Hat Trick: Woody Pitkat Wins Lincoln Tech Open Modified 80 At Stafford Speedway 

Woody Pitkat celebrates victory in the Lincoln Tech Open Modified 80 Friday at Stafford Speedway (Photo: Jim DuPont/RaceDayCT)

STAFFORD – After Doug Dunleavy purchased the former Eddie Harvey Racing Whelen Modified Tour team late in 2021 the new team owner made it clear that his focus for 2022 would be on races at Stafford Speedway. 

That focus has clearly paid dividends in early success for Dunleavy with his driver Woody Pitkat. 

In dramatic style, Pitkat scored victory in the Lincoln Tech Open Modified 80 Friday at Stafford Speedway. 

It was the third consecutive victory in Open Modified events at Stafford for Pitkat, of Stafford. He also won the Bud Light Open Modified 80 on June 10 and the GAF Roofing Open Modified 80 on July 1. 

Ryan Preece of Berlin was second and Ronnie Williams of Ellington third. 

After losing the lead to Teddy Hodgdon IV briefly in turn one on lap 74, Pitkat stormed back to regain the lead in turn three. From there he held off the charges of a stalking Preece over the final five laps. 

“This is just unreal,” Pitkat said,. “Ryan said that he made me work for it and he sure as hell did. That is the hardest I’ve ever driven in my entire life. I’m completely exhausted. This is just unbelievable. This thing all year has been amazing. [Crew chief] Cam McDermott does a phenomenal job. He said it was me tonight so I’ll take the credit, thank you.” 

Said Preece: “We just had a really fast race car. It was about near perfect. Need to get that track position. Can’t give it up, especially with how good Woody has been, and Ronnie. … I’m proud of the fact that we had a fast race car. I’m looking forward to racing [Matt Hirschman] in the [Monaco Modified Tri-Track Series NAPA] Fall Final [on Sept. 24 at Stafford]. I feel like we’re going to defend our house and show him what’s up.” 

Pitkat dedicated to the win to his father who passed away on July 9. 

“This one means a lot to be able to win for him,” Pitkat said. “Hopefully he was watching from up there. I love you dad. Thank you for everything. He let me do it my way. When I started racing he let me do it my and was a huge supporter of mine and helped me financially and supported me as much as he could. I can’t think him enough for that.” 

Early in the event it was clear Preece and Pitkat had two of the best cars. On a lap six restart Pitkat was able to get by Preece for the lead from the outside lane. On lap 10 Preece got back side-by-side with Pitkat and led at the line. Preece cleared Pitkat off of turn two to regain the lead. 

Preece proved dominant over the next 45 laps before caution flew for the sliding car of Chase Dowling on lap 59. The yellow came out with Preece leading Williams in second and Pitkat in third. 

All the leaders headed to the pits under caution. Off pit road it was Williams leading with Pitkat in second and Max Zachem in third. Preece fell to 5th after the stop. 

On the ensuing restart it was Williams holding off the challenge of Pitkat. 

Williams was able to quickly build up some breathing room from Pitkat while Preece clawed back through the top-five. Preece went to fourth by Matt Galko on lap 64 and then got by Zachem for third on lap 66. Caution flew on lap 68 when Zachem stopped on the backstretch. It set up a restart with Williams leading Pitkat in second and Preece in third. 

On the lap 68 restart Williams took the outside. Pitkat stayed under him for a side-by-side battle with Pitkat leading at the line to complete lap 68. But on lap 69 it was Williams clearing Pitkat off of turn two to take command once again. 

Caution flew on lap 72 for the stopped car of Jeffrey Gallup in turn two. On the ensuing restart Pitkat got a huge jump on Williams, but the move was negated thanks to eight cars deeper in the field piling up in turn one. 

It set up a wild closing nine laps. On the ensuing restart it was Pitkat going to the lead past Williams with Hodgdon jumping from fourth to second. On lap 74 Hodgdon made contact with Pitkat on the frontstretch. Pitkat was able to save his wiggling ride, but not before Hodgdon moved to the lead in turn one. But in turn three Pitkat came storming back to get under Hodgdon and regain the top spot, with Preece following to second place. 

Preece stalked all over. Pitkat’s bumper for the final five laps, but Pitkat defended the top spot to the checkered. 


  1. Glad to see preece have a good finish. Looks like he will need to build on that. Short straw again, as almirola unretired for 2023.
    What does ryan have to do? Oh yeah. Bring sponsorship. Smithfeild back with aric 2023.
    That old saying….sh.. walks, money talks.
    Cant see ryan doing haas “sims” for another year, and being happy with that…

  2. That was a great race

  3. Congrats to Woody and the 88 crew, great job. I’m sure Woody Sr was up there cheering you on.

  4. I was unaware that Woody Sr had passed away. My condolences go out to the whole Pitkat family.

  5. Fast Eddie says

    Who would have thought the 7ny and 57 would only go 4-5 laps! Couldn’t go, what happened?

  6. NH MOD CHASER says

    Bobf..Fake news as of this morning Eric A said he has not made a decision yet on coming back next year

  7. Jimmy King says

    Great finish. Thanks to Woody, Preece, and Williams for the great racing.

  8. Nh mod chaser.
    But all i read is he was praying to God. He was listening to god. And thats great.
    But it was all in the context of being in the 10 next year. Its apparent Smithfeild is on board. And, if he brings sponsorship, its as good as done.

    Report: Aric Almirola Decides Against Retirement UPDATE

    AUGUST 20, 2022 AT 3:10 PM
    UPDATE: The next step for Aric Almirola’s racing career is still uncertain, the veteran driver told reporters Saturday at Watkins Glen International.

    A Friday report from Motorsport.com indicated that Almirola is indeed due to return to the No. 10 Ford at Stewart-Haas Racing for the 2023 season. But Almirola, who announced retirement from the NASCAR Cup Series in January, affirmed Saturday nothing is final for next season.

    From nascar and jayski:

    “A lot of thinking, a lot of praying about it,” Almirola said. “That’s something that’s been very instrumental for me throughout my entire career and especially the last four or five years, I’ve (put) God first in a lot of the decisions, and I’m working on getting there to where He’s first in all of these decisions. Sometimes, I have a bad habit of thinking that I know what’s best. But certainly have prayed a lot about it and continue to think about it and still don’t have a final decision.”

  9. That race was more in the neighborhood of the Sizzler for a competitive finish. The other three Stafford opens pretty much gapped out at the end. Nice to see Preece completely engaged referring to the progress he’s made with his car and looking forward to a battle with Hirschman in the Fall Final hoping to flip the script from the Sizzler.
    The entire first half of the field is loaded with good runs. Hodgdon mentioned coming from 17th to 4th his third Stafford open finishing 5th or better. Why aren’t we picking him in our Pick 6’s. Bessette’s run from 23rd to 7th nobody could have predicted. That’s an SK Light driver in his first race,
    double the horsepower making it look a little to easy to the point of discomfort for some I’ll bet. Less surprising is Lutz coming form 19th to 8th. The 00 has been known as a winner in the past and Lutz perpetually under rated in my view but Jimmy Paige has not been as active this year so that has to be considered a solid run for the team. Swanson from to 12th to 5th looks like exceeding expectations to me. Galko solid run no surprise. Owen coming in 9th is a big deal based on past performance. That tour mod car is not a priority for Chassis Pro if the results are any indication. No better then 14th in 3 previous Stafford opens and last year about the same. Not just a solid finish the car is faster so something is different.
    Disappointments outside the obvious with Rocco and Christopher include DiMatteo. A break out year for the 76 so fading from 4th to 10 not a scrap book type race. Dowling in and out of the pits all night for an assortment of issues. The owner obviously focused on more personal issues so perhaps Dowling is distracted as well or is having to make do with older piece parts that could use refreshing.
    Aside from the greatest modified stock car driver in the history of the sport Chick Stockwell I can’t foresee being more fond of any driver other then Woody Pitkat. No driver balances a fun loving, charismatic spirit with a burning desire to win then that guy.
    On to the fall final.

  10. Just Me - The Original says

    FYI, Chase just recently put on a new front clip and went through the entire car.

  11. I love it that Matty H is in Preece’s head all the time.

  12. Sharpie Fan says

    What happened to Zachem? He was having a good run.

  13. A new front clip recently you say. Thanks.
    That sets me to pondering. Since the 9ct made it’s debut I can’t recall it being involved in a clip swap type of catastrophic wreck. Actually Dowling has been pretty good all in all avoiding that sort of thing and finishing races.
    Kind of a strange time to be completely revamping the 9ct isn’t it? The owner’s recent operation and recovery and the car was in one piece. True this year has been a step down in performance for the team but starting from scratch now? What does recently mean anyway?
    The amount of cars we see get reclipped every year due to crashes is a head spinner for sure. I marvel how some of the weekly racers like at Stafford can turn a car around in a week and it returns to the track just as competitive as before it was wrecked. Debbis’s Chassis Pro car has been re-clipped each of the last two years and never seems to miss a beat other then the bad luck he’s had this year. Multiple issues with the 9ct certainly not very Dowling-esque at all but now we know. Will the gremlins be eradicated with a jump in performance soon to follow with big money events coming up? Odd’s meter is pointing to likely knowing his hatred of mediocrity.
    Always count on Just Me- The Original for the best inside information. In scoring our latest Pick 6 for the Stafford race, the pick of Zachem did not escape me. One of only two guys to pick Zachem and had the 20 not experienced gremlins of his own was running a great race in the top 5. Were he to have finished there it would have been two wins in a row for Just Me-The Original by a points differential that no one came close to. A force to be reckoned with for sure in our little contests so fella’s and lady you might want to take note when he throws down with six picks.

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