MECHANICSBURG, Pa. — Daryn Pittman has finished second in the Williams Grove Champion Racing Oil National Open more times than he cares to count. He has finished second more times than anyone else in history in fact.
He has finished bridesmaid five times, to be exact.
But he’s hoping to wipe that statistic off of his record with the 61st running of the event this Saturday night.
“It ate at me when I had one. Now that we have five, every one makes it worse,” he says of his runner-ups in the prestigious race. “Just to be that close that many times to a crown jewel is tough.”
So what’s his remedy you ask?
Only pairing with one of, if not the most successful sprint car teams in the region and nation for the last seven years, owned and wrenched by a couple of National Sprint Car Hall of Famers.
Pittman will take another crack at the whopping $75,000 payday on Saturday night while at the wheel of the Don Kreitz Jr. No. 69K, wrenched by mechanic ace Davey Brown.
And by the way, that’s the same car that won the Open last season with Lance Dewease in the seat.
It owns a total of three Open wins if you’re counting.
“Those two together worked and it was a resurrection, truthfully, of both their careers,” he says of the pairing of car owner Kreitz and driver Dewease since 2016.
“I think it brought the 69K to another level that it had not been for a long time, at least consistently anyway. They worked well together and it was a good fit.”
Daryn, Don and Davey hit the track for the first time together in the September 15 Diamond Series race at Williams Grove and rode home third, behind Dewease ironically.
“I feel like, and me and Don have talked about this, that mine and Lances driving styles are probably very similar. And I think our first night sort of proved that,” Pittman said.
“I don’t think we were great but we accomplished everything that I was hoping to accomplish for our first night in the car – it was my first night there this year and their first time there since the Summer Nationals.”
Now 45 and owner of Ultra Shield Race Products in Texas, 2013 World of Outlaws champion Pittman left full time driving after the 2020 season and has only been on-track sporadically since then but has still proven to be successful along the way.
But can he win the National Open with such little track time under his belt in recent seasons?
“Absolutely,” Pittman says with conviction. “I wouldn’t be coming if I didn’t believe that.”
“Do I think it’s harder because I haven’t been racing and running less? Do I think I’m at 100-percent performance? No. But I’m still confident in myself that I’m at 80 or 90-percent,” Pittman said.
“I mean sure, we gotta have things go our way, but I still think we can win. And I know I’m in a car that’s capable of doing it.
“Honestly, my thoughts until I heard that they (Kreitz and Dewease) had parted ways, my 100-percent intention was to not run the National Open,” Pittman admitted. “I had no plans of it. I was not coming in.
“But it did interest me enough to make a phone call to Don and let him know that if he didn’t have someone for the National Open – I had no idea what they were looking for – I basically just made a call and said, ‘I’m sure I can’t do what you want (long term) but if you’re interested in running the National Open and you think I’m what you’re looking for then I’d be interested,'” Pittman said.
But Pittman says he did have other options.
“My other alternatives I just wasn’t that interested in, for a couple reasons,” the racer, businessman and family man admits.
“I could of got in some really good cars but I’m just confident that between Davey and Don, I’m hopeful that they can make up for where I’d probably be lacking and any of the other cars, we wouldn’t of been in a position to make up for that,” he says.
“I think I need a superior car to help me overcome where I’m at in my racing career. I watched that car for a lot of years and it just looks fun to drive. And it is.”
And after his third place run two weeks ago, he feels like he and the team are in a good place for the looming Open.
“It didn’t feel like an insurmountable gap that we needed to close,” Pittman said of how things felt at the completion of that race.
But he’s not exactly Casper Milquetoast as he heads East for this week’s action either.
“I’m well aware of the challenge that it will be. But we felt confident with how Friday night went that we can pick up from there on Friday,” Pittman said.
And of all those seconds he’s been carrying around?
“Some were disappointing seconds and some were good seconds. I wasn’t ready to quit trying but I know that at my stage in my career good opportunities are gonna become less and less likely,” Pittman said. “And I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to get in the 69K and see what we can do.
“It’s kinda’ like that Toby Keith song – I ain’t as good as I once was, but I’m as good once, as I ever was.”
Pittman owns 17 career sprint car wins at Williams Grove Speedway. He’s hoping it will be 18 at the conclusion of 40 laps on Saturday night.