April 5, 2014 — report by Managing Editor Jacob Seelman for Race Chaser Online — Matt Kentfield/Speed51 for NASCAR photo — THOMPSON, CT — New team? No problem.
Woody Pitkat proved that during Friday’s Coors Light Pole Qualifying session for the NASCAR WHELEN Modified Tour’s (NWMT) season-opening Icebreaker 150 presented by Town Fair Tire at Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park. Pitkat scorched the 0.625-mile oval with a lap of 18.724 seconds (120.167 mph) to claim the first Coors Light Pole Award of his NWMT career in his first ride with Buzz Chew Motorsports.
After pacing the field in practice, Pitkat is primed to make a huge statement on Sunday afternoon in what will be his 79th career Whelen Modified Tour start since his debut in 2007.
“I’ve said since day one that I haven’t really proven myself on the Tour,” Pitkat said after winning the pole. “I’ve been here a while now — six, seven, eight years — but I’ve probably only run three full seasons. I feel like I’ve accomplished everything and ran really good in Late Models and SK’s, but I haven’t proven myself on the Tour. I haven’t proven that I can run consistent, run up front and compete for wins. That’s what I want to prove.”
“Everybody says from day one that I’ve never really been a good qualifier,” the Stafford, Connecticut native added, firing back at the critics who have harped on his qualifying efforts over the years. “I … just haven’t had what I need under me to qualify. I qualified a Busch (North) car at Stafford third. I qualified for the North-South Shootout on the pole and I had never been to that track before. I’ve never really had that whole package. Now that I have it, I hope I can contend – run up front every week like my buddies.”
Pitkat joined the Chew team during the offseason after driving the No. 79 Hill Racing Enterprises machine during the 2013 season. That car will run the full NASCAR WHELEN Southern Modified Tour slate with rookie Spencer Davis in 2014, as well as a partial Northern Tour schedule.
Justin Bonsignore, out of Riverhead, Long Island, New York, timed in second with a quick lap of 18.796 seconds (119.706 mph) in his No. 51 Chevrolet. Two-time Tour champion Donny Lia (18.802; 119.668 mph), defending champion Ryan Preece (18.844; 119.401 mph) and Rowan Pennink (18.919; 118.928 mph) completed the top five on the grid for Sunday’s 150 lap affair.
Both Pitkat’s and Bonsignore’s race cars are running the NASCAR-approved spec engine this weekend.
Former series champions Bobby Santos III, Ted Christopher, Doug Coby, who won the UNOH Battle at the Beach at Daytona, and Mike Stefanik all struggled somewhat in qualifying, timing in at 10th, 11th, 14th and 18th, respectively, for the 40th Running of the Icebreaker at Thompson.
The Icebreaker 150 presented by Town Fair Tire is scheduled to get underway Sunday afternoon, with the green flag set to fly at approximately 3:45 P.M. Eastern time. Feature racing in Thompson’s season-opening weekend begins on Sunday at 12:30 p.m. Eastern.