Redemption: Ron Silk Dominant In Whelen Mod Tour Miller Lite Salutes Mike Ewanitsko 200 At Riverhead

Ron Silk celebrates victory in the Whelen Modified Tour Miller Lite Salutes Mike Ewanitsko 200 Saturday at Riverhead Raceway (Photo: Fran Lawlor/RaceDayCT)

When the NASCAR Modified Tour made its first visit to Riverhead Raceway for the 2023 season on May 21 it was Ron Silk who had the dominant car almost all day long. 

Silk led 164 of the 212 laps run that day. 

Unfortunately, when the victory lane ceremonies took place that day it was Silk watching Justin Bonsignore celebrate the win after Bonsignore overtook him for the lead on a late restart. 

On Saturday night as the laps wound down on the Whelen Modified Tour Miller Lite Salutes Mike Ewanitsko 200 at Riverhead it was once again Bonsignore hunting down a dominant Silk. This time Bonsignore never got the chance to steal the win away. 

Silk took the lead on lap 63 and went unchallenged the rest of the way to win the the Miller Lite Salutes Mike Ewanitsko 200 Saturday at Riverhead. 

It was the first career Whelen Modified Tour victory at the historic Long Island quarter-mile for Silk, who was making his 24th series start at the facility. He made his first Whelen Modified Tour start at the track in 2006. Silk had finished on the podium in the last four Whelen Modified Tour events at Riverhead coming into Saturday’s race.

“This is special to me,” Silk said. “I won a championship driving for Eddie Partridge and this is his track. Obviously we all wish he was still around and we all miss him. And I’m honored to win the race where they recognized Mike Ewanitsko. I heard him say he didn’t think he didn’t enough to be recognized. I think he did more than enough.” 

It was the second victory of the season for Silk, of Norwalk, and the 19th of his Whelen Modified Tour career. The 2011 series champion joined Matt Hirschman as the only multi-time winner this season on the Whelen Modified Tour. Hirschman had won the last two events coming into Saturday. Silk won the season opening event in February at New Smyrna (Fla.) Speedway. Other winners this year are Bonsignore, Doug Coby and Austin Beers. 

In the first event at Riverhead in May Silk lost the lead to Bonsignore on lap 193. 

“I feel like we probably had the car to beat last time we were here and I got beat on the last restart,” Silk said. “Luckily we didn’t have to face that again. My guys brought a great car.” 

Bonsignore, of Holtsville, N.Y., was second. 

“Ron has been the best car here both times,” Bonsignore said. “We snuck away with one last time.” 

Mike Ewanitsko (left) and Ron Silk (right) following the Whelen Modified Tour Miller Lite Salutes Mike Ewanitsko 200 Saturday at Riverhead Raceway (Photo: Fran Lawlor/RaceDayCT)

Doug Coby of Milford was third. Both Bonsignore and Coby were critical of the way track treatment was place on the racing surface. 

“It makes it one groove,” Bonsignore said. “… You’re just glued to the top. It’s unfortunate.” 

Said Coby: “I want the race fans to know, we want to put on a show and run side-by-side, but we show up here and we don’t know where the track spray is. … We’ve got to work on this. We really want to put on a good show. … When there’s one groove to race and you can’t put your right sides outside of that, it’s all you can you do is ride around single file. Not the best show I don’t think.” 

Silk extended his lead over second place Bonsignore in the series standings. Coby moved past Austin Beers into third in the standings. Beers, who won the pole, ended up 10th. 

The first caution of the race flew on lap 52 for issues with Melissa Fifield and Dave Sapienza with Beers leading Silk. 

On the lap 59 restart Silk hung to the outside of Beers in a battle for the lead. Silk led at the line to complete lap 63 and cleared Beers for the lead on lap 65 with Bonsignore moving to second and Coby to third. 

Unofficial Finish Of The Whelen Modified Tour Miller Lite Salutes Mike Ewanitsko 200 At Riverhead Raceway


  1. WHOA! Did anybody else feel that????? The Earth’s axis shifted and jolted. The 60 did not win, and was a lap down. What happened? The announcers said the 60 was an LFR chassis, and not the usual Troyer. What the heck is going on????

    So glad Silk won, so very glad. It was great to see.

    Silk and JBon are the class of the NWMT.

    Only 3 cautions, or so? Not bad at all.

  2. Where was Jon McKennedy? I saw a post on facebook that the team has shut down this week.

  3. My error, missed the story on that last week,

  4. Stop spraying the track river head. You took a fantastic race in May and turned it into an un race-able snoozer.

    Also, feel very bad for them and having another event impacted by weather. Hopefully the September race is beautiful. And if they dont spray again before then, the track might even be functional again.

  5. Alfred Woods says

    Being almost 76 years old now and a long-time racing fan of all 3 Long Island racetracks my entire life, I honestly admit I’m not familiar with track spray. I didn’t know that there is more than tire rubber to prepare racing grooves. I’m apologizing for not being aware of that. I feel that Riverhead has always maintained an excellent racing facility, and has done whatever necessary to have the best possible competition. Any future adjustments will be made, and I am hopeful that I’m able to return in September for the next Modified Tour visit.

    Al Woods (Fred Harbach fan from way back)

  6. Beers -9
    Silk to +1
    Rypkema -4
    Handley -1
    Coby +2
    J Bonsignor +4
    K Bonsignor +3
    Fortin -4
    Solomito 0
    Beatty +2

    Two hundred laps and the top 10 qualifiers moved an average of 3 spots. Take out Beers and the average is 2.3.
    Whenever I’m seeing Bonsignor and Coby whining about the track as the reason they couldn’t contend for the win that’s actually quite enjoyable.
    Watching Slepian trying mightily last week to make the bottom work with no real success foreshadowed this race. I would wonder if Slepian passed on this race knowing his formula for success, the bottom, was a no go zone at Riverhead at least for now.
    If the car counts are on the lower side I’m loving qualifying as opposed to heats. Riverhead clicks the cars off lightning fast. Watching the drama unfold as the Riverhead regulars surprise to the upside then seeing the Tour heavy hitters at the end is riveting. Culminating in the 51 always a favorite to win the pole but oops, not this time amigo. Qualifying had more drama then the actual race.
    I’m pretty sure if Hirschy is in the Pee Dee 60 he’d be a factor. The car he was in has no record of real success in Tour races going back to last year and the result consistent with past runs for the car. Don’t know why Hirschman is doing it but give him all the credit for doing something out of his normal formula for success.
    Really are you satisfied with this recent change in the NWMT format? Is the MRS formula on shorter tracks helping or hurting the series or does it make no difference? Limited benign cautions, the points leaders nicely spaced with only lapped traffic to contend with. They finish in tact ready to load up is that satisfying enough? It’s not just the treatment. Lee USA and Seekonk about the same thing.
    Or is there a compromise between hard tires that don’t fall off in performance with no pit stops needed and something else? That’s is both economical and safe yet allows teams to make adjustments and hopefully shuffle the deck?

  7. Hey Shawn, here’s a poll idea… poll on when people think the NWMT will have the standings F-U-L-L-Y revised with the results of the Mike Ewanitsko 200.

    It has been taking 4-5 days this season. It was faster back in the days of no internet and only hardcopy print media.

  8. wmass01013 says

    Seems the TOUR guys didnt like the spray, i would be interested in what reg weekly Riverhead guys think!!!!

  9. Weekly guys are very unhappy too, they also don’t get consulted or listened too. Several Facebook threads about it the past few weeks. really only hurts the tour mods though.

    Riverhead started spraying about when eddy bought the place. Worked out very well the first few years. Since then, they’ve repaved both corners and the tires have changed. It just doesn’t work the same anymore.

    I’d say each of the last 3 years there was a really bad stretch of track prep there. most of the time it got better by not spraying for a month. But then the bottom is strong again one night and they over-react. They didn’t spray at all until after the first tour race this year. dont think there were any complaints before that either.

  10. Rafter fan says

    I’m not sure that the 60 driven by Matt H. at Riverhead is comparable to his other cars/teams. Isn’t the Riverhead effort run by a new(er) team for Matt?

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