Stafford Springs, CT — In the chase for the 2012 Late Model track championship at Stafford Motor Speedway, the race for the title has come down to two former track champions; Mike Quintiliano, who won the title in 2000, and Woody Pitkat, who won the title in 2006.
The journey to this year’s title chase has been a vastly different road for the two championship contenders. Since taking over the controls of the Billy Snow owned #88 car in 2009, Pitkat has finished second in the standings in 2010 and 2011, winning 13 races in those two seasons. Quintiliano returned to the Late Model division this season after missing two years of competition, and he picked up his first feature victory since the 2005 season.
While Pitkat hasn’t been as dominant this season as he has been in the past two years, he has finished every race this season in the top-10 with a worst finish of 7th, proving that consistency is the way to go in order to win a championship.
“It’s funny to look at our season,” said Pitkat. “It shows how important consistency is. The last two years, we’ve won 8 and 5 races and we didn’t win the championship. One year, we lost by 2 points and last year we were so far out of it early in the year, a lot of people probably never thought we were going to get back up to second. Our goal is to keep [Quintiliano] in our sights. My mentality the last couple weeks has been to beat the 44 in the Late Model. We’ll take these last two races like any other regular Friday night race.”
While Quintiliano acknowledges that the championship is a long shot for him this season, he says that he and his team have far exceeded their expectations and they’re pleased with their efforts.
“It’s going to be tough for us to win the championship, but we’re going to go out to win and have some fun,” said Quintiliano. “Woody is fast and he’s always right there. But finishing second with what we have and for not being here for two and a half years, it’s not too bad. We’re happy, we have a really great team, and we’ve had a great time. Our plan at the beginning of the year was to do about 6 or 7 races and try to win a race in that amount of time, so we’ve definitely far exceeded what our expectations were.”
While all Pitkat needs to do this Friday to clinch the championship is finish three spots ahead of Quintiliano, he says that he might have wrapped up the championship even earlier this season if not for a bent valve in his engine.
“I think there was a stretch of 4 or 5 races this year where we ran with two bent valves in the motor and we finished second or third in each of those races,” said Pitkat. “So that makes you think, what if? If the motor wasn’t bent, we probably would have already clinched the championship and we’d have a couple more wins this year. I feel like we’re in pretty good shape with a good cushion, but anything can happen.”
For Quintiliano, he is looking to close the 2012 season out with another victory or two and get ready for the 2013 season.
“We have a good car and our goal is to go out and win these last two races and let the points fall where they may,” said Quintiliano. “We got to the top for a few races, but we had a bad race or two and that’s all it takes. This division is really competitive. Another win or two would really put the icing on the cake for us to a great season. Hopefully we can find a couple of good sponsors over the winter and we can run top of the line next season.”
For Pitkat, the Late Model championship would not only mean a great deal to him personally, but also for his car owner, Billy Snow.
“It would be huge for all the guys on this team from where they were 4 or 5 years ago,” said Pitkat. “Those guys have come a really long way and I’m really proud of the guys for everything they’ve done for me. With Mr. Snow, I’ve always said I’d never imagine meeting another guy like Dave Rowe who did all he did for his teams. Mr. Snow is just like Mr. Rowe and to be able to be involved with people like that is really something that is hard to find. I really wanted to win that first year for Mr. Snow because he put so much into it. The biggest thing would be to do it for Mr. Snow and everything he’s put into the program from starting with his son and then running two cars for Corey Hutchings and me.”
If Quintiliano can finish ahead of Pitkat in this Friday night’s Lincoln Tech Final Friday Night Shoot-Out, the chase for the 2012 Late Model championship will go on to the CARQUEST Fall Final Weekend on Sept. 29th & 30th.
Tickets for the September 14th Lincoln Tech Final Friday Night Shoot-Out are priced at $27.50 for adult general admission tickets, $5.00 for children ages 6-14, and children ages 5 and under are admitted free of charge when accompanied by an adult. Reserved seating is priced at $30.00 for all ages.
Tickets for the September 29th & Sept. 30th 40th Annual CARQUEST Fall Final Weekend are priced at $38.50 for adult general admission tickets, $5.00 for children ages 6-14, and children ages 5 and under are admitted free of charge when accompanied by an adult. Reserved seating will be priced at $42.00 for all ages. All CARQUEST Fall Final tickets are good for admission on both Saturday and Sunday.
All ticket prices include 10% CT Admission Tax and Stafford Motor Speedway offers free parking with overnight parking available. For more information on the Lincoln Tech 80, the CARQUEST Fall Final Weekend, or to order tickets, contact the Stafford Motor Speedway track office at 860-684-2783 or visit us on the web at www.staffordspeedway.com.
Sources: Scott Running/Stafford Motor Speedway PR