Silk Looks To Stay On A Roll At Stafford
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. - Heading into the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour season-opener two weeks ago, storylines were aplenty: Past champions returning to the Tour or changing teams, up-and-comers looking to become contenders, weekly standouts getting a touring series opportunity. And what happened? The defending champ reminded everyone why his trophy has yet to collect any dust.
Much like when he became a championship contender a year ago, Ron Silk entered the Icebreaker at Thompson (Conn.) International Speedway on April 15 with little limelight. Yet once again, he was standing in Victory Lane with the hardware at the end of the day.
After adding the Icebreaker trophy to his growing collection, the Norwalk, Conn., driver is now focused on winning this week's CARQUEST Tech-Net Spring Sizzler at Stafford (Conn.) Motor Speedway. Silk has now reached the point in his career where going after premier event wins has become a goal, and the Spring Sizzler is every bit as prestigious as winning the Icebreaker.
"That race probably has the most tradition of all the races we run now, so I think that's a race that everyone has circled that they'd like to win," Silk said. "Certainly I do too."
Silk does not have a checkered past - figuratively or literally - in "The Greatest Race in the History of Spring." In five previous appearances in the Spring Sizzler, he has posted an average finish of 26th. But he finished third in the 2011 edition, and solved his overall Stafford bugaboo with a win at the historic half mile in a May return trip.
"For three or four years, I would always run well there, and either wreck late or have a mechanical failure late in the race," Silk said. "Over the last few years I've actually got some good finishes there.
"Stafford is one of my better tracks, I just don't have all the finishes to show for it, but I'm pretty confident going there."
His confidence is bolstered by years of laps around Stafford in both Whelen Modified Tour and NASCAR Whelen All-American Series competition. And winning last time out at Thompson is a boost as well.
"Anytime you come off a win you feel good and you want to go to the next race [and win]," Silk. "I know all of the guys are pretty pumped up about it."
The confidence created by besting a competitive Whelen Modified Tour contingent for last year's crown is something that Silk feels will fuel the team throughout the coming season.
"Coming off the championship last year, and winning the first race this year, I feel pretty good about our chances at all of these races," Silk said.
"Greatest Driver in the History of Spring": The Spring Sizzler carries the mantra "The Greatest Race in the History of Spring." With a Whelen Modified Tour record five wins in the tradition-laden event, one might then refer to Ted Christopher as the Spring Sizzler's greatest driver. Christopher won the event in back-to-back seasons in 2002-03, then took three in a row from 2008-10. The winningest driver in Stafford history across all division with 114 triumphs, Christopher was also the event's victor in 1988 when the SK Modified feature was the headliner.
LaJoie to make Tour debut: With four NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour races on his rÃ©sumÃ©, third-generation racer Corey LaJoie now has his sights set on making his first appearance in the northern-based circuit this weekend at Stafford. LaJoie is the son of two-time NASCAR Nationwide Series champion and Connecticut native Randy LaJoie, a who made two career NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour starts in the late 1980s. The younger LaJoie won in his Whelen Southern Modified Tour debut on the quarter mile at Atlanta (Ga.) Motor Speedway in 2010 and has an average finish of ninth in his four Modified races. A full-time competitor in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East, LaJoie will also compete in that series' race at Richmond (Va.) International Raceway this Thursday, April 26 before heading to Connecticut.
Home Tracks: Stafford
An original member of the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series, Stafford Motor Speedway will launch its 31st season of NWAAS-sanctioned weekly completion. The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour will share the race card with Stafford's five weekly divisions on CARQUEST Tech-Net Spring Sizzler weekend. Ryan Preece is the track's defending Division I champion out of the SK Modified division.
Last Time Out: Thompson
* Ron Silk was credited with the victory in the season-opening Icebreaker at Thompson International Speedway on April 15. The win came as a result of a penalty assessed to Rowan Pennink for a violation on the race's final restart.
* By virtue of his win in the Icebreaker, Silk became the first NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour driver with a locked-in starting position for the inaugural UNOH Battle At The Beach during 2013 Speedweeks at Daytona International Speedway.
* Ted Christopher was just inches away from beating Silk to the finish line, and what would have been a record-tying 14th victory at Thompson. Christopher wound up second with Mike Stefanik - the track's wins leader - in third.
* Ryan Preece captured his third-consecutive Thompson pole on Saturday and led a race-high 86 laps on Sunday. He led a total of 80 laps in across 10 starts during the 2011 season. Preece was initially incorrectly credited with establishing the track qualifying record with his pole, but Bobby Santos' lap from 2011 remains the mark to beat.
* Jimmy Blewett finished in the top five for the first time since September 2012 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.
* Wade Cole recorded his first top-10 finish since July 2010 at Lime Rock Park.
Up Next: Monadnock
The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour will return to Monadnock Speedway in rural Winchester, N.H., for the third year in a row and the eighth time overall with the Monadnock 200 on Saturday, May 12. Todd Szegedy won from the pole a year ago and will look to become the Tour's first two-time Monadnock winner this time around. Practice and qualifying is scheduled for the afternoon, followed by the 25-lap qualifying race at 5 p.m., and the 175-lap feature at 8:30 p.m.
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