Just one month after finishing third in the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour standings, Woody Pitkat is now without a ride for the 2016 season. Pitkat first confirmed the news to Speed51.com powered by JEGS on Wednesday afternoon saying that he was notified on Wednesday morning by Buzz Chew, the owner of the No. 88 Modified that Pitkat has piloted for the last two campaigns.
“I’m obviously disappointed,” said Pitkat. “I feel like I’ve worked really hard the last couple of years to get where I’m at with a really good ride on the Tour. Unfortunately they wanted to try some other things. I understand coming from Buzz’s side. At the end of the day he’s paying the bills and not having fun. Unfortunately I’m the guy that has to be out. I feel like I’m at the prime or top of my racing career. It hurts. But I tell everybody I never give up behind the wheel. I never have and I’m not going to now.”
Pitkat explained that the Buzz Chew team will be going dirt racing in 2016 and will not be running on the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour next year.
Speed51.com contacted Buzz Chew Racing’s Bryon Chew Wednesday afternoon, but Chew declined comment on the situation until he was able to speak further with his father and team owner Buzz Chew.
This is the second time since 2013 that Pitkat has found himself searching for a ride. At the time Pitkat was racing the No. 79 Hill Enterprises Modified, and was notified at the end of that season that he would no longer be the driver of that car. A short while later Pitkat was approached by Bryon and Buzz Chew about racing their car in 2014 and beyond. Since then, Pitkat and Chew combined for three wins, 16 top five finishes and four pole awards in their two years together.
“Right now it’s just what I had to go through a couple of years ago,” Pitkat said with a laugh. “It just seems like that happens every two years. It’s how it’s been going right now. We were doing the deal with Hillbilly and then that fell through. Then we got the opportunity with Buzz and now two years have passed and we had to go through it again. That’s a part of racing and really any sport. One day you’re with one team and the next day you’re with another team.”
Now Pitkat has to look for another team to race with on the Tour. Or maybe it’s even time to scale back, and that’s something Pitkat alluded to.
“I have other things going on too,” he said. “I run four divisions every year, so maybe it’s time to sit back a little bit.”
The 36-year-old driver from Stafford Springs, Connecticut said he has absolutely no hard feelings towards anybody involved in this situation at all.
“I have nothing bad to say about them,” said Pitkat. “I appreciate everything they’ve done for me. When you’re spending hundreds of thousands of dollars and not having fun then why do it? I thank Buzz and Bryon for the opportunity. They gave me a car week in and week out that could contend to win races. They got me my first wins on the Tour and gave me a shot at winning the championship. The relationship I have with Spot (Ron St. Marie) the crew chief is second to none. I told him at the end of the year that I felt like he’s the brother I never had.”
The main reason Pitkat is so disappointed is because he came so close to the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour championship this year. He entered the final race at Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park just three points out of the lead to eventually finished third in the final standings behind Doug Coby and Ryan Preece.
“No one has been able to contend with Coby and Preece,” he said. “They’ve been one and two in the standings the last four years. So for us really in our second full year to be there and knocking on the door for the championship is great.”
The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour championship is all that’s left for Pitkat. He’s won a SK championship at his home track of Stafford Motor Speedway (CT), he won the Valenti Modified Racing Series championship this year. He’s won NWMT races at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, which is essentially the Daytona 500 of Modified racing. Now he just needs another team to give him that chance again.
“That’s what I want to do and that’s really all I have left to do,” he said. “Hopefully I can find something that’s worth while and I can try to contend next year with a new team.”
-By Rob Blount, Speed51.com Regional Editor – Twitter: @RobBlount
-Photo Credit: Speed51.com