In the Northeast, the month of June marks the beginning of a busy time of year for Modified teams, going from a race every couple of weeks, to one or two practically every week. It also heralds the return to a number of different tracks that have yet to welcome the “ground pounders,” including Seekonk Speedway, which is in for a busy month.
June sees the Modifieds visiting the “Cement Palace” twice, the first being this Saturday under the still fresh Modified Touring Series banner and on Wednesday, June 28 for the $10,000-to-win show sanctioned by the Tri-Track Open Modified Series.
While there are plenty of drivers planning to run both events this month, there are a few who will also return in August for the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour event, including Woody Pitkat and Eric Goodale.
Pitkat, who will contend both June races with the Dan Stebbins No. 52 team, always looks forward to the circular confines of Seekonk, knowing the small team won’t have to put as big an emphasis on horsepower as they do at other tracks in the region.
“Stafford was more of a horsepower track, so you have some of those guys up front with the steelhead and the spec motors,” Pitkat told Speed51.com powered by JEGS. “I think now when you get to a bullring like Seekonk, it won’t help guys with big motors show off and help with guys with just 18 degree motors. I’m looking forward to getting there, hopefully we’ll have a good car right out of the box, have a good run and use it as kind of a test for the Tri-Track race at the end of the month.”
For the MTS race this weekend, Pitkat feels that the team still has learning to do, not with the track, but the American Racer tire used by the MTS. While he has no complaints about the performance of the tire, he has yet to find a comfort level to his liking.
“I think we’ve been struggling a little bit with this tire so far this year. I thought we had it figured out at Monadnock and thought we knew what we needed after that race,” he explained. “We kind of chased it at Stafford and I think I might have hurt a tire in the heat race, I pitted multiple times during the race to get everything to my liking. We have been chasing it, while we know what the Tri-Track tire will give us, it’s a little more consistent to our liking right now. I might have to say that the advantage would be better looking towards Tri-Track, but anything can happen. We can get there, have a good set of tires, have some good notes from Stafford that we can apply and we’ll be in good shape.”
“It’s a different place, there’s no straightaways, you’re always turning there. I’ve been fast in the past, there’s been a couple of SK (Modified) races there that I’ve had good cars and run up front with good finishes or some bad luck,” Pitkat said. “I’ve finished in the top three in the MRS on occasion, I have won a Pro 4 Modified race there, but that’s obviously not a big Modified race. It would be nice to cap off a win here with the MTS or the Tri-Track.”
Contrary to Pitkat, Eric Goodale has had a better time on MTS American Racer rubber, but just has not had the opportunity to show it yet.
“We learned something from Monadnock, didn’t really get to show it in the race on Friday, getting knocked out of the race at Stafford on lap seven,” Goodale said. “We were fast in practice, won our heat race handily; it didn’t work out in the race. I think we learned a little bit from the first race and applied it to Stafford, we’ll see if we can do it at Seekonk.”
The timing for figuring out the tire could not be any better, as Goodale does not have a lot of laps at Seekonk, nor does he consider it a favorite track of his.
“I hope we got a shot. Seekonk isn’t one of my favorite tracks to race at, just because it’s so circular with uneasy throttle control, not typically my style of race track,” he stated. “But in order to win championships and be up front, you have to be able to contend at every type of race track. It’s one area I’m looking to improve on personally. There’s guys like Todd Annarummo who’s been running there forever, who’s very good there. But it’s not to say we haven’t been fast there, we finished fifth or sixth there last year on the Whelen Modified Tour. I like that we can run competitive laps and it’s just trying to save your stuff. In these MTS races with these tires where you don’t have to save your stuff, I think that will be beneficial to me this Saturday.”
The month of June could prove valuable to Goodale as a learning period for when he returns with the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour in August, where he hopes to pull off a surprise that could give him an edge in the championship chase.
“Just for me, getting laps there is beneficial to me and our team, other than the tires. Hopefully I get the feel for what I’m looking for over the next two races between MTS and the Tri-Track race so that when we show up in August, we kind of know exactly what we want in the car. It definitely should be beneficial.”
Be sure to follow Speed51.com this Saturday for the latest from the 125-lap MTS event at Seekonk.
-By: Connor Sullivan, Speed51.com CT, MA & Long Island Editor – Twitter: @Connor51CT
-Photo Credit: Rick Ibsen/Speed51.com