CONCORD, N.C. — Tom Petty once sang, “The waiting is the hardest part.”
World of Outlaws STP Sprint Car Series champion Daryn Pittman understands what Petty was talking about.
While Pittman led the WoO standings from start to finish, from February through November, the final weeks and days were the most difficult part for the Oklahoma native, who won the title in his first season driving for Kasey Kahne Racing.
Pittman entered the final weekend of the series with a 50-point advantage over Donny Schatz, who collected his series best 23rd victory in the first of two features during the World of Outlaws World Finals at The Dirt Track at Charlotte. Schatz trimmed the advantage to 32 entering the final night.
Still, a 12th-place finish in the season finale gave Pittman his first series championship by 14 points — the closest margin in series history — over Schatz, who finished third.
“Right now I don’t know what I am supposed to say or think or do,” said Pittman moments after the final checkered flag of the season. “It has been a roller-coaster the last couple of weeks. I don’t know how anybody could lead the points all season and then lose it in the last race of the season and survive because I don’t know what I would have done. It got closer than we wanted, but we beat Donny Schatz and he had a record year. That shows just how strong this team is.”
But the wait was even longer than those three days.
The series had three weeks off between the Oct. 12 race at New York’s Rolling Wheels Raceway that was one by Schatz and the Nov. 7-9 World Finals.
“It was absolutely miserable,” said Pittman of the longest layoff of the season. “I will be better prepared for it next year if we are in this situation, but being the first championship that we were going for and having to think about it and knowing how good our competition was running, man, those days were crawling past.
“As miserable as those days were — and I was telling people last night that this was not fun, the last three days have not been fun — it is all worth it now.”
Team owner Kasey Kahne waited even longer for the team’s first title.
“This is what we all started out to do,” said Kahne. “Our goal has always been to win a championship and we have come so close, but to finally accomplish it is so surreal. These guys work so hard year round and spend so much time away from their families. They deserve this championship.”
Pittman’s winning crew includes crew chief Kale Kahne, Kolten Gouse and Michael Carber.