Despite last season only consisting of nine events, Craig Lutz was able to find his way to victory lane twice, with six top-10 finishes to place fourth in the standings. As he gets ready for his eighth year on the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour, the driver of the No. 46 shared his thoughts with NEWS FROM THE PITS.
ASHLEY MCCUBBIN: What are your thoughts going into the season?
CRAIG LUTZ: There’s a lot to looking forward to after last season, just having a full schedule with 14 races is something to look forward to. I think if everything plays out right, it should be a good season for us, but it can change each and every week.
ASHLEY: Obviously, we’re starting off the year in a big way with the series’ return to the Martinsville paperclip. What are your thoughts looking ahead to the event?
CRAIG: I’m really looking forward to it. It’s one of those places that you always hear people talking about, but I’ve never got the chance to race there. But to be able to get the chance to race there with the Cup guys – any time you can to do that and under the lights – it should be a really cool race.
ASHLEY: We’ve seen you improve each year behind the wheel getting better and better. What’s it going to take to be a champion this season?
CRAIG: I think it’s just more or less a team effort. It takes so much to be able to run up front each and every week. Russell Gooddale and Jeff, we have top-notch equipment all the time. It’s just having good luck and the right scenarios and you need a good crew each and every week, good pit stops, and me making smart moves at the end of the race. I think our team has just grown so much together over the last two or three years, and to be even in the talk for a championship is really cool.
ASHLEY: What is about the modifieds that stands out so much to you in wanting to be a part of the class?
CRAIG: It’s just the prestige of the Whelen Modified Tour and to be able to win a race was a dream come true. It’s such a big step in your career to win a race on the Whelen Modified Tour and if you win multiple, it puts your footprint on the series. It’s just hard racing, and you go from quarter-mile bullrings to the mile-track in Loudon; there’s just so much variety every week. It’s just competition on the tour is amazing. All that is a couple reasons why I love running modifieds.
ASHLEY: How did you get started in racing initially?
CRAIG: My dad used to race a bunch of cars every Saturday night at Riverhead Raceway, so me and my two brothers used to go every Saturday and that’s all we ever wanted to do. Then I told my dad when I was really young I wanted to go racing and started racing go-karts when I was five-years-old. So it just progressed each and every year in trying to get better and run bigger cars and more competitive races so that’s how it really got started.
ASHLEY: Outside of the modifieds, is there something that you want to get behind the wheel of?
CRAIG: Honestly, the modifieds are the best car, but if I ever had an opportunity to race in a series above that, it’d be awesome, ideal, but I’m happy with where I’m at and what I’m doing. Hopefully nothing changes anytime soon.
ASHLEY: I know we opened it up by talking about Martinsville’s return to the schedule. Is there another track that you’d like to see on the schedule?
CRAIG: I wish Thompson could come back on the schedule. After the last couple of years, we’ve had really good runs and I always looked forward to going there. This year, they went a different route so hopefully one of these days, one of these years, they come back sooner than later. I don’t know – to be honest. I would say Martinsville was the number one track but now that’s on the schedule so maybe Waterford. I ran there for several years and it was always a fun race, so if there was one more, then I’d say Waterford.