WALL TOWNSHIP, N.J. — The wait was well worth it for Woody Pitkat.
The Stafford, Conn., native outlasted all other competitors in the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour return to Wall Stadium Speedway on Saturday and took the checkered flag in the first event at the third-mile in 12 years.
It was the fourth career Whelen Modified Tour win for Pitkat, and his first in four years. It was also his first win driving for Danny Watts Racing in his 21st start with the team. Pitkat took over the ride after the passing of Ted Christopher in 2017.
“The biggest thing I told the guys today was that I wasn’t going to be over-aggressive,” Pitkat said. “I figured we wouldn’t qualify that great, but I knew I just needed to be there at the end. I was just trying to ride as much as I could. I really wasn’t sure how it was going to work out.”
The race didn’t look like it was going to fall into Pitkat’s lap until the final stages. Doug Coby took control of the race on lap 66 after starting sixth and led a race-high 72 laps. He was in control of the field on a restart on lap 138, and after contact with home town favorite Andrew Krause entering turn three, both of their chances ended. Krause, who was fastest in practice and 35 laps himself, was done for the night.
That handed the lead to former series champion Ron Silk, who looked as though he would score his second win of the young season driving for Kevin Stuart. But, a restart with just five laps remaining ended Silk’s chances as contact sent him spinning, in a wreck that collected many of the cars left on the track.
From there, the battle for Pitkat wasunderway. On a green-white-checkered restart in NASCAR overtime, Pitkat lined up to the outside of Sunoco Rookie of the Year contender Timmy Catalano on the front row. At the green, he powered by to the lead and never looked back, as the No. 82 Horton Avenue Materials Chevrolet started smoking while the nerf-bar starting rubbing on the right-rear tire.
In the end, he made it around to the checkered flag at the top of the field.
In the late dash, rising star Blake Barney powered his way to a second-place finish, his career best effort in Whelen Modified Tour competition. Veteran Rob Summers was third, followed by Catalano and Dave Sapienza.
Eric Goodale was sixth, followed by Ken Heagy, Ron Silk, Tommy Catalano and Doug Coby.