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STAFFORD, Conn. – After winning 71 times at Stafford Motor Speedway in weekly competition, there was never any doubt that Woody Pitkat knew his way around his home track. Now Pitkat can finally add the elusive NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour win to his résumé.
The veteran driver from Stafford dominated the Call Before You Dig 811 150 and beat Ron Silk to the line by over three seconds to pick up his first career win in his 86th tour start.
“You can’t get any more special than winning at your home track,” Pitkat said. “It’s just a dream come true to finally be able to get that win, get it here with the [track owners] Arutes, it’s great to be able to do it here.”
Donny Lia followed Silk in third with points leader Doug Coby and Eric Goodale completing the top five. Rowan Pennink finished sixth and Ted Christopher seventh. Justin Bonsignore, Ryan Preece and Matt Hirschman rounded out the top 10.
Pitkat started second to polesitter Bobby Santos, quickly drove his No. 88 Buzz Chew Chevrolet/Elbow East Chevrolet to the lead on Lap 3, and stayed out front for the bulk of the first half of the race until a caution on Lap 76 brought the leaders in for pit stops.
Pitkat came off pit road in eighth place with Lia in the lead, Preece second and Silk third. Pitkat quickly moved up through the field, was up to fourth by Lap 92, and was second to then leader Ron Silk by Lap 102. Pitkat methodically closed in on Silk, pulled off the decisive pass on Lap 115, and set sail toward the checkered flag.
Prior to the second caution and pit stop, Pitkat had nearly a four-second lead on the field. Although they lost seven spots on pit road, Pitkat had confidence they had the car to beat.
“I told him [crew chief Ron Ste-Marie] that this was going to be like the scene from “Days of Thunder” where you come in the pits first and you come out third – but I was eighth,” Pitkat said. “I knew there was plenty of time, so just keep it cool.”
The popular victory was celebrated by many in the Stafford grandstands that have seen him drive to so many victories in NASCAR Whelen All-American Series action through the years at the historic half-mile.
Pitkat's previous best Whelen Modified Tour finish was second, recorded three times, including the 2012 Stafford Fall Final when he came five laps shy of what would have been the first win.
Silk’s runner-up was his best tour result since a second-place finish last June at Stafford, 20 races ago.
“I was just too loose the whole race,” Silk said. “I didn’t have anything for Woody, he was just spot-on tonight.”
Pitkat’s win was not only popular with the hometown fans, but amongst fellow competitors as well, a number of which came to Victory Lane to congratulate him.
“Woody is a really good friend of mine,” Silk said. “I’m happy to see him win. All of the guys on his team are really nice guys. For a while I know Woody was doubting if he could do it in this division for whatever reason, but I told him when he got the ride in the [No. 88] car this year that he would show himself that he could, and I’m glad he did.”
Two of the last four Whelen Modified Tour races have featured first-time winners. The last time there was a first-time tour victor prior to Eric Goodale’s June Riverhead Raceway triumph was in 2011.
Friday was the first victory in four seasons of Whelen Modified Tour competition for Buzz Chew Motorsports, and just their second NASCAR regional touring series win following a NASCAR K&N Pro Series East triumph in 2006 with Bryon Chew behind the wheel.
The race was slowed just two times by caution and featured six lead changes among four drivers.
The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour will remain in Connecticut for the Budweiser King of Beers 150 next Wednesday at Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park.
Woody Pitkat (88) made a pass by Ron Silk on Lap 115 at Stafford Motor Speedway and went on to score his first NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour win.Darren McCollester/Getty Images for NASCAR