Electric Combination: Ron Silk Enjoying Life With Danny Watts Racing On Whelen Modified Tour

Ron Silk (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)

Ron Silk (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)

When Ron Silk exited his car after a fifth place finish in the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour’s season opening Icebreaker 150 at Thompson Speedway on April 10, the celebration was on in the pits for his Danny Watts Racing team.

There was a time not long ago in his career when a fifth place finish in a Whelen Modified Tour race for Silk would mean total team disappointment.

Now Silk, the 2011 Whelen Modified Tour champion, says he’s rediscovering fun in racing again in his first season with team.

Team owner Danny Watts Jr. has been competing around the Modified scene for decades but decided last year the time had come to give up the seat in his car to another driver. And with that change came the decision to run his team full-time on Whelen Modified Tour in 2016.

“It’s fun,” Silk said. “They’ve all been racing for a long time. There’s not a lot of pressure here. If I think something needs to be done to the car we just do it. There’s no second-guessing. [Finishing] fifth at Thompson with our first run together, it was a good run. They were all ecstatic obviously and it was fun to be in that situation. I’ve driven for teams where you finish fifth and it’s like it was a terrible day and nobody thinks you did well. I’m definitely having a good time with these guys, which is nice. I haven’t had much fun racing in a while, so this is good.”

Watts, of Wading River, N.Y., has been a journeyman fixture in Modified racing since the 1980’s. He has made 43 Whelen Modified Tour starts since 1988, recording one top-10 finish with the series. The 55-year old Watts, who has two career victories in the Tour Type Modified division at Riverhead (N.Y.) Raceway decided last year that it was time to hang up the helmet.

“I want to win, I wanted to win,” Watts said. “I wanted to make a good showing for myself. But I was racing against kids that were 14 years old and they were kicking my butt. Finally we went down to the [North-South] Shootout and I told my crew chief, ‘I don’t want to do this no more.’ He was kind of floored and I said ‘We’re not going to quit. I said I’m going to find someone that can drive this car.’”

After winning the Whelen Modified Tour championship in 2011 for Ed Partridge’s TS Haulers team, Silk finished third, seventh and fourth in the standings respectively over the next three seasons. After the 2014 season Silk and Partridge decided to part ways.

In 2015 the 33-year old Silk competed part-time with on the Whelen Modified Tour with Robby Fuller Motorsports, making seven starts with two top-five finishes.

Watts and Silk joined forces for the 2015 Turkey Derby and quickly thereafter the decision was made to make a run at a full-time effort on the Whelen Modified Tour in 2016.

“Honestly, the goal is just to win,” Watts said. “I know I have the car, I know have the crew and I definitely know I have the driver. I’ve got one of the best crew chiefs [Buddy Loecher] that’s been around forever. The guy was Bob Park’s crew chief since the beginning of time. Him and Ron work together pretty good, and the rest of the crew. I’ve got one kid [Matt Guida] that works his butt off all day long and all night long. He’s been with me since he was 14 or 15 years old and now he’s 35 or 36. He does all the hard work, where [Loecher] has to just come in and make sure everything is setup. Matt is a huge asset to this team.”

At Thompson Silk, who has nine career Whelen Modified Tour victories in 147 starts since 2003, qualified fifth.

“It was fast at Thompson,” Silk said. “I think at Thompson we could have done better than fifth. It’s just a new team and we don’t have a lot of experience with pit stops. We came in fourth into the pits and came out 10th. With no caution after that, fifth was a good result.”

In the second event of the season, Sunday’s NAPA Spring Sizzler 200 at Stafford, Silk was running in the top-10 with just over 30 laps remaining before getting caught up in a turn four wreck. He was relegated to a 26th place finish.

Silk has finished fifth or better in the series standings in six of his last seven full-time seasons on the Whelen Modified Tour, with the seventh place finish in 2013 being the worst of that span.

“And he’s extremely talented as far as knowing how to setup a car,” Watts said. “That’s the bonus with him right there. He can actually get out of the car and tell you exactly what you need to do and make the car go two-tenths faster. I couldn’t do that.”

For Watts, there’s no shortage of confidence as far as what he thinks his team and Silk can accomplish this season.

“I know we’re going to win races,” Watts said. “I’m confident of it. I’m not getting my hopes up, because I know how things go, but I know we’re going to win races. I’m damn sure we’re pretty close. We’re off a little bit, but I’ll tell you what, we’re going to find out quick where we’re off and fix it. I give them the best of the best. Anything those front running cars have we have or we will have it. If I’ve got to work an extra three days straight without stopping I’ll make sure they get it.”


  1. This is the one new combination on the tour that will probably win this year. Not the 4, not the 3, not the 15, not the 9, not the 85.

  2. Joe Lajoie says

    If they get quicker on pit road it wouldn’t surprise me if they won this year.

  3. Care to make it interesting??

    I have five buck saying the 85 will win one this year..

  4. Jerry the builder says

    Wow wow wow, Chris D. Lets not be so quick to write off all these other teams. Some teams are better at certain tracks than others. My guess is 4 out 5 of those teams will pull down a win this season. I expect the races at Loudon to be very interesting for instance. Then there’s tracks like Riverhead and Seekonk where who knows what might develop.

  5. Chris D. says

    Looks like I was right, Silk wins tour race at Waterford. Now, let’s see if the 3, 4, 9, 15, or 85 can win this year. I still don’t think they will.

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