The 2017 season is shaping up to be a busy one for Woody Pitkat. Already committed to a new NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour ride with Goodie Motorsports, and returning to his Stan Mertz owned No. 6 Sunoco Modified at Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park, Pitkat will also be driving Jeff Hartwell’s No. 91 Late Model entry. Returning to the Late Model Division is a homecoming for Pitkat, whose roots are in a full-fendered race car.
Pitkat raced against Hartwell at Stafford Motor Speedway previously, and the two developed a mutual respect for each other. One of Hartwell’s crew members had always pushed him to explore the option of having Pitkat drive one of his cars. Hartwell finally took his advice and made the call just recently. Pitkat was surprised as he originally thought he was joking. He talked details over and went to take a look at the car where an agreement was ultimately made. While Pitkat looks forward to being back behind the wheel of a full-fendered car he also looks to deepen his relationship with the Hartwell Motorsports team by being present at the team’s shop.
“It’s tough to do when there are other commitments and priorities. But with his shop being so close to Thompson and close to me I can make an effort to be there and get involved. The more time we spend together the better it will get. That’s how we’ll build this,” the 2015 Sunoco Modified Champion explained.
They seem to have a playful foundation to start.
“Jeff and I actually have the same birthday. I don’t know how it worked out but his daughter has the same birthday, too. Instead of saying hi or bye to each other when around the track we say ‘Happy Birthday!’”.
This type of collegial and fun-loving relationship is how Pitkat approaches motorsports. It’s more than racing to him. Since signing on to drive the No. 6 Sunoco Modified for Stan Mertz, Pitkat delivered the veteran car own the elusive championship he’s sought for so long. More than that, though, Pitkat befriended Mertz. In fact, Mertz was one of the first to offer Pitkat and his wife, Erica, congratulations on the birth of their new son.
“When it comes down to it he really didn’t have to do that. But that just goes to show you the type of guy that Stan is. It meant a lot to me and my wife,” described Pitkat.
The veteran driver has got a full slate for 2017, but everyone understands the priorities.
“I really want to thank Stan and Jeff for understanding the priority is the (NASCAR Whelen Modified) Tour car, then Sunoco Modified and then the Late Model. They both understand the priorities and this is the biggest reason why I can do all of this. They back me 100%.”
Pitkat will be behind the wheel of all three entries, beginning at the 43rd running of the Icebreaker, on April 1-2. For more information, please visit www.thompsonspeedway.com, or connect with us on social media.
Sources: Taylor Therrien/Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park PR