Daryn Pittman ended the 2018 World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series season with nine wins in the No. 9 Kasey Kahne Racing (KKR) car.
It was the most he had gathered since 2014 – the year after he won the series championship.
Though, his team wasn’t going in the same direction that his driving was.
KKR was unable to find a sustainable sponsor to keep the No. 9 car in action, and with Kasey Kahne wanting to get into racing on dirt more, Pittman was left without a ride.
Fortunately for him, Roth Motorsports had an opening in the famed No. 83 car.
“Part of the move was by force, but it was all on good terms,” Pittman said. “[KKR] just wasn’t able to find the funding to put the No. 9 car out full time this season. Luckily Roth had a seat open, we got talking, and we were able to put something together.”
The move paid off, almost immediately.
Pittman opened the season by winning each of the first two features at Volusia Speedway before the third event was rained out.
He effectively swept the weekend.
The Owasso, Oklahoma native followed it up with three second-place finishes in the next six races – which also included five top 10’s.
“It [felt] good,” Pittman said. “It’s not how you start but how you finish the year, but obviously it’s better to try and maintain and stay up front than catch up after a bad start. [I’m] definitely happy with how things got kicked off.”
Although, with every transition comes some rough patches.
Pittman finished 13th at Perris Auto Speedway, ending his tour in the Golden State with his first finish outside of the top 10.
“[We] had a couple of rough races in between there that we’ve got to clean up and try to minimize the best we can going forward, but [I’m] definitely happy with where we’re at with our car owner and our engine program and everything,” Pittman said.
Despite the troubles, he still led the points standings at the end of the California swing and currently sits third, just 14 points behind leader, Brad Sweet.
That’s just part of a new season, according to Pittman, who is working with a completely new supporting cast.
“Every season – even when you’re with the same team – has its own challenges,” Pittman said. “Basically [I am working with] a whole new team, a whole new crew of guys. I’ve never worked with any of the guys before, so that’s rather challenging itself – just trying to figure out people’s personalities.”
The crew is made up of three full time employees, two that returned to Roth Motorsports for the 2019 year and another that was hired to fill a spot.
“It’s a challenge in this sport, Pittman said. “It is every season. I think in my six years at KKR, I’m not sure that we didn’t change at least one person in the off-season. It’s pretty normal to have to deal with new personalities every season, if not one maybe two. It’s a challenge to put a team together to where everyone stays.”
One of the challenges is trying to figure people out, and figure out what motivates them Pittman said, even going as far to call it half of the battle.
He thinks he’s got the right team, and the results show.
A different challenge comes when switching the equipment that a driver is in.
“There’s a lot of different race cars and a lot of different equipment that Roth uses vs. KKR, so it’s just trying to understand all of those pieces and make the best decision every night,” Pittman said. “We’ve got off to a solid start, we’re just trying to build our notebook up so we can have as few bad nights as possible.”
With the start Pittman has put together, there’s no doubt things are working.
The veteran has accumulated five top 5 finishes (all being either first or second place finishes) and nine top 10’s in the first 11 races of the year.
It’s put him right up at the top of the standings, but Pittman isn’t worried about it.
“At the end of the day, we don’t focus on the points,” Pittman said. “That only pays out once – at the end of the year. We strictly tackle each race one at a time and look for the challenges that that race has. You focus on one race at a time, try to win every race, and just allow the points to shake up as they do at the end of the season.”
Pittman shares that opinion with a number of World of Outlaws Drivers.
With the number of races exceeding the 70’s, no matter what the purse is to win the championship at the end of the year, the individual nights of action trump the race.
“We’d love to see them increase it, but no matter how much it pays, we’re racers,” Pittman said. “We want to win. No matter if it paid nothing or $1 million to win, I don’t think it would ever take away from winning races. That’s where the money’s at. I’d take a 15-race-win season with a second-place championship [finish] over a 5-race-win season with a championship, any day.”
That’s not to say the points race is thrown out the window, though.
It’s more of a reminder to Pittman to put everything he’s got into every race of the year.
“You obviously know where you’re at throughout the season, it just doesn’t change how we attack each individual race,” Pittman said. “If we’re leading by several hundred points, it still doesn’t make us race any safer – that’s what will get you in trouble.”
Pittman and the Outlaws will continue their 2019 season as the series heads to Devils Bowl Speedway in Mesquite, Texas for the Texas Outlaw Nationals this weekend.
|World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series Standings|