Woody Pitkat In Hillbilly Racing Whelen Modified Tour Car At New Hampshire Motor Speedway

When driver Jon McKennedy teamed up with Hillbilly Racing on the Whelen Modified Tour early this season, the parties involved agreed they would take things on a race-to-race basis for the season.

Woody Pitkat

And for the next Whelen Modified Tour event, the partnership will take a week off from that race-to-race agreement, though it’s a decision that will likely end what was left of the partnership.

Woody Pitkat will take over the Hillbilly Racing No. 79 car for Saturday’s F.W. Webb 100 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.

It marks a reunion of sorts. Pitkat got his first opportunity in the series driving for the Hill family owned operation in 2007.

McKennedy, of Chelmsford, Mass., teamed up with the Hillbilly Racing team after Daniel Hemric left the organization following the second race of the 2012 season.

“It’s always been set from when Daniel left that things were on a race-to-race basis,” said crew chief David Hill, son of team owner Sandra Hill. “It’s just one of these races where, Woody showed real good results there last year. I just thought our best chance to run good at Loudon was with Woody in the seat. Jon wasn’t happy, but it’s a business.”

In his first appearance with the Hill’s at Loudon, McKennedy crashed in July at the Town Fair Tire 100 at NHMS, finishing 26th of 34 cars in the event. In six career starts at Loudon McKennedy has an average finish of 28.8 with a best finish of 17th.

Pitkat has top-10’s in three of his last four appearances at NHMS with an average finish of 14.5 in 11 career starts on the 1.058-mile oval.

“We had to do this for Loudon,” Hill said. “It’s a good paying race. Woody is on the sidelines and he’s got a lot of experience there. I really think he can get the job done.”

Hill said after Loudon it’s unclear what will happen with the Hillbilly seat. Hill said McKennedy was told the ride was his for the final two races of the year, at Stafford Motor Speedway on Sept. 30 and Oct. 14 at Thompson International Speedway.

But Hill said McKennedy told them he wouldn’t be driving those events for the team. Attempts to reach McKennedy Tuesday were unsuccessful.

“This is a one-race deal with Woody, but if he wins Loudon you never know, he’s probably in the car,” Hill said. “How could you really take him out? He’s hungry and he’s doing good now. He drove good when he drove before, I don’t know what really happened then.”

Pitkat ran 10 events for the team in 2007 before he was released in the offseason that year.

McKennedy also runs full-time on the Valenti Modified Racing Series for Preston team owner Art Barry. McKennedy, a two-time Modified Racing Series champion, leads the VMRS point standings with three events remaining. He also races part-time in a SuperModified.

Hill said he struggled to get McKennedy to become more aggressive this year.

“The biggest thing I’m having a problem with him is with the difference in [Whelen Modified Tour] racing and [Valenti Modified Racing Series] racing,” Hill said. “The MRS, you can’t use the bumper, you can’t use the nerf bar, that’s what Jon says. He runs in SuperModifieds, you really can’t bump there either because they’re so dangerous. [Whelen Modified Tour] racing, you’ve got to use your front bumper, you’ve got to use your nerf bar, you’ve got to slide ‘em up the racetrack at Thompson when you pass. That’s the only thing I’ve struggled with [Jon]. Race time, when everybody gets up on the wheel, that’s the only problem I’ve had with him is that he doesn’t want to touch anybody.”

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