Hometown Proud: Woody Pitkat Wins Whelen Mod Tour NAPA Spring Sizzler 200 At Stafford

Woody Pitkat celebrates victory in the Whelen Modified Tour NAPA Spring Sizzler 200 Sunday at Stafford Motor Speedway (Photo: Maddie Meyer/Getty Images for NASCAR)

Woody Pitkat celebrates victory in the Whelen Modified Tour NAPA Spring Sizzler 200 Sunday at Stafford Motor Speedway (Photo: Maddie Meyer/Getty Images for NASCAR)

STAFFORD – At Stafford Motor Speedway, the Whelen Modified Tour NAPA Spring Sizzler 200 has long been called the “Greatest race in the history of spring.”

Sunday, for the fraternity that is hometown drivers that have competed at the historic half-mile track, Woody Pitkat put together what some might call “The greatest story in the history of spring.”

Pitkat drove away from the field in the late stages to win the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour NAPA Spring Sizzler 200 at Stafford Sunday.

He became the first driver from Stafford to win the race in the 44 years the track has hosted the prestigious event.

“This is a dream come true,” Pitkat said. “It’s unreal. To see what goes on, the past winners and how big it is, just a dream come true.”

Todd Szegedy of Ridgefield was second and Ryan Preece of Berlin third.

The 35-year old Pitkat started his racing career at 16-years old driving in the Stafford Speedway’s entry level DARE Stock division.

From 2007 to 2013 he ran regularly on the Whelen Modified Tour, going winless for that span and toiling as a driver many considered just outside the realm of contender for victory at any given event.

That all changed before the 2014 season when he got a ride with Buzz Chew Racing, and last August he got his first victory in the division – in fairy-tale style – at Stafford. The fairy tale seemed to have a quick sequel last September when Pitkat won a second Whelen Modified Tour event on the big stage that is New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon.

But Sunday’s story trumped the tales of the first two division victories for Pitkat. The Spring Sizzler reigns as one of the crown jewels of Modified racing, where a victory defines a career forever.

“You’re never thinking at 16-years old that one day you’d come here and win a [Whelen Modified] Tour race, especially the Spring Sizzler with how big it is,” Pitkat said “Loudon was a big win. Loudon was awesome to win, but I think today was bigger than that. It’s just unreal. It really is a dream come true.”

Said Szegedy: “We all have our tracks that we want to win at, and Stafford is obviously on all our of lists because this is one of the toughest tracks to race, to win at, to master. And I would say Woody has mastered this track, no question about it. And to win at your home track, to win the Spring Sizzler, the biggest race here, that’s absolutely amazing. … He deserves it. He’s driving his butt off and he’s driving respectful. He’s come a long way.”

Pitkat started second behind Preece and drove in the top-five for most of the event.

On lap 161 he took the lead from Szegedy and was never challenged at the front again, as the race went caution free to the checkered.

“Todd was really good,” Pitkat said. “I knew he was going to be tough to beat, those guys are always good. I just tried to work on him, work on him and I started getting a little free trying to pass him. So I took a couple laps off to cool off the right rear [tire] and try to get back at him and get the pass done. I knew [Preece] pitted late and I figured he was going to be coming. After that I got out to be [a 10-car length] lead and then just tried to take it easy in case there was a late restart. I was just saying every lap ‘Please no caution, please no caution, just stay green.’”

Preece had pitted for tires on lap 139 and came blasting up through the field. By the time Pitkat went to the lead Preece was up to fourth. Preece went by Keith Rocco for third on lap 168 and Preece took a sizable bite out of Pitkat’s advantage over the next 15 laps. But over the final 15 laps he couldn’t make up any more ground.

“We got what we needed, but when we got to where we needed to be we just didn’t get the cautions we needed,” Preece said of his strategy to pit late and use fresher tires for a late run. “But Woody had a great car, I don’t know if I could have beat Woody.”

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  1. late model fan says

    Love them Stafford boys.

  2. Why does the paying fan that goes to stafford for the races have to wait and freeze to death for an hour waiting for nascars on line viewers for the tour race to start. I though jack arute was going to start interview people in the stands. Maybe we should all stay home on our computers and follow along on NASCAR home tracks. The paying customers come first and without us there is no sizzler. We pay to see and hear the cars not to listen to people talk about them. Good racing though when they stop talking.

  3. speed kills says

    well where are the LFR cheerleaders??????

  4. Ya know, it doesn’t get much better than this – Woody winning the big one; the guy works through the ranks at Stafford and wins the biggest race in his own back yard..

    Good for him and that team, who btw, was essentially an “also ran” team before Woody.. (and that’s not a ding) but a testament to all involved.

  5. To Gregsacksfan: NASCAR wanted to go early, it was a track management decision to hold to the advertised race time, not the other way around.

  6. A dream come true for Woody. Good to see a driver truly appreciate their Sizzler win.

  7. Yeah, you could tell it it probably the tracks call to wait. The NASCAR officials had all cars lined up and in place for quite a while and were just standing there waiting while the driver interviews and other stuff was going on.

  8. Sect.D Row25 says

    I think it comes down to the slow A** – one burger at a time concessions. The Midway was packed while Jack was stalling so the people could see the show. There were people that missed every lap of the LM race in those lines. The track may have nothing to do with the concession stands, Idk. Someone has to tell them to step it up. With a packed house you would think it would strike someone there to grab a glove and get in the game. Maybe have 20 burgers ready to go

  9. Any reports on how tech inspection went after the race?

    Any parts, cars or engines confiscated by NASCAR?

  10. Familiarity breeds contempt.

    And the Troyer chassis still runs pretty good. The 6, 88, and 4 all ran pretty good. Still a familiar occurrence.

  11. Darealgoodfella,
    Nothing we can report at this time. I guess that’s the best thing to say right now.

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