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NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour

Silk Prevails In Penultimate NWMT Showdown at Thompson

A late-restart slip by Justin Bonsignore gift-wrapped Silk’s fifth win of the season and opened some breathing room in the title battle with one race remaining.

Ron Silk was flawless in the final 40 laps to pick up his 22nd career NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour win in Sunday's World Series 150 at Thompson Speedway. (STS/Jeff Brown)

All Ron Silk needed was a lucky break. On the final restart, it looked like his strongest competitor fell victim to one.

And as Justin Bonsignore’s hopes faded in the rear view mirror, Silk held on for a crucial victory.

The 2011 NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour champion took a step toward securing the 2023 title with his win in Sunday’s World Series 150, the cornerstone of Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park’s season finale.

Sunday’s showdown set the stage for the NWMT’s own finale in a few weeks at Martinsville Speedway, with only Silk and three-time champ Bonsignore mathematically alive in a title race dictated partially by mid-season attrition over a busy seventeen-race romp.

Bonsignore carried a slim advantage to Thompson, and with qualifying scrapped due to weather, he and Silk brought the field to green to open the afternoon’s ambitious racing card. Silk poked his nose out front for the first lap, but rising star Austin Beers took over from there, showing the way through a fast-paced green-flag stint.

Jake Johnson nearly brought the Boehler family’s “Ole’ Blue” back to victory lane, but settled for second. (STS/Jeff Brown)

Jake Johnson slipped by Beers with the race approaching halfway, with Bonsignore following in second. Johnson was out front when Anthony Sesely spun to bring out the race’s first caution flag on lap 82.

A poor pit stop for the Boehler Racing Enterprises team mired Johnson back in the top ten for the restart, though, with Bonsignore coming out ahead of defending race winner Eric Goodale and early leader Beers. Silk, who had slipped to eighth before the caution, emerged fourth and powered to second on the restart.

Hard racing in traffic brought Johnson and Beers together, with Eric Berndt sending Beers around to bring out another yellow flag. Out front, Bonsignore and Silk swapped the lead on restarts. But it was Silk settling into the top spot with the laps winding down, until a crash for Tyler Rypkema set up a critical restart with 12 laps to go.

As Silk brought the field to green, Bonsignore’s car stumbled, holding up the inside line and letting Silk escape out front. Johnson quickly claimed second, but even as he closed the gap on Silk ever slightly, he could not find a way around the Norwalk, Conn. veteran.

As Silk takes off on the final restart, Bonsignore stumbles, stacking up the inside line and costing the title contender valuable ground in the championship race. (STS/Jeff Brown)

Silk stretched his advantage to 0.374 seconds as he crossed under the checkered flag to win his 22nd career NWMT race and his sixth at Thompson.

Austin Beers flexed some muscle early on, but a mid-race skirmish relegated the rising star to tenth at the end. (STS/Jeff Brown)

Johnson, who had the Boehlers’ “Ole’ Blue” in position for its first Tour win in ages, finished a season-best second after leading 22 laps.

Goodale came home third, matching a summer podium finish at Thompson. Kyle Bonsignore overcame a mid-race spin to finish fourth, and Bobby Santos III rounded out the top five.

Anthony Nocella finished sixth, his second sixth-place since returning to his own car a month ago. Andrew Krause was seventh across the line, edging out Craig Lutz. Woody Pitkat brought Stan Mertz’ car home ninth in the car owner’s final start, while early leader Beers fought back to tenth.

As for Justin Bonsignore? A missed shift, a rare gaffe by the points leader, sent him plummeting through the lineup on the final restart. Bonsignore raced his way back to 13th, but with Silk at the head of the field, it simply wasn’t good enough.

And the error has gravity. With one race left to settle the championship, Silk now leads by 13 points. Not an insurmountable margin, but one that requires misfortune to strike back.

In his third year with Haydt-Yannone Racing—and his second full-time on the NWMT with the operation—Silk is finally realizing the young team’s potential. (STS/Jeff Brown)

Unfortunately for Silk, his peak years on the Tour have coincided with a veritable juggernaut. Only four drivers have earned the title of champion since Silk’s coronation, with Doug Coby winning six titles and Justin Bonsignore three in that eleven-year stretch.

In that time, Silk has finished second once and third three times, along with three seasons where he did not run for points.

Silk has largely avoided misfortune this year. At Monadnock, an early crash and a flat tire left him fighting from the back, but a short field meant Silk’s troubles only netted him a 12th-place finish. It is his only finish worse than seventh all year.

Another top-ten performance at Martinsville could very well seal the deal on a long-awaited second NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour title.

Unofficial Results
NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour World Series 150 presented by
Lee USA Speedway

1. (16) Ron Silk
2. (3) Jake Johnson
3. (58) Eric Goodale
4. (22) Kyle Bonsignore
5. (44) Bobby Santos III
6. (92) Anthony Nocella
7. (24) Andrew Krause
8. (82) Craig Lutz
9. (6) Woody Pitkat
10. (64) Austin Beers
11. (89) Matt Swanson
12. (21) Anthony Bello
13. (51) Justin Bonsignore
14. (36) Dave Sapienza
15. (19) Anthony Sesely
16. (32) Tyler Rypkema
17. (50) Ronnie Williams
18. (26) Max Zachem
19. (18) Ken Heagy
20. (34) J.B. Fortin
21. (06) Sam Rameau
22. (01) Melissa Fifield
23. (1) Eric Berndt
24. (59) Brett Meservey
25. (2) J.R. Bertuccio

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Jeff Brown is a contributor to Short Track Scene. A native of New Hampshire and a long-time fan of New England racing, Brown provides a fan's perspective as he follows New England's regional Late Model touring series.

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