CONCORD, N.C. – In racing, drivers need a short memory, according to Daryn Pittman. He probably would have quit a long time ago without one.
He’s found himself needing to use that quality lately, due to a recent stretch of races he called “embarrassing.”
After sweeping the World of Outlaws NOS Energy Drink Sprint Car Series season opening races at Volusia Speedway Park, his results went from consistent top-five finishes to top-10s and a recent string of four finishes in-a-row outside the top-10 at the beginning of June.
“Our last month has been an embarrassment for Dennis and Teresa (Roth, owners of the team) and myself, you know really everybody involved,” Pittman said. “For us to start off as good as we did and to find ourselves in the position and running for the positions we have been over the last several races aren’t acceptable and just got to do a better job.”
However, after a string of three top-five finishes in-a-row – which include two podiums at Knoxville Raceway; a track Pittman claimed he wasn’t good at – he and his Roth Motorsports team may have hit upon something.
“I feel like we’ve pin pointed a few areas that we’ve gotten off base,” Pittman said. “Only time will tell if we’ve got that straightened out or not. But hopefully so.”
Withholding the specifics of what the team has been working on, Pittman said certain things they’ve been doing with the car weren’t working.
“When you start looking back on paper and seeing results and seeing certain things you’re doing that are resulting in those bad results, we need to stop doing them,” he said. “I mean, it’s not easy. There’s no guarantee what we’re doing now is going to fix it. But we’re working hard, and nobody is giving up hope that we can get back to where we started the season at.”
Coming from Kasey Kahne Racing, where he won the Series championship in 2013, Pittman said he’ll look at some of the information from his old No. 9 car, but he doesn’t use a lot of it with Roth Motorsports. In part, because it’s different equipment, but also, he said, what he’d been doing with the No. 9 car wasn’t working that well, either. He’s focused on building something new with Roth.
The new driver and team combination are just a third of the way into the season working together, but Pittman said there has been no communication issues amongst them.
“Even as bad as things have been, I feel like their attitudes have been, for the most part, have been pretty good,” Pittman said about his team. “Which is hard to do when you’re running consistently 14th. It’s easy to get frustrated and let that get the best of you. They’ve done a good job, we just have to execute better.”
Their recent string of success has come at the perfect time to redeem their season with several big races coming up, Pittman said. Next on the Series schedule, on Saturday, June 22, is one of Pittman’s favorite tracks, Beaver Dam Raceway.
He won at the third-mile raceway last year – his fourth win at the Wisconsin track – and currently holds the track record of 11.071 seconds there.
“It’s always been a place I feel like I’ve had success at and always ran well,” Pittman said. “It’s nice to roll into a race and feel like you’re one of the drivers to beat that night.”
Following the $20,000-to-win race at Beaver Dam Raceway, the World of Outlaws, on Sunday, June 23, will visit the three-eighths-mile Dubuque Speedway in Iowa. It’ll be the third new track the Series goes to this year.
To Pittman, new tracks tend to suit him well, he said.
This year, he finished fifth at the new three-eighths-mile Bridgeport Speedway and 14th both nights at the new quarter-mile Nashville Fairgrounds Speedway.
To prepare for a new track, Pittman said he’ll usually watch race videos from the speedways to get an idea of the size and what it’ll be like.
“When you get there, you try to pin point what track it is most similar to,” he said. “Start with a gear and a set up and go from there.”
Whether it’s a new track, or one he’s had success at before, Pittman is hoping he and his Roth Motorsports team can find the consistency, again, that had them leading the points at the start of the year. He currently has a 134-point deficit to make up, sitting third in points.
“It’s a humbling sport,” Pittman said. “So, when you’re struggling you’ve got to do your best and just check that and leave it at the last race and come in and know your team’s capable and, as a driver, you’re capable of winning no matter how you’ve been running. That can be easier said than done, but I try really hard to come in with a fresh outlook each night and let the past be the past and focus on that night.”