Dig Dug: Woody Pitkat Wins Bud Light Open 80 At Stafford Speedway

Woody Pitkat celebrates victory in the Bud Light Open 80 Friday at Stafford (Photo: Jim DuPont/RaceDayCT)

STAFFORD – It was a change that surprised many around the Tour Type Modified racing scene when it was announced late in the 2021 season that Doug Dunleavy was taking over ownership of the Eddie Harvey Modified team.

Before the start of the 2022 season Dunleavy made it clear that his first year as a Tour Type Modified team owner would involve calculated and selected steps slowly forward with his new organization with driver Woody Pitkat.

Friday at Stafford Speedway the new Dunleavy team got the chance to celebrate victory for the first time.

Following a spat of drama at the front of the field between Ronnie Williams and Ron Silk, Pitkat drove by Dylan Izzo on a lap 68 restart and went on to win the Bud Light Open Modified 80 at Stafford.

“It’s super special to see what he’s done for not only Stafford Motor Speedway, but for a lot of people,” Pitkat said. “He’s supported a lot of drivers. … He’s just an unbelievable guy. To put together what we did with him and [crew chief Cam McDermott]. with Cam, it’s unreal how far he’s come. He’s just so smart with his stuff. I still am speechless.”

It was the 79th career feature win overall at Stafford for Pitkat, a Stafford native. He sits second on the track’s all-time win list behind the late Ted Christopher (131 wins).

Mike Christopher Jr. of Wolcott was second and Izzo, of Monre, third.

Ron Silk had the dominant car for much of the night but his chances for victory were swept away following a penalty on a lap 68 incident between he and Williams.

Silk started fourth and rocketed to the lead early. When caution flew on lap 38 the majority of the leaders went to pit road, but Silk stayed out.

Chase Dowling got by Silk for the lead off of turn four on lap 39. Three laps later it was Williams going to the front past Dowling.

When caution flew on lap 49 Silk surrendered fourth place to head the pits. He was 15th for the ensuing restart and quickly began picking his way back to the front.

On a lap 63 restart Silk jumped from sixth to third and on lap 67 he went by Matt Galko for second. Silk was all over Williams coming off turn four on lap 67. Silk remained glued to Williams’ bumper into turn one. In turn two there was contact between Williams and Silk that sent Williams spinning. Replays seemed to indicate Williams’ back end was going out just before Silk made contact with him. Silk said he thought Williams’ back end was turning out just before the contact, but Silk ultimately put the blame for the issue on himself.

The lap 68 incident between Ronnie Williams (50) and Ron Silk (16) (Photo: Jim DuPont/RaceDayCT)

“He looked like he got out of shape off of [turn] four and as he went down into [turn] one he slowed up so quick, like I was on the brakes. I didn’t need to spin him out to pass him,” Silk said. “I was going to go by him the next straightaway and drive away from him. I definitely did make contact with the back of him. It was unavoidable. I cost myself winning the race bumping into him. It wasn’t intentional. I had a phenomenal car. Disappointed with how it ended.”

Said Williams: “He can think what he wants. I’ve been racing here a long time, I just don’t spin coming out of [turn] two. Apparently that’s a conversation I’m going to have to go have with him. That’s just bad. He drove right into me. Yeah he had fresher tires. Do I think he was probably the best car? No. I’ll leave it at that.”

Silk was penalized for the incident.

“I think [race director Scott] Tapley has made it clear if there’s any question of contact that whoever is the one behind gets penalized,” Silk said. “I don’t think it’s right, but he’s consistent at least.

The drama continued under caution when Williams stopped on the backstretch unexpectedtly and Silk ran into the back of him.

“[Williams’] guys were yelling at me coming in, but really I cost myself the race not him,” Silk said.


  1. Good to see Woody win. 🥇

    Overall, a pretty good Tour Mod race.

    The SK Mods would be an AWESOME series if they didn’t wreck so often. The constant, relentless cautions really puts a dark cloud over the SK series.

  2. wmass01013 says

    The SK Mods would be an AWESOME series if they didn’t wreck so often. The constant, relentless cautions really puts a dark cloud over the SK series.

    WHERE have you been since April 30 1982??????????

  3. Hillary 2024 says

    Don’t know about since 82 but since 20, alone in the basement 😷😷

  4. Maybe if Preece didn’t practice all day his car would have lasted 80 laps , don’t get exited just kidding

  5. So what’s the deal with Preece’s engine? According to Ben Dodge the car owner the engine is a MEP McGunegil crate Super Late Model engine. Dot connecting leads one to assume it is the engine Preece used in his Super Late Model the most notable being the Snowball Derby at 5 Flags. GM or Ford in the $20,000 range rated at 600HP/520TQ. Dodge, the car owner implied it could be the future for open modifieds. Preece’s vibration notwithstanding, the engine must have a good reliability record so the question is why isn’t used now? The 40’s lap speeds weren’t the best but they sure as heck were in the ballpark and the cost savings can’t be ignored. Preece tentatively scheduled to be a Thompson Wednesday. If the engine is OK and he makes it seeing how it performs on the big high banks should be interesting.
    If you were to predict the most unlikely thing to happen before the feature what happened would have to be at the top of the list. Moran passes on a pitting opportunity and gets out of sync with the field. Ron Silk of all people with the fastest car on the track taps out Williams in a place on the track that has zero strategic value. The good news is unlike so many drivers these days that never seem to be responsible for any misjudgment Silk stuck out his chin and is taking his licks. As for Williams he’s about what you’d expect. The guy that is perpetually flawless in everything he does on the track getting his monies worth from this bit of victim hood.
    Good medicine for Doug Dunleavy still getting used to his new hip. For a new team roll out the 88’s progress is about as good as it gets. Competitive at times in the Sizzler. A second in the first Stafford open and now the win. Pitkat referred to their spec engine being at a slight disadvantage at the last race but it sure didn’t look like it. A dream team of sorts with a well respected owner, crew chief and driver they sure aren’t flying under the radar any more.
    Dylan Izzo the feel good story of the event. It gets so routine hearing jaded drivers accustomed to being on the podium plodding through their customary interview banter. It was all new to Izzo, he was gleeful with his words capturing the moment perfectly. Made all the better by Ben Dodge finally learning how to pronounce his name. Izz-ee-o at Thunder Road and in the heat finally became Izzo. Now the question is will he remember it.
    Eric Goodale with just a horrendous heat and feature start claws back to a sixth place finish. Hope to see the 58 get a win real soon they look ready for sure.

  6. Stuart A Fearn says

    Two questions:
    Did Silk actually hit Williams? Ronnie did negotiate that corner 60 times before that lap just fine then spun out this time but he did wiggle pretty good off 4 the straightaway before this corner as well. Next poll question (hint).
    Number two:
    Has Woody practiced that Stone Cold Steve Austen beer celebration at every weekend party the last 8 years or what? He pulled that off to a T, a Twisted Tea that is.
    Exciting race

  7. Getserious says

    Wow, Silk sounds like the smartest, most even-tempered guy out there. Williams, not so much.

  8. Williams SEEMS to me to be a spoiled brat. Talented, but spoiled

  9. Just wondering how Preece in a pre-race live interview at Stafford states that the 40 is a family owned car and some think it’s a Ben Dodge owned car?

    Am I missing something here?

  10. I’m raising my hand as guilty as charged.
    I was trying to express the point of view that Dodge as an owner of a race team would naturally be interested in any engine that could save money as opposed to Dodge the announcer. After seeing it posted saw that it sounded like I thought Dodge was owner of the 40, knew I’d be called on it and deservedly so.

  11. All good Doug……

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