Game Changer: Ron Silk Wins Oswego Whelen Mod Tour Event, Takes Big Control In Title Chase 

Ron Silk (Photo: Jim DuPont/RaceDayCT)

For most of the 2023 season on the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour, the battle for the series championship has been mostly a head-to-head, bruising, banging and wildly competitive battle between Ron Silk and Justin Bonsignore. 

Coming into Saturday’s event at Oswego Speedway, the 13th race of the 18-race season, Silk held a one-point advantage over Bonsignore at the top of the standings. Over the first 12 races of the season Silk’s worst finish was a seventh while Bonsignore’s worst was a ninth. 

But that tight battle for the series title ended up being not so tight after the styrofoam settled Saturday at Oswego Speedway. 

Ron Silk topped the field in the Whelen Modified Tour Toyota Mod Classic 150 Saturday at Oswego Speedway and took a stranglehold on the championship chase after Bonsignore wrecked late in the event while battling for second place. 

“It was a nice to capitalize with a win,” said Silk, who started eighth. “But there’s still quite a bit to go. Anything can happen. We haven’t had a bad race yet. Hopefully we don’t, but there’s always that chance. We’ll try to keep that going.” 

It was the series leading fourth victory of the season for Silk, the 2011 series champion from Norwalk, and his 21st series victory overall. 

Austin Beers of Northampton, Pa. was second and Bobby Santos III of Franklin, Mass. was third. 

The complexion of the championship battle took a wild swing on lap 130. 

Silk was able to fend off the challenge of Tommy Catalano on a lap 122 restart with Bonsignore and Beers battling behind them for third place. Bonsignore was able to overtake Beers and made his way to Catalano’s bumper. 

Bonsignore and Catalano came off turn four side-by-side battling for second place on lap 129, with Bonsignore on the inside of the track. Heading into turn one the lapped car of Gary McDonald was low on the track.

With Bonsignore and Catalano heading into the corner side-by-side, Catalano seemed to pinch Bonsignore down the track going into the corner, forcing him into the lane occupied by McDonald. Bonsignore had no way to avoid driving over the back of McDonald’s car. Bonsignore’s car got airborne, taking Catalano into the turn one wall with him. With heavy damage to the styrofoam barriers, NASCAR brought out the red flag for cleanup.

Bonsignore ended up 15th in the 18-car field. Silk held off Beers on a green-white-checkered finish. 

Silk came into the event with a one point lead over Bonsignore. Silk left Oswego holding a 17-point advantage over Bonsignore with five events remaining. Beers is third in the standings, 42 behind Silk. 

“It’s always great to get the win,” Silk said. “We’ve had quite a battle so far and it’s not over yet. You don’t want to see someone have something like that happen to them, get involved in a wreck or break something. It’s not over yet. Quite a few races to go.” 

The 18-car field at Oswego matched the third smallest field in Whelen Modified Tour history. The smallest field ever was 15 cars last week at Langley (Va.) Speedway. The second smallest field was 16 cars at the former Catamount Stadium in Milton, Vt on Aug. 11, 1985. Saturday’s event at Oswego matched the 18-car field for the division’s event at Delaware Speedway in Delaware, Ontario on Sept. 4, 2011. Saturday’s event at Oswego was the 719th event in series history since 1985. Of the 13 events in series history with 20 or less cars, four have taken place in the last eight series events this season. 

Bonsignore won the pole and held the top spot at the start leaving Beers and Catalano to start an early race battle for second. 

Back-markers in the field made for some harrowing moments for the cars up front in the early stages on the .625-mile Oswego oval. 

Catalano got by Beers for second place on lap three. On lap eight it was Beers getting back under Catalano to return to second. 

On lap 12, Beers got caught behind the slow car of Melissa Fifield, allowing Catalano to go back to second and letting Bonsignore stretch out his lead briefly. 

On lap 21 Catalano, running second, nearly got into the lapped car of Tim Connolly. By lap 24 the top four cars of Bonsignore, Catalano, Beers and Silk were running nose-to-tail. On lap 28 the lapped car of Fifield once again nearly made a mess for the leaders, with Bonsignore needing to slow to avoid disaster. 

With Bonsignore leading, Catalano second, Beers third and Silk fourth, the first caution of the race flew for the stopped car of Fifield on lap 38. 

On the lap 43 restart Bonsignore was able to get away with Beers moving by Catalano for second place. On lap 48 Silk got under Catalano to take over third. In front of him Beers was challenging Bonsignore for the lead through every corner. 

A long green flag run set up for a caution for an issue with the car of Anthony Sesely on lap 76. The yellow flew with Bonsignore still out front, Beers in second and Silk in third. 

The leaders all headed to pit road and it was Bonsignore leading the parade back onto track. Silk came off pit road second, with Santos moving to third. Beers fell from second to sixth.

Bonsignore held the top spot on the lap 83 restart, but Silk was challenging hard. Behind them Beers quickly moved from sixth to fourth following the restart. 

On lap 87 it was Silk finding the lane under Bonsignore to take over the lead with Catalano following Silk into second place.  

“I really slipped in qualifying and got us back to eighth,” Silk said. “I was able to drive to third on that first run. The guys had a great pit stop, came out second. … [Bonsignore] was tight through the middle [of the corner] and I could cross him over and get the lead. The second half of the race my car was phenomenal.” 

On lap 94 Craig Lutz got under Bobby Santos III to take over fifth place. 

With Silk out front, Catalano in second, Bonsignore in third and Beers fourth, caution flew on lap 117 for the slowed car of Lutz.  


  1. NH MOD CHASER says

    Old Cool Hand Silk does it again… AWESOME!!

  2. “Back-markers in the field made for some harrowing moments for the cars up front in the early stages on the .625-mile Oswego oval.” And this was with only an 18 car field.

    Shawn, would you happen to know if the WMT has a minimum lap time or minimum speed policy in place that is monitored and enforced?

  3. Earl,
    It’s my understanding there is a minimum speed rule in place. I can’t tell you what that designation is though.

  4. Sad state when you have drivers, who have NO business being on the track because they SUCK, and they determine the outcome of worse cause the wrecks that take out the serious contenders in the race of even more egregious, the point race leaders! 18 cars, with a handful of drivers who should NOT be there. Horrible!!!!

  5. Never would say J. Bonsignor is a dirty driver but he’s got a great car, knows it and can be a bit of a bully sometimes.
    Driving Beatty up the track a Riverhead years ago at the close of the race bullying his way to a win is a memory. Knocking Hirschman out of the way for a win a memory as well.
    Lap 21 Catalano is on Bonsignor’s outside rear and the 51 pushing the 54 up the track had to be annoying for Tommy. Maybe he remembered that. 25 to go there’s no question Bonsignor is pushing Beers way up the track in 2, three quarters of a lane higher then the two single file cars he was following he wasn’t even trying to be coy about it.
    Pretty obvious that Catalano is purposely pushing the 51 down the track. Hoping for the pick but ham handed in it’s execution a little too obvious. Blew up my Pick 6 but I was elated seeing the 51 careening toward the Styrofoam. Call it pay back, karma, a re-alignment toward equilibrium of racing fairness but in any event a very enjoyable turn of events in my view.

  6. Thanks for the 411 Shawn.

    What was annoying to me were the cars that were logging laps 2-3 seconds slower than the majority of the field. Those cars ended up having a direct impact on the race in general but more importantly the points battle.

    If the WMT has a minimum speed policy I would be interested in knowing what it is, how it’s determined, who monitors it, how it’s enforced and when it’s enforced.

  7. I have seen many people on social media blaming lapped cars, but the replays pretty much show the wreck was Catalano’s fault. The 54 clearly swerved into Justin and ran him into the 26. Catalano can be fast at times, but often when he races he ends up wrecking his own car or someone else’s

  8. Okay I’ve seen the FB modified group comments over the past 12 hours and unfortunately, most people (actual drivers and crew members) will not place the blame where it should, the lap cars and in this situation the 26. Yes, if you’re a lap car you stay to the left however, if you’re 2-3 seconds per lap slower, the officials and spotters need to be on the radio mentioning, “hey leaders are coming, they’re side by side, they’ll catch you by corner entry please pull off into the pits”. You think it would make sense right? Officials need to wave the black and white striped flag and these guys. I know the low speed rule is enforced as Shawn mentioned it but cmon guys, earlier in the race the 01 almost caused two accidents with the 51, 64 and 54 off turn 4. And Connolly almost caused one as well as slow as he was off turn 2. Then, end of the race with the 26. I may not be a 51 fan but, I don’t blame him for staying in the throttle late in the race. You can penalize in a sense the guys that are up to race speed and make the back out because a car that is two seconds per lap slower in in your way every 8-10 laps. Catalano did come down late but, again stop with the excuses.
    This is an ethics issue and it’s not about Stafford SK Light drivers with over aggression, it’s lap cars that are way to slow getting the way affecting a race and it hurts fan outlook. There is a difference between passing Ryan Newman when he is a lap car (he’s not 2 seconds off he’s maybe a few tenths and the leaders catch him after a long run and he can drive hard but won’t ruin your race) and a car getting lapper every 8-10 laps on a narrow track.
    We cannot have participation trophies when these situations arise. Officials needs to say sorry but, you are becoming a danger to the races with your speed on this track so pull the car in. Idk I’m so over watching this happen and the lappers stay in the preferred lane. The 01 and Thompson in August of turn 4 I saw it in the stands- was in the main lane when Coby and Beers were there and everyone had to check up. I’ll get ridiculed for some stupid thing when in reality ethics needs to come in here and fans need to be heard. Period. I will always support tour type modifieds but, it’s just unfair.

  9. Tyler,
    I think everyone involved is to blame a little bit. The quandary here with throwing cars out of the race for not staying up to speed is then you might lose them showing up at every event if you’re throwing them out of races. The series desperately needs them right now or they have 12 or 13 car fields. Gary McDonald did what the lapped cars are told to do. Yes, it stinks. It’s the nature of the beast at Oswego, lapped cars have nowhere to hide. Catalano has absolutely nothing to lose in racing Bonsignore for the position, and probably knew he was forcing Justin to make a decision. Does Justin take one spot on the track or make a big picture decision and give up the position. Clearly Catalano didn’t show all that much respect for Justin in his actions. And yes, Justin could have backed off the side-by-side battle for second. He wasn’t going to catch Silk. He was fighting for one point in standings. He could have backed out, finished third and left Oswego two points down from Silk.

  10. All the Bonsignore fans are crying about the 26 being laps down or the 54 not putting himself in the marbles to make more room, admit it, all the 51 had to do was lift 🤷‍♂️

    If rolls were reversed and the 51 is on the outside, does he move up giving the 54 plenty of room in the middle? Ya right, he would have been nerf bar to nerf bar with the 26

  11. At this stage of the season a driver who is totally out of contention for the championship should show some respect and let the guys duking it out for the championship go by if you have nothing for them that day. Respect your fellow driver! Many of these guys are just small time hacks.

  12. Suitcase Jake says

    Using a lap car as a PICK is what Drivers do …Usually it’s a good move and you get the spot & the other driver has to defer and slow down and swoop in behind you losing a little ground. .. The 26 should have been lower on the Track also… The 51 was running the 54 wide a few times also.. The 54 had outside position and tried to squeeze the 51 down into the Pick Play , the 51 chose to not hit the brake, he chose to stay on the gas and fight for the position which was a split second decision as a Driver you make hundreds of times a race . Sometimes you sneak through the tight windows .. This time Justin didn’t and they both went into the Wall .. I am sure if Justin could replay it .. He would see the Pick coming and use the brake and then roll off the 26 and tuck in behind the 54…Yes he would have lost the spot temporarily,,,, but still had time to regain the lost ground in the laps left on the board .. As Doug mentioned , the 51 & 54 had really been in a dog fight for most of the race … neither Driver wanted to give an inch at that point of the race..The 54 was aggressively turning left to Pick the 54 , But Justin kept his foot on the gas and turning right to clear the 26 but as we saw it turned out to be race ending decision.. This is what is hard as a Driver , Sometimes you make the split second decision and you avoid a wreck.. Other times you are the wreck…It’s also affects your decision making if you think the other Driver has did you dirty earlier in the race, your in no mood to defer or give ground when your already pissed off with them.. I would also say spotters need to do a better job getting their lap cars out of the way of the leaders.. The lap cars were in the way many times during this race and it really changed the outcome of what was shaping up to be a great side by side battle with the 51 & 54…Too bad it ended like it did with 2nd & 3rd tangled up with a car multiple laps down already… The 64 Beers is gonna be a STAR on the Tour in the years that follow… He has just been getting better each and every Race ,,,, He may still make a BID for the Championship if Cool Hand Silk has a bad week … Everything can change in the blink of an eye as we saw at Oswego …

  13. Rich,
    Gary McDonald did what officials tell the lapped cars to do at Oswego. They’re told to go to the inside. He didn’t do anything wrong. He wasn’t trying to race with the leaders or hold them up, he was doing what they’re told to do by NASCAR.

  14. In Cup racing there are unwritten rules that the cars that are not in the Chase need to respect the cars that are in the Chase. The announcers talk about it all the time.

    There are many issues here…

    Tommy Catalano for one. Do I have to say more? Well, I guess I do. He shows up with a really fast car but can’t finish. He takes himself out. He was lucky last night. Catalano had nothing to lose, and nothing to gain. He should have backed off. Clearly Catalano cut down on the 51, that was a bad move. With so many part-timers, it’s tough racing for a championship among all the lesser experienced and drivers that just don’t care what they screw up.

    The slow cars are not adding to the show, they are detriments. The 01 ran high through the fast traffic almost taking out numerous top cars. That was scary and that car should have been parked.

    The 26 can be a big mess most nights. It was last night. That’s the problem with having unqualified cars on the track. The competitive cars should not have to deal with these hazards.

    Heagy had a decent night, finished on the lead lap.

    The race would have been so much better without the 01 and 26. The slow cars really screwed things up last night.

    Now the only thing to look out for is if the 16 can run the rest of the season without getting punted. Very sad.

  15. Blaming lapped traffic, Lordy that’s tedious. It is and will forever be a part of racing. Leaders have to deal with it the same as they have to deal with all bumps and dips in the Oswego racing surface.
    So respect is a theme is it? The leaders in points should be given a little more room to fight it out without being inordinately contested by those not in the hunt for the championship. Wasn’t Preece criticized for racing a guy in Xfinity that year he got a couple races with Gibbs and did so well? How sympathetic was he to that argument at the time?
    Nut’s to that. I don’t even know if that’s a thing anywhere but isn’t a thing in amateur modified racing NASCAR or not.
    25 laps to go, Bonsignor is pushing the kid Beers out as far as he can in two to get shed of him on his outside so he can make up time getting to the leaders. Where’s the respect there Beers is in the championship hunt just behind who?
    So if Beers is chuckling to himself seeing Bonsignor sunk into the stuff that doesn’t sink in water as he cruises to a second place finish that seems like a righteous result to me.

  16. There you have it the great one has spoken he even speaks like the other self proclaimed great one VERY SADI

  17. There you have it the great one has spoken he even speaks like the other self proclaimed great one VERY SADI1

  18. Crazy in NY says

    Now it’s ok to rip on the too slow cars in the back of every WMT race? The 26 was running the line he does every lap. Zero % at fault. J Bomb gives little respect while racing but with 20 to go we have to let him go so he and Silk can fight it out for the remaining races? Sorry…racing is about the lap you are on and who you are racing with ..and around. Maybe leave tired old Oswego and it one groove of racing off the schedule because that inside wall that’s been there FOREVER and lack of room for lappers to race is more than some of todays so called stars can handle. Sure..lets kick the 01 26 4 and few more out so can talk about the ensuing 12 car feild showing up in Modified racings premeire division. Popcorn almost ready….

  19. Its really amazing to me how bad Modified racing and its fans have become. You guys will complain about anything and everything. Heck the two biggest mouths on this page watch 90% of the races on tv and rarely ever even go to a track. Why does a lap car have to go into the pits? Gary was right where he needed to be and that is running the line he is required to run. Why dont these guys learn how to pass instead of driving over one another? You guys are complaining about car counts but less then 20 cars cant even run without destroying one another. Have you guys ever been to a sprint car race or a big block race? These guys can pass inside outside or straight through the middle. They know how to work through lapped traffic and 99% of the time no one ever complains about slow cars or guys that shouldnt be there. They know how to race one another. Very rarely will you ever hear these guys bad mouth one another but in Modified racing these days if its not them then the other guy is a hack and shouldnt be on the track. No wonder why there are less cars and less fans year after year.

  20. AJ your spot on with your comment . Dirt car driver’s with no spotter’s. no mirror’s, poor visibilty seldom complain about lap traffic. Just ask brett hearn who lost one a few weeks back at OCFS .Bunch of primadonna’s running and watching these asphalt race’s

  21. I certainly don’t know about big block or sprint sports chat but travel quite a bit in the football realm. I don’t see much of a difference between what we do here and the football forums. In football, very strong opinions some of which can really get into the weeds on specific plays, player execution and coaching decisions. Team loyalties much like driver loyalties. That’s what we do here as far as I can see. Some really good and informed, some hyperbolically critical it’s a spectrum of opinions that make it interesting.
    One thing that is different is those that insist on setting personal minimum qualifications to comment. Mr Courchesne mentioned that only in racing do some fans try to make driving experience a prerequisite for being qualified to be critical. I’ll take it a step further, only in racing do some fans make appearances at the track a prerequisite to commenting on races. You subscribe to racing services to view races you don’t deserve to comment. I’ve never seen that element that takes the focus away from the sport and makes it personal in any other sport but that’s changing to. Before any commentary generated based on a streamed view some would roundly dismiss. Since a very high percentage of people now view streamed races there is apparently a floating minimum criteria to quality to comment on races depending on how superior the person setting the minimum is feeling.
    Your basic complaint AG is the amount of complaining in this forum. Seems to me you fit right in because you literally “complained about everything and anything” and did it with a very broad brush the size of “you guys” in the process. If you insist on molding we as individuals that apparently includes drivers as well, into your “you guys” monolith consider thanking us. Admit it, didn’t you enjoy yourself strutting your stuff showing what a superior race fan you were?
    Your welcome!

  22. Dirt and asphalt racing can not be compared. Dirt uses the whole track all the time, it’s the same all across the track: dirt and slippery. That’s the whole damn point of dirt track. Asphalt tracks have preferred lines where there is better grip, and high lines that have no grip.

  23. The tour should have two minimum speeds, one for the first half the race then lower it a few tenths for the last half- off the top 5 average maybe

  24. Dareal I see you know as much about Dirt racing as you do asphalt. There are plenty of one groove dirt tracks that you pick your spots to pass instead of driving through the back of people. It must really suck being wrong 90% of the time.

  25. Smooth Operator 32 says

    🤣 🤣 🤣 I see darealdumbfella has sunken to a new level of ignorance! 🤣 🤣 🤣

  26. He’s not wrong is he? And don’t dirt cars use two lanes at a time since they race sideways in the corners?
    It’s annoying reading about the superiority of dirt racing from time to time in an asphalt racing forum. Cheaper prices, more powerful engines, bigger fields, bigger purses, better and cheaper food, lower ticket prices, better drivers and apparently all the epitome of good sportsmanship as well. Do you feel better when you say these things to people that in many cases grew up with asphalt racing as part of our lives. Teams that race asphalt cars spend enormous amounts of money as do tracks. Some really, really nice tracks with good car counts all the time and beautiful facilities. Are they wasting their time too and about to go out of business?
    For me part of the attraction of asphalt racing was ambiance. A beautiful summer night, making your way to the stands you’re met with the visual of a nice clean racing surface and a beautiful green infield. Clean walls, clean billboards all in anticipation of sleek, powerful race cars. Not clean up close obviously but from the stands pristine and contrasted by the chaos and thunder soon to follow. Nicely organized from service vehicle to the specific lanes for cars when specific thing happen to them. Asphalt racing is lane racing and the drivers guided by the car telling them specifically were it wants to go. Cars share the same desire to be in the same lane because it’s the preferred line which as it turns out is the crux of the asphalt racing challenge. That’s not dirt racing is it? And dirt racing is dirty. Everything is dirty and mud spattered isn’t it? Dirt suspended in the air when the track is dry, dirt in your hair, food everywhere. That’s fine if you’re into just the racing but what if all the dirt is turn off for some people?
    I’m sure dirt racing is a fine entertainment choice. I have my doubts that everything in dirt or sprints for that matter are perfect all the time but if it’s your preference be with the people that share your interest. Waging your finger at the rock concert audience because your preference is jazz is not about the music at all It’s about the finger wager wanting to feel better about themselves. And is certainly not the good sportsmanship this guy AJ seems to think permeates other types of circle track racing.

  27. Indeed, there are one groove dirt tracks. They suck.

    A crucial feature of dirt tracks is the maintenance… very expensive maintenance. Relentless maintenance. The dirt must be groomed to make sure there are no grooves, and all the track is available. Looks like 2 or 3 of you didn’t know that. Now you do.

    So when you see a dirt race that has a narrow groove, that track is not maintained. When you see cars all over the track, that is a well maintained track. Oh, and moisture content is also crucial.

    Now you know.

    You’re welcome.

  28. Doug, There Clay tracks not dirt tracks . with 5 or 6 different types of clay for these racing surfaces you need to be cautious on what track you attend an event. The smooth ( glassy looking) surfaces tend to have a lot of silt and can become dusty. Where the darker looking surfaces ( heavy) provide very fast, but single file racing with minimum dust. Of course this has a lot to due with time of year , weather and the lunar phase of the moon. But I get it Doug , I can still smell the pump gas fumes and fried dough as i run for my seat at the Great Danbury Fair Racearena. Stafford took over what Danbury left behind. ( COMPETITION)

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