Leads Every Lap At Stafford For Fifth Career Win
Stafford, CT — Ron Silk returned to Victory Lane for the first time in a NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour race since 2009 and he did it in dominating fashion with a wire-to-wire run in the TSI Harley-Davidson 125 Friday at Stafford Motor Speedway.
Silk, who hadn’t taken a checkered flag home since winning at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on Sept. 19, 2009, led all 125 laps to collect his fifth career win in his 25th start at Stafford.
Points leader Rowan Pennink followed in second with defending Whelen Modified Tour Champion Bobby Santos third. Ted Christopher and Erick Rudolph completed the top five.
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“The car was just flawless the whole time,” Silk said. “At the beginning of practice we struggled a little bit. They worked really hard for that hour and a half, and really made the right changes.”
Following those adjustments, Silk went out last of the 31 cars in time trials and claimed his fourth career Coors Light Pole Award. Once the race began, he was rarely challenged, and at one point had nearly two seconds on the field.
The Norwalk, Conn., native became the first Whelen Modified Tour driver to win a race leading flag-to-flag since Ryan Preece did it at Riverhead (N.Y.) Raceway on Aug. 1, 2009.
With the win, Silk improved from seventh to second in points after three races.
Silk also delivered the No. 6 TS Haulers/Calverton Tree Farm Chevrolet team its third win in the last four years at Stafford. The two previous victories came with Jimmy Blewett behind the wheel.
Friday was Pennink’s third runner-up finish in a row to start the season, and it extended his lead in the standings to 51 points.
“Just ran out of time at the end there, I couldn’t quite get to Silk with the lap traffic,” Pennink said. “I’ve been saying this three weeks in a row, but hopefully we’ll make that one more position up next race.”
It was a bounce-back night for most of the rest of the top 10; Todd Szegedy, Chuck Hossfeld, Doug Coby, James Civali and Matt Hirschman. All but Hirschman suffered DNFs when the Whelen Modified Tour visited Stafford on May 1.
On the other side of the ledger were Mike Stefanik and Preece. Stefanik trailed Pennink by just 20 points following the first two races, and brought a streak of nine-straight top-five finishes into the race, but had to settle for 15th. Preece entered the race sixth in points, but suffered engine failure with five laps to go and was relegated to 24th.
The race was slowed just three times by caution with the red flag displayed during the second yellow on Lap 53 to clean up a multi-car incident.
The TSI Harley-Davidson 125 marked the 100th Whelen Modified Tour race at Stafford since the Tour’s inaugural season of 1985. Stafford’s Chief Operating Officer and General Manager Mark Arute was presented with a commemorative checkered flag prior to the race with the signatures of all 31 of the Tour drivers.
The Whelen Modified Tour will return to action with the Monadnock 200 on June 25 at Monadnock Speedway in Winchester, N.H.
Sources: Tim Southers & Jason Cunningham/NASCAR WMT PR