DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – A good number of NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour drivers call Stafford Motor Speedway their home track, but none can reference it with a more literal meaning than Stafford resident Woody Pitkat, who has been taking advantage of the familiarity as of late.
Raised in the northern Connecticut community, Pitkat launched his racing career at Stafford as a 16-year-old in the DARE Stock division. Now 35, Pitkat has forged quite a legacy at the historic half-mile, but Whelen Modified Tour success at his home track took time.
Pitkat made 22 tour appearances at Stafford with three different teams from 2007-13 and registered just one top-five finish. Then he joined Buzz Chew Motorsports and everything changed. His five Stafford results in the No. 88 Chevrolet are as follows: fourth, fifth, first, sixth, first.
The win last August was the first of his Whelen Modified Tour career. The second Stafford triumph in this year’s NAPA Spring Sizzler 200 moved him out of a tie with Bugs Stevens and into sole possession of second place on the track’s all-time feature wins list.
Already cemented as a Stafford all-timer from his extensive NASCAR Whelen All-American Series success – he earned late model division titles in 2006 and 2012, and the SK Modified track championship in 2013 – Pitkat is now writing a new chapter as a Whelen Modified Tour winner.
|RACE:||TSI Harley-Davidson 125|
|PLACE:||Stafford (Conn.) Motor Speedway|
|DATE:||Friday, June 5|
|TIME:||9:15 p.m. ET (approx.)|
|TRACK LAYOUT:||.5-mile, semi-banked asphalt oval|
|2014 WINNER:||Doug Coby|
|2014 POLESITTER:||Bobby Santos|
|EVENT SCHEDULE:||Practice 3-4 p.m., Qualifying 6 p.m., Driver Autograph Session 7:30 p.m.|
|TRACK CONTACT:||Scott Running, 860-684-2783, firstname.lastname@example.org|
|EVENT TWITTER HASHTAG:||#TSI125|
|NASCAR CONTACT:||Jason Cunningham, 704-201-6658, email@example.com, Twitter: @NASCAR_NE|
The Race: The 25th Annual TSI Harley-Davidson 125 will be the fourth of 15 points races during the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour’s 30th Anniversary season, and the second of four events at Stafford Motor Speedway.
The Procedure: The maximum starting field per the official entry blank is 31 cars, including provisionals. The first 26 cars will have secured starting positions based on two-lap qualifying. The remaining five spots will be awarded through the provisional process. The race is scheduled for 125 laps (62.5 miles) and the tire change rule for the race is three tires, any position.
The Track: A half-mile, slightly-banked oval, Stafford originated as a horse racing track in the 1870s. After seven decades as a horse track, the dirt oval started holding automobile races following World War II. Stafford became a NASCAR-sanctioned track in 1959 and was paved for the first time in 1967. Stafford’s 115 Whelen Modified Tour races are second all-time.
Race Winners: There have been 32 different race winners at Stafford all-time, led by Mike Stefanik’s 20 victories. Doug Coby has captured the checkered flag in this event in two of the previous three seasons.
Pole Winners: There have been 42 different pole winners at Stafford, led by Stefanik’s 17. Ryan Preece holds the tour’s track qualifying record at 17.924 seconds (100.424 mph). Bobby Santos has earned six of the last nine Stafford poles.
Stafford Race Notes:
Coby vs. Preece Continues On: Not only have Doug Coby and Ryan Preece finished 1-2 in the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour championship in each of the three previous years, but they also frequently battle each other for checkered flags. Preece came out on top in the latest around as he edged Coby for the win last Saturday at New London-Waterford Speedbowl, which also marked the third time in the last four seasons that the race has been decided on a green-white-checkered flag finish between the two. They’ve also combined to win the TSI Harley-Davidson 125 the last three years – Coby during his title runs of 2012 and 2014, and Preece during his 2013 championship season.
TSI 125-Championship Streak Still Alive: Starting with Bobby Santos in 2010, each of the last five winners of the TSI Harley Davidson 125 has gone on to win the Whelen Modified Tour title that year. Ron Silk followed in 2011 with the previously-mentioned recent run of Coby and Preece from 2012-14.
Different Strategy for TSI 125: Stafford Motor Speedway annually holds four Whelen Modified Tour events, and this week’s TSI Harley-Davidson 125 is the shortest of the lot. The season’s first trip to Stafford, the NAPA Spring Sizzler 200 in April, was the longest of the four while the subsequent August and October dates will both be 150 laps. All four events allow three change tires, so the varying distances can promote different pit strategies.
Tight at the Top: It’s awfully early to talk about championship points with just three of 15 races complete, but it is worth noting each of the top three are separated by just one tally. Preece leads with 130 followed by Coby at 129 and Woody Pitkat at 128.
Deep Rookie Class: Seven different Sunoco Rookie of the Year contenders have competed in each of the season’s first three events, and three others have run two of three. Long Islander Dave Sapienza has the early lead by two over Massachusetts’ Troy Talman with Connecticut’s Max Zachem four points back.
Home Tracks: Rocco Out Front
One-quarter of the way through the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series points season at Stafford Motor Speedway, Keith Rocco has an early 14-point advantage on Ryan Preece in the ultra-competitive SK Modified standings. Rocco has posted a pair of wins and top fives in four of six starts entering this Friday’s action. Defending track titlist Ted Christopher has three top 10s in six starts but is a surprising 100 points out of first and ranks 14th.