Story By: KYLE SOUZA / JDV PRODUCTIONS – SCARBOROUGH, ME – For the first time since 2005, NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour teams returned to Beech Ridge Motor Speedway on Saturday, and the finish of the Rumble at the Ridge 200 made it well worth the wait.
Former Whelen Modified Tour champion Ron Silk chased down Modified ace Matt Hirschman and passed him for the top spot inside the final 10 laps to score his 16th career win and first in his debut at the oval. In front of a strong crowd at the flat, tricky, Maine track, Silk celebrated with his Stuart Motorsports team. The win helped them put a bit of a rough start to the year for their standards behind them in fine fashion.
The race was the third and final of the Whelen Modified Tour season promoted by Josh Vanada and his JDV Productions team.
“I knew I was a little bit better than Matt coming to the last restart and I got a terrible restart and made it harder than I needed to,” Silk said. “I tried rolling the top, but it was going to be tough to make that work. We were able to get under him into turn three and it was a good, hard race. It always feels good to get back to Victory Lane. I’m really happy for my team to get them back here.”
Silk started seventh and wasn’t a factor for the lead for nearly the entire distance. Hirschman started from the Mayhew Tools Dominator pole, and led the most laps. A mix of differing strategies affected the outcome — as teams were allowed to change four Hoosier tires, but most elected to take them at different times.
In fact, in the middle of the race, Stafford, Connecticut, native Woody Pitkat took the top spot after bolting on fresh tires and led the middle portion of the event. It was Hirschman, though, who charged to the front in the final laps. He took the lead back in the final 50 circuits, and led until Silk got around him in the final laps.
Hirschman was happy with his second-place effort, as the driver who is known for tire conservation came up just short. Hirschman now has two finishes inside the top-two in his two starts of the Whelen Modified Tour season, including a victory at Oswego Speedway in June in another event promoted by JDV Productions.
“The handling just got tight late, I had a better car the first half of the race compared to the second and that’s not the way you want it to go,” Hirschman said. “But it was good racing. I’m glad we came here today. The first time I’ve ever raced here — and I enjoyed that. We performed well, led a lot of laps, and just didn’t keep it all the way to the end.”
Patrick Emerling was third, rebounding for a mid-race pit road mistake to close the gap to Whelen Modified Tour championship points leader Justin Bonsignore with four races left in the season.
“We improved our car a lot on the pit stops there,” Emerling said. “We were knocking on the door of Matt 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.”
Matt Swanson was fourth, with Doug Coby completing the top-five. Anthony Nocella finished sixth, followed by Kyle Bonsignore, Justin Bonsignore, Kyle Ebersole and J.B. Fortin.
The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour will return to the track on Saturday, September 4, at Oswego Speedway in New York. The series will compete in four consecutive races, on four consecutive weekends, to crown the 2021 champion.