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Ron Silk powers to another season-opening NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour win at New Smyrna Speedway

NEW SMYRNA BEACH, Fla. — Ron Silk used a skillful level of aggression to beat rival Justin Bonsignore in last year’s NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour season-opener at Florida’s New Smyrna Speedway.

He used a similar brand of boldness on another championship-caliber rival, Austin Beers, to win Saturday night’s New Smyrna Beach Area Visitors Bureau 200. The defending Modified Tour champion now has consecutive New Smyrna wins on his resume.

The triumph was fitting for a driver who loves to race at this particular half-mile oval.

“I love this place. It’s my favorite race track, so it feels good to back up the win last year,” said Silk, the 39-year-old from Norwalk, Connecticut. “Hopefully we can keep it rolling.”

Silk noted his win was a team effort, and strategy played a massive role in the result.

When the field took the green for the final restart of the race with 10 laps to go, Silk lined up third behind Beers and fellow Modified Tour veteran Doug Coby.

Contact between Beers and Coby entering Turn 1 on the restart allowed Silk to slide into second. A couple laps later, Silk found himself diving under Beers and taking the lead. He was able to do so forcefully thanks in part to tires that were about 20 laps fresher than those of Beers.

Bonsignore mounted a charge at Silk over the final couple laps but couldn’t catch the No. 16, settling for second.

“He got through traffic and had an eight car-length gap on us,” Bonsignore said of Silk. “I was giving it everything I had, but I was still too tight on that set of tires. Coming to the white flag, I found something in Turns 3-4. I wrapped the yellow line, and it hooked really good. It was just too little, too late at that point.”

Coby ended up third despite his slide with 10 laps to go. Patrick Emerling salvaged a fourth-place finish after an incident on Lap 127, and Trevor Catalano landed fifth in his Whelen Modified Tour debut.

Beers, Tyler Rypkema, Andrew Krause, Jake Johnson and Matt Hirschman rounded out the top 10.

There was a point in the second half of Saturday night’s race when Krause appeared to have the best car in the field. He stormed to the lead on Lap 115, passing Silk to get there. All was going well until a pit-stop error cost Krause his track position.

Craig Lutz, who set the fastest time in final practice and qualified on the pole, was the car to beat through most of the first half of the race. However, he lost the lead to Silk on Lap 80, and despite getting back to as high as second, he was never able to return to the lead. Lutz scored a 12th-place finish.

The New Smyrna Beach Area Visitors Bureau 200 was slowed by seven cautions, the last of which resulted in a red flag as officials cleaned up fluid on the track after a Tyler Catalano spin.

The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour gets a lengthy break before its second race of the 2024 season, a visit to Richmond Raceway on Friday, March 29.

Story - Tadd Haislop/NASCAR

Photo - FURY Race Cars



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