On Wednesday afternoon, news had come out that the No. 46 Goodie Motorsports team under the direction of Jeff Goodale had decided to part ways with veteran NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour driver Woody Pitkat and that the team was looking at other replacement drivers. A source close to Speed51.com said young gun Craig Lutz was the most likely driver to take over the seat.
After a period of evaluation, Goodale has confirmed exclusively to Speed51.com that indeed it will be Craig Lutz that will pilot the 46 beginning at the next race out for the Tour at Stafford Motor Speedway on August 4.
“The rumors were correct and that we chose Craig Lutz,” stated Goodale. “We kind of sat around, because there were also rumors that we were going to close down and those rumors were true. After Loudon we kind of sat down with everybody and said, ‘This just isn’t fun for us anymore.’ We didn’t want to invest our time and money into something that’s not fun for us; but we kind of backtracked a little bit and we realized, ‘how can we make this fun again, how can we go and enjoy ourselves again?’ We thought about when it was most fun for us and we agreed that we had the most fun on the Tour when I was driving, and not so much that it was me driving, but because I had the same goals as my team. We’re new, I was just happy to be there, I was happy to learn, I wanted to put my name there and get there every weekend to grow with my team.”
Goodale again reiterated that there were no personal conflicts with Pitkat. It was a matter of the goals and frame of mind being different between team and driver.
“Woody is an amazing talent and an amazing driver. We’re only into our third year, we’re still a young team and he’s been on the Tour for a while. He’s a seasoned veteran, but with that, his focus and his expectations were a lot different than ours and it made it very stressful. It wasn’t anybody’s fault. It just wasn’t jogging well. So we decided to find a driver that has similar goals that wants to go out, put his name out there, compete, and learn something. We had a lot of names that were being tossed around and we decided on Craig.”
Lutz, who is a native of Long Island, said he is excited and grateful for the opportunity and is excited to have a chance to grow along with the team.
“Being fellow Long Islanders, the Goodale’s are some of the nicest people you will ever meet, and to be able to team up with them is a dream come true,” Lutz told Speed51.com powered by JEGS. “We both, as a team they have never won a race and as a driver I never won a race. Everyone has the same goals here; I’m not coming saying I can win races when I never have. To be able to do that together, grow and be of winning caliber is something that we’re going to take our time in and hopefully be able to do.”
Goodale also added that Lutz’s close proximity to the shop was a factor, as well as the personal history between the two.
“Again it’s no fault of Woody’s, he’s up in New England and we’re down here on Long Island. We couldn’t meet as much as we wanted to. Craig is probably 20-30 minutes away from us. He can come down to the shop and it makes a world of difference to have a driver that is close and can come by and be hands-on and talk face to face with our crew chief and crew. Being local is another important thing for us,” explained Goodale. “Craig is somebody I’ve raced with throughout the years. We both battled for the championship back in our Champ Kart days. I kind of know what his aspirations are and what he wants and I think that his expectations and focus are going to be really close to what we want to focus on and my hopes on the team going forward for the rest of this season are the same that I have for Craig. I hope that we learn something, that we enjoy ourselves and by the end of the season we are better than where we were when we started.”
Goodale said he is confident that the pairing will be able to shine in time.
“There’s teams on the Tour that are made for veteran drivers, that have been around for a while, just like drivers have. There are people like Woody who are more suited for that. We’re a new and upcoming team, we want to have our driver reflect that and I think it’s going to jive a little bit better and we can focus back on having a good time.”
Lutz said he is looking forward to getting started, and even though he is coming into the fold on the heels of the next race out at Stafford, that he and the team can gel enough and get rolling right out of the box.
“We’re going to take it race by race and see where it goes from there. They’re awesome people and I’m very grateful to be driving their car, hopefully everything works out. We’ll get it done for Stafford, it’s two weeks to get everything race ready and be able to go in there and try to do the best we can. It’s a little short notice, but it could always be worse.”
-By Connor Sullivan, Speed51.com CT, MA & Long Island Editor – Twitter: @Connor51CT
-Photo Credit: Speed51.com