Much like his sponsor Bitcoin, Daniel Silvestri’s 2021 CARS Tour season has been filled with peaks and valleys.
Following a decent ninth place run at Langley Speedway, Silvestri was optimistic that he could take his momentum to the moon with a strong performance at his home track of Dominion Raceway.
Silvestri accomplished that goal by dominating the Radley Chevrolet 125 and holding off a late charge from Mike Looney for his first career CARS Tour victory on Saturday.
“It’s amazing to win with so many family and friends here,” Silvestri said. “There was a little bit of extra pressure but we had a great car and I focused on what I was doing to bring it home.”
Racing tough competition at Dominion is familiar territory for Silvestri, who constantly battled Peyton Sellers at the track during the 2020 season before finishing second to him in the track’s Late Model Stock standings.
Transitioning over to the CARS Tour’s Late Model Stock division has proven to be more of a challenge for Silvestri. In his six starts prior to Dominion, Silvestri’s best finish was a fifth at Hickory Motor Speedway.
Despite initially being unable to keep pace with former champions like Bobby McCarty and Jared Fryar, Silvestri showcased his confidence with navigating Dominion’s fast surface on Saturday afternoon by qualifying just nine one-thousandths behind the polesitter in Looney.
Silvestri took the lead away from Looney and dominated the first 80 laps until Looney started to put more pressure on the rookie as the race began to wind down.
After briefly losing the top spot to Looney on the final restart, Silvestri had to simultaneously manage his equipment and monitor Looney in his rearview mirror in order to end his evening in victory lane.
“We had them covered during those first few stages but [Looney] pushed hard and showed me what he had at the end,” Silvestri said. “I was a little worried because he was the only car that could stay with me. He drove the absolute wheels of his car but that’s why he’s one of the best.”
Once Silvestri began to pull away from him in the closing laps, Looney successfully held off a fast Kaden Honeycutt for a disappointing yet satisfying second place finish.
“It was a great night,” Looney said. “We obviously wanted to win but we didn’t have the best car. Daniel Silvestri did. Hats off to that entire team and I am proud of that young man and his family. Thankfully we got the fuel gremlins off our back but we needed one more adjustment.”
With track position being imperative at Dominion, Silvestri knew that the key to holding off a veteran like Looney for the win was to keep his car on the bottom and make Looney use up his equipment.
“You have to be low on the exit of the corner,” Silvestri said. “I think [Looney and I] both burned our right front off a little bit but I was able to get the drive that we needed and get all of those rear tires. We really found something here and I hope it translates to Hickory.”
Silvestri is confident that he can keep stringing together more consistent performances even with challenging tracks like Wake County Speedway and Rockingham Speedway ahead of him on the schedule.
Although the territory for Silvestri is unchartered, he is determined to reach far beyond the moon during the second half of the season.
1. Daniel Silvestri
2. Mike Looney
3. Kaden Honeycutt
4. Jared Fryar
5. Justin Johnson
6. Mini Tyrrell
7. Bobby McCarty
8. Mason Diaz
9. Sam Yarbrough
10. Brandon Pierce
11. Conner Jones
12. Grant Thompson
13. Tyler Matthews
14. Joe Valento
15. Jonathan Shafer
16. Terry Carroll
17. Rusty Skewes
18. Craig Moore
19. Layne Riggs
20. Jonathan Findley
21. Deac McCaskill
22. Sam Butler