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   The Chrome Horn - NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour



Woody Pitkat Celebrates First
NWMT Victory on Home Territory

NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour
Call Before You Dig 811 150

Polly Reid

He had been to victory lane seventy-one times in his storied weekly racing career at Stafford Motor Speedway but tonight was a milestone for the driver who calls the Connecticut half mile oval his home track. For the first time, Woody Pitkat of Stafford, CT pulled into victory lane as a NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour winner. Pitkat wheeled the Buzz Chew owned, Elbow East sponsored modified from an eighth place restart on lap 82 to the front of the field by lap 115 and never looked back taking the win in dominating style with a 3.268 second margin of victory over Ron Silk in second, Donny Lia third, point leader Doug Coby fourth and Eric Goodale fifth.

“It can’t get any more special than winning at your home track. It’s a huge honor, something I never thought of in a million years, running Dare Stocks and Late Models, you never think about how many wins you’ll accumulate- we’ve had fast cars everywhere, we’ve just needed a little bit of luck.” Pitkat continued, “a win here with the Arutes, it’s great to be able to do it here. It’s just awesome to be able to win. This is the hardest division no doubt anywhere you go.”

Bobby Santos led the 23 car field to green for the NWMT Call Before You Dig 811 150 with Pitkat on the outside. A quick caution on lap 7 for a flat tire on the Tommy Barrett, Jr. modified kept the action close. Pitkat at the point on the restart with Ron Silk now in second came around for the green with Santos, Lia and Ted Christopher the top five. And green was the color of the night as the field settled into predominately single file, Pitkat leading the front pack.

At the half way mark, the caution waved for Patrick Emerling who had slowed on the backstretch. The leaders including Pitkat came down pit row but it was Donny Lia who was out first followed by Ryan Preece, Silk, Coby and Santos the top five.

Pitkat lined up eighth for the lap 82 restart.

“We had an awesome pit stop,” said Lia. “Tonight was incredible, I’ve just got to hand it to the guys, they just ripped off an awesome stop. It definitely helped out for our finish.”

Lia and Preece battled for the top spot with Lia gaining the edge until Silk got into the mix and at lap 100, it was Silk leading Lia, Pitkat, Coby and Goodale the top five with that order switching up as Pitkat got by Lia for second, his sights set on the Silk leading. The lead change came shortly after - a brief side by side run was all it took and Pitkat took over the top spot on lap 115.

With the green flag the order of business to the end, Pitkat ran his line taking to task working lap traffic and without any serious threats to his growing lead, cruised to the stripe for his career first NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour victory followed by Silk, Lia, Coby and Goodale.

“Spot came over the radio and told me we were the class of the field,” said Pitkat about the restart following their trip to pit row. “We got back out there and I told him over the radio, this is going to be like a scene from Days of Thunder- come in the pits first and come out third, except we were eighth. It was 60 to go - I knew there was plenty of time and just keep your cool. Then I just started picking them off, there were a couple of good lanes, I followed Doug through a couple of people, then I started working on setting up a couple of people- then I got there. I was just praying for no cautions.”

“We had a good car tonight, not nearly as good as the 88 though,” said Silk of Norwalk, CT who wheels the Eddie Partridge, TS Haulers/Calverton Tree Farm modified. “We got a good start, from fourth to sixth, was able to get by Santos and Ted when they got together in the beginning so I kind of ran second the whole first half. I was just too loose the whole race. The first run I was loose. We tightened it up at the stop, made a minor improvement but I was just still really loose the second run. I didn’t have anything for Woody, he was spot on tonight. Woody is a really good friend of mine, I’ve spent a lot of time with him when I was younger racing up here every week I would go stay at his house- I’m happy to see him win- all the guys on his team are really good guys.”

Donny Lia of Jericho, NY in the Bob Garbarino Mystic Missile Racing modified had a challenging weekend at Loudon and was pleased with the podium finish. “We went from being too loose the first run to being too tight the second run - we just missed our target a little bit. We needed this good run pretty badly - we’ve had some bad luck lately and this really helps out- I’ve got to thank the guys for working their tails off, countless hours trying to fix the car. They put a tremendous amount of effort into it and I’m proud of them. I can’t thank all of them, Bob and Joan enough – they just never give up.”

“We have a lot of faith in him,” said car owner Buzz Chew about Pitkat. “We’ve had a fast car all year we’ve just had bad luck and tonight our luck was good. That car was on a rail - it’s been fast for two years - we just haven’t had the breaks.” Chew has fielded a NWMT entry since 2010 - tonight marks his first time as a winning NWMT car owner. “My crew chief, Ron who been with me for 20 years does an awesome job. He is so dedicated. We had a tough time getting into this modified tour, we thought after running pretty decent with a Busch car, this, this is a whole different thing. This is the toughest division in the whole United States, I believe that, these guys are tough- they start racing on the pace lap. In a Busch car, you ride for 100 laps- with a modified, you start on the first lap racing - we had a hard time getting used to that. This win, it’s big for us- a long time coming. I’m happy for Woody.”

In his 20th season with car owner Buzz Chew, crew chief Ron Ste-Marie has been to K&N Series victory lane with Bryon Chew and collected dirt wins including Syracuse with Stewart Friesen. The switch to the NWMT has not been an easy one. “These things are lighter, lower to the ground - I guess we came into it after running Busch cars thinking this would be a piece of cake and that is the farthest thing from the truth. The guys that have been running the modified tour, you look down through those names, they have a notebook ten years thick. Anyone new coming into it, you’re behind the eight ball. This was big, we needed this. Everyone works really hard - I was beginning to wonder if we were ever going to have any luck. This was awesome.” Ron gave a shout out to his daughter Bryce who turned seven today.

“Ron, Ernie back at the shop, they are there every day working on the car, I don’t think they ever even sleep, they are just working as hard as they can,” said Pitkat. “The way that car is prepped is like no other and it shows. The whole crew, they’ve just been together for so long with Bryon, it’s just unbelievable. Billy the Kid power, they’ve had Billy the Kid forever, the relationship is there. They’re just awesome people.”

The win for Pitkat should shake any doubt in his mind what a lot of people in the racing community already knew, that it really was only a matter of time before he would be in the winner’s circle. Sandra Hill knew it, Don King knew it, David Hill as well- the former car owners Pitkat was quick to thank in victory lane along with a host of other individuals who have supported Pitkat in his career. “If it wasn’t for all of them, I wouldn’t be here. Being able to get out there, get seat time and showcase what I could do with the equipment I had- they saw, they knew I could get the job done.” Buzz and Bryon Chew were convinced enough as well- Spot making the call asking Pitkat what he was doing this year. “I just can’t thank them enough for giving me the opportunity to be out here. This is obviously my dream come true.”

The win comes on Pitkat’s 86th NWMT career start on a date Pitkat will always remember- 8/8 in the number 88. “How cool is that?”
Following Pitkat, Silk, Lia, Coby and Goodale the top five, Rowan Pennink crossed the line for sixth with Ted Christopher, Justin Bonsignore, Ryan Preece and Matt Hirschman the top ten.

Doug Coby of Milford, CT in the Mike Smeriglio modified carries an eight point lead over Justin Bonsignore heading into the next NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour event this Wednesday August 13th at Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park for the Budweiser 150.

Source: Polly Reid / TheChromeHorn.com
Posted: August 9, 2014

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