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   The Chrome Horn - NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour




Pitkat Wins Second Career
NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Race
Denise DuPont

When drivers of the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour (NWMT) come to events at New Hampshire Motor Speedway (NHMS) they consider it their Super Bowl. Woody Pitkat, from Stafford, CT., scored his second career NWMT victory there on Saturday to celebrate a dream come true -- a win at Loudon.

Ryan Newman earned his fifth series Coors Light Pole on Friday and led the field of cars to the green flag for Saturday’s featured event. On the race start though, Ron Silk of Milford, CT. leveraged his front row outside spot to lead the first circuit. From behind him Pitkat came from sixth to second early in the race showing he was to be a car to recon with. Pitkat passed for the lead by lap 9 and then exchanged the top position several times with Silk until he finally dominated the position.

Todd Szegedy of Ridgefield, CT., sat back waiting in the wings for his turn. He saw the opportunity just before mid-race break and took the #15, 15-40 Connection Chevrolet to the front using the outside groove. Pitkat did not skip a beat to come back under Szegedy to recapture the lead before mid-race pitting.

Teams made adjustments and rallied their way back to the track for the final 50 laps. During the stop in race action, Justin Bonsignore’s #51, chem3.com team discovered an engine issue. Reluctantly, the team parked the car. This was a tough blow for the team since coming into this race they were second in points for the 2014 NWMT championship.

Soon after resuming the race point leader Doug Coby of Milford, CT and Patrick Emerling, Orchard Park, NY. made contact The two continued racing but on the next lap Coby kissed the turn one wall and then spun to make contact with the turn two outside wall. The incident bent his left front wheel. Coby was able to make it in the pits to fix the car. But then he had the challenge of coming from the rear of the field.

When the race resumed Pitkat, and Szegedy continued to exchange the lead spot for several laps. Two more spins brought out cautions in the race. First one on lap 79 when Glen Reen hit the front stretch wall with the #8, Reflex Energy/Baja Construction car. Then on lap 95 when Ryan Newman spun the #7, Menard/Wix Filters modified in turn four.

With three race laps to go it was to be a Green-White-Checkered finish. The race drama ramped up a notch to include a horrific crash that took four teams out of the race and sent two drivers to the hospital for further evaluation.

On the restart, Szegedy slowed in the high lane coming off of turn two. This bunched up the field behind him. Ron Yuhas Jr. running seventeenth at the time, drove over the #75 modified of Timmy Solomito. Yuhas then went head-on into the outside fence. The back of Yuhas’ car went up upon impact with the wall, with the nose of his car doing a pirouette on the track before flipping onto its roof. Track workers then went to work to flip the #64 car upright. Yuhas was able to exit the car under his own power but later was transported to a local hospital to be checked out.

The huge wreck brought out a red flag, leaving the field sitting idle on the front stretch for twenty minutes. Climaxing the action filled race with a red flag was not what the drivers wanted to see. Last minute strategies went through their heads as what-if scenarios played through.

“It was really gut wrenching sitting there like that,” confessed Pitkat. “I was just contemplating on what was going to happen. I knew Bobby was going to be back behind me to push me and I had a million things going through my head and I was just trying to weed through it all.”

“I knew that I was really good on the bottom. So I figured if I could just get out front and maybe try to break the draft. Then I could drive the thing down the bottom and try not to drift up too high in the middle to give them the bottom I would be OK. So that was what I tried to do – protect the bottom.”

“I figured that Todd would maybe go to the outside on the last lap in turn three and four. But my car was just so dominate and good on the bottom. I figured just keep doing that and pray that I was going to get to victory lane. And here we are.

On the final restart, Santos pushed Pitkat forward as planned and Szegedy was unable to get by him. Pitkat crossed the finish line for a dramatic green-white-checkered finish capturing the series F.W. Webb 100 win at NHMS.

Todd Szegedy was second, series points’ leader Doug Coby finish third followed by Ted Christopher for fourth and Rowan Pennink to round off the top five.

Szegedy won this race in 2013, so he was looking for a repeat victory. He has a good car but it tightened up during the race so he could not beat Pitkat’s at the end. “I thought that it went pretty good,” expressed Szegedy. “We had a good car in the spring and we got a finish that I felt that we deserved. I feel that every time that we go to the track that we have at least a top five car. But you never know. You could be the best car out there and a lot of things happen on that last lap. There is no question about it. Woody played it very, very smart. He knew that I was not rolling the outside as good as I was in the beginning. So he pulled down and blocked. “

Unable to get deep into the corners, Szegedy held on to second and prevented Coby from getting past him. “So there was nothing that I could do unless I just go bomb down into the grass. Some guys might have done that, but I am not going to do that. I tried crossing him up and I gave it my best. Doug was right there too and he helped push me on that last start which was a big help. We had a good finish. I am very happy with the finish and I feel that Woody had what he had – a car that was strong and he definitely deserved that win.”

Going into the F.W.Webb 100, Coby led the field in the chase for point by a mere margin of four points over Bonsignore in second. Before the race Coby stated his position on the point’s race: “I do not want to say that I am going to race for points, but I am racing to have a good day here at Loudon. The points are going to do what the points are going to do.”

But after Bonsignore was sidelined with an engine failure and then he himself was involved in the accident hitting the second turn wall, Coby could not help think about a solid finish and points at Loudon. “I was very aware of the point situation. The second place car broke at the half-way break and my crew chief told me to play it smart. Which is kind of hard to do when you are here at Loudon and you want to win and you are going to the front. Then you are closer to the front in fourth on a green- white-checkered.”

“I definitely had the toughest go of the top three” Coby said describing his race day. “We were spun out about lap 58 right after the restart. I hit the wall and flattened the left front tire. And you really do not know what that is going to do to you. I just felt that the car was still pretty good. My guys had made a small adjustment during the break and aside from Todd and Woody I think that we had one of the best cars out there. Coming back up through the field, we just tried to pick the right lines and position ourselves to get a solid finish.”

On the last restart Coby helped Szegedy get to the front the best that he could and carved out a third place spot for himself. His plan was to be there waiting for the leaders to make one wrong move and then the race would be his. “I tried to push Todd so that he could play his game with Woody. I had seen Todd make some great moves here on the last lap to win races. And I have sometimes seen guys end up on the outside near the fence. So I figured if Todd and Woody are out near the fence then I would have a shot at winning.”

“Woody won himself the race but driving the lowest that I have ever seen anybody drive on the last lap. He did a great job and really gave Todd no options. My only option was to bring it home in one piece in third place. I am really happy for our team. It could have been much worst. Two races to go so now it officially time to think about points.” So after crashing just mid-race Coby came back for a podium finish and maintained his point lead.
The F.W. Webb 100, will be telecast on FOX Sports 1 on Sept. 27 at 10 a.m. EDT.

The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour has just two races remaining on the 2014 schedule starting with the NAPA Fall Final 150 on Sunday, Sept. 28 at Stafford.

If you cannot join us at the track, please join us follow the action on http://www.thechromehorn.com

Notes from New Hampshire Motor Speedway:

If someone had told you that you were going to get you win at your home track of Stafford Motor Speedway and then the second at NHMS what would you have told them?

Woody Pitkat
“I probably would say they were crazy. I figured we would be pretty good at Thompson and Stafford. But because of the Arute’s support I am really happy that I got my first win there.”

“To tell me that I would come here and win it is unbelievable. To win at Stafford and then come here for a win is a huge accomplishment. Knowing that we run good here, I really felt that we would have a really good car to win here. It is just a dream come true. So we will just ride this train and hopefully keep winning.”

Thoughts going through mind during 20 minute red flag period:

Todd Szegedy
“You always think about what you want to do. This is racing and it changes every inch of the race track and every lap. You do not know what to expect. You do not know what your opponents are going to do. I knew that I was going to have Coby behind me pushing me. And I did not know how hard Woody was going to be pushed. You just do not know what is going to happen. Everything worked out the way I would have liked. We were tight. We were great in the beginning on the race on the outside and we ran there very well. But as the laps wore on we got tighter and I could not roll the outside. Normally that outside groove is the best groove. And I usually am in the best position to win the race. I can drive it in the corner deep but I just could not do it, it just would not turn. So I knew I was kind of a sitting duck. I knew Woody would have had to make a mistake for me to get by him. He did an awesome job.”

What kind of day defines what championships are made of?

Doug Coby

“You look back at every championship season since the dawn of time and there is always those days where it could go really bad and it ends up working out for you. This is certainly a place where if you end up in the fence and your car is bent, you have a terrible finish and it is a bad day. Of course anytime that you are spun out and into the fence at Loudon and you come back and finish third with a car that could have won if we stayed up front”

“Yes this is a championship defining race. In fact if we do win the championship this year we will look back at today and say that that was the day that won the championship for the team. If we don’t win the championship this year we will look at the next two races and those two will be the ones that loose it for the team. So I am happy that we have a good car every time we race. And that is all that a driver could ask of any team that we have – put a car under us that coming out of the trailer that is fast at every single track that we go to. That is what the #2 car does for me and I am really happy to be in the position that hopefully closes this out in the last two races.”

Source: Denise DuPont / TheChromeHorn.com
Posted: September 21, 2014

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