Best Defense: Ron Silk Wins Whelen Modified Tour Season Opener At New Smyrna 

Ron Silk celebrates victory in the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour season opening event at New Smyrna Speedway Saturday (Photo: Jim DuPont/RaceDayCT)

It was a night of playing the best defense that could be played for Ron Silk Saturday at New Smyrna Speedway. 

Silk began defense of his 2023 NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour championship in perfect fashion at New Smyrna, in the process defending his status as the season opening winner last season at the historic Florida short track. 

Following a late pit stop, Silk made the charge from third to first over the final 10 laps to win the Whelen Modified Tour New Smyrna Beach Area Visitors 200 at New Smyrna Speedway. 

It was the 23rd career Whelen Modified Tour victory for Silk, who was also the series champion in 2011. Silk led 97 of 200 laps.

“You can’t start much better than that,” Silk said. “I love this place. It’s my favorite race track so it feels good to back up the win from last year. Off to a good start so hopefully we can keep it rolling. Everyone did a great job. Great pit stops. Made some good calls strategy-wise that put me in the right place. Just a team effort. It takes everyone to do this. I can’t be happier than to be here in victory lane.” 

It was a podium packed with 11 series championships for the season opener. In addition to two-time and reigning series champion Silk winning it was three-time series champion Justin Bonsignore finishing second and six-time series champion Doug Coby finishing third.

Following a late red flag most of the leaders headed to pit road under caution with Silk leading, Craig Lutz in second and Andrew Krause third. Bonsignore was fourth and Coby fifth before pit stops began. 

Coby and 11th place running Austin Beers stayed off pit road to assume the front row after the pit stop. Silk led the charge off pit road to restart third and Bonsignore was fifth for the final restart with about 10 laps remaining. 

On the restart it was Beers going to the lead past Coby and Silk quickly moving to second. With nine laps remaining Silk got by Beers to take over the lead while behind him Bonsignore was going by Coby for third. 

Bonsignore then made quick work of Beers, but by the time he got to second Silk had opened a sizable lead. 

“I was giving it everything I had but I was just a little too tight on that last set of tires,” Bonsignore said. “Coming to the white [flag] I found something in [turns] three and four, wrapped the yellow line and it hooked really good but it was too little too late at that point. Obviously it would have been nice to have a few more laps, but my hats off to them. … Off to good start here.” 

Coby ended up getting by Beers for third place with three laps to go. Coby is driving for team owner Tommy Baldwin Jr., who was forced to shut down his Whelen Modified Tour team during the 2023 season after being diagnosed with cancer. 

“It means a lot more for us to be up here on the podium with [Bonsignore] and [Silk] than it does maybe for them,” Coby said. “Tommy is a warrior and a battler and really faced cancer head on and was very public about his battle. It probably helped a lot of other people out by talking about it.” 

Patrick Emerling ended up fourth and Trevor Catalano was fifth. 

Lutz won the pole for the event and led the first 80 laps. 


  1. Good race. Usually, season openers are wreckfests, this was decent. The couple incidents were not surprising, typical offenders.

    There was about a 3 second lag between the video and audio on FloRacing. It was like watching a very badly dubbed foreign film, or the original Godzilla movies. It was that way on all my devices. 🐉

    Krause, Rypkema and Lutz can be very competitive if they can just keep it together. Clearly they bring great equipment.

    Look at the size of the 16 team in VL. And some teams only have maybe 3-4 members. We can’t let racing be brought down to the capabilities of the 3-4 member teams. We want Modified racing to be represented by the top 15, not the bottom 5.

    FURY chassis rule!!!!! RULE!!!!!

    Anybody know why the 3 had a penalty? Recovered rather well.

    What happened to the 60??? It was nowhere to be found. 🤷

    That long run ate up quite a few cars. The cars were sliding all over the place. Things came back together rather well after the pit.

    Good to see Preece get back on the lead lap.

    The 7NY ran a PSR? Looks good. Usually runs well, and did.

    Look over the results, pretty much as can be expected. Things will move around a little bit pending bad luck and idiocy. The bottom will remain the bottom.

    The 2024 NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour will be a slugfest between Ryan Stone and Phil Moran.

  2. Dareal,

    Looked to me like he jumped out of line too soon on restart

  3. Bigorange61,


  4. Dareal rules rules says

    Ah Dareal. Avoiding the fact that the 24 is a LFR and the 1 car restarted 11th with 9 laps to go and finished 4th. Emerling will upset you this year so be prepared. It will just be another let down. You are used to them by now. Still waiting for the day you start a team and show us all how it’s done. Won’t hold my breathe. Guys like you are too good at talking to actually do anything.

  5. Krause was wicked fast. Couldn’t believe what I was seeing. I was probably the only one wearing an Andrew Krause shirt in the stands. I’m not suprised by P8 but, lapping Ryan Preece. Driving way for the likes and Coby and Hirshman. That was sublime. Competition gets even toughernow.

  6. Race was long a strung out most part. Good thing Emerling stopped off of turn 2 for the caution to regroup the field. Emerling was a lap down and was about to go down another. Should’ve been a penalty for stopping but nascar had blinders on. He gets the golden horse Shoe after a P4 finish. Darealgoodfella .. the 7ny struggled all day and night. Fact is they rode around most race between 7th-12th . Late race pit strategy by Baldwin gives them a top 3 . All day …. Long driver complained car was never in the race track. 18 tires for this event , traveling , fuel , etc you would literally have to win just to break even. The purse in this day and age is just ridiculous. Why don’t car owners stick together and fight for more purse money and cut back on this Hoosier tire allotment. The amount of tires per race now is Absolutely ridiculous. Any thoughts ?!

  7. Shawn I am curious, how old is Trevor Catalano and was this his first WMT start?

  8. Ricky,
    He is 17 and it was his first series start.

  9. All you need to do to really enjoy that race in tune into the replay starting with the caution with 30 or so to go. Because of a series of cautions Hirschman goes from the podium to 10th. Coby somehow gets to third with hard driving plus staying out on the final caution and fending off Beers with a little rough stuff. Speaking of caution the last one saved the 51 who was fading but rejuvenated with new rubber and finished strong. Was it a well mannered race? Not in the last 30 laps that’s for sure. No major wrecks but a lot of hard racing and sharp elbows.
    Silk ran the pristine race for this one. A gamble pitting for gas early along with Coby then getting mired back in the field. No worries a couple dozen laps later another caution and he finds himself near the front again. Then it’s run your line, good pit stops and with a minimum of hard racing getting a win they couldn’t have written up a game plan any better.
    Did Lutz make a strategic faux pas waiting with 70 to go and having to take on gas and tires on successive laps then having to fight back the rest of the race?
    Sorry but as pristine as Preece was in his one race and win last year at Martinsville the 40 was a mess on Saturday. Used up tires skating all over the track with 75 to go. The penalty not getting out of line as previously mentioned but pitting too early. Getting back on the lead lap late you can say was being tenacious but overall a fail because of mental errors. As a hard charger New Smyrna not an ideal track for Preece.
    Coby over performed in my view fighting like crazy to make it to third at the end of the race. Hirschman on the podium with 30 to go fades to 10th for a number of reasons something you rarely see from the 60 at go time.
    Lutz dominance early kind of a shock, Krause’s quality run surprising as well and then there’s Jake Johnson. You can say 9th isn’t that special but that guy fought all race and rallied back to 9th. Putting him in the 3 full time is going to pay off at some point.
    Good call by Coss and Dodge. Looked like every transplanted retired guy over 60 living in Florida was in the stands.
    Yes sir that was indeed a very dramatic, caution filled, 30 something lap sprint and a great opener in my view.

  10. It was a 14 tire race. You could only buy 10 tires at the track. You’re allowed to bring 4 from home. Read your entry blank sometime.

  11. TIRE GUY your 100% WRONG. 14 tires for the EVENT plus 4 …stickers from HOME was allowed . 14 + 4 = 18 So maybe you should look at entry blank before you type FALSE Information.. Just saying.

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