Column By: MARTY CZEKALA / RPW – OSWEGO, NY – The past 14 days have been full of success for Ron Silk.
Two weeks ago, he scored his first win of the season at Beech Ridge in Maine.
Saturday night, Silk scored his first pole in five years and drove away from the field in the final 90 laps to pick up his second win of ’21 at “The Steel Palace” of Oswego Speedway.
“I don’t really know what to say. It doesn’t normally work like that where you win the pole, lead that much of the race, and win it. Unbelievable,” Silk told RPW post-race.
Silk and Patrick Emerling brought the field to green for 150 circuits. Drivers would remain 2×2 on lap one, and Emerling edged the former. Silk would drift up a little in turn one to lead over Justin Bonsignore. Lap 3 down the back chute, Bonsignore would get a huge run on exit to get by and clear Silk in turn three. Emerling, Doug Coby, and Matt Hirschman would have the rest of the top five early in the going.
Early on, the field would remain in a single file freight train running each other’s lines and trying to get a draft on the car in front or pressure them into making a mistake. Silk would try to peek low on the back straight in lap 11, but Bonsignore would defend well. Emerling would try to get P2 in turn three but had to back out of it to avoid a collision. The pass for Silk would be completed through on lap 14-15 as Silk slingshot his way by off of turn four to clear to the point in one.
Silk would consistently lead Bonsignore by about five car lengths until the first yellow flew on lap 36 for Mike Leaty spinning in turn three.
On the restart, Silk held serve, but in turn three, a mess occurred. Hirschman looked inside Coby for the fourth position. Still, the hole closed, sending Hirschman around, leading to a parking lot. Woody Pitkat, Kyle Bonsignore, Bobby Santos, Mike Leaty, Walter Sutcliffe, and Tommy Catalano were involved. The latter took the worst damage after Leaty checked up late, flying into him.
Going back to green on lap 49, Justin Bonsignore would have a better exit in both sets of corners to lead on the restart. Chuck Hossfeld would also become an early contender making his way up to P4 with an outside pass on Coby. This green flag run wouldn’t long until turn three turned into calamity corner once again. Austin Beers would plow into the foam blocks creating a snowstorm in September. This would eventually become the final yellow of the race.
Silk would look for the lead on lap 64, but Bonsignore played defense, arcing better on entry into one. It would take until just before halfway for Silk to give a tap to Bonsignore’s bumper and put the pressure on. Silk tried to look again as the cross flags flew, entering one, but it didn’t work. Next lap? 89 laps to go, the final restart would have Bonsignore holding serve on Silk. Pass complete, and Silk would go to the point and keep increasing the lead on Bonsignore.
“His car fired off better than mine,” Silk said on restarting next to Bonsignore. “There was no reason to push the issue that early in the race. I knew if we would’ve gone green for a while, I would be able to back underneath him and pass him. Got in front and had a sizeable lead and just was hoping we didn’t have a yellow.”
As the longest run developed, Patrick Emerling started fading back big time. On lap 98, he was not matching race pace, getting a little loose on exit, and fell back to 9th, with 31 to go, back to 15th, and eventually end up two laps down. This plays a huge factor in the championship. Coming into the night, Justin Bonsignore held an eight-point lead on Patrick Emerling. With a 3rd place finish from the former and Emerling coming home 15th, both leading laps. Per Racing Reference, the gap increases to 20 markers with three races to go.
“All of a sudden, it was a flick of the switch,” Emerling commented. “The car just went south really quick. Just weird. We’ve had good long-run speed all year. The car handled well; it wasn’t a balance issue. We’ll see what happens. Anything can happen. We just got to bring our A-game back and focus on winning races.”
“They needed a pit stop just like the rest of us. It’s a plus for us tonight. I hate that they- you don’t wish bad luck on anybody. It’s getting that time of year where you do appreciate you gain some points on people. It was a good night out front. We’ll go into the next three and stay hungry and try to win these races (Richmond, Riverhead, Stafford),” Bonsignore said on lapping Emerling.
Many of the front runners did not pit at all in the 150 lap feature, which led to worn tires and drivers trying to find grip.
Another driver who would make moves would be Matt Hirschman. After being involved in the multi-car accident on lap 42, Hirschman made numerous pit stops to get fresher tires and repair his rear end. Eventually, he remained on the lead lap. His tires came to life with 40 left to break into the top 10 after Tyler Rypkema bobbled and immediately took 9th from Emerling after that. 15 laps to go, Hirschman charged up to P4 and was a full straightaway behind third-place Coby. Nine to go, he broke into the podium, passing Coby. Two laps later, Hirschman took second after a bobble by Bonsignore off two. The potential comeback for the ages would not come as the yellow didn’t fly, giving the win to Ronnie Silk.
“It helped a little bit. We did something to try to get us by, and in the end, it was making a difference. Ran out of laps and didn’t catch the 85. They had a good enough car,” Hirschman explained.
Hirschman also commented on getting spun.
“I got chopped going into three and ended up getting clipped and damaged the back. Would’ve liked not to have to go through the events we had to do to still come back, but glad it wasn’t the end.”
Tonight’s race marked the most lead changes in a Whelen Modified Tour event at Oswego with eight lead changes, the stat per Racing Reference.
Friday night, the Tour heads to Richmond Raceway for Virginia Is For Racing Lovers 150. It is the first time the series is at Richmond since 2002.
For more content with Bonsignore, Emerling, Silk, and Hirschman, in addition to a pre-race interview with Doug Coby, check out the RSN Trackside Facebook page.
Toyota Mod Classic 150
85 Ron Silk, 2. 60 Matt Hirschman (2.972s), 3. 51 Justin Bonsignore, 4. 10 Doug Coby, 5. 82 Anthony Nocella, 6. 44 Bobby Santos, 7. 24 Andrew Krause, 8. 1 Woody Pitkat, 9. 22 Kyle Bonsignore, 10. 5 Kyle Ebersole, 11. 77 Gary Putnam, 12. 58 Eric Goodale (-1L), 13. 2 Chuck Hossfeld (-1L), 14. 32 Tyler Rypkema (-1L), 15. 07 Patrick Emerling (-2L), 16. 7 Jon McKennedy (-2L), 17. 34 JB Fortin (-66L, Mechanical), 18. 01 Melissa Fifeld (-74L, Suspension), 19. 78 Walter Sutcliffe (-89L, Suspension), 20. 64 Austin Beers (-95L, crash), 21. 54 Tommy Catalano (-108L, crash), 22. 25 Mike Leaty (-109L, crash)
Polesitter: 85 Silk 121.133 mph
Lap Leader: 85 Silk 111 led