Pittman Wins Closest Title Battle
By: Jeff Wackerlin - @JWackerlin on November 10, 2013 | 12:50 A.M. EST
Pittman hoists the World of Outlaws championship trophy. (Photo: Jeff Wackerlin)
CONCORD, N.C. - Daryn Pittman captured his first World of Outlaws STP Sprint Car title on Saturday night at The Dirt Track at Charlotte in the closest points finish in series history.
All Pittman needed to do to wrap up the championship was finish 15th or better and he did that by coming home 12th to edge Donny Schatz by 14 points. After a four-week hiatus for the series, Pittman came into the World Finals with a 52-point advantage. The championship came down to qualifying points, where Pittman outscored Schatz this season by 99.
"It doesn't get any better," said Pittman, who became the the first driver to lead the standings the entire season. "This last month has been so emotional and such a hard thing to deal with that I don't even know how to put it into words. I'm so happy, but it's just the people that you do this that make it so special. Winning a championship is cool, but it means nothing if you're not with people that believe in you from the beginning."
The championship is also the first for team owner Kasey Kahne, who was not at the track Saturday because he's racing in Sunday's NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Phoenix International Raceway.
"I haven’t even looked at my phone," Pittman said when asked if he'd talked to Kahne. "I'm sure he was the first to text me and I know he knows. I'm sure he's not happy he wasn't here, but he deserves this."
Pittman - winner of eight races in 2013 - credited teamwork across all three of KKR's cars for him coming out on top in the end.
"Kale, Willie Kahne and the entire team - everybody at the '4,' the '49' and the '9' - they do a great job," Pittman said. "This is truly one team, across the board among all three teams. There were so many races this year when we had bad nights, and the '4' car helped us and got us back on the racetrack to salvage points. Obviously, we didn’t have any points to spare tonight."
Paul McMahan, who began the weekend by scoring his series-leading 17th Quick Time on Thursday night, won Saturday's finale from the fifth starting position. McMahan battled a tight condition at the beginning of the race and eventually found himself at the cushion, where he passed Jason Sides in traffic on Lap 26. McMahan held the lead the rest of the way and scored his fourth win of the season.
"To be Quick Time and win the Feature doesn't happen very often with the way the series is right now," said McMahan, who also won in May at Charlotte from the same starting position. "There are too many good cars to be Quick Time and the way the pill draw is for the Dash, you've got to be really good."
McMahan ended the season third in points and will be back with CJB Motorsports in 2014 for another run at the championship.
Sides took the lead from Tim Shaffer on Lap 2 and held the top spot before approaching lap traffic and the car of Bill Rose. His runner-up finish equaled his best of the season (accomplished six times) and was his 14th top five in 66 Feature races.
“We had a really good car, especially when it was open air," Sides said. "I got behind a lapped car. I felt like we were good enough that if I could get up beside him (McMahan), I could get past him and I never really could. Paul drove by on the outside, there. We came home second and we'll take that. It's going to be a short off-season so that will be good for us to come off a good race and go to the next one."
Although he came up shy of winning his sixth championship in the last eight years, Schatz put up career numbers this season - winning 23 times.
"I'm not going to say it's a good feeling, but this team performed flawlessly," said Schatz, who finished third in the race. "We were not outraced, we were not out-performed, we were out-qualified. That's the bottom line. It's not the end of the world."
Kraig Kinser and Steve Kinser - winner of the Dash - rounded out the top five. Overall, the season produced 21 different winners with Schatz and Tim Kaeding (9) leading the way.
Pittman - the ninth different series champion dating back to 1978 - will be honored Sunday night during the annual awards banquet.