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   The Chrome Horn - NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour


New London- Waterford Speedbowl
A ‘Rock Solid Run’ for Winner Ron Silk
by Polly Reid

When you get it right, you get it right. Ron Silk of Norwalk, CT in the Danny Watts Jr. owned, Horton Avenue Materials sponsored modified took the lead on lap fifty, survived several restarts warding off threats from the likes of Jimmy Blewett and Max Zachem but nothing could deter the determined run as Silk bested a field of 28 cars for a convincing win in the NWMT The New England Cycle 161 at the New London- Waterford Speedbowl.

“We had a great car. It wasn’t great when we got here, we worked on it a lot- the guys did a great job. They’re a really fun group of guys to race with, I’m so happy to get these guys to victory lane. The car was rock solid all night.”

“For whatever reason, the Tour races, I haven’t run really well here. I won a Tri-Track race last year but for whatever reason, on the Tour, I haven’t done well. Danny (Watts) has really good stuff. He’s not lacking anything when it comes to the car. The guys are working really hard on it. I think someone new driving it has everyone pumped up- everyone’s putting in a lot of effort. I thought we’d win a race this year for sure. Did I think we’d win the third one? Maybe not. I’m just really happy for those guys.”

Solid restarts turned out to be vital in The New England Cycle Center 161. “That was the only part of the race where my car wasn’t great,” said Silk about the restarts. “It wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t great. If I was going to get beat, that is where I was going to get beat.

Then after a few laps, the car was so good, I could just kind of drive away and start pedaling a little bit. Max ran me clean, Jimmy ran me clean, it was good racing there with Eric early on to get the lead. I think I surprised him when I went out there that early- I was really confident in the car. At that point, there was a four or five car length gap behind me where it was like if you were going to try it, this is the time to try it. If it doesn’t work, you can get back in line.”

Max Zachem of Preston, CT in the Lu-Mac’s Package Store, VWS sponsored modified finished a career high second with Jimmy Blewett in the Starrett sponsored Mystic Missile crossing for third with Jeff Goodale of Riverhead, NY fourth and Robbie Summers of Manchester, CT fifth.

Qualifying fifth, Silk gained a spot by a restart on lap fifteen. Another caution kept the field close and Silk was in third by lap twenty-nine. In probably the longest green flag run of the night, Silk passed Brendon Bock for second and set his sights on Coors Light pole winner and leader Eric Goodale.

Side by side with Goodale, Silk powered on the outside and as the green run continued, Silk completed the pass on lap fifty to become the new leader of the night.

At the half way mark of The New England Cycle 161, Silk at the point with Eric Goodale second, Jimmy Blewett third, Brendon Bock fourth and Craig Lutz fifth, the top five would change when Lutz became the next caution on lap eighty- six with a right front flat.

While Blewett was there to challenge Silk on the restart, the Watts machine was dialed in and Silk once again pulled from the pack. Meanwhile, a heated battle for second was brewing between Blewett and Zachem who had passed Goodale for third. The field settled into single file with Silk stretching his lead from the pack only to be once again, lured back in for a caution on lap 117. Three more cautions for a total of ten for the evening kept Silk on his toes with restarts. But the new driver, team combination of Silk, car owner Danny Watts, Jr with crew chief Buddy Loecher was not to be denied and in only their third race of the season captured a determined victory. The win marks Silk’s tenth career NWMT win.

“I was starting to wonder if I was ever going to get back,” smiled Silk when asked about the emotion of being back in victory lane. “I’ve been close a bunch of times since then, for whatever reason, it didn’t work out, it’s great to be back. This is a group that can contend. Hopefully we can get a few more.”

Starting 13th on the grid, Max Zachem of Preston, CT kept his focus forward, avoiding mayhem around him while the likes of heavy hitters Doug Coby, Timmy Solomito, pole winner Eric Goodale, Ted Christopher all suffered challenges in the caution riddled event. What better place to score your career high best ever finish than at your hometrack and that’s what Zachem did. A former Legends driver at the Speedbowl, Zachem even led his first career NWMT lap, the record showing that was on lap 145 where Zachem edged out Silk at the line. Side by side battles with the likes of the talented Jimmy Blewett in the legendary Mystic Missile, Zachem more than held his own to capture a well-earned runner up finish.

“It was fun racing with Jimmy Blewett tonight. We could run side by side, yeah, we rubbed- that’s racing. It was fun. We battled back and forth like that, it makes for a fun night.”

“We fought hard, everyone knew we were there, for what we have, for what we’re running against, I’m very, very happy. What we’re doing with our little team is awesome,” continued Zachem.

“We earned it, it wasn’t given to us. We fought past a lot of great race cars tonight. The weather was an interesting card not knowing if it was going to rain, if we had to run to half way. I went a little harder than I normally did which is unusual for me, I’m more of a patient type race car driver like last year when we ran this event, but it worked out really well – coming home makes a big difference as well.”

“It’s awesome. You know, it’s coming home. Bruce Bemer, Shawn Monahan, can’t thank them enough for what they’ve done to this facility. It’s a beautiful racetrack- I’ve been coming here for a long, long time. It was awesome to have a great Tour race here. We had a great car and I can’t thank my volunteer crew, they do an awesome job running against all these big teams. I’m very happy with what we did.”

The stats will show Jimmy Blewett of Howell, NJ took the green third and finished third. What the paperwork won’t show is the Starrett Dodge was a threat all night to the front runners- first with pole sitter Eric Goodale, then eventual winner Silk and finally a heated side by side run with Zachem. Blewett may have had to settle for third this night but there is no question the Bob Garbarino Mystic Missile is back to run in the lead pack.

“First, I want to tell Ronnie Silk congratulations. He’s a heck of a driver,” said Blewett in victory lane. “Max Zachem, congratulations to him on his second place finish, we’re proud of him too. It’s good to see a young guy coming up, not really funded like all of us and get a good, solid second place finish.”

“Probably eight weeks ago, I never even thought I’d be sitting here. I figured I’d be home on a Saturday night- just can’t say enough about these guys,” continued Blewett who thanked his crew and crew chief P.J. Fearns. “To put the team together so fast, come out to Thompson and qualify in the top ten, run in the top ten all day and get a solid finish. Come to Stafford and time on the outside pole, I’d say we were a fifth place car but we ended up breaking a tie rod that ended our day- those guys worked their tails off to get here today. This is the first race we got to finish and show that we’re really capable of running up front. We have a little bit of work to do to win some races but we’re here, we’re in the top three, third race out, it feels good.”

Following Silk, Zachem, Blewett, Jeff Goodale and Summers the top five was Brendon Bock sixth, rookie of the year contender Matt Swanson seventh, Doug Coby recovering from a lap down to finish eighth, Donny Lia ninth and to mark his 600th career NWMT start, Jamie Tomaino brought the Dunleavy’s Repair, Atlantic Sprinkler Chevrolet across the line for tenth.

Next up for the NWMT is the TSI Harley-Davidson 125 on June 3rd at Stafford Motor Speedway.


The night was historic for the NWMT with Jamie Tomaino making his 600th NWMT career start. A banner displayed in the infield alerted the fans, a fun celebration with 600 cupcakes the 99 team brought to give away at the autograph session with the help of Cheryl Tomaino while Jimmy Dolan and Doug Dunleavy worked the stands handing out dozens of the confections each marked 1 through 600. Then came the driver introductions.

The Speedbowl had the drivers enter from the grandstand side and as each was announced the driver walked from either turn one or turn four to the center of the track and took the steps down to the track surface where their cars were staged on the frontstrech. An observation, you could see at first, the crowd didn’t quite grasp it. However it didn’t take long before the fans were interacting with the drivers with handshakes, spur of the moment selfies, fist pumps and even hugs. The few kids lingering at the start finish line for a close up of the drivers grew into a mini mob by the end. The tipping point was when announcers Ben Dodge and Matt Buckler introduced Jamie Tomaino and his 600th career start. Tomaino was ushered onto the speedway for the historic milestone with a heartfelt standing ovation. Congratulations again to Tomaino, the team and his family on their special day. And kudos to The New London-Waterford Speedbowl who turned up the wick on fan friendly. Mission accomplished.  
Source: Polly Reid / TheChromeHorn.com
: May 15, 2016

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