Nothing Keeps Silk From Victory Lane at Thompson by Mike Twist and Denise Dupont
Hillbilly #79 Takes Mod Tour Victory on a Rainy Day
Eventually, Ronnie Silk (#79) beat Matt Hirschman for the race victory. But before that, he wasn't always pointed the right way on the track. (Jim Dupont Photo)
“We had a really good car,” said Silk. “For the first part of the race, we were playing the rain game. We were waiting to pit. Then once we got to halfway, it didn't rain but we got spun out there in turn four.”
Silk's team wasn't the only team waiting out another possible shower. Ted Christopher and Bobby Grigas, III also waited to pit because in case the race ended early. They both spent time out front, but neither strategy worked too well when the race went its advertised distance.
Not rain, a spin or even Matt Hirschman could keep Ronnie Silk from accomplishing his job on Thursday night at Thompson International Speedway. Silk's task? To win the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour race there. His outcome? Well, just like the US Postal Service, he delivered.
Earlier in the day, it looked like the only thing that would be delivered at Thompson was rain - which seemed to arrive in bucketfuls. After it cleared, the infield was flooded, parts of the pits were flooded and parts of the midway were flooded. But track drying and pumping took place immediately and the show went on pretty darn close to schedule.
However, qualifying did not take place as planned. The field was set according to the NASCAR rulebook, with Chuck Hossfeld starting on the pole thanks to his status as the Tour point leader. Hossfeld led the first lap, with Todd Szegedy taking over on lap two and staying out front until he pitted during a lap-54 caution. Szegedy never got a chance to really use his new tires after the stop though. After returning to the track, he car lost power and needed to be pushed back in. Repairs were made and he returned to the race, but finished 22 laps down in the 20th position.
Silk had problems of his own during the middle stages of the race. On lap 73, he spun after contact from Eddie Flemke. Silk used that as an opportunity to pit while Flemke got sent to the rear of the field for his role in the incident.
Todd Szegedy (#2) led early, but lost power after a pit stop. (Jim Dupont)
“We didn't get spun out at lap 120. It was lap 80 or so. That gave us time to get back up there and we had a car to do it.”
Hirschman fought valiantly for the lead, but came up just a little short in the end.
“We were really a second place car, unfortunately,” Hirschman admitted. “It is a little bit disappointing to get second after we had the lead. We certainly wanted the win pretty bad tonight. But we were second-best, so we did not get anything more than we should have and we did not lose anything. We shouldn't be disappointed.”
Bobby Santos, III finished in third - and wished for a few more laps to possibly better that result.
“I was expecting rain and we would have been in good shape if that happened,” said Grigas, who eventually finished 10th. “But we finished the race and that's good.”
Silk marched towards the front after the pit stop, but first had to dispose of Matt Hirschman's #59 - which was leading the race. On lap 116, Silk did just that. However, Hirschman came back to retake the lead with just 11 scheduled laps to go.
Silk wasn't going to give up though. He slid back by under Hirschman on lap 142 and survived a green, white, checkered finish to win the race.
“We had a great car tonight and pretty much everywhere we've gone, we've had a great car,” said Silk. “[The difference was that] Things just seemed to go our way tonight.”
Even the spin didn't hurt Silk.
Ronnie Silk in victory lane. (Rick Ibsen Photo)
“I think that we had a car that could have won,” said Santos. “We had a pretty good car on short runs and I cannot complain the car is in one piece.”
Actually, just getting the race in considering the weather of the day was enough reason for nobody at Thompson to complain. Silk's #79 Hillbilly Racing team was especially happy that the event didn't get cancelled since they tow up form North Carolina to each Tour event.
“I was hoping we would race, because it costs the Hills a lot of money to drive up here for nothing,” said Silk. “We're getting used to this. It rained a little bit at Spencer, it was looking scary at Riverhead and it rained a little bit at Stafford last week. We've gotten them all in though and we've been getting lucky weather-wise. As much water as was in the infield today, I didn't know what would happen. But thank God we got to race.”