NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour

Ron Silk uses late-race heroics to win in Modified Tour’s return to Beech Ridge

By Davey Segal |

He may not be a fighter, but Ron Silk proved he was ready to rumble late Saturday night, passing Matt Hirschman with less than 10 laps remaining to win the Rumble at the Ridge 200 at Maine’s Beech Ridge Speedway.

The win was Silk’s first of the season and 16th of the veteran’s career, coming in a season that’s been up and down for the No. 85 Kevin Stuart-led machine.

“Pretty damn good,” Silk said with a smirk of how he was feeling in Victory Lane. “We had a great car the whole race. I knew right from the beginning that we were going to have a car that had a shot to win. Just pumped for all my guys to get them back to Victory Lane. … A great night for us.”

RELATED: Race results

Like most of the field, it was Silk’s first trip to the third-mile Scarborough oval, being the Whelen Modified Tour’s first event at the facility in over 15 years.

But he and eventual runner-up Hirschman made it seem like they were veterans at the track, slowly conserving their equipment while running inside the top five, preparing for a late-race battle.

Known on the tour as the best of the best when it comes to tire conservation, Hirschman led the opening 62 laps from the pole and dominated most of the event. He just couldn’t hold off the hard-charging Silk in the closing stages.

The second-place finish for Hirschman is his worst result of 2021 — because it’s only his second start of the season. He’s chosen to enter only a handful of races on the tour, and after winning Oswego and another strong showing at Beech Ridge, explained why he and the No. 60 team decided to Rumble at the Ridge of all places.

“A lot of people ask, ‘Well why’d you come here?’ The answer to be honest is it’s just a different race track,” Hirschman said. “I like to see different places on the schedule, get to go to new tracks. And for the first time here we did pretty well. We just gotta be a little bit better and hopefully we have the opportunity to come back here again.”

Beating Hirschman gives Silk even an added ounce of satisfaction with this particular win.

“It was exciting racing there with Matt at the end,” he said. “Feels good to beat him. You beat the best. We got four more (races) to go and we’re gonna go and try win some more.”

After losing a lap due to the right rear tire falling off the hub under caution, Patrick Emerling came home third for his seventh top five of the year. Still trailing Justin Bonsignore in the overall points standings, the driver of the No. 07 thinks if a late caution came out, they would’ve been able to challenge for their third victory of 2021.

“We improved upon our car a lot on the pit stops there,” he said. “We were knocking on the door of Matty (Hirschman) and I think we were the fastest car on the track at the end. Good points day for us. First time here, we can’t be disappointed salvaging a pretty solid day over a pretty major issue we had in the pits and getting ourselves trapped a lap down.”

Entering only his fourth race of the year, Matt Swanson came home fourth, his first top 10 and best result this season. Doug Coby, who was one of only two drivers with prior NWMT experience at Beech Ridge entering the 200-lap event, rebounded from a mid-race spin that put him a lap down to finish fifth.

Anthony Nocella, Kyle Bonsignore, Justin Bonsignore, Kyle Ebersole and J.B Fortin completed the top 10 finishers.

Despite only his second finish outside the top five this season, defending series champion Justin Bonsignore holds his points lead over Emerling with just four races remaining on the slate. Entering the event third in the standings, Jon McKennedy finished 16th, 13 laps down with front-end issues.

Up next for the Whelen Modified Tour is a trip to Owesgo Speedway on Sept. 4 for the Toyota Mod Classic 150. Earlier this year, Hirschman was victorious at the 5/8-mile, with Bonsignore taking the win in 2019.

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