Excited Pittman set for Outlaws return to Alabama. PHENIX CITY, AL (April 3) - With a circus like schedule that leads to all corners of the United States and includes races at a variety of dirt tracks, it can be easy to forget not only where you...
Excited Pittman set for Outlaws return to Alabama.
PHENIX CITY, AL (April 3) - With a circus like schedule that leads to all corners of the United States and includes races at a variety of dirt tracks, it can be easy to forget not only where you are going, but also where you've been. As Daryn Pittman and the rest of the O'Reilly's World of Outlaws (WoO) stars crisscross the country like nomads from late February to early November, they battle their tails off chasing a championship.
For Pittman, there are several key stops along the way. Some with the prestige like the Knoxville Nationals and nights at places like Williams Grove Speedway that exude tradition. Then there are exciting little racetracks where the racing is so good, drivers just love to show up and do their job. This weekend's events in "Dixie" include a Saturday night show at the Talladega Short Track, a little 3/8-mile bullring of red southern clay that has hosted some of the best WoO races in the last two years.
"I haven't been to East Alabama Speedway before, but I'm really excited about racing at Talladega," said Pittman, who drives the #21 Mopar/Gaerte J&J owned by Donnie and Sherrie Woodburn. "The races there are always awesome. The track slicks off and it's all about car setup and throttle control. Before you know it you're in traffic. You've got to be patient, but you've also got to know when to go for it. Getting to the front and staying there is awful tough, but that's the fun part."
The Talladega Short Track has hosted events the past two years in conjunction with NASCAR's events on the Superspeedway and all have been memorable. Pittman has two top five finishes in five races on the track and also stormed from 23rd to finish 10th on another occasion.
"The track just really suits me well," continued Pittman. "I really like going fast on the big half-mile tracks, but at Talladega, you've got to be up in the chair every second or someone is going to drive by you. I love it there. We've had some pretty good runs there and I'm hoping that continues."
Pittman and his Sherdon Motorsports team currently rank sixth in the WoO standings after 12 nights of racing in a schedule, that includes competing at 50 racing facilities in 27 states while running 72 events over 100 dates in 2003. The team has three Top Five and eight Top Ten finishes to start the Outlaws 25th Anniversary campaign. Although he admits to being content with his team's start, the 24 year-old from Oklahoma still needs that spectacular night to get everyone on the team really excited.
"We've been consistent, which is the key for the long-term," explained Pittman, "but you've got to have night where you really feel like you've got the best car there. We've been really fast and at times been the best car on the track this year, but we haven't been close enough to the front. We need a night where we get out and lead the race and put ourselves in a position to win. Yes, we finished second at Pike Co. (Magnolia, MS on March 21) but we were never out front leading the race.
"Even if we end up running second on a night after leading, at least you finish the race knowing you were the guy to beat. In this series you need to have that feeling. Everyone knows that winning your first race of the year is the hardest one. After that, the pressure is off and you just go race. If you can get to the point like Steve (Kinser) and Danny (Lasoski) where you are pretty much right there every night, then you'll win your share. I know we aren't at their level yet, but just to be right there a few nights and cash in on one is really important."
After a standout season in 2002, Pittman continues to feel as though his team is getting closer. Crew Chief Joe Gaerte and crewman Shawn Young and Bingo Jenkins continue give their best effort. The team is working with Gaerte Engines on a Mopar Engine package that continues to show improvement. With the horsepower that it has provided, Pittman feels more confident and knows that when the "big-money" is on the line that they will be at their best.
"Joe and everybody at Gaerte has done a tremendous job with the Mopars," continued Pittman. "I've really noticed the difference. We've got a great program with the Mopars working well with our J&J racecars. Our program also includes Hoosier Tires, Sander Engineering, Hephner Racing Products, Red Line Oil and Simpson. Without them, we couldn't be doing all of this. We're all going to keep working hard and see what we can come up with."
Saturday's race at the Talladega Short Track will follow Friday's event at East Alabama Motor Speedway in Phenix City, AL. The race at Talladega will be broadcasted live by SCN (Sprint Car Network) and you can find out more about the broadcast by visiting www.sprintcarnet.com.