KNOXVILLE, Iowa — Daryn Pittman may be leading the World of Outlaws STP Sprint Car Series standings, but he’ll be the first to tell you that Knoxville Raceway hasn’t been his best track during his sprint car racing career.
Pittman has struggled at the half-mile dirt track at the Marion County Fairgrounds, but he may have taken a huge step toward changing his luck at the track and salvaged his 2013 Knoxville Nationals in the process.
Pittman was the final transfer out of the B main into Wednesday night’s feature. From there, he romped from 24th to finish fifth and end up with the sixth-best point total for the night.
“I didn’t have a choice. When you start last, you can’t go anywhere but forward,” said the driver of the Kasey Kahne Racing No. 9. “I pretty much thought that our Nationals was buried there for a while, but you never give up because every position means so much. On time trial night, we knew if we didn’t make it out of our heat race, we would be in a difficult spot.
“We knew it was going to be a chore to get out of the B main and then we knew we had to get to the top 10 in the A to salvage a decent points night,” Pittman continued. “We just had a really good car. It was by far the most fun I’ve had running an A main here. This is a place where I have struggled in the past and I need to improve at. It was a lot of fun. I tried to go where they weren’t and my car was good enough to go to the top or the bottom of the track.”
So why has he struggled at Knoxville in the past? He says its partially because he lacks experience here.
“This place is probably the most technical place that we run. I don’t have a lot of experience here,” the Oklahoma native said. “I’ve been racing a long time, but I’ve never raced more than three or four times a year here. There have been a lot of years that I have only been here once. Some people pick it up quick. It is a place that is really technical in that if you make a mistake, you pay for it for a lap while you build your speed back up. A couple spots go by before you recover from it. You can’t make mistakes here.”
Pittman says he’s struggled to relay the feel of the car to his crew members through the years.
“I do not have a great feel for what I need to tell the crew guys to change on the car,” he explained. “I’ve watched guys run the bottom and I don’t know how they do it, I don’t know how they get their car that way. I don’t do a good job relaying the message to Kale (Kahne, crew chief) or whoever I have been with through the years.
“Last night was the best I’ve ever done here at running the bottom, but I feel a lot more comfortable running the top. It is a lot easier on the driver. This place is tricky and you can’t make mistakes. I need to get better and I need to find out what I need in my car.”