HELLERTOWN, Pa. — As Daryn Pittman winds down his full-time racing career, the Owasso, Okla., veteran will pen his final chapter on the road with the help of several old friends.
Pittman, who officially departed Roth Motorsports following Saturday’s World of Outlaws NOS Energy Drink Sprint Car Series event at Devil’s Bowl Speedway, is reuniting with longtime Pennsylvania car owner Mike Heffner to close theseason.
The 42-year-old will wheel the Heffner Racing Enterprises No. 72 sprint car starting with the Sept. 22-23 Governors Reign at Ohio’s Eldora Speedway. He’ll continue in that capacity for the last 12 races on the World of Outlaws calendar.
“Daryn was an obvious choice when it came down to finding a driver. There aren’t too many in the world that are better than him at the top of the food chain when it comes to sprint car drivers,” Heffner said. “The other factor that came into play is that he’s a really good person and has a great family that I always got along very well with. I was sad when he left, but I’m really happy he’s coming back now.
“It’s something that was really just discussed last week, and it made sense,” Heffner continued. “We don’t talk every week, Daryn and I, but once in a while we’ll give each other calls and definitely communicate. When I see him at the races, I try to stop by and say hello to his wife, Mandy, and his kids. But it really came together last week. We did run Port Royal (Speedway for the Tuscarora 50) with Shane Stewart and I was thankful to have a good quality driver for those races. Unfortunately, it just didn’t work out.
“We ran into some very bad luck with Shane, but when the situation presented itself with Daryn, I thought and still believe that this is the right thing to do with the team at the present moment.”
It’s a reunion for driver and car owner, who previously worked together from 2009 through 2012. During that span, Pittman and Heffner won 35 410 sprint car wins together and were a force to be reckoned with each time they unloaded at the race track.
Among Pittman’s victories in the Heffner Racing Enterprises sprinter are 14 victories at historic Williams Grove Speedway, site of the $75,000-to-win Champion Racing Oil National Open on Oct. 2-3.
Pittman topped the Mitch Smith Memorial at Williams Grove twice, won the Keystone Cup in 2010 and beat the Outlaws at the half-mile paper clip in 2011.
That past success has Heffner confident that he and Pittman will be able to rekindle their past magic and contend for wins quickly, even though it has been many years since Heffner took his team on the road.
“We’ve both been struggling on our own, with our own teams, but Daryn and I always went well together, and I think we can again,” Heffner said. “It would be huge if we can win together, but if we get one win, I’m going to want another one, and then another. We’re definitely not planning on settling.
“If we can go out here during the last month and these 14 races or whatever it is, have some fun and be competitive … you know, be serious and look for a win, I think we can find the right combination,” he continued. “It may take us a few races and it might not happen right away, but I think we’ll be on the right track pretty quickly.”
In addition to Heffner and crew chief Heath Moyle, longtime mechanic Kale Kahne — who helped Pittman to the World of Outlaws championship in 2013 — will head back out on the road and join the No. 72 team for Pittman’s closing act.
That’s an extra piece that has Heffner eager to get going.
“It’s almost like a big family reunion,” Heffner quipped with a laugh.
Added Pittman, “When I talked to Kale and had started telling him that I was planning on retiring, he brought up a desire to come out with me and finish off the year together. Work was finishing up for him at home and he wanted to help out where he could. It just made sense, if he was going to be involved, to try and put some sort of a deal together … and now here we are.”
Pittman got his season back on the right foot by snatching his first World of Outlaws win of the year at Lawton Speedway, the same place where he earned his first sprint car victory, on Friday night.
Heffner, meanwhile, is still seeking his first win of the year with the No. 72 after a lackluster stint earlier in the season with former driver Ryan Smith.
While the pair agreed trophies are a goal for both of them, the duo also wants to get back to having fun at the race track as well — considering there hasn’t been near as much enjoyment through the summer months for either side.
“We’re very competitive as a team, but we also want to go out there and have some fun, because I don’t think either one of us had been having too much of that up to now,” Heffner noted. “I know I hadn’t been having fun in the situation that I was in … just by not winning races with a great bunch of guys in the last situation. When you’re not winning races, things get really monotonous.
“If we can go out there and be competitive with the World of Outlaws guys, that will be a big deal for us,” he continued. “I’m just a small team compared to most of those guys. But I do think we have the components that are necessary to compete and to contend for wins. I’m excited to try, that’s for sure.”
Heffner was quick to point out that he and Pittman have had no conversations about any plans for 2021 in putting their current driving arrangement together.
However, he added, that doesn’t mean such a conversation couldn’t happen later.
“I hope this isn’t Daryn’s last hurrah,” Heffner admitted. “But neither of us have looked beyond these next 14 races at this point. We’re just focused on what’s right in front of us for now.”