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LOUDON, N.H. – Woody Pitkat held off Todd Szegedy on a green-white-checkered finish to earn his second NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour victory in Saturday’s F.W. Webb 100 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.
Two late cautions set up the dramatic finish. Contact between Doug Coby and Ryan Newman set the scene for the first green-white-checkered attempt, and on the restart lap, a six-car accident at the exit of Turn 2 resulted in a 20-minute red flag.
The down time had race leader Pitkat contemplating how things might play out in his No. 88 Buzz Chew Chevrolet/Elbow East Chevrolet.
“It was really gut-wrenching sitting there like that trying to think about what was going to happen,” Pitkat said. “You’ve got people in the stands yelling your name, yelling for Bobby [Santos] to get the sweep, yelling for Todd [Szegedy] – you just had a million things going through your head – and I was trying to weed it out.”
The strategy that Pitkat formulated ultimately worked to perfection. On the second and final green-white-checkered attempt the Stafford, Connecticut, native shut the door on any opportunities for Szegedy to make a move and drove to his first win in 16 starts at Loudon.
“I knew I was really good on the bottom, so I just figured if I could get out in front and try to maybe break the draft and drive the thing down on the bottom and protect – and don’t get in too hot and drift up in the middle and give them the bottom on exit – that I would be ok,” Pitkat said.
It’s been a breakthrough season for the veteran Pitkat, whose first career win came in August at Stafford Motor Speedway, his home track.
Szegedy – last year’s F.W. Webb 100 victor – crossed the line second and championship points leader Coby rallied for a third place finish despite involvement in two incidents. Ted Christopher and Rowan Pennink completed the top five.
Patrick Emerling, Donny Lia, Santos, Tommy Barrett Jr. and Mike Stefanik brought home the top 10.
Santos won the Sunoco 100 at New Hampshire in July and was attempting to become the first driver to sweep the season events at the 1.058-mile track since Newman in 2010. Newman finished 20th on Saturday as a result of the damage suffered from the Lap 96 contact with Coby.
Coby’s podium finish, combined with a mid-race engine failure for Justin Bonsignore, resulted in a big points swing. Coby entered New Hampshire four tallies up on Bonsignore, but left with a 448-422 advantage.
“I just tried to pick the right lines and put ourselves in position to get a solid finish,” Coby said of coming back through the field after his separate incidents. “I was very aware of the points situation – the second place car [Bonsignore] broke at the halfway break – and my crew chief told me to play it smart.
“I’m really happy for our team, it could have been much worse. Two races to go, so now it’s officially time to start thinking about points.”
The F.W. Webb 100, which will be telecast on FOX Sports 1 on Sept. 27 at 10 a.m. EDT, featured 15 lead changes among four drivers and was slowed by caution eight times. Pitkat led a race-high 79 laps.
The Whelen Modified Tour has just two races remaining on the 2014 schedule starting with the NAPA Fall Final 150 on Sunday, Sept. 28 at Stafford.
The race-winning No. 88 Buzz Chew Chevrolet/Elbow East Restaurant Chevrolet driven by Woody Pitkat. Getty Images for NASCAR