Whelen Modified Tour Team Owner Danny Watts Jr. Retiring After 2023 Season 

Team owner Danny Watts Jr. (left) and Craig Lutz (right) celebrate a Whelen Modified tour victory on Aug. 17, 2022 at Thompson Speedway (Photo: Fran Lawlor/RaceDayCT)

NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Team owner Danny Watts Jr. told RaceDayCT that he will be shutting down his team following the 2023 season and retiring from racing. 

“This is going to be it for me this year,” Watts told RaceDayCT. “I’ve been doing this for a long time. I’m 62 years old and I have other things I want to do. It’s time to move on. I’ve had fun and I enjoyed what I did and I have no regrets. It’s just time to step back. I’ve got to do what I’ve got to do.” 

Watts has fielded a car for the last two season for Craig Lutz. Team owner Russell Goodale told RaceDayCT Thursday that Lutz will drive full-time on the Whelen Modified Tour for him in 2024. Lutz currently sits seventh in the Whelen Modified Tour standings.  

“I’ve got to step back,” Watts said. “I’ll be around. It’s just a lot these days. I’m not a spring chicken anymore. My businesses are all doing well. I just want to make sure that I can enjoy some of what I have before that day comes.”

Watts joined the Whelen Modified Tour as a team owner full-time before the 2016 season with driver Ron Silk. The team recorded its first series victory with Silk driving in the third race of the 2016 season at the New London-Waterford Speedbowl. 

Watts and Silk parted ways early in the 2017 season and Ted Christopher joined the team. Christopher was killed in a plane crash on Sept. 16, 2017 while flying to compete for Watts in a Whelen Modified Tour event at Riverhead (N.Y.) Raceway. 

Woody Pitkat replaced Christopher in the Watts owned ride and competed full-time for the team in 2018 and for most of the 2019 season. Pitkat got the team its second series victory on May 18, 2019 at Wall Stadium in Wall, N.J.

Anthony Nocella drove for Watts in 2020 and 2021 before Lutz joined the team prior to the 2022 season. Lutz got the team its third Whelen Modified Tour victory on Aug. 17, 2022 at Thompson Speedway. 

Watts ran 43 Whelen Modified Tour events as a driver from 1988 to 2015 before becoming a full-time team owner.

“It’s been some of the best times of my life,” Watts said. “Most of my friends are at the race track. I have a lot of friends, but not friends like I have at the race track. I’ll be around, I’ll stop by, I’m not going to disappear. It’s just my time to go.” 


  1. If I’m not mistaken Woody won the Whelen tour race at Wall in 2019 in the 82, could be wrong though

  2. EastCoast21,
    Yes, that is correct. Good catch.

  3. “Another one bites the dust” should be adopted as the tours theme song.

  4. Just Me - The Original says

    My sources tells me 2 more top teams will be calling it quits

  5. Ah yes. As the fall approaches it is once again time for the veiled references of Just Me – The Original regarding NWMT retirements. That for the record in 2022 proved to be mostly accurate.
    Given the fact the information is likely mostly accurate one wonders why not mention who might be thinking of dropping out. After all the who is everything is it not? If they’re full time bastions of the Tour, further down the point standings or part timers makes a difference? What does “top teams” mean?
    Perhaps the reticence is because those on the Tour know who the person behind the the vague comment is and wouldn’t appreciate being outed before they had a chance to announce it themselves.
    OK so a couple top teams are out whatever top teams means. To me top teams means 16, 51 and 64. Any two of them would not be good nor one for that matter. We did however lose 79 and 7ny and they still hold the races so there’s that.
    If Fortin is back in and Goodall/Lutz as well we’re good right? Plus don’t forget, full timers aren’t that big a deal are they in the open world that tour modified racing has become. All that’s needed is for NASCAR to catch up to the independent mentality of the population or teams they are trying to lure into their events. That can happen right?
    No don’t tell us, the last thing we’d want is to encourage someone to betray a confidence. But can you say yes or no? I’ll say 16 and 32. No wait, 51 and 22. Forget it, I’ll just wait until Mr. Courchesne breaks the bad news. We are after all well conditioned to it regarding the NWMT at this point.

  6. Top team, field filler, one offs. Does it really matter? Point being where is the threshold? How few full time teams will it be before Nascar phases out the Modified Tour. Personally showing up to watch 18-20 Tour cars is pathetic for the costs. Drop that number below 15 and it becomes a total waste of money and time. I think the existence of the Tour might be counted in months not years,2023 may just turn out to be the last year, have to wait and see.

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