Pittman Overcomes Performance Woes, Returns to Early Season Form at Epping Epping, NH - The expression "there's good news, and there's bad news" has been overused to the point of overkill the last few years, but it's a safe bet that sophomore ...
Pittman Overcomes Performance Woes, Returns to Early Season Form at Epping
Epping, NH - The expression "there's good news, and there's bad news" has been overused to the point of overkill the last few years, but it's a safe bet that sophomore IHRA/Summit Drag Racing Pro Modified driver Alan Pittman will be more than happy to hear it when it comes to describing his weekend in the scenic northeast.
Pittman, pilot of the feared supercharged '41 Willys of Ken and Sylvia Westbrook, rolled into the 6th Annual Amalie Oil North American Nationals at Epping, New Hampshire's New England Dragway mired in a frustrating performance slump. An early-season string of top qualifying efforts and two national event wins had propelled the Pelzer, South Carolina driver into second place in the Mopar Performance Parts Pro Modified championship points chase, but by mid-season, an on-board fire, and an assortment of seemingly untraceable mechanical and electrical problems undermined the Westbrook team's best efforts to maintain their torrid pace.
In their minds, the straw that broke the camel's back was their appearance at the NHRA's Pro Mod exhibition races at the U.S. Nationals in Indy over the Labor Day weekend. It wasn't for lack of extraordinary effort, but Pittman struggled through what was perhaps his worst weekend of the season, and failed to crack the elite eight-car field. That was enough for Pittman and crew Chief Darren Mayer, who redoubled their efforts to sort the car out in the few days they had before heading to Epping.
Here's where the "good news" comes in. Much to the relief of all concerned, Pittman's first shot at qualifying on Friday yielded a clean, straight pass of 6.329 at 225.45. It was the following attempt, however, that signaled to the competition that Pittman was back and ready to rumble, his blistering 6.246 at 226.66 good enough for third quickest. On Saturday, the impressive performance continued, with postings of 6.298 at 226.70 and another 6.246, this time at 227.04 miles per hour, wrapping up third spot, and the two best days of racing the Westbrook team has enjoyed in a long while.
Now for the "bad news", which in the context of this weekend is really not bad at all. Pittman had drawn the nitrous-aided '63 Corvette of U.S.Nationals winner Ronnie Hood in the first round, and the resulting race was a real gem. Hood left first by .045, and held on for dear life as Alan chased him down to the wire. In a photo finish, Hood advanced to the next round by the slimmest of margins - 0.0008 (eight ten-thousandths) of a second.
So while going more rounds would have been icing on the cake, Pittman is satisfied with the fact that he didn't beat himself this time around - he went down fighting in a great head-to-head drag race. The car was right, the team did their job, and the driver did his. After a trouble-plagued outing at the IHRA's Mopar Parts World Nationals at Norwalk, Ohio two weeks ago, Pittman commented: "We'd be having a lot more fun right now if we could get back to the performance we had earlier in the year. We're not going to quit working on this thing, I guarantee you that. We'll get a handle on it, and when we do, we're going all out to finish up strong" It appears he's a man of his word.
For more information on Westbrook Motorsports, visit their website at www.westbrookmotorsports.com, or log into drag racing's largest Internet magazine at www.competitionplus.com.