NASCAR champion dies in small plane crash in Sterling
STERLING — A former NASCAR champion died in a single engine plane crash that took place Sunday afternoon.
Motorsport.com reported that the plane’s pilot was seven-time NASCAR Modified Tour champion Mike Stefanik, 61.
According to a release from state police, troopers responded to an ultralight aircraft accident in the area of Plainfield Pike in Sterling.
Police said, upon arriving, troopers found that an Aerolite 103, single engine, single seat aircraft had taken off from the Riconn Airport in Rhode Island, and while turning back toward the airfield, crashed into a wooded area adjacent to the airport.
The accident remains under investigation.
Motorsport reported that Stefanik won 74 NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour races in 453 starts, as well as seven championships between 1989 and 2006. He was also a two-time Busch North Series champion, now known as the K&N Pro Series East division.
According to Motorsport, NASCAR Chairman and CEO Jim France released a statement saying that Stefanik “was one of the most successful drivers in NASCAR history, but even more so, he was a true representative of our sport. His tough, competitive nature and excellence on the race track won him the respect and admiration of fans and competitors alike.”