RPW Column: The Champ Trail: Getting Ready For The World Series, NASCAR Hall, Stafford’s Board & More…

Column Compiled By: PHIL SMITH / RPW – WESTERLY, RI – As of this coming Friday, January 28, two weeks remain before the start of the 2022 NASCAR Whelen Modified tour season at the New Smyrna Speedway in New Smyrna, Fl on Saturday, February 12. From New Smyrna the WMT will wind its way north for a total of 16 events and will end the season at the Martinsville Speedway on Thursday, October 27.

The World Series for the tour type modifieds at New Smyrna will begin on Monday, Feb 14 and wind up on Fri, Feb 18 with the Richie Evans Memorial 100. Included in the series is the John Blewett III Memorial 76 lapper on Wed, Feb 16. The Super Late Model Orange Blossom 100 closes out the World Series on Saturday night, Feb18, FloRacing will live stream all events.

There are currently 38 tour type modifieds entered for the World Series.

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The NASCAR Hall of Fame’s delayed Class of 2021 Induction Ceremony took place this past Friday, Jan. 21. Dale Earnhardt Jr. headlined the Hall’s 12th class, which also included Red Farmer and Mike Stefanik. In addition, Ralph Seagraves was honored as the recipient of the Landmark Award for Outstanding Contributions to NASCAR. The Class of 2021 was the 12th class inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame since its inception in 2010.

Julie Koszela Stefanik, Mike’s widow, did the induction honors and gave a short speech that paid tribute to her late husband.

Mike Stefanik was a champion of NASCAR, whose nine total championship wins made him one of the two drivers with the most championships in NASCAR history. A star of the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour, he began racing in 1978 and won his first championship in Stafford’s All American Sportsman division in 1979. He went on to win the Whelen Modified Tour championship in 1991, 1991, 1997, 1998, 2001, 2002, and 2006, giving him the most wins in the tour’s history. In 1997 and 1998, he impressed fans by also winning the Busch North title, and his total nine championships are tied only with NASCAR Hall of Famer Richie Evans. Stefanik was a six-time NASCAR Hall of Fame nominee and was named the Busch North Series’ Most Popular Driver in 1995, 1997, 1998, and 2004.

Stefanik was the 1986 Stafford Modified Track Champion. He was also the 1979 Six Cylinder Limited Sportsman Champion. It wasn’t until 1986, the last year Stafford ran full bore modifieds on a weekly basis, that Stefanik won his first modified feature, which came in the Winston 100 on May 30. It was the only feature he won at Stafford that season, but coupled with consistent top 5 finishes, he was able to garner the title.

Speaking of Stafford, race fans will be greeted by a new scoreboard in 2022. It has also been learned that David Arute will make his Tour type Modified debut in this year’s Spring Sizzler.

It was good to hear that Doug Coby Racing announced the addition of champion crew chief John McKenna to the team for the 2022 season, while also announcing a seven-race Modified schedule. The team is tentatively set to run four NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour events and three Open Modified races. The team also announced the return of Mayhew Tools as the primary sponsor of the No. 10 Modified.

The 2022 schedule for Doug Coby Racing will begin in April at Stafford Motor Speedway for the 50th running of the NAPA Spring Sizzler on April 23-24, where the race winner of the 100-lap special will leave with a minimum of $15,000. From there, the team will compete in the $15,000 to win Open Modified race at Claremont Motorsports Park on Friday, May 27.

One month later, on Wednesday, June 29, Coby will join the Tri Track Open Modified Series teams at Seekonk Speedway for the annual $10,000 to win Open Wheel Wednesday, of which Coby is a three-time winner. He will follow that up with his first of four NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour races during the year, competing at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on Saturday, July 16.

From there, the team will run both NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour races at Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park on Thursday, August 17 and Saturday, October 8 as part of the World Series of Speedway Racing. The Doug Coby Racing season will conclude at Martinsville Speedway on Thursday, October 27 in the Whelen Modified Tour finale.

It looks like James Civali will take a step back and will relinquish his seat in the Hill Family No.79 for 2022. Hillbilly Racing is in search of a driver for the 2022 racing season. Although they will miss Civali this year, they are hoping after some time off , he will be back next year. So with that being said they are looking for someone to race at Bowman Gray this coming season.

The late Dale Earnhardt was a feature winner at Stafford in the Showdown of Champions Series that was run at Stafford.

Read all about it in the all-new book, The Modified Years At Stafford, by the Grace of God and 600 hp, which is gaining interest and has become a must have in race fans and competitors library. The book documents Modified Racing at the Stafford Motor Speedway from 1967 to 1986. Race by Race, Year by Year, it’s all there. Read all about it! Books are now available on Amazon.com and Coastal 181 (877-907-8181 toll free) and are available thru Stafford’s web site in their store. Order yours now. Makes a great gift!

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