LONDON, ON- After three straight seasons spent as a runner-up in the Delaware Speedway Late Model division, Matt Pritiko is well aware of what it takes to contend with some of the best short track drivers in the province. With the 2014 season fast approaching, Pritiko is more than ready to shed his bridesmaid label in favour of his first career Late Model championship.
“We want to sit at the head table at this year’s banquet”, states Pritiko matter-of-factly in a recent trip to the team’s London shop. “I’m still fairly new to oval track competition, and I’m constantly learning, but there’s no question that I have a championship-caliber team. I’ve never felt more comfortable heading into a race season. This is going to be our year”.
With 3 straight runner-up campaigns in his rearview, the former Grand Am Rolex Series standout has every reason to believe his team has what it takes to make a 4th straight push for a Delaware championship.
“We’ve been so close, so many times”, explains Pritiko. “All 3 seasons, the championship battle has come down to the final night. So, we’ve been in the hunt on the last points night of the year in 3 of my 4 seasons of Late Model racing. It’s disappointing to have to settle for 2nd, but that type of experience is invaluable”.
If the 2014 season has a different feel for Pritiko, it might have something to do with the fact that the 25-year old is entering as the reigning Great Canadian 200 champion, having won the speedway’s Crown Jewel event last September.
“Winning the ‘Great Canadian’ was one of the biggest moments of my racing career”, says Pritiko with a smile. “Knowing what that race means to Delaware Speedway, and the legends that have won it before me, it’s pretty incredible. We still talk about that afternoon. There’s definitely an extra bounce in our step heading into the season, thanks to that trophy sitting in the shop”.
When asked about strategy, Pritiko is quick to explain a relatively simple strategy he hopes to employ.
“We want to knock of a win as quick as possible”, states Pritiko. “I’m a huge believer in momentum, and I know that if we can start the season with a few strong runs, it’s going to help our confidence as well as the morale back at the shop. The long nights spent working on these cars are a lot easier when you have something to show for it”.
With Delaware boasting one of the most talent-laden rosters in the province, Pritiko is conscious of the effort that a title-run will require.
“The Delaware regulars are as good as it gets behind the wheel of a Late Model. We can’t take a lap off when we’re racing with them. It’s going to require our absolute best, every single week. Anything less won’t be enough”.
Matt Pritiko’s 2014 season is made possible thanks to sponsorship from Global Warranty, Toyota Town, Serengeti Sunglasses, AQUAhydrate, NAPA Certified Body Shop, Cadillac Industrial Cleaning, Driven Steering Wheels, Burwell Auto Body, Snap’d London and In2Communications.
Fans can follow along with Matt’s pre-season preperations via his Matt Pritiko Motorsports page on Facebook, or on Twitter @MattPritiko.
By Spencer Lewis (@itsspencerlewis)