With the forecast calling for rain throughout the entire day Sunday, October 1, 2006, Stafford Motor Speedway postponed its CARQUEST Fall Final racing. The Sunday portion of the CARQUEST Fall Final Weekend has been rescheduled to Saturday, October 28, 2006.
The rescheduling of the Whelen Modified Tour event makes Stafford the last scheduled WMT stop of the 2006 season. Mike Stefanik is shooting for his 7th career WMT championship and his ninth overall NASCAR Championship.
NASCAR WHELEN MOD TOUR LEFTOVERS: STAFFORD by Denise DuPont
The Fall Final Was Rained Out, But We Still Have Our Leftovers
Before it rained, Todd Szegedy reigned supreme in qualifying. (Jim DuPont Photos)
“We are just working the balance of the car,” said Stefanik. “We are approaching this race like it is any other race. Obviously the points are beginning to become a concern. It is still the same old get the car to run the best we can. Come up with our best package for the race.”
Stefanik currently holds a 104-point lead over Ted Christopher, who is attempting to secure his first Tour championship.
“It would be nice to run rather then extend the season. You cannot control the weather though. What are you going to do?”
Christopher isn’t getting too worked up over the situation either.
“We will just keep going and see how it goes.” Said TC as his crew packed up the car as the clouds rolled in.
Todd Szegedy, who set a new track record in Bud Pole Qualifying, is currently fifth in the standings.
“We broke a track record which is pretty awesome,” said Szegedy. “I also seem to get beat right at the end and we finally got it, so it is definitely a really good feeling.
"This is only my third pole and I have been so close so many times. Maybe after this one I will be able to get more poles. There are three more that I can possibly get for the rest of the year.”
With two races scheduled before the Tour returns to Stafford, the championship race is wide open.
In Stafford's SK Modified division, Frank Ruocco leads Willie Hardie by 18 points, or nine positions on the track. The other two remaining point races feature ties at the front of the championship standings.
The Late Model championship race is a two-man race with Woody Pitkat and Jim Peterson tied for the championship lead.
SZEGEDY RIGHT AT HOME AT STAFFORD
Todd Szegedy, a former Stafford SK Modified regular, has a lot of time on the track at Stafford.
“I definitely have a lot of laps here,” Said Szegedy. “Any little bit helps. It is the setup more then anything. I qualified 10th here before and I had to take a provisional before. The setup is the key to getting the pole here. We will be back here at the end of the month [For the Stafford postponed race] and we have the pole.”
STEFANIK JUST HAPPY TO BE HERE
Mike Stefanik pulled to start seventh in the Carquest Fall Final at Stafford Speedway. So Mike will start seventh as he races to go for his seventh Modified Championship.
“Every year is a challenging year,” said Stefanik. “No matter how well you do the year before. You have to prove yourself and your worth. I really do not see this year being any different then the years after I have been established in the series. I just go racing just like I always have. We have a great group of guys here and it has always been a challenge and lot of fun. I am just happy to be racing and happy to be here.”
PAUCH LANDS IN MODIFIED TOUR,
BUT HAS TO WAIT ‘TIL NEXT RACE
19-year-old Billy Pauch, Jr was disappointed that he did
not time trial fast enough to earn a starting spot in the 34th Carquest Fall Final Race at Stafford Speedway. It was Pauch’s debut driving the #06 Greenfield Dodge entry.
“I enjoy driving a Whelen Modified tour car a lot,” said Pauch. “It was close. We only missed by a tenth. We timed 32nd, but with this provisional stuff and my not having any driver points, they kind of screwed me out of a spot. What are you going to do though? I will just get some lap time this week and it will be a lot better.”
“When we bought the car, the goal was just it have fun. We were going to go to Thompson Speedway to run. It was just to have fun. We went there with no pressure. We were not worried about points or anything. We were going to run the Icebreaker and World Series and then the 300 race, run only four or five shows. Then I told the car owner if we come out of the Icebreaker in the top three in points, we probably should try to keep going as much as we can.
“We really did not know what Jimmy Fuller was doing. We figured Kerry Malone was going to run full time all season. But he took a step backwards and sat for the year. So after the Icebreaker we were tied for the point lead so we kept going and prayed not to have a bad night. We had a lot of luck to. We ended up staying there and kept going. We did good, and here we are.”
Jimmy Fuller, Pitkat’s crew chief also spoke with us.
“I am very proud of the whole team. Woody is a very up and coming driver that shows more talent each time he comes out. “
Fuller said what he plans are for after this season.
there are just so many that are competitive and so close and it is a lot harder to pass because of the open wheels. The bumping and grinding is no as big as it is with the Late Models.
“If I had to choose from all three, I would say the Thompson SK because going there and watching them is like wow!
When I watched them one night, I was thinking these guys are crazy. They go fast and if you are in a pack like running sixth or seventh you cannot see anything. If someone wrecks in front of you, you are not even going to know. It is just going to happen. You just try to square up the bumper and pray.
“To me it is almost like you have to be a little crazy to run the Thompson SK cars. I get more excited going there because of the speed and you can move around n the track. It is two lanes of racing. While, here at Stafford, it seems since they repaved the pavement, it feels like there is only a one groove track. Unless you are fourth fifth or sixth you can hang out there. But you can only hang out there so long.”
“If I had to rank them, it would be the Thompson SK and then the Late Model at Stafford. I have fun doing that because you can move around a little more. That is why a lot of people don’t understand why I have done so good this year. If you were to watch a tape you would see why I am doing good this year. I am constantly moving around trying to see what it needs. Other people ride the same groove every time. No matter their car is doing. “
Bill Pauch, Jr.
On Sunday, October 8th, the Mod Tour will go to Waterford Speedbowl for the Town Fair Finale race. Pauch is looking forward to that.
“Next weekend we will be at Waterford. This week hopefully we will get some more laps in this and it will be pretty good.”
Billy has some pretty big shoes to fill following in the footsteps of his famous father, Billy Pauch.
”He was good on asphalt and good on dirt. I have been good on dirt. I do have to get better on asphalt. The Whelen Modified is a tough series to make. We missed it by a little. We were real close. Next year we will try a little more of this and hopefully we will get better.”
PITKAT WINS ONE TITLE, GUNS FOR ANOTHER
Woody Pitkat was at Stafford competing in the weekly SK and Late Models divisions on Carquest weekend. We asked him about his thoughts about winning the Thompson SK Championship.
“It is pretty big,” Said Pitkat. “I mean, I do not think that it has set in yet. I am not the type of person that gets all
emotional. After I win I usually do, but it usually takes a little while. I have been running Late model at Stafford for the last four or five years. I was never really into the SK cars but just walking around you always knew who was up front. You could always hear the names: Malone, Ceravello, Malave, Bo Gunning, all those guys of the day. It was the same guys in the top five every week. To be able to go to Thompson and just to be able to run in the top five with those guys is a pretty big fete. To be able to go there and win races and contend for a championship, and win a championship and then win the regional is just all unbelievable. It is like a dream come true.“
Woody has been driving Late Model cars for the last few years at Stafford and Thompson Speedways.
“I was more of a full fender guy. The DiPisas gave me an opportunity to run their car that one year and ever since then it has just has taken off.”
This year Woody also ended up driving an SK full time at Thompson.
“I plan to take a nap. We are talking about something for next year, but we have nothing solid yet.”
Winning the NASCAR Division Four Weekly Racing Series title was something big for the whole team.
“That is really big too. I never really thought about it. I do not think that it is going to set in until we go to Las Vegas as see what it is all about. I have never done that. I did not try to think about it all year. You see how a lot of people and their goals written up in the paper. They are going to win the Championship. They are going to win the Regionals. I am not that type of person. I just try to go out there and do the best that I can every week. Top fives and top tens and being consistent were my goals. When you are going to win, you win. I was a nervous wreck on Thursday. The year that I won the championship in the late model I was nervous when there were three weeks to go. This year I was all right until the night of the race and then I was a nervous wreck. If it is meant to be it is meant to be. It was meant to be because we did good on Thursday. That is it. Now we are getting to go to Vegas”
Pitkat is also within reach of the Late Model Championship at Stafford Speedway. He is currently tied in points for the lead.
“I would be all right with winning the Late Model Championship. Obviously I would like to win that more for Marcie and Pat. Also because I have been trying so hard.
“The Late Models division here is so hard because it is so competitive. Finishing here in the top five is like winning the championship. We started out real strong and then we had a couple of bad weeks. Then we were strong again. We have been struggling. It is almost like who ever can get the last setup is going to win it. I just want to win it for Marcie and Pat because just knowing as good as drivers that they had, Jay Stewart, Mike Quinitiliano, they were close but they could not get it done. To me if I could get that done that is like saying that they had to call me to help them get the job done. That makes me feel really good.”
What division does Woody like to drive in the best? That’s a tough decision.
“I like the fender cars more because I think that they are harder to drive. If you have a guy or somebody that has never been in a Late Model, if they were to jump in a Late Model it would be like WOW!
“It is harder then going from a Late Model to an SK. To me the SKs are like a big go cart. Why it is so hard is
Pitkat has won at Stafford (Top) and Thompson (Bottom) in the SK/Sunoco Modified divisions this season.