Three races. Three series. Two days. Three possible championships. That’s what Woody Pitkat has ahead of him this weekend when he heads to the World Series of Speedway Racing at Connecticut’s Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park. The Stafford Springs, Connecticut driver has a chance to walk away on Sunday evening as the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour, Valenti Modified Racing Series, and NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Sunoco Modified champion.
“To win all three I’d think would be some kind of history,” Pitkat told Speed51.com powered by JEGS. “That would be pretty amazing. All in all we’ve had an awesome year in every division. To come out of there with possibly three championships would be pretty amazing. I’m looking forward to it. I’m excited.”
Pitkat goes into this weekend’s festivities leading the points standings for the Sunoco Modifieds by 14 markers, and the Valenti Modified Racing Series by seven points. He sits just four points behind Ryan Preece and Doug Coby for the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour championship.
The 36-year-old driver has won SK championships at Thompson and also at his home track of Stafford Motor Speedway before, but never has he won a touring Modified series championship before. Now he has an opportunity to win two in one weekend, in addition to a second Sunoco Modified championship at Thompson.
He knows there’s pressure on him this weekend, but he’s trying his hardest to not focus on that and instead focus on giving the best feedback to all three teams that he possibly can.
“As we get there the weekend will be pretty crazy,” he said. “I’ll be busy. Running around doing heat races and time trials will help me keep my mind off of it. I just want to go out there and do the best I can and hopefully that will keep my mind off of some of the pressure.”
He explained that he’s preparing for this weekend just like it’s any other race weekend as another way to keep his mind off the championship battles. However, it’s not just another race weekend. He has 230 total laps of racing on the challenging 5/8-mile high-banked oval ahead of him in two days.
“I just have to take care of my body and my mind,” said Pitkat. “Get a good night’s sleep, and go to the gym a couple nights this week to prepare yourself for some more laps than if I was just running one division. I don’t want to be thinking about anything else. I just want to go and concentrate on racing all weekend.”
Pitkat took over the VMRS championship lead following last weekend’s Octoberfest event at New Hampshire’s Lee USA Speedway with an overall finish of second in the twin 50-lap features compared to Chris Pasteryak’s 16th. He entered that event trailing Pasteryak by 25 points. Now he leads by seven, even with missing the August 29 race at Maine’s Oxford Plains Speedway.
Should Pitkat hold on to beat Pasteryak, he said the celebration won’t be anything spectacular on Saturday night. At least not for him.
“We’ll probably go out to dinner or something, but I’ll have to call it early. I don’t know about my guys though,” he said with a laugh. “They’ll probably have a good old time, but for me I’ll have to focus on getting ready for Sunday. I can’t get too crazy on Saturday night.”
Sunday is the day of the 30-lap Sunoco Modified feature and the 150-lap finale for the NWMT where Pitkat can finish no lower than third in
the standings, his best finish ever.
“The highest I’ve ever finished in points was ninth,” he said. “Now the worst I can finish is third. That’s obviously a huge accomplishment. Anything higher than third now is a win to us. But we want to go in there and we still have a shot at it so we have to try get the pole and lead the most laps and win the race. Whatever happens behind us happens.”
Thompson is known for being a very aggressive race track. It’s a tough place to pass, so drivers are constantly diving deep into the corners and using “slidejobs” to pass other cars. Sometimes the slidejob doesn’t get the job done, and the big nerf bars on all four sides of the cars end up getting used.
That happened to Pitkat back in August when Coby muscled his way by Pitkat with less than 10 laps to go to take the lead and the win that night. Pitkat expects to see more aggressive racing on Sunday as he, Coby and Preece all fight for a championship.
“I think something there is going to happen that hasn’t happened all year that’s going to surprise not only us but also the fans,” Pitkat said. “There’s so much on the line for all three of us and I just think something is going to happen. I don’t know what, but I just don’t think it’s going to be one of those races where someone goes out and dominates and leads the whole race. Something is going to end up happening, but I could be wrong.”
While Pitkat said he’s trying hard to not think about winning the championships, he can’t help but think about what it would mean to win a NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour championship.
Pitkat is a driver that started in DARE Stocks at Stafford and has worked his way up the ladder. He’d yet to score a NWMT win prior to August 2014 in his seventh year of racing on the Tour (fourth full season). Now he has a chance to achieve his ultimate goal.
“I’ve gone into Bobby Santos’ (Pitkat’s brother-in-law) house and seen his championship trophy there and seen all the names on it of guys that have won it before,” he said. “Just seeing it sitting there wondering one day if I’d even have a chance to run for it makes it a dream that could come true.
“I know those guys want it, but they’ve had it before. I’ve never won it before. I feel like I want it more than they do.”
-By Rob Blount, Speed51.com Northeast Editor – Twitter: @RobBlount
-Photo Credit: Speed51.com