Ron Silk Wins Whelen Mod Tour Sunoco World Series 150 At Thompson, Grabs Big Lead Going To Final Event

Ron Silk celebrates victory in the Whelen Modified Tour Sunoco World Series 150 Sunday at Thompson Speedway (Photo: Fran Lawlor/RaceDayCT)

THOMPSON – The event to event to event to event drama at the top of the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour standings for the majority of the 2023 has been nothing short of enthralling. 

Since the fourth race of the season Silk and Justin Bonsignore have been the only two drivers to occupy the first and second place spots in the standings. And along the way there’s been plenty of side-by-side battles near the front, some miscues by both sides and some dramatic aggressiveness too. 

Sunday at Thompson Speedway the drama continued and that drama swung in big favor of Silk. 

Silk scored his fifth victory in the season in winning the Whelen Modified Tour Sunoco World Series 150 Sunday at Thompson. 

“Just an awesome day,” Silk said. “A lot of effort goes into all this so I can’t just thank everyone involved enough. It feels really really good to get back to victory lane.” 

Jake Johnson was second and Eric Goodale third. 

It was the 22nd career Whelen Modified Tour victory for Silk.

The day’s dose of drama at the top of the standings took place on a restart with 12 laps remaining. 

With Silk leading and Bonsinsgnore in second the pair came to the green flag for the lap 139 restart. While Silk blasted away, Bonsignore slowed and got hit from behind by third place Craig Lutz. Bonsignore’s car got to the inside of the track and the bulk of the field drove by him, dropping him to 17th place.

Bonsignore was able to claw back to 13th place by the time the checkered flew, but the miscue was a massive gut punch for the three-time series champion. 

“I went to put pull into high [gear] and I don’t know if I was just a little nervous or choked, but it pulled up and into reverse just about it,” Bonsignore said. “Finally through [turns] one and two it went back down and I got it into [gear] again. I just gave that away. It happens.

Said Silk: “I don’t care what happened to him.” 

Silk, the 2011 series champion, came into the event trailing Bonsignore by two points in the standings. He left the track with a 13 point lead over Bonsignore heading into the season finale on Oct. 26 at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway. 

“We go there and want to win the race,” Silk said. “We’re leading the points going in, but it’s not an insurmountable thing. You can’t do something that puts yourself in jeopardy. The goal is going there to do the best we can and I want to get one of those grandfather clocks, so we’re going to try to win the race.” 

When looking at the prospects at Martinsville, Silk referenced back to a flip-flop he and Bonsignore had in September. Bonsignore was involved in a wreck on Sept. 2 at Oswego Speedway that allowed Silk to open up 13 point lead at the top of the standings. In the next event, a week later at Monadnock, Silk was involved in a crash at the start of the event and saw his 13 point lead cut to one point. 

“Its been neck-and-neck all year so any advantage is nice to have,” Silk said. “But you saw what happened earlier. Justin had a problem at Oswego and I followed it up immediately [in the next race] with a problem at Monadnock. Things in racing twist and turn real fast. We’ve just got to go there and bring a good car like we have been all year and work on trying to win the race.” 

Said Bonsignore: “We just have to go and win [at Martinsville] and hope he does something as dumb as I just did. It is what it is. This is what happens when you’re neck-and-neck each week. I put it on myself there. Nobody but to blame by myself. We’ll go on to the next one and try to win [at Martinsville].” 

With qualifying rained out the race lineup was set by points, putting Bonsignore on the pole and Silk in second for the start. 

Silk got the jump on Bonsignore at the start and led lap 1. 

On lap two Austin Beers found the lane under Silk to move into the lead. Beers set sail for a long green flag run that saw Bonsignore hang near the front and Silk fall back in the top-10. 

On lap 50, with Beers leading, Jake Johnson in second, Bonsignore in third, Craig Lutz moved past Silk for fourth. 

On lap 66 Beers made the move past Beers for the lead with Bonsignore moving to second not long after. By lap 75 Silk had fallen to eighth place. 

The first caution of the event flew on lap 82 for the spinning car of Anthony Sesely in turn four. 

Bonsignore came off pit road with the lead with Eric Goodale jumping from fourth to second. Beer came off pit road third and Silk went from eighth to fourth. Johnson fell from the lead to ninth. 

On the restart it was Bonsignore holding the top spot with Silk quickly jumping from fourth to second. 

“For whatever reason I have a hard time on first runs here,” Silk said. “I just always get too loose the first run of the race no matter what we do to it to tighten it up. We normally don’t do too much at the pit stop and it just goes [well] the second half of the race. You’re always leary, like ‘Is that going to happen again this time?’ But I knew like after two laps after the pit stop that we had a car that was capable of winning.” 

The green flag run was short-lived. The second caution of the event flew on lap 94 when Eric Berndt and Austin Beers made contact and both spun in turn four. 

On the lap 101 it was Bonsignore holding at the point. Behind him Silk briefly lost second to Lutz, but Silk was able to claw back to the second before the lap was completed. 

On lap 108 Silk got a run low on Bonsignore into turn one to take over the lead. Bonsignore crossed Silk over off of turn two and was able regain the lead through turns three and four. 

On lap 110 Silk got under Bonsignore into turn three and came off of turn four with the lead. Bonsignore fought back through turn one, but Silk was able to defend the top spot off of turn two.

“It’s just such an advantage to be the leader here for restart purposes.”Silk said. “It’s just a huge advantage. I could tell I could carry more speed through the middle of the corner than him and beat him to the throttle. I didn’t want to wait around and wait for another yellow and get stuck on the bottom and lose some spots and have to do it all over again. Whenever you’re second here you don’t want to be second. You want to be leading every lap.” 

By lap 117 Silk had opened about a half second lead over Bonsignore in second. On lap 120 Kyle Bonsignore spun off of turn four to bring out the third caution of the event. 

On the lap 126 restart it was Silk getting the jump on Justin Bonsignore, leaving him to battle Lutz for second. On lap 127 it was Lutz moving by Justin Bonsignore into second place. Justin Bonsignore fought back to second a half lap later before caution was back out on lap 128 for the fourth time for a multi-car wreck on the frontstretch. 

On the lap 134 restart it was Silk getting the jump once again out front, but caution was out just after the green flew for a Tyler Rypkema crash in the turn one wall. 

After the issue with Bonsignore following the lap 139 restart, Johnson moved to second and was able to pester Silk over the closing laps, but never found a lane to challenge for the lead. 

“We just needed a little bit more,” Johnson said. “This car was really good tonight. … You’re not going to be the guy that spoils [the championship battle], but I wasn’t going to give them any breaks. You take everything you can get. My team deserves it as much as the other guys deserve it. I did everything in my power to try to win but be mindful of what was happening.” 


  1. No mistakes …

  2. Freakin Bonsignor. I love hating that team from the owner to the car hauler to the driver and JB gets all humble and owning the mistake I lose resolve.
    Elated for the Silk win and points advantage but a question.
    Explain to me how Jake Johnson isn’t penalized for driving Beers up into the marbles and causing the wreck? Berndt may have been pressing too much but he caused nothing it was Johnson that got Beers out of the groove. Sure Johnson never intended anything untoward but there should be a consequence for taking a car and especially a car up in the points out of contention.

  3. Let’s start a pool to see who can guess when NASCAR will have the standings updated!

  4. Crazy in NY says

    Berndt may have been pressing too much but he caused nothing it was Johnson that got Beers out of the groove.

    Someone didn’t see the mid race interview where the Bulldog owned wrecking Beers there. Yes JJ in Ole Blue was aggressive but that is how you race at Thompson on the Tour. If NASCAR is going penalize everybody who races like that (why start now?), Jake is going to be standing in a long line. Beers had to pedal there yes but you save it and come back and return the favor. Berndt never gave him a chance. I’d rather talk though about the hard but clean racing between 51 and 16 the whole race until Justin choked ( his words) on that restart. You want to see aggressive? 51 at Martinsville will be worth the price of admission I’d wager.

  5. JJ can’t be accused of anything but good, hard racing. That’s the risk one takes on the outside line, Beers and Berndt did it to themselves. Surprised all the technology in the 1 couldn’t prevent that mistake and mishap. 😆

    Ole Blue looked great.

    The 51 can be as aggressive as he wants, but it will take a HYUGE mistake by the 16 to change anything. Unless the 16 screws up, the championship is Silk’s to lose. I hope Silk just paces a couple places behind the 51 all day at Martinsville. The 51 can not survive the aggressiveness needed to finish that far ahead of the 16, without the 16 having problems.

    As long as the 16 marks the 51 and stays safe, the best the 51 can do is win a clock. 🕰️

  6. But Doug JB is Goodfellas guy he is so clean
    Never does anything to anyone.

  7. My take is completely different and yes I did see Berndt comments. He was owning the fact he should have been more patience instead of mixing it up in that tight pack at that point in the race.
    I don’t find your answer satisfactory and wondering if it includes the Ole Blue bias. I think we need more opinions. The difference is when it ends in a wreck. The cause was the 3, the one simply collected. Guilty of pressing too hard in cramped quarters and nothing more. Being contrite because he knows how good that car was and wants to drive it again. Plus it’s Berndt’s nature he’s never been a finger pointer.
    My view Berndt is a real talent but more suited to sprints. For the long haul they could probably use someone more like Coby or even their old driver Dowling.
    Thanks for the response! Lets see if anyone else is interesting in weighing in.

  8. I thought the 3 moving up on the 64 was just like 50 other moves during the race. Guys were dive bombing underneath cars and drifting up causing the driver to lift.
    Another way to look at it is if Berndt didn’t hit him and Beers just lost a spot or two no one would have thought twice about it. Without changing what the 3 did.

  9. I second what Camerissa wrote… there were many, many dive bomb – slide jobs going on the whole race… it happens. It just happened that they were 3-wide, which was too wide in those conditions.

    💩 happens.

  10. Hillary 2024 says

    I almost soiled myself when it looked like Fifield was going to start up in 10th or wherever she is in points.

  11. FloRacing is the gift that keeps on giving. You can enjoy races from all over but it’s also very satisfying watching the race a second time to get clues on how all the pieces fit into the final finishing order.

    “I thought the 3 moving up on the 64 was just like 50 other moves during the race.”

    I don’t have a response to the generic “50 other moves” but I can get more specific about Johnson. 23 to go Johnson did the exact same thing to Rypkema and therein lies the difference. There was no car behind the 32, he saved it so no harm no foul. In fact Johnson had several erratic moments. Pushing Beers and Rypkema while over driving and falling in line behind the lapped 92 on lap 58 while trying to pass Beers low. Thinking about going under the lapped car but thankfully deciding better. That’s a rookie error.

    So what exactly did Berndt say:
    “I should have probably been a little more patient, press the issue where I shouldn’t have been. I ended up getting collected with the 64. Umm, we had a really fast car, just needed to mind my own time a little bit, I’ll own that one and hopefully we can do a couple more of these, see if we can shake this monkey off our back “

    He’s owning being too aggressive, wrong place wrong time and he was spot on. At the opening of the race Berndt drove like the sprint specialist he is going from the rear up to 8th by lap 25 where he settled in for a while. Caution on lap 83 he goes in 7th and comes out 10th so he’s still in a great position a little over half way. Then he presses too hard and as he said “ended up getting collected” when guys like Goodale were floating around the top 10 letting the race come to them. A good example of experience paying off when it comes to longer races vs weekend sprints.
    I get that Johnson is a favorite young gun and the 3 iconic and but objectively speaking that was not a clean race for the team. The pit crew being equally at fault punting Jake from 1st to 8th on the lap 83 caution. The pit crew performs better, the 3 comes out closer to the front and Johnson wouldn’t have been over driving when he nudged Beers into the danger zone.

    So I’m feeling pretty glum as the race was winding down watching the 51 and 16 battle for the win. Knowing that even if Silk won that Martinsville not a good track for the team or Silk for whatever the reason and thinking Bonsignor would be in the cat bird seat for the finale. We all know what happened but interestingly if Silk wins the championship it will be more like Bonsignor losing it. I refer to the self inflicted wreck at Wall as well as this malfunction whatever the cause. Hard to believe a guy that has been in a similar situation thousands of times would have wrecked the linkage or transmission it could have been a simple equipment failure. In any event that’s two team errors in a season where there was no room for any miscue. The 16 still has to finish them off and that’s not going to be automatic but if they do this will not be a good winter for the Massa team letting a championship slip away.

    I suppose Sammy Rameau is in a lot of hot water now and it may have started in this race. 22 to go Krause gets sideways getting into Rameau’s lane and the 06 ends up wrecked. Perhaps by the time he got to the open race the seeds had been planted for trouble. No excuse for what ensued but being wrecked out of a second big event on the same day by a Mad Pup must have sent the adrenaline into the red zone.

    Critical lap 83 pit stop. Winners and losers you be the judge.


    Upon further review my award for headiest team performance goes to the 58 team. Stayed clear of trouble while racing back in the field, made the most of a pit stop, consistently fast and bring it home in 3rd.

  12. Hillary, I thought there had to be a HYUGE mistake in qualifying when I saw the 01 not in last place. It took a while to realize there was no qualifying and the cars were racked by points.

    Max Zachem did a pretty good job with the 26.

    The dearly beloved TC always said, “Eight are better than four” whenever he ran a car up. It was funny and entertaining when he did it.

    It has always happened, and always will happen. The inside line is preferred, the outside line is at risk.

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