Perfect Theater: Hometown Boy Woody Pitkat Wins SK Modified Championship At Stafford Speedway

STAFFORD – For a man who understands the importance of being quietly and consistently solid in an SK Modified, Woody Pitkat is a proven master of dramatics.

Woody Pitkat

Woody Pitkat

Even the most creative screenplay writers would be hard pressed to improve upon the theater that was the 2013 season in the SK Modified division at Stafford Motor Speedway for Pitkat.

In February Pitkat was just another driver on the outside looking in after losing his regular ride in the division. Sunday he was being celebrated as the division’s champion.

The kid who grew up in the grandstands at Stafford Motor Speedway was the man hoisting the champion’s trophy in the track’s premier division Sunday at the CarQuest Fall Final at the historic half-mile oval.

Pitkat, of Stafford, finished third in the 40-lap NASCAR Whelen All-American Series SK Modified feature to clinch his first SK Modified division championship at Stafford.

“We’ve just been trying so hard,” Pitkat said. “I finished second so many times. It’s just unbelievable. … The people that surround me, it’s amazing.”

Pitkat struggled to hold back tears addressing the crowd over the public address system as he went through name after name of people that have helped him through his rise from the track’s entry level DARE Stock division to a champion in the track’s top division.

Pitkat used consistency to roll to his first title, edging out Ryan Preece for the title by two points. Preece finished the season with eight victories in 18 starts, but couldn’t overcome the tough finishes away from the victories. Pitkat had just two wins but had fewer bad nights than Preece.

Over the winter between the 2012 and 2013 seasons Pitkat was at the center of some of the offseason drama permeating from the Stafford Speedway racing community.

It came as a shocker to many when the news surfaced that Pitkat was parting ways with the SK Modified team owned by Bob Hitchcock and Kelly Iverson and he was being replaced by Rowan Pennink.

Not long before the start of the season Pitkat announced he would be driving in 2013 in the SK Modified division at Stafford for team owner Steve Greer.

“Steve Greer, I talked to him over the winter, told him I was looking for a ride,” Pitkat said. “He knew how bad I wanted to win the championship. Even he said ‘I don’t know if we can give you a championship car first year out.’ I said ‘Listen, I’ve been there with Late Model guys, I knew what I was getting my hands into.’ We just started and went from there.”

Pitkat came into Sunday’s finale holding a four point lead over Preece in the standings. Preece held the tiebreaker rights by virtue of his win total. With 10 laps remaining Sunday Preece was in second place and Pitkat fourth with Preece’s teammate Pennink running third in the car Pitkat had formerly been the driver of. If the running order remained that way to the finish Preece would have won the title on the tiebreaker.

On lap 32 Pitkat used a tap and run to go by Pennink and his former ride to move into third place, essentially passing his old car to clinch his first title. The running order remained that way with Keith Rocco grabbing the victory, Preece finishing second and Pitkat third.

“I did everything I could,” Preece said. “I can’t be more proud of my guys. It was definite a hard fought battle. Woody deserved it there. He missed all the wrecks he needed to miss, he got in the position he needed to and he clinched it. Good for him, good for that team.”

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