Charging Champion: Ron Silk Wins Whelen Modified Tour Icebreaker 150 At Thompson 

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

THOMPSON – In 2023 veteran NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour driver Ron Silk captured his second series title. 

And in 2024 the Norwalk driver is showing that he and his Haydt-Yannone Racing team are fully prepared to defend that title masterfully. 

Silk won the season opening Whelen Modified Tour event on Feb. 10 at New Smyrna (Fla.) Speedway and finished second to Justin Bonsignore in a fiery battle in the second event of the season on March 29 at Richmond (Va.) Raceway. 

Sunday Silk made the return back to his home state one of pure domination. 

Silk drove away from the field over the final 40 laps to win the Whelen Modified Tour Icebreaker 150 at Thompson Speedway. 

It was the 24th career Whelen Modified Tour victory for Silk and his seventh win in 60 career starts at Thompson. Silk, who beat second place Jake Johnson to the checkered by just over two seconds, led 87 of 150 laps in the event.

“It’s a good feeling to have a car like that,” Silk said. “We didn’t make a whole lot of changes at the pit stop and that’s kind of the way it felt at the end of the first run. We tried to keep up with the track a little bit and then the guys really nailed it with the car today. It drove phenomenal. That’s the best feeling in auto racing.” 

Frustration was high for Silk and his HYR team after a winless 2022 season. The group opened the 2023 season with a victory at New Smyrna and have been clicking on all cylinders since then. Sunday’s victory was Silk’s seventh win in the last 21 series events dating back to the start of the 2023 season. In the last 21 series events Silk has 17 top-five finishes and just one finish outside of the top-10. 

“It just keeps getting better [for this team],” Silk said. “There was a lot of positive signs in 2022. It was frustrating to not get over the hump and get the win. We got that first one out of the way at New Smyrna [in 2022] and it’s just been great. Everyone is getting along great, we’re all thinking in the same direction and as a group we’re pulling the ropes the same way. It feels really good and we just want to keep it going as long as we can.” 

Johnson, of Rehoboth, Mass., also finished second in the last visit to Thompson by the Whelen Modified Tour last October. 

“We were just trying to keep up to [Silk],” Johnson said. “Two races in a row here at Thompson we got the runner-up position. I can’t be upset. We had an awesome pit stop and a great spotter. Everyone doing their job and it’s really showing the results.” 

Patrick Emerling of Orchard Park, N.Y. was third in the third event for his new team. 

After three events Silk leads the point standings by nine over Justin Bonsignore, who finished fourth. Johnson sits third in the standings, 24 points behind Silk.

The highest drama of the day came following a lap 90 restart that sent all the leaders to pit road. The caution flew with Silk leading, Lutz in second, Johnson in third, Bonsignore and Emerling in fifth. 

It was Emerling winning the race off of pit road to go to the lead. Silk was second off pit road, Johnson third, Bonsignore fourth and Austin Beers fifth. Lutz fell from second to sixth. 

On the lap 98 restart it was Silk beating Emerling into turn one. The battle for the lead sent Emerling up the hill in turn two allowing Silk to go to the lead with Johnson moving to second and Bonsignore to third. Emerling fell back to fifth. 

Emerling was frustrated with NASCAR for not making a call on Silk for getting ahead of him on the restart and he was frustrated with Silk for driving him up the track in turn two. 

“He took off before the first line and he edged a quarter car to the start/finish [line],” Emerling said. “At the driver’s meeting they say you absolutely cannot beat the leader to the start/finish line. I think if the roles were reversed I would have got a penalty. They just didn’t just catch that one. They emphasis it every meeting, but that’s just how it goes. 

Emerling said he owes Silk one for the restart move. 

“I’m just going to maybe run him like that in the future,” Emerling said. 

Said Silk: “I don’t think I jumped the restart. I got a good restart, drove side-by-side with him, we drove full throw down into turn one hard and my car just didn’t turn. It went straight. I ran him up into the marbles. It’s something that’s happened to me countless times here too. That’s not an excuse, I’m not saying it’s OK, but you’re at such a disadvantage at the bottom that if you don’t get in line there you could end up fourth or fifth. I didn’t want to do that. I certainly didn’t want to run him into the weeds, I wanted to race him hard. But I did run him up out of the groove and he’s got a right to be angry with that.” 

Ultimately Emerling was left optimistic with what’s to come for his first year team. 

“This is our third race in with a brand new team,” Emerling said. “You saw that pit stop. We came in and our guys smoked everyone on the pit stop. … Everyone did an awesome job.” 

The race started with pole winner Justin Bonsignore getting out ahead of Johnson off of turn two on the first lap. 

The action quickly was thwarted though thanks to a five-car pileup in turn one on lap two. The wreck collected Bobby Santos III, Dave Sapienza, Andrew Krause, Eric Goodale and JR Bertuccio. 

On the lap six restart it was Bonsignore holding the top spot with Craig Lutz making the jump from fourth to second place. 

On lap 13 it was Lutz using the outside lane off of turn four to overtake Bonsignore for the lead. 

With Lutz leading Bonsignore and Johnson in third, caution was back out on lap 18 with Tim Connolly stopped at the entry of turn three. 

On the lap 26 restart it was Lutz getting the jump with Silk following to second by Bonsignore. 

On lap 27 Johnson used the outside lane off of turn two to get by Bonsignore for third. 

Caution returned to the track on lap 28 for the slowed car of Trevor Catalano, who retired with motor issues. 

On the lap 33 restart it was Lutz continuing to set the pace out front with Bonsignore making the jump from fourth to second, dropping Silk to third and Johnson to fourth. 

On lap 50 it was Silk getting by Bonsignore off of turn four to go back to second place. 

After sizing up Lutz for a lap, Silk got low under the leader into turn one to take over the top spot. 

By lap 80 Silk had checked out at the front of the field, opening a 1.5 second lead over second place Lutz, with Johnson in third and Bonsignore fourth. 

With Silk pacing the field on lap 105 it was Bonsignore stalking all over Johnson’s bumper in the battle for second place. 

By lap 120 Silk had built a half second lead over Johnson with Bonsignore in third, 1.3 seconds off the lead. 

By lap 130 Silk’s lead over Johnson was up to 1.3 seconds with Bonsignore 2.5 seconds behind the leader in third. Silk’s lead was opened up to just over two seconds by lap 145. 


  1. Another outstanding performance by Phil Moran. I thought the 51 would have been better, it has owned Thompson until now.

    Very sad to see the wreck in the opening laps, many good teams taken out.

    Where was Dug Colby????

    Where was the 7NY?

    Jake Johnson and the 3, ‘Ole Blue showing how it’s done. ✅

    I heard Matt Hirschman was running, how’d he do?

    I have a fantasy of seeing all Catalano cars finishing on the lead lap.

    A Fury and BRE car came in #1 and #2. Gotta love Modified racing!!!!

    Great to see the Mighty Modifieds running at Thompson again. Especially given the recent earthquakes, eclipse, snow storm, and the rapture coming up.

  2. Too bad the last restart ruined Emerling chance for the win…. It’s great to see the #3 running up front – they will get a win this season.

  3. Steve, should the 16 have ran up Emerling? Certainly not, but there were 50+ laps left in the race. Seemed foolish for Emerling to be crying in the post race interview, if your car was in the same league at the 16, why didn’t you get back to him?

  4. How come every time Hirschman wins a race somewhere we have to see everyone on social media talk about how he’s the best modified driver in the history of racing but when he shows up at nascar modified race and isn’t competitive nobody says anything? He was a nobody Sunday at Thompson. How can he be the greatest modified driver ever if Coby, Bonsignore and Silk all have way more wins and way better career average states than him on the nascar tour?

  5. Fast Eddie says

    Hirschman was not in the PeeDee 60, he was in a red 60 with a yellow roof, not sure who the owner is.

  6. Patrick tetreault says

    Because Matt is committed to winning money not worthless trophies if you dont know what you are talking about you shouldn’t comment if the 60 team committed to running the tour full time he would be the one to beat! When they all come run tri track they don’t consistently beat Matt so why is that they all have better newer cars why can’t they beat him?

  7. Just Me - The Original says

    @ Ricky
    The issue lays with NASCAR for not calling Silk for jumping the restart. They were all told at the drivers meeting that the you can’t pass till you cross the start/finish line. Silk was ahead of Emerling even before the restart line. Guess they didn’t want to put Silk to the rear of the field.

  8. The 1 car got a bad deal on the start. Just 1 more car Silk needs to look out for that never ran him dirty. Par. The top 5 cars are so close in speed that trying to make up 3 seconds with 40 laps to go while passing cars for position is near impossible. The pit crews all know the 1 car is here. The crew chiefs and owners are realizing that too. If they had that pit crew on the 1 car last year they would have lapped the field at Thompson. For a team with 3 races under their belts running like they are, the 51 and 16 better not fall asleep at the wheel. They FINALLY have competition. Great for us fans!

  9. Surprised to see hirschman come back in the red 60 Baker car.
    The last time out at Thompson in that car, he ended up with a bad wrist that kept him out of action for a bit.
    Im sure he would not be easily dismissed if he were running the PeeDee 60. Jmo.

  10. It’s a month until the next race. What the hell are we going to complain about until then?

  11. Just Saying says

    Thanks Patrick it’s just some guys just don’t know what they’re talking about, if Hirshman ran the full season in the 60 Pee Dee car on the Mod Tour”a boring series” he probably whip all their asses

  12. Fast Eddie says

    …But it’s only 2-1/2 weeks untill the Sizzler!!

  13. If the #1 was supposed to be such a good car, it should have been able to easily catch and pass anything in front of it. Clearly not enough technology. A homemade car beat the #1.

    Phil Moran beats down Rob Fuller again. 😝 😆 😂

  14. Ooops!!!! Fast Eddie, thanks for reminding me.

    Okay, what the hell are we gonna complain about for 2.5 weeks????


    Patrick, what you wrote makes no sense. If what you said was true, what the hell was Hirschman doing at Thompson????

    Like I’ve been saying, and proven correct, is that HIrschman is an itty-bitty bullring specialist, and he’s good at it. He just got his ass kicked at Thompson, was never a factor. Thompson is a big-boy speed racetrack, not a skid pad bullring. Stop blaming the car, he wouldn’t run in inferior equipment.

  15. Fast Eddie, forgot that.

    What the hell are we gonna complain about for the next 2.5 weeks?

  16. The whelen tour needs some new faces .. or even some familiar faces back to the game ASAP. It’s the silk / JB show pretty much every .. race. Pretty boring .. you can pretty much pick top 3 cars every race if nothing crazy happens. When guys like coby , Santos , mckennedy , Blewett and some other competitive competitors ran it was much more entertaining race with any of them legit chance to win and mix up top 6 spots frequently. Saturday .. tri track race had over 30 cars much more competition and purse not much less then the nwmt and it cost 1/3 as it would running nwmt . Nwmt is a millionaires club and they would all race for just Trophy . It’s time people to stick together and maybe speak their mind on why some of these races are over 4,000 dollar tire bills and the purses and point money hasn’t increased at all over years. Total losing deal . Makes zero sense other than bragging rights . Races and teams put on the show and fill the race tracks . Track owners and others involved make a decent living but the guys putting the show on pay their way into the gate and Actually lose money every event . Racing expense has doubled over the years between tires .. engines . Etc . Purse money if you average it out it’s the same as 20 years ago . Just saying .. 👀

  17. Wayne don’t get to caught up on guys that don’t have as many wins as Justin or Doug . These two guys have raced the tour pretty much time for 15 + years … and never really ran anything else and when they do run open shows they struggle to run top 5 . so yea when you have a few hundred starts wins and poles little easier to build . Guy like hirshman only runs a handful here and there. Great drivers are ones who can adopt to different cars and win all over.

  18. Here we are, Wednesday, April 10 and the standings are finally updated.


    Last season, things were looking good for Goodale. This year, he’s below Fifield in points, and ran all three events. 😱 😳 Geez, hope the 58 team runs out of bad luck.

    I’m looking for Krause to make gains. Always has a fast car, needs to keep it together and close the deal.

    Hope the #3 makes progress. It is moving up for sure!!! Good to see home grown Ole’ Blue running with the Furys. 👍

    The LFR House car is in 8th place. Exceeding expectations. Running a house car is going to end up being a huge mistake.

  19. That might be the stupidest Hirschman fan response ever Phil. So because Bonsignore and Coby have more starts on the tour it’s easier for them to win? The fair comparison is percentage of wins to starts. Silk has won 9.5% of his starts on the tour. Coby has won 12.2% of his starts on the tour. Bonsignore has won 19.2% of his starts on the tour. Hirschman has won 6.3% of his starts on the tour. How can someone say Hirschman is the best modified driver there is if three drivers he is competing with have way better win percentages than him on what is considered the toughest modified division to win in?

  20. Wayne .. way over your head. Justin struggled to
    Run top 5 with art Barry car back in the day .. in mrs and was horrific in Sk at stafford and the # 00 jimmy page car struggled to run top 5 in open races and pretty much gave up and left. Good driver but all his success has been last 4 years with Ryan stone and racing millionaires tour for 15 plus years. Stone makes him look great as it’s pretty clear . Again no competition in.. tour anymore. Guys like Justin and coby are great drivers but to judge best drivers over wins and poles I don’t agree . Bobby Santos … has won not even half as much as JB or coby in tour . What’s that mean .. he’s not as
    Good ? Truth is he’s twice driver and can win in anything he sits in and choices to race all around country. He’s not racing tour 15 + consecutive years trying to be most winning driver like
    Some of these tour guys are trying to do. Spread your wings .. drive some other open wheel stuff see how great u.

  21. Fast Eddie says

    For the folks looking for more competition, the 3 and 1 have stepped up. The 44 and 58 got crunched in the first turn crash at the beginning. The 64 was in it too and had a great run to 7th. There are a few others with a chance to be there at the end, 32, 24, and 46 just a few. The potential is there in the existing field of cars, we just need to see if they can make it happen .

  22. You are just talking in circles Phil. You’re saying it’s easy to win on the Tour as long as you’re with a great team owner? That guys like Bonsignore and Coby and Silk aren’t as talented as Hirschman, they’re just with good car owners and there’s no real competition on the tour? So if Hirschman is so much more talented than Bonsignore and Coby and Silk, why hasn’t any of the special owners you talk about put him in a car to run the tour recently? From what you’re saying, he so much more talented than guys like Bonsignore, Coby and Silk that if you put him with a good team owner he’d be just about unbeatable right? So why didn’t the 16 team put Hirschman in their car instead of Silk? See, you don’t make any sense. What about a guy like McKennedy? Isn’t he talented? He was with one of those special millionaire car owners for 42 races on the tour and only got 1 win. So by your logic you must be saying that McKennedy is really untalented right? If the tour is so easy to win on as long as you’re with a car good car owner and McKennedy spent 4 years with a great car owner and only got 1 win, he must be really bad right? Obviously he’s not, it just shows how ridiculous your argument is about how easy it is to win on the tour.

  23. If Hirschman was that good, there should have been a long line of car owners trying to get him their car. Never happened.

    Same can be said about Dug Colby. Was a journeyman before MSRIII, and is back to being a journeyman after MSRIII. It would appear he should have few good years left in him. Why doesn’t an owner put Colby in a full-time car????? Dug Colby drove for Phil Moran on the MSRIII team.

  24. Knuckles Mahoney says

    Phil: JB won the MRS championship in Art Barry’s car, so what you talking about he struggled to get top 5’s?? But, you all are missing the next up and comer. Trevor Catalano had 2 top 5’s in his first 2 races, and but for a blown engine at Thompson he was on his way to another great finish. You heard it here first.

  25. Knuckles Mahoney scribbled,

    “But, you all are missing the next up and comer. Trevor Catalano had 2 top 5’s in his first 2 races, and but for a blown engine at Thompson he was on his way to another great finish. You heard it here first.”

    Let’s see how well this ages. Like fine bourbon or a head of lettuce?

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