STAFFORD – Woody Pitkat may not have taken the checkered flag leading the race at the finish of the SK Modified feature Friday at Stafford Motor Speedway, but he gladly left the track with the winner’s trophy for the race.
“The way my racing has been going this year you do have to take them any way you can get them,” Pitkat said.
Michael Gervais Jr. of Southbury was second and Ted Christopher of Plainville third.
Preece crossed the finish line first in the event after he bumped Keith Rocco out of the lead in the final corner on the last lap. Preece went to victory lane immediately following the race but was quickly told by track officials that he was being penalized. Preece was credited with a 20th place finish in the event.
“It is what it is,” said Preece, of Berlin. “Stafford does their best to make the calls. I felt that he raced me a little wrong going into [turn] one and then he cut down on me when I had a run [going into turn three]. I would have went into [turn] three and raced him completely clean side-by-side, if he beat me on the outside he would have been the better man tonight. But he came down on me like I wasn’t even there and it is what it is.”
Preece ran second beyond Frank Ruocco for much of the first half of the race, but on lap 21 Preece made contact with the back of Ruocco’s car, sending him to the turn one wall. Preece was penalized to the rear of the field for the contact.
“I would never want to send someone into the turn like that, and I’m completely sorry to him and his team because I know how it is to have to fix a car in a week,” Preece said. “I’m sure I’ll be getting it back at some point this season, I understand that, but, they talked about in the drivers meeting picking a lane. I went to the outside and he wouldn’t let me go there. I felt I had a couple runs and I cut him a lot of slack and he was just running me all over the place.”
Rocco, of Wallingford, went by Pitkat for the lead on lap 29, but behind him deeper in the field Preece was rallying. By lap 32 Preece was going by Glen Reen for second place. Following a lap 36 restart, Preece took the lead from Rocco on the outside for two laps before Rocco battled back to retake the top spot out of turn two on lap 38.
On the final lap Preece seemed to have a low run on Rocco going into turn three, but had to back out in the corner. In turn four Preece hammered the rear end of Rocco’s car, sending him spinning.
“It’s one thing running hard, but twice in one night he wrecked the leader,” Rocco said. “The stats stand for themselves. He just hit me as hard as he could.”
Said Preece: “I try to race as clean as I possibly can. I hate racing dirty and right now, I don’t like how the outcome is for my team, they don’t deserve a finish like this. I’m going to continue to race as clean as I possibly can and hope for the best.”
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