KNOXVILLE, Iowa — Daryn Pittman won the 2013 World of Outlaws NOS Energy Drink Sprint Car Series championship and has a collection of victories that would make most drivers green with envy.
But the 40-year-old Oklahoma native has always felt like a fish out of water at Knoxville Raceway.
During Saturday’s 59th annual NOS Energy Drink Knoxville Nationals, Pittman charged from 10th starting spot and was finally a contender to win the $150,000 top prize.
He rode second most of the race in his Roth Motorsports No. 83 sprint car, but finished third after Logan Schuchart passed him on the final lap.
Pittman’s contention left him with mixed emotions.
“I am happy with the effort our Roth Motorsports team put in and for us to have a car that I honestly believe was capable of competing for a win,” Pittman said. “I don’t think I have ever had that here. There are good thirds, there are bad thirds and I’m kind of in between.
“On one hand, I’m happy, but on the other I think I made too many mistakes as a driver to stay with David. I think he had the better car and was able to get through traffic better than I was.”
Pittman said he’s never really been comfortable with the feel of his race cars at the Marion County Fairgrounds dirt track.
“It’s the feel of the race car. I leave here every year watching videos of the guys who are successful here and watching their cars on video and going, ‘Mine doesn’t even come close to that,’” Pittman said. “It’s my 17th A-main start here on Saturday and this has been a difficult place for me to figure out as a driver and as far as the setup. We came here in June and tested right before the Outlaw show and ran good then, and this has been the best year I’ve ever had at Knoxville.
“While I am disappointed with running third, at least I am in here and I can see the front and I know what it feels like to have a competitive race car here,” Pittman noted. “That’s something I’ve lacked for a while. There are just some tracks that I get and this isn’t one of them. I’m 40 years old and maybe I am finally figuring it out 20 years later.”
Still, he felt he should have finished second.
“I’m pretty frustrated that we lost second on that last lap,” he said. “A lapped car just made a mistake in front of us and I’m pissed off, but I’ve been that lapped car and made that mistake, so I have to keep that in mind. It’s been a roller-coaster of a season.
“We are fighting really hard and for once I know what it feels like to be fast around here.”
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