box with a very competitive program,” Stefanik said. “I’m hoping that we can go to the Icebreaker and back up our performance with one like we had at Daytona. Everybody with the program is excited about getting going and certainly I would have loved to put that all together and have been able to finish that last lap and start off with a win because there’s nothing like a win to catapult the moral and really set the tone early. I think we’re going to have opportunities to win races this year, there’s no doubt about it and hopefully we can put the whole season together and be in the points battle at the end of the year.
“I know Chris is excited. He says he’s not in it for the long term, he’s in it for the short term, and that works for me because obviously my career isn’t a long term thing at 54 years old. I’m hoping that we can start off at Thompson and have a good performance. The only positive side out of Daytona is that it wasn’t a points race.”
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