Warmed Up: Woody Pitkat Looking For Spring Sizzler Weekend To Remember At Stafford Speedway

Justin Bonsignore (51) and Woody Pitkat (88) battle for position during the NASCAR Modified Tour season opening Icebreaker 150 April 6 at Thompson Speedway (Photo: Jim Rogash/Getty Images for NASCAR)

Justin Bonsignore (51) and Woody Pitkat (88) battle for position during the NASCAR Modified Tour season opening Icebreaker 150 April 6 at Thompson Speedway (Photo: Jim Rogash/Getty Images for NASCAR)

Woody Pitkat and his hiring as the new driver for the NASCAR Modified Tour Buzz Chew Racing team following the 2013 season was one of the hottest storylines surrounding the series heading into the 2014 season.

And Pitkat and his new team didn’t disappoint the talkers out of the gate when the NASCAR Modified Tour season opened with the running of the Icebreaker 150 April 5-6 at Thompson Speedway.

Pitkat was the fastest in practice, the fastest in qualifying and led 55 laps during the event, but he ended up second to Justin Bonsignore after losing the lead with eight laps remaining at Thompson.

“Was there a little bit of bad taste in my mouth at the end of the day because I didn’t win?” Pitkat said. “Of course. You see it, like last year Mike Stefanik dominated [in the Icebreaker]. He won the pole and won the race. Then [Bobby Santos III] put it on the pole [for the Spring Sizzler] at Stafford [Speedway] and won that race.

“So you look that and you say to yourself ‘You won practice, you won time trials, now it’s your time to go out there and do the same thing, dominate and show you have a good car and win the race.’ To not be able to come home having won the race is definitely a little bit of a bad taste in mouth. But, it’s a new team. We didn’t really know what to expect. We didn’t really expect to come out of the box like that.”

Pitkat’s quest for his first career NASCAR Modified Tour victory continues Sunday when the series visits Stafford for the NAPA Spring Sizzler.

Pitkat hopes the disappointment left lingering from the second place run at Thompson proves the perfect drive needed to move up that one more spot on the podium in the season’s second event.

“That was probably the best thing that could happen going into Stafford because now we just want it even more,” Pitkat said. “Of course we want it week in and week out, but knowing we were that close, and we missed it by that much, we just want it even more.”

A victory in the Spring Sizzler 200 Sunday at Stafford would prove the ultimate “Hometown Boy Makes Good” headline at the track. Pitkat is looking to become the first NASCAR Modified Tour driver from Stafford to win the series’ Spring Sizzler event.

“I’ve never really thought about that,” said the 34-year old Pitkat, who started his racing career in Stafford Speedway’s entry level DARE Stock division at 16 years old. “I think my first [Modified Tour] win will be pretty much the biggest thing ever for me.

“To have it happen at Stafford, well, I had the rivalries running Late Models when I was younger, trying to beat the Stafford guys like [Ryan] Possoco and [Tom] Butler. It always meant something to go out on Monday morning [in town] and say you beat those guys. But to be able to do it on the Modified Tour, with the competition as it is now, would be huge.”

Over 79 career NASCAR Modified Tour starts, Pitkat has three runner-up finishes. His first came at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in 2011 and his second in the Fall Final at Stafford Speedway in 2012.

As he usually is during events at Stafford, Pitkat will be busy all weekend with a variety of rides.

In 2013 he won his first NASCAR All-American Series SK Modified championship at the track. He edged Ryan Preece by two points in the SK Modified standings at Stafford in 2013. He begins defense of that title with a new team this coming weekend. Preece took over Pitkat’s seat in the Steve Greer owned championship-winning ride. Pitkat will race for team owner Adam Skowyra’s SK Modified team in 2014.

“I was kind of down in the dumps when we took the SK [Modified] out in practice and we were off the mark a little bit at first,” Pitkat said. “You just think ‘How many years am I going to have to start all over again?’ But then I realize there’s people out there that would die for the rides I have and I have to suck it up. We kept working on it and we ended up getting it really good. I think we’re going to have a lot of fun with it.”

Pitkat said he’s unsure what the status is of his Billy Snow owned Late Model team at Stafford. He said the team will be in action for Sizzler weekend, but they may end up running part-time in 2014. Pitkat has Late Model championships at Stafford in 2006 and 2012.

“We’ll see what happens there,” Pitkat said. “Billy also has an [American Canadian Tour legal] Late Model, so we may end up doing some stuff with that at [the Waterford Speebdowl] and [Thompson Speedway] this year. I think this year he may be calling me week to week telling me what we’re doing and where we’re going.”

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