Woody Pitkat, Danny Watts Racing Parting Ways On Whelen Mod Tour; Chase Dowling In Seat At Oswego

Woody Pitkat (Photo: Jim DuPont/RaceDayCT)

It was a relationship between driver and team owner born unexpectedly out of tragedy just under two years ago. 

And Monday NASCAR Whelen Modified team owner Danny Watts Jr. and driver Woody Pitkat made the decision that it was partnership between driver and owner that had run its course.

Pitkat and Watts both confirmed to RaceDayCT Tuesday morning that they have decided to go their separate ways.

Pitkat is 10th in the standings this year after 11 series events. He got Watts his second series victory as an owner in the Jersey Shore 150 at Wall (N.J.) Stadium on May 18.

“It was pretty much a mutual thing,” Pitkat told RaceDayCT. “I think we both pretty much agreed that neither one of us were really happy or having fun. I was trying to be loyal and just trying to finish out the season and talk to him at the end of the year about what his plans were for next year or going in different directions. But what he was thinking was what I was thinking. It wasn’t really anything bad.” 

Said Watts: “I wish nothing but the best for Woody I gave him as much as I could give him. I don’t know what else to say. I like Woody as a person and I think he’s freaking awesome. I want to stay friends and I think that this was the best way to do it. 

“I spent a ton of money, I have no help, I do this on my own. It’s not that I want results, I just would like better finishes. I feel that we deserve better finishes. And I feel that Woody deserves better finishes. And if something just doesn’t work right it just doesn’t work right.” 

Ted Christopher was driving for the Watts owned No. 82 team in 2017. Christopher was killed in a plane crash on Sept. 16, 2017 while traveling to a Whelen Modified Tour event scheduled at Riverhead (N.Y.) Raceway.

Pitkat was chosen by Watts to replace Christopher in his car for the next series event following Christopher’s death, on Sept. 23, 2017 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. Pitkat was originally announced as a one-race fill-in for Watts, but ended up closing out the season for the team and was tabbed as their full-time driver for the 2018 season. 

“I obviously appreciate everything that he did,” Pitkat said. “He gave me an opportunity. When it started it was kind of a crappy situation because of that fact of getting a ride because somebody passed away. But it was cool to have an opportunity because at that point I didn’t really have anything going on. He tried. He bought new equipment this year and unfortunately it just didn’t work. Obviously it takes all the pieces of the puzzle to make something work and obviously there was a few things that we were missing. I wish him nothing but the best and thank him for what he did. It was time to move on.” 

Pitkat has run 27 events for the team since 2017. He finished 14thin points for the team after competing in 13 of 16 series events in 2018. He had three top-five’s and nine top-10’s over his span with the team.

Pitkat is a 13-year Whelen Modified Tour veteran with four career victories over 155 starts dating back to 2007.

Chase Dowling will replace Pitkat in the Watts owned car for Saturday’s Toyota Mod Classic 150 at Oswego (N.Y.) Speedway. Riverhead Raceway Modified division regular Tommy Rogers Jr. will be in the Watts owned ride for the Sept. 7 series event at Riverhead. 

Watts said beyond that he’s unsure of the team’s plans for the final three events of the season, the Musket 250 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway (Sept. 21), the NAPA Fall Final 150 at Stafford Speedway (Sept. 29) and the Sunoco World Series 150 at Thompson Speedway (Oct. 13). 

“I have two drivers that I’m considering for New Hampshire but it has to work where it’s going to work,” Watts said. “Then we’ll just play it by ear from there. Chase and I are going to sit and talk a little more. He’s got a commitment to [team owner Jamie Tomaino] for Loudon and I won’t ever ever ever take anything away from Jamie. I told him to stay right there and I’ll figure out what I have to do. Right now I just need to get a grip on what’s going on.” 

Pitkat said he will focus the remainder of the season on his Dan Avery owned SK Modified ride and Jeff Hartwell owned Late Model ride, both at Thompson Speedway. With three events remaining at the track this year he sits second in the SK Modified division standings at Thompson, 44 points behind division leader Keith Rocco. He also sits second in the Late Model standings at Thompson, 13 points behind division leader William Wall. 

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  1. Let’s see…..hmmm. Who would be a good choice for the Musket. Someone that has been pretty hot this year winning a pile of money with NWMT experience. The name escapes me. Oh well it will come to me.

  2. I know a guy that fit good in the seat. Ronnie the wheel man Williams

  3. I would like to see Woody back in an SK at Stafford. I know they talked about it with Avery in the offseason but I think it didn’t work out primarily because his commitment to Tour type racing. Perhaps they can revisit that for next season.

    Did the 99 SK race at all this year? Before the season started, I know they registered the number without a driver listed.

  4. No surprise here…

  5. Josh paradis says

    Cg the 99 sk was sold to pj peters from the pro4 division. Id like to see lia or hossfeild in the 82

  6. Silk, TC , Woody, 3 not to bad guys in that car and not much for results , who knows maybe the next one will be the charm. A lot to keep a modified and KN car going , best of luck to all

  7. thanks Josh. Any Idea on what PJ Peters plans are for the recently acquired modified.

    Hossfeld seems to be pretty content racing closer to home on the ROC tour, Chuck is in contention for another title on ROC Tour. The travel with the Whelen tour is pretty significant for those upstate NY’ers. Lia is a good possibility. I haven’t heard his name attached to racing in a few years now. What was his last year running the tour 2017ish.

  8. Hossfeld said this is his last year he’s done going in circles

  9. Bob Hitchcock says

    PJ Peters bought one of our spare cars not the one that Rowan drove
    I decided to take some time off to concentrate on my business and take a little time off
    I appreciate you thinking you know what is going on

  10. Silk, TC and Woody, all 3 are championship caliber drivers, yet no results. Maybe, possibly could it be the equipment? TC could drive the wheels off a semi, yet had no luck and Woody got that win by chance, again a talented wheelman. Yup, I’d dare to say it’s the car, not the driver. Best of luck to Woody.

  11. Hillary 2020 says

    Hasn’t Lia been officially retired from racing for a few years? And didn’t Hossfeld just officially announce his?

  12. Josh paradis says

    Pj peters was gonna run waterford but he is waiting till next year cause the construction there shot down his plans this year but it will be there as the 3 next year he told me.

  13. Muddbus461 says

    Chuck is actually retiring after this year

  14. What Rob p. said. Really good drivers passed through that car and no commensurate results. Gotta look at the other talent, like the crew chief. Who is calling the set up specs? Perhaps the car just isn’t as good as it needs to be. Woody is good, but he wasn’t going to work miracles when Silk and TC didn’t do any better.

  15. Josh paradis says

    I appoligize mr Hitchcock i didnt know you had another car. I wonder if the 82 is trying different setups because the cars are new.

  16. Maybe Dowling will be the answer , with what he learned about setup the last few years might be what they need , good luck

  17. I second Elect’s point. Dowling is calling the shots on the 99 and that went from obscurity to the front instantly. He,s helping an SK team who’s name escapes me. He’s a setup guy in his own right now not just a pretty good driver. I agree this may be more then the sum of the parts and should be fascinating to watch.

  18. There’s a few young guns out there looking for a ride. The Moeller kid is great on and off the track, the Elwood kid, the Perry kid. That’s what is needed. Young fresh talented driver.

  19. Emaa not saying your wrong but I think that team needs more than just a young gun , like I said before the 3 previous drivers weren’t exactly slouches , missing a little more I think

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