Longtime NASCAR driver Mike Stefanik, 61, dies in plane crash

Former NASCAR champion Mike Stefanik died Sunday in a single-engine plane crash, NASCAR confirmed. He was 61.

“Mike Stefanik was one of the most successful drivers in NASCAR history, but even more so, he was a true representative of our sport,” NASCAR chairman and CEO Jim France said in a statement.

“His tough, competitive nature and excellence on the race track won him the respect and admiration of fans and competitors alike. His career stretched more than 30 years, bridging the generations between Jerry Cook and Richie Evans to our current drivers. He recorded achievements in this sport that are likely untouchable, and his legacy as a champion will endure. We will keep his wife Julie and his family and friends in our prayers.”

A nine-time NASCAR touring series champion, Stefanik’s plan crashed near the Rhode Island state line, Connecticut police said, via multiple media outlets. The single-engine aircraft turned back toward the airfield shortly after takeoff and crashed in a wooded area.

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