Woody Pitkat survived a 20-minute red flag, a green-white-checkered finish and a big block he threw on Todd Szegedy to score his first win at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. For the Connecticut driver it was an emotional second win on the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour this year.
“What I was trying to do was not puke,” said Pitkat when asked about what he was thinking during the red flag. “It was really gut-wrenching sitting there trying to think about what was going to happen. You just have a million things going through your head and I was just trying to weed it out and not think about it.”
A spin by Ryan Newman with four laps to go in the F.W. Webb 100 set things up for a dramatic finish. The following restart is where madness ensued. A big melee coming out of turn two involved Ron Yuhas, Timmy Solomito, and Danny Watts. Yuhas drove over the back of Solomito’s car with such force that the number-64 actually flipped over. Yuhas’ machine did a pirouette on its nose before slamming its roof on the Loudon, New Hampshire pavement.
Solomito was checked and released from the infield care center. Yuhas and Watts were transported to an area hospital.
The crash set up a green-white-checkered finish with Pitkat leading over Szegedy. They quickly got nose-to-tail with Szegedy pushing hard on the back bumper of Pitkat to try to get some separation from the rest of the field.
On the last lap, Pitkat dove to the bottom of the race track coming out of turn two to take away any chance at a bottom-shot move into turn three for Szegedy. Szegedy tried the outside of Pitkat in turn four, but got sideways and wasn’t able to complete the pass.
“There were two grooves in the beginning of the race,” said Szegedy who started fifth. “I was probably the only one that could roll the outside well. But as the race went on the outside wasn’t there anymore. Woody played it smart. He threw a block on me (but) that’s what you do on the last lap. He knew my only chance to pass him was on the bottom and he completely protected the bottom.”
Pitkat battled near the front of the field all race long. He showed throughout the entire event that if you wanted to get to victory lane you would have to go through him and his number-88 Modified.
“It starts in the shop,” said Pitkat. “These guys work harder than anybody on the Whelen Modified Tour. They’re unbelievable. They love racing and they work so hard.”
The battle for the championship entering the race was a four-point spread between Doug Coby and Justin Bonsignore. But it will be much different heading into next week’s Fall Final at Stafford Motor Speedway (CT) for the penultimate race on the NWMT schedule.
Bonsignore suffered a motor failure early in the race which relegated him to a 25th place finish.
“A couple laps before the (halfway) break it was starting to break up at the end of the straightaway,” said Bonsignore. “It is what it is. We’ll go on to Stafford and try our best to overcome this. This race isn’t over yet. You never know what can happen to (Coby) the rest of the way.”
Just as Bonsignore was saying that, Coby got into the turn two wall to bring out a caution just past the halfway mark in the race. Coby dropped back in the pack, but was able to rally back to the front and finish third.
“The 73 (Cole Powell) kind of bailed it in on me and barely got to my left-rear tire, clobbered me, and spun me out,” said Coby. “I hit the wall on the driver’s side kind of square. It flattened the left-rear tire, but I guess nothing else was bent.
“It was a lucky day for us that we didn’t end up worse off,” said Coby. “It was obviously a good points day. I know Justin had some problems. My crew chief (Phil Moran) told me that at the break. The door got opened for us a bit. We’ve got one foot through the door. Now we need to put two feet through the door.”
Pitkat may not be a contender for the championship, but the Stafford, CT native wasn’t thinking about that at all as he was visibly thrilled to score a win in the biggest race for the NWMT. He scored his first ever NWMT win at Stafford in August.
“It’s just a dream come true,” said Pitkat. “I never thought I would have scored wins at Stafford and Loudon in the same year. It’s just a dream come true.”
-By Rob Blount, Speed51.com Regional Editor (Long Island, CT, and NJ). Twitter: @RobBlount
-Feature Photo Credit: Jason Allison.
-Other Photo Credits: Brenda Meserve, Matthew Dillner/Speed51.com photos.
F.W. Webb 100 Unofficial Results
|18||64||Ron Yuhas, Jr.|