A pair of former Modified Racing Series champions shared the spotlight Sunday night during Russ Conway's Oktoberfest at Lee USA Speedway. Two-time series champion Woody Pitkat proved a point in the first 50-lap feature, while 2017 champion Anthony Nocella bounced back from a tough outing in the first race to win the second race of the night.
PITKAT PROVES A POINT
Woody Pitkat wanted to prove that his Valenti Modified Racing Series victory during last year's Oktoberfest at Lee USA Speedway was not a fluke. He did just that Sunday afternoon by winning the first of two 50-lap features at “New Hampshire’s Center of Speed.”
Pitkat returned to Russ Conway’s Oktoberfest after winning a bizarre rain-shortened race in 2018. Only 19 green flag laps were completed that day before Pitkat and his Stan Mertz No. 6 team celebrated a victory in the rain.
This time around, everyone kept their clothes dry during the celebration while proving that the win last year was no fluke.
“Stan wanted to come back here, especially after last year when it was only a 19-lap race and everybody said we only won it because it was a heat race,” Pitkat said in Victory Lane. “We wanted to come back, run the full 50 and show them we deserved to win last year, and we deserved to win today.”
Pitkat started the first 50-lap “King Cone” feature from the fourth position and methodically put himself in a position to challenge for the lead. After Les Hinckley led the opening 38 laps, Pitkat powered to the inside of the early race leader on Lap 39 to take the lead.
From there, Pitkat was challenged by hard-nosed racer Tommy Barrett, a driver known for his ability to save tires and pounce when it matters most. Barrett stayed even with Pitkat on a restart with six laps remaining before peeking to the inside and making slight contact on two different occasions.
Pitkat survived all challenges from Barrett in the closing laps to earn his first Valenti Modified Racing Series victory of the season in just his second start.
“That was good,” Pitkat said. “I knew Tommy was going to be tough there, Tommy Barrett. He’s good at these races, saving his equipment and saving his tires; he’s always there at the end. I was just hoping I saved enough.”
Barrett, Hinckley, Ronnie Williams and Brian Robie competed the top five in the first twin 50.
NOCELLA BOUNCES BACK IN RACE TWO
Anthony Nocella wasn't sure exactly where things went wrong in the first 50-lap race, but he was more than happy to rectify whatever it was in the second race. Nocella held off a fierce challenge from Ronnie Williams on a late-race restart to score his 15th career Valenti Modified Racing Series victory.
"We kind of missed it there in the first one, I don't really know what happened. We were off. I've got to thank all of my guys for working hard. We went back to the scales at the series hauler and went through stuff. We found some things that were wrong and it was just a whole different race car the second race. It was just awesome. It had tremendous forward driver off the corners, so we were able to clear them by the start-finish line every time. It was awesome."
Maine native Josh Cantara led the first 27 laps of the race until Beech Ridge Motor Speedway winner and fellow Maine driver Tony Ricci took control on Lap 28. Ten laps later, Nocella charged to the front and made his way by Ricci to take command.
It wasn't over there, however. Nocella was forced to fend off both Les Hinckley and Ronnie Williams on a pair of late-race restarts, including one with just two laps remaining.
Williams, Tommy Barrett, Les Hinckley and race one winner Woody Pitkat completed the top five in the second 50-lap race.
Woody Pitkat earned the "King Kone" Award for accumulating the the most points between the two races.
Race fans can watch an on-demand broadcast of both Modified Racing Series features now by clicking here.
Results, photos and on-demand updates can be viewed by visiting Race Day Now.
-Story by: Brandon Paul, Speed51.com Editor
-Photo credit: Speed51.com