PHOTO: Nine-time NASCAR champion Mike Stefanik will make his American-Canadian Tour debut this weekend at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in a car fielded by RPM Motorsports of Georgia, Vermont. (Justin St. Louis/VMM photo)

GEORGIA, Vt. — There will be a new face at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on Friday when the American-Canadian Tour pulls in through the tunnel.

New to ACT, that is, not new to New Hampshire.

Mike Stefanik, the all-time winningest driver in NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour history and an eight-time winner at the 1.058-mile superspeedway, will make his ACT Late Model Tour debut at on Friday and Saturday in the ACT All-Star Challenge at the Loudon, N.H., track.

Stefanik, of Coventry, R.I., will drive the No. 57VT RPM Motorsports Ford recently vacated by Austin Theriault, RPM owner Rick Paya announced Monday morning. The team is based in Georgia, Vt., and also fields a No. 37VT car for seven-time ACT champion Brian Hoar of Williston.

“The whole newness of it is what’s exciting for me,” Stefanik said in a team-issued press release. Stefanik has six victories in an open-wheel Modified at NHMS and two in NASCAR K&N Pro Series East competition. “I really don’t know what to expect. I’ve been told that I’ve got a really good car, and it usually comes down to the car.

“As long as I’m smart with it, I should be okay. It will be on-the-job training.”

Stefanik owns nine NASCAR touring series championship including seven Whelen Modified Tour titles. In 1997 and 1998, he won Tour championships while simultaneously winning the K&N East title the same years, joining Lee Petty as the only drivers in NASCAR history to win two NASCAR touring championships in consecutive seasons. His nine overall NASCAR championships tie him with the late Richie Evans, who will be inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame next spring, for the most touring series titles in history.

“I know he can get the job done,” Paya said. “He’s successful in anything he gets into. Is he going to go through a learning curve? For sure. These cars are different from anything he’s ever driven, but I think he’ll adapt pretty quickly.”

“We’re thrilled to have him race with us at New Hampshire,” said Tom Curley, ACT president. “Mike brings a level of success and instant credibility with him, and we can’t wait to see how he performs this weekend against an all-star crop of Late Model drivers from this region.”

Andrew Hill of Georgia, Vt., will serve as Stefanik’s crew chief for the ACT All-Star Challenge. Qualifying for the event begins at 10:25am on Friday, August 12. The first segment of the 80-lap, two-segment feature race begins at 10:30am on Saturday, August 13.
Stefanik is the latest NASCAR touring driver with success at New Hampshire to compete with the ACT Late Model Tour, joining Hoar, Brad Leighton, Eddie MacDonald, Tom Carey, Jr., and Jamie Aube.

“To have that kind of caliber of driver in one of my cars is pretty cool,” Paya said. “It’s cool for the series, and it really shows how far our series has come. The Stefaniks, Hoars, MacDonalds and Leightons — it’s cool to have five for six of those guys in our series.”

“I guess it will be like old home days for me,” Stefanik said. “There are a few guys I’ve spent some time racing against [in NASCAR] that I’ll get to race with this week. I’m just going to have some fun with it and see what I can do.”