Chewing Up The Competition: Woody Pitkat Wins Whelen Mod Tour F.W. Webb 100 At NHMS

Woody Pitkat celebrates victory in the Whelen Modified Tour F.W. Webb 100 Saturday at New Hampshire Motor Speedway (Photo: Getty Images)

Woody Pitkat celebrates victory in the Whelen Modified Tour F.W. Webb 100 Saturday at New Hampshire Motor Speedway (Photo: Getty Images)

LOUDON, N.H. – On August 8 Woody Pitkat lived a dream in movie script fashion when he won his first career NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour event and did it at the track he literally grew up at, Stafford Motor Speedway.

It’s often said that the sequel can never live up to the original, but Pitkat would probably argue that point when it comes to his major successes this season on the Whelen Modified Tour.

The drivers of the Whelen Modified Tour consider events at New Hampshire Motor Speedway to be their Super Bowls. And Saturday Pitkat, of Stafford, made his second career series victory another dream come true show.

Riding a dominant car for most of the day, Pitkat was able to hold off Todd Szegedy during a dramatic green-white-checkered finish to win the Whelen Modified Tour F.W. Webb 100 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.

“This is a dream come true,” said Pitkat who is in his first season driving for the Buzz Chew Racing team. “… This is an unbelievable car and starts in the garage. The races are won and lost at the shop. … Nobody works on the Tour as hard as these guys work. Nothing against everybody else, I know everybody works hard, but these guys are unbelievable. That’s where it starts and I’m just the fortunate one to sit in there and hold the wheel and drive it.”

Szegedy, of Ridgefield, was second and series points leader Doug Coby of Milford rallied from a crash to finish third.

The race was extended to 105 laps because of the late cautions. Pitkat led a race-high 76 laps.

“Woody did a heck of a job,” Szegedy said. “He did a smart move on the last lap and there was nothing I could do to get by him.”

Pitkat ended the 2013 season without a ride in the series when Hill Enterprises decided to discontinue running full-time with the Whelen Modified Tour. He went into the offseason wondering if he would be back with the series. But those doubts vanished when he was named to drive the Buzz Chew Racing ride in November.

Pitkat’s first victory at Stafford came in his 86th career start in the division. Saturday’s race was his 89th career start. Before the win on August 8 Pitkat had nine career top-five finishes in the series, with three second place finishes.

Asked what he would have thought if someone told him before the season he could win this year at his home track and in Loudon Pitkat said: “I’d probably say they were crazy. … To tell me that I’d ever come here and win, it’s unbelievable.”

The drama for Pitkat on the day was ramped even more up after a brutal crash on the first attempt at a green-white-checkered finish. On the restart, Szegedy slowed in the high lane off turn two, bunching up the field. Ron Yuhas Jr. running near 17th at the time, drove over the car of Timmy Solomito, then went head-on into the fence. The back side of Yuhas’ car went up on impact with the wall, with the nose of his car doing a pirouette on the track before flipping onto its roof. Track workers had to flip the car back right before extricating Yuhas from the car. Yuhas exited the car on his own power but was transported to a local hospital for further evaluation.

The huge wreck made for a red flag, leaving Pitkat – leading the race at the time – sitting idle on the frontstretch of the track for 20 minutes.

“What I was trying to do was not puke,” Pitkat said. “It was really gut wrenching sitting there like that. Trying to think about what was going to happen. I was just contemplating on what was going to happen.”

On the final restart, Pitkat was able to deftly keep Szegedy from having any chance to get by him over the final two laps.

“I knew I was really good on the bottom so I just figured if I could get out front and try to maybe break the draft and drive the thing down on the bottom and don’t get into too hot and drift up in the middle [of the corner] to give them the bottom on the exit [of the corner] I’d be ok,” Pitkat said. “That’s what I tried to do. I tried to protect the bottom, stay on the bottom and I figured maybe Todd would go to the outside on the last lap in [turns] three and four but my car was just so dominant and so good on the bottom that I just figured keep doing what I’m doing and pray that I was going to get to victory lane.”

Szegedy said his only option to get by Pitkat was wrecking him.

“Woody played it very very smart,” Szegedy said. “… I wanted to win it bad but I’m not going to go and take somebody out or wreck somebody to win a race. I’m going to race them fair and hard. Woody did a heck of a job. He did everything he had to do to keep me behind him. It was a veteran move and he ran a smart race. Woody had to make a mistake for me to get by him and he didn’t. He did an awesome job.”

Coby came into the event with a four-point lead over Justin Bonsignore in the standings with three events remaining. Bonsignore’s day ended with motor issues at the halfway point. Coby spun into the wall in turn two on lap 57, but his team got his car repaired, setting up his run back through the field to third.

The finish allowed Coby, the 2012 series champion, to open his points lead to 26 points with events remaining at Stafford Motor Speedway (Sept. 28) and Thompson Speedway (Oct. 19).

“Woody won himself the race by driving the lowest I’ve ever seen anybody drive on the last lap,” Coby said. “He did a great job and really gave Todd no option. My only option was to bring it home in one piece in third place. It could have been much worse. Two races to go and now it’s officially time to start thinking about points.”

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  1. Any news On Ron Yuhas ?

  2. Patty,
    Nothing to update as of yet. The latest update was a few hours ago, NASCAR officials said he was still being evaluated at a local hospital. NASCAR officials don’t expect to release any more updates this evening.

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