BRISTOL — Winning never gets old and it never gets boring to Mike Stefanik.
The seven-time NASCAR Whelen Modified Series champion scored his series-record 74th career win on Wednesday, passing Todd Szegedy on lap 125 to win the Titan Roof 150 at Bristol Motor Speedway.
“He got loose off turn two and I turned underneath him,” Stefanik said. “I raced him hard down the backstretch and took the lead in turn three. Winning never gets boring. I’m 55 years old and it never gets boring.”
Stefanik has shown the full range of emotions this season.
The Rhode Island racer sat brooding, tersely answering a reporter’s question after getting wrecked the season-opening race at Daytona. His reaction, complete with a scowl and a profanity, led to a skit on the Tonight Show with Jay Leno.
There were only smiles on his face and joy in his voice after driving his No. 22 Chevrolet from an 18th place starting spot to win the race.
“This is so awesome, the epitome of short-track racing,” said the longtime competitor. “I’m not going to be in this sport very much longer. Todd Szegedy ran me really hard, but he raced me clean. I’m just elated, elated, elated.”
It was the second runner-up finish in a row at Bristol for Szegedy, a Connecticut driver. His No. 2 Ford had a tight condition most of the race, but got loose in the late stages.
“After a long run, I would get tight,” Szegedy said. “I apologize to my guys for losing this race. At some point, the car got free and Mike got under us. Second-place is good and I guess it’s a blessing to finish second, but we need a win.”
Another Connecticut driver, Ron Yuhas Jr., tied a career-best by driving his Chevrolet to a third-place finsh.
Pole sitter Donny Lia led the first 92 laps until getting spun out by Justin Bonsignore on a lap 93 restart. It put NASCAR Sprint Cup regular Ryan Newman out front temporarily before he was passed by four cars on the outside line.
Newman qualified 19th, but charged to fourth by the halfway point of the race. He remained in the top-five the rest of the way, winding up fifth.
In the post-race press conference, Stefanik was doing all he could to contain his excitement about his latest triump.
“I had a great race with Todd Szegedy,” he said. “We bumped, but nothing we couldn’t handle. It was good wheel-to-wheel racing.
“I’m being cool about it, but inside I’m really excited about it. This is Bristol. This is a huge, huge victory in my arsenal of victories, right at the very top.”