This is part two of a question-and-answer session with World of Outlaws NOS Energy Drink Sprint Car Series star Daryn Pittman from the November issue of Sprint Car & Midget Magazine.
SC&M: In 1996 you started in sprint cars and the very next year you ran the full ASCS National Tour. 1998 was your first year in 410s and you went to the Knoxville Nationals and earned Rookie of the Year and the very next year went out with the Outlaws.
So, obviously, you never had a desire to be a local racer. From the beginning it looks like you wanted to go right to the next level and go national.
DP: Yeah, absolutely. I mean, I’m sure if you asked my dad he might have a little bit different story, but I very clearly remember me and my brother growing up racing. And we both raced, played soccer, and played basketball, and as you get older and get involved in three sports they start to overlap and you have to start kind of weeding them down. And around 13, 14, my brother decided to quit racing and everything to focus on soccer, and he’s still, today, a head soccer coach at the University of Texas.
And me, about the same time, I’m 13, 14, and I’m realizing that people are making a living racing sprint cars. And I’m racing micros at this time and I’m like, I don’t know how that’s possible but like sign me up, that’s what I wanna do. And, even the whole time racing micros it was always kind of my dream, like OK, how do I find a way?
That was my thing. That was what got me going. That’s what got me up every day. That’s what made me get good grades. That’s what made me, you know, stay kind of straight and narrow was, you know, I didn’t risk anything getting in trouble because I knew I wasn’t going to be able to race.
So, I remember quitting soccer and basketball to focus on racing when I was 13 or 14 years old. And my dad, he was always very adamant with both me and my brother that you find something you love and find a way to make money at it. And my mom and dad would do everything they can to support both of us, no matter what that was, as far as they could.
It was a lot easier for them to support my brother with soccer, and a lot cheaper, than it was for them to keep me racing. But they put 100 percent effort into it as well as I did and took us as far as we could, and then we were getting close to the end of the rope, as far as how far they could take me financially. And, luckily, it was far enough and it got us seen by the right people.
You know, as I was growing up, you never want to give your parents credit for everything they say to you being true, but it was like, ‘Hey, you never know who’s watching. Make sure you handle yourself right. Even in bad situations, you just never know.’ And that, honestly, couldn’t have been more true for me.
And the first opportunity that I got to go drive for Joe Ray Blevins, to sub for Lance (Blevins), and then while I’m filling in for him, a guy that doesn’t even know me, Gil Sonner, watches me and I meet him in that time frame and then he hires me the next year.
I’m sure it doesn’t go that way for everyone, but those exact circumstances happened for me. It was all about just being in the right place, the right time, and doing the best I could and getting seen by the right people that opened up the next door.
SC&M: Obviously your performance drove it, but it did seem like there was a path you were on. You did have your own team at one point, which we’ll get back to, but when you needed it Donnie and Sherie Woodburn were there. When you needed it, Reeve Kruck was there. Kasey Kahne came along at the right time.
Even when you had to step back from the Outlaws and run PA, it seemed like there were people that came along at all the right times.
DP: Absolutely. And I said that when we won the (World of Outlaws) championship in ‘13. I basically thanked every car owner that I’d had, and that was because every single car owner led me to the next one in one shape or form. And if I’d skipped one of those steps, I felt very strongly that I wasn’t where I was standing that day.
You know, the path I didn’t always know and didn’t understand from time to time, but looking back and seeing how each one progressed into the other is…and really, my relationship with almost 90 percent of those car owners today is not only good, but really good. I mean, I’m still very good friends and close with a lot of them.
It’s great to know that, even though that door closed and something else opened up, that you’re able stay in really close contact.
It goes back to that relationship thing with people. And, you don’t always understand the path, but I’ve always just kind of kept focused, and worked hard, and tried to get better, and handled ourselves the best way that we can so that – even if something does go bad – it’s a small industry, so even one bad experience with a car owner, I feel, can haunt a driver for a very long time.
There’s only so many of them out there and, trust me, even if they don’t know each other, they know why things end, or what brings things to an end, and if there’s something that wasn’t handled right it can follow you for quite a while.
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