Seekonk Notes: SK Mod Clash Ends Badly For Woody Pitkat And Eric Berndt; Chance To Win Slips From Doug Coby

SEEKONK, Mass. – Eric Berndt walked out of his car hauler Sunday evening at Seekonk (Mass.) Speedway sporting a No. 48 Jimmie Johnson t-shirt.

Eric Berndt

It seemed all too fitting. Sunday at Dover International Speedway Johnson saw his chance of winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race slip away when officials slapped him with a penalty for jumping a restart late in the race.

And similarly, it was a penalty from race officials Sunday evening that snatched away from Berndt any hopes of victory in the 75-lap $5,000 to Win SK Modified feature at Seekonk Speedway.

Berndt, of Rocky Hill, was penalized for contact he made with the Woody Pitkat that spun Pitkat out of the lead on lap 57 of the race.

“I had the race won, without a doubt, I think,” said Pitkat, of Stafford. “It is what it is.”

Berndt went on to finish 9th. Pitkat ended up 12th. Matt Hirschman, who inherited the lead after the penalty, went on to win the event.

Pitkat went by Doug Coby for the lead on lap 48, with Berndt moving to second place past Coby three laps later. Berndt went to the outside in attempt to go by Pitkat, but on lap 57 he went to down low in turn two, making contact with Pitkat and sending him spinning.

“I went to cross Woody over, Woody went to guard the bottom and we both met at the same spot,” Berndt said. “Would I do it again? Absolutely. Would he probably do the same thing again? Absolutely. If I was in his position I would do the same thing he did.

“I think [making the call for the penalty] could have gone either way. They explained to us in the driver’s meeting that they wanted no contact at all.”

Pitkat said he wasn’t trying to block Berndt.

“Basically, I say he took me out,” Pitkat said. “I know he didn’t try to take me out. We’re all here and we want to win the race. It’s one of the highest paying races and he wants to come here and win just as bad as I do. I’ve always raced him clean, I’ve always had all the respect in the world for him and I still have all the respect in the world for him.”

Pitkat said he was disappointed to see people connected to the two teams exchanging words in the pits after the event.

“I don’t like people blabbing over here,” Pitkat said. “Girls, guys, everybody running their mouths when they weren’t in the car. It was between me and him and he knows that and that’s the bottom line. Everybody gets fired up, everybody thinks they can sit in the stands and that’s easy it out there.”

Coby Settles For Sixth

Doug Coby looked to have the car to beat for much of the first half of the SK Modified event, but in the end was forced to settle for a sixth place finish.

After losing the lead on lap 48 to Pitkat, Coby fell to fourth before a caution flew on lap 53. Coby went to the pits for a new tire. He restarted 14th and never was a threat to win the rest of the way.

“I probably should have pitted when I had the lead on lap 44,” Coby said. “I saw the guys staying out behind me so I stayed out. Woody got a good run underneath me and when I was racing on the outside both front tires were bouncing like crazy. I usually drive with one hand, with my left hand, and I actually had to drive two-handed for about five laps with [Hirschman] and [Berndt] passing me.

“As soon as the caution came out – we’re here to win – so I said ‘We’ve got to do something.’ So we came in and took a rear [tire], made an adjustment. I was just trying to keep the front tires clear on every restart. I had a car that could have competed with Matt and [second place finisher Keith Rocco] at the end, I just ran out of laps. If it was a 100-lapper or even an 85-lapper I might have had a shot at it, but [Tyler Chadwick] didn’t really go on the last restart so I just said ‘We’ll finish where we finish.’”

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