Story By: KYLE SOUZA / NHMS – LOUDON, NH – The second half of the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour (NWMT) season begins this Saturday, July 16 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway (NHMS), and if past years are any indication, fans aren’t going to want to miss the Whelen Manufactured in America 100 around “The Magic Mile” this weekend.
Fans can expect drafting, two- and even three-wide racing and some of the most exciting open-wheel action seen anywhere in New England.
After eight events, Ron Silk and new NWMT team Haydt-Yannone Racing are showing the way in the championship standings. The Connecticut native is the only driver to finish top-10 in every single race, which gives him a 26-point lead heading into New Hampshire.
One of Silk’s previous three New Hampshire wins came in 2011 en route to the series championship. He is hoping to use Saturday as another springboard toward the championship trophy, this time in 2022.
“The points are the year-end goal for sure,” Silk said. “But we haven’t been able to win a race yet; we want to get our car into victory lane. I’ve always run well at New Hampshire, won some races and been in position to win a lot more.”
As a track know for tight racing, drafting and possibly even the big wreck, Silk knows he will need to stay in the mix up front to hit the ultimate goal of winning this weekend, but also be smart while doing it to keep his car clean.
“We put pressure on ourselves, but we’re happy with the way things are going this year,” Silk said. “We haven’t had any mechanical problems, no mistakes. We want to keep it that way. Phil Moran (crew chief) is a great guy, easy to get along with. The cars are prepared wonderfully. Phil and Bob Tulipani work really hard to make sure we have what we need and our car owners give us everything we need to be successful.”
Outside of Silk, top contenders are expected to include three-time and defending series champion Justin Bonsignore and six-time champ Doug Coby. Bonsignore is a former New Hampshire winner who led 63 laps last year and finished second while Coby will return to the seat of the No. 7NY for Tommy Baldwin Racing. Baldwin has four wins as a car owner with three different drivers in 2022, including the last race at Wall Stadium, where Jimmy Blewett drove to victory lane. Jon McKennedy, Tommy Catalano and Eric Goodale are also inside the top-five in the current standings, with quiet, but successful, starts to their season. Will one of them capture victory for the first time Saturday?
Along with the series regulars, NASCAR Cup Series (NCS) star Corey LaJoie and former NWMT champion Ryan Preece are planning to try and steal the show. Preece, who only runs a part-time schedule due to commitments in NASCAR’s top divisions, will return driving his own ride. LaJoie, a full-time NCS driver with Spire Motorsports, will also make his fourth career NWMT start, driving with TFR Chassis in a new car. LaJoie ran a few races between 2012 and 2015 with a best finish of 14th, but did have one Whelen Southern Modified Tour win back in 2012. LaJoie will be competing in the Whelen Manufactured in America 100 as part of double duty, also running the Ambetter 301 NCS race on Sunday.
New England’s NASCAR weekend gets underway Friday, July 15 with Friday Night Dirt Duels Presented by New England Racing Fuel at The Flat Track and continues with Doubleheader Saturday on July 16, featuring the Crayon 200 NXS race and Whelen Manufactured in America 100 NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour race. The grand finale of New England’s biggest race weekend is headlined by the Ambetter 301 NASCAR Cup Series race on Sunday, July 17.