STAFFORD SPRINGS, Conn. — When the open modified cars were last at Stafford Speedway for the NAPA Spring Sizzler, hometown driver Woody Pitkat looked like a contender until an on-track issue sent him to the rear and a mechanical issue eventually eliminated him from the race.
Pitkat and the No. 88 Dunleavy’s Truck and Trailer Repair team will be looking to rebound from past misfortune and will once again be among the contenders to win the Call Before You Dig 81 this Friday night, May 20, at Stafford.
“I’m excited to come back to Stafford as good as we were with a brand new car,” said Pitkat. “We learned a ton during the whole Sizzler weekend and we ended up having a mechanical issue at the end of the race and you’d rather have something like that happen in a race other than ‘The Greatest Race in the History of Spring.’ We had something in the rear end let go and that caused a vibration, but we figured that out and got everything fixed and the rear end is more bulletproof now than it was.”
Pitkat will be bringing the same No. 88 car to the CBYD 81 that he ran in the Sizzler. Despite the car being brand new to the team and the team being new to working with each other, Pitkat showed plenty of speed before retiring from the race.
“I expected to be good just because of the fact that the team works so well together,” Pitkat said. “We’ve put this crew together over the past couple years with Eddie Harvey and Doug Dunleavy bought the team. I also brought some people over from the No. 6 car that I was driving for Stan Mertz and I figured everyone would work really well together. We tested the car a few days prior to the Sizzler and the car had a lot of speed right from the get go so that gave us a lot of confidence going to Stafford and I can only assume we’re going to get better and better.”
One variable that Pitkat and the CBYD 81 field will have to contend with will be the fact that the temperature will be somewhere in the vicinity of 20 to 30 degrees warmer than it was for the Sizzler in April.
Pitkat will leave the setup decisions to his crew chief Cam McDermott, but Pitkat expects to once again have a fast car and be a contender for the win.
“It’s going to be different with the temperature and then going from day to night,” said Pitkat. “At the Sizzler, we started in the day and then the race ended up starting in the dark where this time around we’ll be starting and finishing in the dark. I’m not sure how much the temperature difference is going to affect the car, I’ll leave that to Cam.”
One thing Pitkat is positive about is making his car better on the longer runs and better than he was at the Sizzler, where he says his car suffered from being good too early in the run.
“We had a good car at the Sizzler, but I think our issue was the car was too good a little too early,” said Pitkat. “I don’t know if we had a shot to beat Matt [Hirshcman] or Ryan [Preece], but we definitely had a good top-five car and maybe even a top-three car. We learned a lot about the car and we’ll be looking to contend for more wins.”