Friday night would be a night of both triumph and frustration for Woody Pitkat at his home track of Stafford Motor Speedway (CT). To start the night, Pitkat collected his first SK Modified win since teaming up with car owner Adam Skowyra at the beginning of 2014 and looked to continue the momentum in the Valenti Modified Racing Series 80-lap feature.
After claiming the lead on Lap 12 from Todd Szegedy, Pitkat looked to be in position to claim his third MRS victory of 2015, but a string of yellow flags around Lap 60 would slow the field to a crawl.
Chris Pasteryak, who had taken the points lead from Pitkat at Oxford Plains Speedway (ME) last weekend while Pitkat raced at Riverhead with the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour, avoided the calamity and lined up second for the restart.
On what would be the final restart of the race, Pasteryak would get the advantage, while Pitkat struggled to come up to speed. MRS officials would allow the race to continue. Pitkat would get back to second-place and close in on Pasteryak’s bumper in the final five laps, but Pasteryak was able to protect the inside line for his fifth MRS victory of 2015 and second at Stafford.
While Pasteryak celebrated in victory lane, Pitkat who felt that Pasteryak had jumped the restart, talked to the media.
“The leader sets the pace, they have a box, well I think the box is absolutely stupid because if the outside guy is ahead of you, you know the outside guy usually tries to get his right front ahead of the leader, so when you do go on a restart, you kind of even out down the straightaway, which is fine, it’s understandable,” said Pitkat
“But now when the outside guy has got that right front ahead, he’s going to get to the box before the leader, so that’s a jump. That should never happen. So now I’m trying to roll and get to the box where everybody else jumps and goes before the box, but you can’t see it, so maybe shame on me and should’ve just jumped. But I’m trying to do the right thing and the guy behind you is driving through you and like I said he just goes and they let it go. I definitely missed a shift after that, but I didn’t spin the tires.”
A good deal of Pitkat’s misgivings have come from late race calls by series officials that have gone against him throughout the season.
“I’ve had enough,” Pitkat stated. “I haven’t said a thing all year. I don’t do anything, I come to the racetrack, I want to race, I put on a show, and I bring people like every other guy that’s racing with us. And, they just want to keep kicking me down. That’s fine, I’ll just come back and swing even harder.”
Pitkat has also not been happy with what he feels has been a lack of response from Pasteryak, to his apologies following a late race collision at Monadnock in a Tri-Track race, which has created friction in latter half of the racing season.
“I hope it comes down to Chris and Todd Patnode at the end for the championship if I can’t stay with them, because I’ll make it very interesting. I can promise you that,” Pitkat declared.
When Pasteryak entered the press box, Pitkat gave a similar speech to Pasteryak before returning to the paddock.
While electing not to talk directly on the friction between he and Pitkat, Pasteryak was understanding of Pitkat’s situation on the restart.
“I know what he’s saying about the box, but at the same time when you’re the leader, you’ve got to protect your lead.” Pasteryak explained. “I wasn’t trying to crowd him. I didn’t have him too low. I thought he took off before I did, to me it looked like he beat me out of turn four to where the Mini-Mile is. I shifted and by the time I got to the start/finish line I was clear by three. I know what he’s saying; it’s happened to me. I lost a race to Dwight Jarvis two years ago at Monadnock. It’s the same exact situation.”
Despite a hostile atmosphere, Pasteryak is only worried about how he and his team will approach the final two races of the MRS season.
“I’m a worry-wart, I’m always worried. But people that are angry, whatever they’re going to be angry whether you do the right thing or don’t do the right thing. I’m worried that we’re going to go to Lee and miss it, not be competitive and put myself in a position to screw up. Same thing at Thompson, I’m not good there, I run there once a year. Personally I don’t have a lot of self-confidence going there. I need help. I need a good car, I need everything right, and maybe I can hang in the top-five.”
Even with some uncertainty ahead, Pasteryak feels as if nothing can put a damper on the season in which he has scored a career high six overall wins between the MRS and Tri-Track Series.
“The points are the points, this is great. I’ve never won this many races in a year in my life and it’s a lot of fun. I don’t care what everyone else thinks, I’m going to enjoy it.”
Mike Willis Jr. recorded a career best third-place finish with Ted Christopher and Norm Wrenn rounding out the top five.
Before the MRS heads to Lee USA Speedway for Oktoberfest, Pasteryak, Pitkat, and many more Modified drivers will clash at the New London-Waterford Speedbowl on September 13 for the final Tri-Track Open Modified Series event of 2015.
-By Connor Sullivan, Speed51.com Northeast Correspondent
-Photo credit:Rick Ibsen/Speed51.com