Family Pipe Dream Turns Into Racing Reality For Craig Lutz On Whelen Modified Tour

(Press Release from NASCAR Integrated Marketing Communications)

Craig Lutz celebrates victory in the Whelen Modified Tour Sunoco World Series 150 last October at Thompson Speedway (Photo: Fran Lawlor/RaceDayCT)

By Paul Lambert/NASCAR

Racing has long been a family affair for Craig Lutz.

He spent much of his childhood racing go-karts with his father Eric, beginning at the tender age of 5.

The family continued to build up a race team, putting Craig into an SK Modified at the Waterford Speedbowl in 2012. Lutz cut his teeth racing drivers like Keith Rocco and Ted Christopher. After two years there, Lutz was running the Whelen Modified Tour part-time. And two years after that, with help from Eric and stepmom Renee, Lutz was able to get onto the Tour full-time in 2016, still driving for the family.

In the middle of the 2017 season, however, Lutz made the jump to the No. 46 Riverhead Building Supply Chevrolet, owned by Russell Goodale. Even though it was a big break to make the leap from a family operation to a different team, it was what the Lutz family had been striving for for years.

“My dad is a diehard racer,” Lutz says. “Every weekend, after our first year, we were like ‘man, hopefully one day we can get a ride driving for somebody.’ I got the call from Russell, and it was a dream come true.”

In his first race with the team at Stafford that year, Lutz sat on the pole for the first time in his Tour career and finished eighth.

After another year on the Tour, Lutz finally got his first Tour victory at the 2019 Fall Final at Stafford, holding off Doug Coby.

That first win was extra-special for Lutz. Not only was it his first Tour win, it was the first Tour win for anybody on the No. 46 team.

“The first one is definitely the best one,” Lutz says. “It was the first one for… all the guys on the crew. They put their lives into this, so that was the best part about the first one. Then, after the first one, you’re like ‘when’s the second one coming?’ “

Lutz wheeled his Modified to two victories in 2020, at Jennerstown and the season-ending World Series 150 at Thompson.

With those two wins, Lutz and the No. 46 team made it very clear to the rest of the Tour garage: 2019 was no fluke.

The Thompson win was especially sweet. Believe it or not, Lutz despised the .625-mile oval the moment he began turning laps there. Winning races, of course, can help change minds.

“There’re so many good guys that have won Thompson, and I feel like it puts an exclamation point on your Modified racing career, to win at a track like Thompson,” Lutz says. “Long straightaways, high-banked corners. It’s a really demanding racetrack. To be able to finally win there is a dream come true. There’s nothing like it.”

Now, coming off back-to-back 4th-place finishes in the standings, Lutz enters the 2021 season as a driver to watch in the battle for the Tour championship.

“We all hope to be running for a championship,” Lutz says. “You just try to go every weekend, can’t have any bad days. You look at Justin [Bonsignore’s] season last year, he didn’t finish outside the top-five once. That’s what it takes to win championships.

“Hopefully, if the cards play out, we’ll have a shot at the end of the year.”

As Lutz turns the page to 2021, with three Tour wins under his belt, he still credits his father Eric for his success.

“I am where I am today because of my dad,” Lutz says. “My dad was always pushing me to be better and do bigger things, and because of him, I’m able to do what I’m doing now. Without him, I would never be where I’m at today.”


  1. getserious says

    No matter how good he was at 5 yrs old, or how much his daddy did everything but turn the steering wheel for him since, or who he impressed with his skills, he is tainted in my book by the malicious punting of Wes Hinckley out of the win at the Monadnock TriTrack race last year. He’s not a decent sportsman, that’s for damn sure.

  2. Getserious took the post right out of my mouth!!
    Knocking someone out of the way for a win shouldn’t be accepted by fans, drivers or officials!!

  3. Ditto, getserious! His demeanor in Victory Lane that night infuriated me as a fan. His team, crew, and supporters in the waiting for the gate to open to the track demonstrated the same demeanor: brusque and in accepting the trophy, akin to a bully who not only knows he can only intimidate other students because he knows rules have no force. He sneered at Hinckley.

    For all the praise he rightly gives his crew, he evidently fails to see other drivers have crews who work for the love of the sport and competition. Lots of dads devote the same for their sons who drive.

    Hinckley vocalized what I, and a good number of fans, worry racers may have already developed into. It still befuddles me how drivers pass through the field with minimal contact in either groove, but just simply refuse to break on the final lap. What talent does that require? Who would encourage that? Demolition derbies at the state fair, those vestiges of the Old World, provide such entertainment.
    I love Modifieds at Mondanock more than anywhere else! I hope when the mods return, they provide the racing they usually do and not anything that resembles that night!

  4. Have to agree, even worse then the punt was his victory lane speech. Came across as very cocky and spoiled. Made no attempt at a clean pass just plowed through him. Les is a clean racer and deserved better if not on the track Lutz could have at least shown a bit of class in victory lane. Makes it easy to root against him.

  5. My hats off to the user of ” brusque”. Great word. How can any fan feel any kind of loyalty to a driver that is frequently brusque in his or her demeanor.
    But that’s not the issue. The issue is what is the rule for drivers on the track in circumstances such as this. I bring visual aids.
    Not me, I’m not saying it. Ryan Preece says it and it’s the understanding of all the top drivers including, Preece, Coby, Bonsignor, Hirschman and others. I don’t even like it having seen Ronnie Williams do it a couple times at Stafford in the SK’s in 2019. If you get to a car on the track and especially a short track, you’re clearly faster you can move the guy out of the way. That is if you can do it without taking him or her out. That’s the only caveat. Take him out, it’s rough riding and you go to the rear.
    It’s not being a hammer and driving through anyone it’s a specific driver skill that’s hard to do successfully.
    The sympathy here is based solely on Hinckley being a smaller operation and popular. Look at the race. Lutz was faster, worked Hinckley over, moved him out of the way and didn’t spin or wall Hinckley. Bonsignor worked Hirschman over at White Mountain being clearly faster and moved him out of the way.
    You’re saying you want the good guy, kid gloves exception for Hinckley but there was a lot of money at stake.
    Sympathy for Hinckley, anger at Lutz. Bonsignor doing what he had to. The nonthin muffin for Big Money.
    Both incidents no penalty because they were clearly faster, moved the leader out without taking them out and followed the driver code. Actually more like a guideline but you get the idea.

    Bonsignor/Hirschman-Go to the 1:09 mark

    Lutz/Hinckley. At the very end.

  6. 🌈🦄2020 says

    He seemed pretty level headed when he raced at Waterford. I don’t recall many bone head moves. Guess moving up changed him.

  7. MY GOODNESS!!!!! I can’t believe you people are yapping about a bump & run.

    TC would demolish cars and you yahoos would laugh and enjoy it.

  8. Bunch of cry baby’s. So if a driver decides to protect his lead on the last lap by slowing up on corner entry as to not give any chance of washing up the track for someone to get underneath trying to force the faster car to outside a bump and run isn’t warranted?

  9. Fast Eddie says

    This kid used to be someone i rooted for. It wasn’t just a “bump and run”. It was slam the back and bang the side to almost put hinkley in the wall! He had the two outside lanes for about the last 5 laps to get by. Instead he insisted on pulling an “ironhead” move and almost wrecked him. Someone needs to remind him its not a gocart or an enduro car, it’s a Modified!

  10. Bump and run is one thing. Make an effort to make a pass for a couple laps then bump a guy as a last resort. Riding a couple car lengths back and making a big run and squaring a guy up, which is what Lutz did at Monadnock is a bit different. Williams tried same thing on Rameau but got himself squirly in second Monadnock race. At White Mountain Bonsignore played the humble card and didn’t come across as a jerk in victory lane. Lutz basically taunted Hinkley instead of just celebrating his win. Rubbing salt in the wounds of a low budget team who overcame loss of his car owner and father recently just didn’t play well. He drove a car with a cup teams budget to a victory good for him.


    An example of tenacious yet clean open-wheel racing with excitement and sportsmanship.
    Darealgoodfella: I agree, especially since I cannot describe TC’s style positively in any aspect.
    Wow: Neither of them drove as either Lutz did or you describe.
    Doug: Point taken. I guess those who drive now have a different mindset. I loved The Reg, whom I would describe as (“the best”, acknowledging it’s subjective, but based on many factors) aggressive, but never reckless or intentionally hazardous. He finished second in the championship seven(?) times, as I recall. He certainly could have wrecked numerous drivers had he wanted. One year, he (driving the Les Care #2, I believe) and Marquis were racing for the championship at the World Series. He had him several times, but couldn’t complete the pass.
    Let’s just get to Monadnock!

  12. Fast eddie you either need a pair of glasses or you’re such a hinckley fan that you need to exaggerate. The truth is in the video that Doug provided the link to. Lutz bumped him and shot underneath and hinckley reacted, fairly I might add, by turning hard to the left and they drag raced wheel to wheel to the line and lutz won by two or three feet. No slamming and definitely no wall. Geeez

  13. Viva Race Fan says

    Teddy in his career wrecked a million dollars worth in repairs to competitors race cars . Dam l miss him.
    Life goes on….

  14. Subjective, the perfect description.
    I hated the tap and go when Christopher and Kopcik were Williams victims at Stafford. Hated it when Bonsignor pushed Beatty up high at Riverhead to snatch the win out of a home favorites grasp instead of giving him space to race hard to the checker.
    There is no high side option on a short track at the end of a race for the leaders. You have to be so much faster then the lead car to pull that off it rarely happens. There’s an argument that if you are clearly slower and putsing around going low in the corners you aren’t racing. You should be going in the corner hard and if that means washing up and losing the lead that’s what should have happened. Don’t do it and take your chances.
    I know Preece said it and isn’t known to be a dirty driver in any respect. In know neither Stafford nor Tri Track not the NWMT is going to be penalizing anyone on it if it’s done well without taking the victim out so who am I to say it’s not just good hard racing.
    The mere fact is it happens, is subjective and debated robustly is actually a good thing for racing. Will it happen, does the faster driver have the balls to do it and the ability to do it without wrecking or spinning the lead car? Penalize it every time and race endings become less exciting.

  15. Not only would TC leave debris fields, his position was that if you wanted to make friends, go to camp. And you yahoos just loved that. I miss the guy, but I don’t miss the wreaking havoc and wrecked race cars. TC would have accomplished so much more if he didn’t wreck himself out so often.

    Lutz is an angel compared to TC.

  16. The bump and run is now an acceptable part of racing from the cup series to the mini stocks. Running your mouth about it in victory lane is about as classless as it comes though.

  17. Fast Eddie says

    Wow, take another look at the “bar banging” as they’re coming off the turn. Also, take a good look at how close Hinkley was to the wall crossing the finish line. Anybody out there could have done what Lutz did. Someone with some talent and good equipment could have passed in one of the two WIDE OPEN lanes and passed Hinkley cleanly. Hinkley was not blocking, he was protecting the inside lane, which is his prerogative being in the lead. There was plenty of room to make a clean pass. I used to like both of them.

  18. Hinkley was clearly giving the outside lane. It wasn’t like he was blocking or making the rear bumper wide. Lutz decided to move him which in this day and age is an acceptable practice in racing, not that I agree. Only difference, Hinkley would not drive Lutz the same way.

  19. Earl, there is no such thing as “giving the outside lane” you idiot. NOBODY WANTS THE OUTSIDE LANE BECAUSE IT DOESN’T WORK. Why do you think the lead cars are MOVED TO THE OUTSIDE LANE WITH A BUMP???? WHY DO YOU THINK THE CAR TRYING TO PASS TRIES TO SHOVEL UNDER THE CAR IN FRONT???? Is this too obvious for Your Idiocy? You must be the most biased #1 Hinckley fan.

    The only car “giving the outside lane” works for is the 01. Get it?

  20. Dareal… EVER attended a race at Mondanock? Of all the tracks on which modifieds run, it provides for passing on the outside, most especially on turns 1 and 2, where the banking helps a car handling well to pass successfully and cleanly!
    The practice of the “bump and run” (yes, practice, not an art. No one has explained me that since everyone does it, it qualifies as a talent) may occur more often at other tracks, but Monadnock does not fall within that category.
    Please, if you bother to reply, refrain from caps, base insults, and anything other than reasoned opinions. I have refrained from addressing your opinions previously for the aforementioned reasons, as well politicizing everything, but I felt compelled!
    I await anxiously when we can attend races, not postulate about what may happen or overanalyzd what happened last year.

  21. MikeL, I have been to Monadnock.

    Now please review this link lovingly provided by Doug, that shows the ‘BUMP & RUN’ DEPLOYED AT MONADNOCK:

    Let me quote Rudy Giuliani when he said, “The truth is not the truth.”


    So there it is, the video proof, that the bump & run does happen at Monadnock. Turn up the volume and you can hear the announcer say “bump & run”. 😝😝🤣🤪🤪😝😝🤪🤪😝

    I’m sorry, what was your point?

  22. Dareal, I have said this before to you and I will say it again, look in the mirror and you will see who the real idiot on this forum is. That would be you!

  23. Earl loves ♥️ Hinkley.

  24. Fast Eddie says

    I guess we all have our opinions of what a “bump & run” vs. a “slam & bang” vs. a “dive & dump” is. Just as we all support and defend our favorites, we criticize our “not so favorites”. And some will occasionally go from one list to the other. To that end I can agree with some of you, but must “agree to disagree” with others. Is it raceday yet?

  25. Some drivers will do things others won’t. Boy that’s a shocker.
    Tell you what the real bottom line is with the whole move the guy out deal is….zero. We can get as mad as we like and bad mouth the guy but it’s not like we’re a sponsor buying them tires. It’s fan opinion which most drivers pay attention but in the end doesn’t pay any of their bills. Tracks and sanctioning groups aren’t penalizing it in big races if it’s executed properly so maybe if it’s such a big deal write them and email. Can’t blame drivers for doing what drivers will do if there is no penalty involved.

  26. MikeL ,Dadope can’t help himself that’s what he does call people names insult them tells us how smart he is , he knows everything , it’s to bad we can’t vote him out since he’s so much like#45

  27. Elect, you voted 🗳 for #45 both times. 🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣. Looooozah!!!!

  28. 🌈🦄2020 says

    Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. Dafella is such an idiot he has no clue who he sounds and acts like. The last four years have really done a number on the poor fella. 🤣🤣🤡

  29. 🌈🦄2020, are you flattered or irritated?

  30. I think we can all agree that dafella is the Trump of this forum.

    Precious so precious.

  31. Earl, you and the Deplorables L-O-V-E Trump.

    Therefore, you love me.

  32. I guess cars can’t run the outside and win? Interesting, first I heard of that.

  33. 🌈🦄2020 says

    Add another one to the list.”Needs to be loved” ☑️

  34. He’s the type only a mother could love.

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