When Mike Stefanik first raced at Martinsville Speedway, Ryan Gifford hadn’t been born. But Saturday the oldster and the youngster were the fastest in qualifying for Sunday’s Made In America Whelen 200 and the UNOH Performance 200.
Stefanik is the defending champion in the Made In America 200 NASCAR Modified Tour race and has five Martinsville wins to his credit. So it was no surprise when the Coventry, RI, driver turned in a fast lap of 19.053 seconds (99.386 mph) to capture the pole.
Todd Szegedy qualified second at 19.128 (98.996) and Ron Silk was third at 19.135 (98.960). George Brunnhoelzl III and Bobby Santos rounded out the top five.
The Made In America Whelen 200 takes the green flag at 1 p.m. Sunday followed by the UNOH Performance 200 NASCAR K&N Pro Series East race.
“I’ve been coming to Martinsville since 1986 and right from the get-go we were pretty good. I think we finished second that first year,” said Stefanik. “Martinsville has been very good to me over the years.”
The top 10 qualifiers for the Made In America Whelen 200 redrew for starting position following time trials. Frank Fleming and Ted Christopher will start on the front row, while the second row will be made up of Eric Beers and Bobby Santos. Stefanik redrew ninth and Szegedy 10th.
Gifford is just 21 years old, born three years after Stefanik’s first Martinsville race. This was his first trip to Martinsville, but he handled it like a old pro. The Winchester, TN, driver turned a lap of 20.561 seconds (92.097) to edge Brett Moffitt for the pole. It was Gifford’s first career East Series pole. Sergio Pena of Winchester will start third Sunday, followed by Ryan Truex and Darrell Wallace.
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