STAFFORD – When it came to the special Xtra Mart sponsored 50-lap Late Model event Friday at Stafford Motor Speedway, Michael Bennett wanted nothing more than to defend his victory in the event from 2015.
Problem was, a suspension handed down by the track after last week’s event meant Bennett was forced to sit out competition this week at Stafford.
But Bennett still found a way to get in victory lane Friday at Stafford thanks to his choice to fill his seat.
Woody Pitkat, filling in for Bennett, rallied back to the front after losing the lead late and won the Xtra Mart Xtra D 50-lap Late Model feature Friday at Stafford Speedway.
It was the 40th career Late Model feature win at Stafford for Pitkat, who is second on the division’s all-time win list behind Ryan Posocco (45 wins). Pitkat, of Stafford, is running an SK Modified full-time at Stafford in 2016 but not a Late Model.
Pitkat also won the SK Modified feature Friday at Stafford.
“This is what I wanted to do,” Pitkat said. “If we were doing this this was the only reason to come do it, to come here to win.”
Bennett was suspended for the week because his team was involved in a fight on the infield during last week’s Late Model feature.
“I know it was a tough circumstance last weekend with Michael and his crew and everything,” Pitkat said. “But I knew had a car capable of winning, this was my old car. This is just a dream come true. I grew up with Michael. We used to go to Loudon and sit in the back of the camper. … It’s just awesome. This right here is what’s it’s about. It’s about family.”
Tom Butler led much of the early portion of the event, but contact from Fearn sent him spinning out of the lead on lap 19. Fearn was black flagged for the incident, moving Pitkat to the lead.
“I want to apologize to Tom Butler,” Fearn said. “I just barely got into him. I didn’t really mean to get into him. From there we just had to go to the back and start over, but we had a good car tonight.”
Fearn clawed his way back to the front and moved to second on lap 32.
On lap 40 Fearn got under Pitkat in turn three. The two made contact to the start/finish line. On lap 41 Fearn was able to make the move work and take over the top spot. But a lap later Pitkat, with the leads stacking up, was able to steal the spot back and take over the lead for good.
“I just tried to keep it best I could,” Pitkat said. “I knew Tommy was going to be coming.”
Said Fearn: “Towards the end of the race, we were trying to reel Woody in and he was going good. We got by him there once but he just crossed over on me to get back by. I wouldn’t mind Woody driving that car here every week.”