Danny Cates Gets First Career SK Modified Victory At Stafford Speedway

STAFFORD – Danny Cates climbed out of his SK Modified Friday at Stafford Motor Speedway with a look on his face displaying the perfect combination of disbelief for where he was standing and total elation.

Danny Cates celebrates his first career SK Modified victory at Stafford Speedway Friday (Photo: Stephanie Kimball/Stafford Speedway)

Victory lane at the half-mile oval was something all new to the Chaplin driver.

“I wanted this one,” Cates said. “I know everybody wants to win, but I’m pretty sure I wanted it more than anybody.”

Cates held off the charges of the best in the division over the final 36 circuits to win the 40-lap NASCAR Whelen All-American Series SK Modified feature Friday at Stafford Motor Speedway.

It was the first victory at Stafford for the second year driver in the division.

“I can’t believe it, I’m in victory lane at Stafford Motor Speedway,” Cates exclaimed as his crew celebrated around him.

It was a long awaited win for Cates. He finished fourth in his debut at Stafford in 2012, but struggled for much of the 2012 season. He ended 2012 with eight top-five finishes and 11 top-10’s and was fifth in the points in the division.

“We always had a good car,” Cates said. “We struggled a little bit. We’d get the car good and we’d get balled up in a wreck. It was just horrible luck. Even the first few races this year. [in the last race] we were real happy with the car in the [heat race] and then we get balled up a little bit in the first wreck. We couldn’t learn anything.

“[Tonight] it was a rocket ship right out of the box. I think we’ve finally got a car that we can contend with these guys week in and week out. That’s the plan.”

Though it was no easy ride for Cates Friday, who at times had to hold off drivers Ted Christopher, Ryan Preece and Woody Pitkat on multiple restarts.

Preece, of Berlin, was second and took over sole possession of the division’s points lead. Pitkat, of Stafford, was third.

Cates took the lead from Zach Aszklar on lap four and never trailed again.

With five laps left he held a 10-car length lead over Pitkat in second, but with three laps remaining the stopped car of Tommy Membrino Jr. brought out a caution and bunched the field up for one more restart.

“The worst part I thought it was clearing sailing, I’m leading by [six car lengths] and [Tommy Membrino Jr.] spins out. I said over the radio, ‘It wouldn’t be Stafford without a green-white-checkered or a close finish.’” Cates said.

Preece got by Pitkat on the ensuing restart and stalked Cates’ bumper over the final two laps, but couldn’t find a way around.

“I know Ryan, he could have poked me a little harder and got back by me,” Cates said. “I kept it to the bottom and kept my foot in it and came out with the [win].”

Said Preece: “Any time you have a car in one piece it’s a good day. I want to congratulate Danny. They’ve come so close so many times before.”

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