Stafford Springs, CT — As the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour heads to Stafford Motor Speedway on August 3rd for the 22nd Annual Stafford 150, defending champion Ronnie Silk is looking to keep pace with Doug Coby in the chase for this year’s championship. While Silk has posted five top-5 finishes in the first six races of the season, Coby and his team have been even better with top-8 finishes in all 6 races thusfar. With the Tour making a stop at Riverhead before they return to Stafford, Silk is currently 17 points behind Coby, but he and his Ed Partridge owned T.S. Haulers, Inc. team are determined to keep the pressure onby running up front and winning races.
“That’s just the way it works,” said Silk. “It’s not easy, if it was the whole field would be in the points battle. Doug and his guys have been doing a great job. They’ve had a really good car at every race and Doug has done a great job driving. We can’t control anything that Doug and his guys do, so we just have to try our best to win as many of these races as we can or come away with a top-5 finish. If you can do that, things normally work out. You have to take it one race at a time. If you want to be there at the end of the year for the points, you have to finish up front every race. Doug has been doing really well but we’ve put pressure on ourselves to go out and have a shot at winning every race. Our strategy isn’t going to change much, we’re going to try to be fast and win races. We haven’t quite got our cars where we want them, there’s quite a bit of room for improvement on our end as a team. We’re going to keep working on it and keep on trying the best we can.”
With Silk looking to keep the pressure on Coby and his team in the race for the championship, Stafford is a track where Silk can do that. While Coby has won the first two races of the season at Stafford, Silk is the only other driver to have top-5 finishes, a third and a fourth place finish, in each of the first two Stafford races with. Silk says there is more to get out of his car and he feels confident about his chances in the Stafford 150.
“I feel good about our chances,” said Silk. “Fourth and third are pretty good finishes and we haven’t had the car the way we needed to have it at Stafford. To come out of there with a fourth and a third were pretty good days for us. We’re trying a little bit of different stuff, which hopefully will work for us. I’m pretty confident we’ll go there and have a good shot at winning.”
One of the different things that Silk and his team will try at Stafford will be under the hood of his #6 machine. Silk and his team used the Whelen Modified Tour Spec Engine for the first time this season two weeks ago at Loudon and they qualified on the pole and finished .003 seconds behind Mike Stefanik in a photo finish for the win. Corey LaJoie had a spec engine in his car for the CARQUEST Tech-Net Spring Sizzler in April at Stafford and LaJoie qualified second and ran with the leaders before suspension problems sidelined him halfway through the race.
“I think we’re going to run our spec engine the rest of the season except for Riverhead,” said Silk. “It worked good for us at Loudon, it’s definitely a more affordable engine, and it makes sense for my car owner Ed Partridge to run it. Loudon was the first time we ran it and it worked real well there so we’re going to stick with it. Ed has had one for about 5 years now and we’ve run it on and off and we’ve kind of had questions about it. We’re going to see if it’s the way for us to go or not. It is a bit of a gamble, we’ve run well with our built engines. When you’re a team that runs up front most of the time on a consistent basis, it’s never a good time to try anything so we might as well give it a shot now. It’s worked out for us pretty well so far and hopefully it will keep on working out.”
With one pole position already under his belt with the spec engine under his hood, Silk will be looking to put his car up front again during qualifying for the Stafford 150.
“Qualifying will be important, but not quite as important as the 125 in years past where nobody pits and everyone was on the same strategy,” said Silk. “In the 150, if you have a bad qualifying run but you have a good car, you can do some different things to get around it. You can short pit and then wait for everyone else to pit and then be ahead of them, but I still think it’s a lot easier to have a good day if you start up front.”
In the 10 NASCAR WMT races held at Stafford since the 2010 season, the farthest back a winner has started was Bobby Santos, III, who started 10th when he won the 2010 CARQUEST Fall Final 150. In 2011, all four Stafford race winners started 3rd or higher and Coby has started 7th and 5th in his two Stafford wins this season. A good qualifying effort will put Silk one step closer to putting his car in victory lane at the end of 150 laps, which is just what he has in mind as he fights for the championship.
“The championship is our goal, but it’s still way too early,” said Silk. “We’re not chasing points right now, you can really drive yourself crazy thinking about nothing but points. We’re trying to win, to run up front, and with a couple of races to go we’ll start worrying about points. We obviously don’t want to do anything stupid and knock ourselves out of the points chase, right now we’re worried about winning.”
Tickets for the 22nd Annual Stafford 150 are available and on sale now at the Speedway Box Office. Tickets are priced at $33.00 for adult general admission tickets, $5.00 for children ages 6-14, and children ages 5 and under are admitted free of charge when accompanied by an adult. Reserved seating will be priced at $35.00 for all ages. All ticket prices include 10% CT Admission Tax. As always, Stafford Motor Speedway offers free parking with overnight parking available.
For more information, contact the Stafford Motor Speedway track office at 860-684-2783 or visit us on the web at www.staffordspeedway.com.
Sources: Scott Running/Stafford Motor Speedway PR