Woody Pitkat had himself in position to win Saturday night’s Valenti Modified Racing Series event at Beech Ridge Motor Speedway (ME). He was comfortably riding in the runner-up spot in the final twin 50-lap feature and was in the driver’s seat to claim the overall event win when the unimaginable happened.
Race leader Richard Savary slipped up off of turn two on the final lap and Pitkat, like any racer, filled the hole. Down the backstretch, contact was made between the two drivers sending Savary spinning in turn three. After losing control of his No. 42, Pitkat straightened things out and went on to finish second, a spot good enough to earn him the overall win. But a controversial ruling made by series officials sent Pitkat to the rear of the finishing order and handed race number-one winner Anthony Nocella, who unofficially finished sixth in race number-two, the overall win.
“They were telling me on the radio a little bit since we won the first one and they kind of knew a few of the other guys that were up there in the front, so they were telling me about how many spots I needed to get there in the end,” Nocella said of his bid to get back to the front after a full-field invert following the first race. “I tried to get everything we could there and put the thing half in the rumble strips. We aren’t running for points so we were either going to make it through that wreck or win the race. We figured we’d go for it. It was definitely exciting.”
While Nocella celebrated his second career Valenti Modified Racing Series win in victory lane, Pitkat was left frustrated with the ruling made by series officials.
“I’m pretty shocked and then to go into the trailer and ask Jack Bateman where do you even come up with that call? ‘Oh don’t you have a rulebook, A-B if you get in there and you’re going to spin the guy you best get out of there.’ So when the guy is blatantly turning left on you because he doesn’t want you to pass him, you have to get out of there? That makes absolutely no sense,” a frustrated Pitkat said after the race.”
“I don’t know where they came up with the call. He wanted me to read the rule book. Well, there’s a lot of stuff in the rule book that they don’t go by.”
Bateman confirmed with Speed51.com powered by JEGS after the race that Pitkat was in fact penalized for the “A-B rule,” which is a “no fault rule” that penalizes both drivers involved in an incident if the caution flag is waved. Bateman said that because the race ended under yellow and checkered flag conditions, Pitkat was penalized.
“We have a rule in our rulebook, it is called the ‘A-B rule,’” Bateman told 51. “When two cars make contact it is kind of a no fault. We don’t look at who is at fault; we just put them both to the rear. That’s our rule and it’s been our rule for 10 years. That’s what we always do. Any time a caution comes out and there are two people involved, they both go to the rear.
“None of us are smart enough to get inside their heads and know what they were thinking or trying to do. We made that rule years ago and we’ve followed it very closely. These guys know that if they get together with somebody and the yellow flag comes out, you’re going to the back. They all know it.”
Although he strongly disagreed with the call made, Pitkat acknowledged after the race that maybe he should have just let Savary take the win in the second race. If he did that and finished second, he still would have been named the overall event winner.
“I just had to finish second,” Pitkat explained. “Now that I think of it, I just should have let Richard win and let him have his glory and then I would have been the overall winner. That’s shame on me. I guess I need to know who I’m racing with, unfortunately.”
Savary pulled his car in front of Pitkat’s in victory lane before the two drivers exchanged words.
Pitkat said after the race that he had no intentions to spin Savary and that he filled the hole only because it was there.
“I obviously don’t want him to spin. If I could have done something to straighten him out, I’m not just looking to take a guy out. I drove from 22nd to third and never touched a soul. I never touched one guy, so I’m not here to just drive through people.”
After winning the first 50-lap feature, Nocella struggled at the beginning of the second race. During an early caution he took his No. 92 to pit road for adjustments and still continued to struggle to make his way to the front.
That was until the closing stages of the race when he began to pick off drivers before taking advantage of the last lap melee.
“Everyone was just beating and banging those last two restarts in a row and everyone was just sliding. I was just trying to keep the thing straight there. Everyone just kind of checked up and banged into each other and I just saw cars going sideways. I didn’t see who got into who to start it, just saw cars beating and banging off of each other.”
NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour competitor Todd Szegedy made his way through the last lap accident to claim second in the overall finish. Todd Annarummo, Jon McKennedy and Chris Pasteryak completed the top-five.
-By Brandon Paul, Speed51.com Editor – Twitter: @Brandon_Paul51
-Photo credit: Speed51.com
Valenti Modified Racing Series Twin 50s Unofficial Finish
Beech Ridge Motor Speedway - August 1, 2015