Story By: KYLE SOUZA / TRI TRACK OPEN MODIFIED SERIES – SEEKONK, MA – While looking back over his more than six years with Stan Mertz Racing, Woody Pitkat feels like the team might be primed for glory more than ever before in 2021.
On top of competing in the six Tri Track Open Modified Series presented by All Phases Renovations events, the team will also compete in the Stafford Motor Speedway Open Modified races and chase the Call Before You Dig 811 Modified Challenge, which is a combination points battle between Stafford and Tri Track, with a $8,110 bonus to the winner.
It’s going to be a busy year for Pitkat and the Mertz team and Pitkat is looking forward to returning to the stiff competition of Tri Track.
“We had to take a provisional at one of the races last year and I put the wrong gears in at one track, but I’m definitely looking forward to 2021,” Pitkat said. “There is a lot of good competition. You’ve seen how many times Matt Hirschman has won — taking him off the throne will be tough. You have Jon McKennedy coming back, and a bunch of other good drivers and good teams. It’s going to be tough. For me, I feel like they look at us as the little guy, and that’s fine with me.”
In four Tri Track events in 2020, Pitkat finished eighth, fourth and 25th, but also did not qualify for the Star Speedway event in July, due to a mechanical failure. That mechanical failure forced the team to change engines in the middle of the season, which is a daunting task for anyone. But the team was prepared, completed the job, and Pitkat feels like it’s already paying dividends. Shortly after the swap, Pitkat scored a victory in the Twisted Tea Open Modified 80 at Stafford Motor Speedway and was competitive in the Tri Track race at Stafford in October before flipping up on his side against the turn two wall.
“To do what we did when we won at Stafford, in a way it’s astonishing,” Pitkat said. “I don’t think anyone other than Stan and the crew guys thought we could go there and win the race. It just shows how much dedication Stan has, the will and drive to win races. He’s worked really hard for everything he has. We’ve had a little bit more time over the winter to get everything sorted out. We’ve updated and straightened out a few things, with the motor good to go, transmission refreshed… Stan goes through it all. He wants me to have the best stuff.”
Pitkat and Mertz Racing also have some exciting news on the sponsor front, securing a deal with Twisted Tea and Truly Hard Seltzer. Pitkat is a known fan of Twisted Tea, and looks forward to promoting both brands on the car during the season. They also have support from AXIS Engineering Group, Black & White Grille, TowBoatUS, Cape Towing & Salvage, J&S Motors, Pomfret Wine and Spirits, Mike Holmes & Son Excavating, Kenneth Blackmer Transport and more.
“It’s one of the better paint schemes I’ve seen in a long time, really sharp,” Pitkat said. “What we had learned at the end of last year, with the package we had put in the car at Stafford and a few things I learned on the Whelen Modified Tour, I feel like it’s going to be a good year. I’ve been really close at Monadnock, had a lot of seconds there, and I’ve been close at Seekonk. It’s definitely exciting.”
What does Pitkat set for goals for the season? Like most others, he wants to hold that checkered flag and would love to contend for the Tri Track championship.
“My first goal is to be in tech inspection with Stan, and we made that last year for the first time. You want to be able to win, we went to Stafford and won, we’ve won the Modified Racing Series at Lee before.. and now we’ve stepped up our game. I want to win everytime I go out there. The competition on Tri Track is like no other. I’ve only won one race on the Tri Track — I’ve been close — but I want to win more. I feel like this is the most prepared we have ever been working together with Stan. He’s chomping at the bit. I think it’s going to be a good year.”