Story By: ADAM FENWICK / NASCAR – WALL TOWNSHIP, NJ – Modifieds have front bumpers for a reason, and Ron Silk put his to good use Saturday night at Wall Stadium Speedway.
The 40-year-old racing veteran used the chrome horn to move friend and rival Justin Bonsignore out of his way with fewer than five laps to go in the Jersey Shore 150 to earn his third NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour victory of the season.
“I think we were all pretty much sliding around there at the end,” Silk said in Victory Lane after his 20th career Modified Tour victory. “It seemed like I had maybe a little bit better car than Justin, but he fought hard on the restart before that. Luckily I was able to get him back there at the end.”
RELATED: Complete results from the Jersey Shore 150
The day didn’t start off on the right foot for Silk, who qualified 11th in the 23-car field. That meant he had a lot of work to do if he wanted to race for the victory at the third-mile oval, but he was up to the task.
Silk was in the top five before Lap 50 and took the lead for the first time on Lap 90 from pole-sitter Austin Beers.
Six-time Modified Tour champion Doug Coby appeared to have a faster car than that of Silk and nearly got by him with 42 laps to go, but contact with the slower car of Anthony Nocella took Coby out of contention just as he was making the pass for the lead.
With Coby out of the picture, it was down to Silk and Bonsignore, the latter of whom was making his 200th Modified Tour start.
Bonsignore was able to get around Silk on a restart with 21 laps left, but the race was slowed multiple times by cautions, one of which took out Beers and Eric Goodale on the backstretch.
The final caution of the evening waved with 10 laps left with Bonsignore still leading Silk, setting up a five-lap dash to the checkered flag.
Bonsignore was able to pull clear of Silk through Turns 1-2, but Silk used his bumper to move Silk out of the way entering Turn 3 to regain the race lead.
Silk led the remainder of the race, though Bonsignore did everything in his power to return the favor. He gave Silk a big shot to the bumper with three laps left in Turn 3, but it wasn’t enough to regain the lead.
“We were throwing haymakers at each other,” Bonsignore said. “It’s been like that all year. We’ve been really putting on a lot of good battles. Nobody has crashed; it’s about as aggressive as you can get without crashing each other.
“I used him up down in [Turn] 1, and I thought I got him maybe far enough back. He just lined my bumper up getting into [Turn] 3, and that was it. He just drove me up the hill, and I couldn’t get back to him.”
Silk’s victory allows him to further pad his advantage at the top of the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour standings as he continues his pursuit of his second series championship.
“It’s always good to be on a little bit of a win streak, and while you’re leading the points, it’s good,” Silk said. “It’s really early for points. We just want to keep trying to get some wins.”
Eddie McCarthy earned a career-best finish in third, with Anthony Sesely and Andrew Krause completing the top five.
Coby finished sixth, followed by Matt Hirschman, Blake Barney, Beers and Dave Sapienza.
A replay of the Jersey Shore 150 will broadcast on Saturday, July 15 at 11 a.m. ET on CNBC.
The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour returns to action next Saturday, July 15 with the running of the Mohegan Sun 100 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. The green flag is scheduled to wave shortly after 6 p.m. ET.