When you’re hot, you’re hot. That is an understatement when describing the week that Connecticut driver Ronnie Williams has had in Northeast Modified racing. After collecting over $15,000 in Tour-type Modified competition at New Hampshire Motor Speedway and Seekonk Speedway, Williams returned home to Stafford Motor Speedway Friday night for the SK 5K.
Back in the seat of Adam Skowyra’s No. 50 SK Modified, Williams overcame some early trouble, racing to the front and out-dueling three-time Stafford SK Modified champ Keith Rocco over the final laps of the 100-lap NAPA SK 5K to add another $5,000 to his weekly earning.
After leaning on each other over the final two laps, Williams edged Rocco at the line by 0.053 seconds to score his third win in six days, his second SK win of the season at Stafford, and another five grand to bring his total winnings for the week to over $20,000.
“This is awesome. If you told me coming into this week that we would win every single race that we were in, I would’ve said that you’re nuts. Gary gave me a great race car this week, Adam gave me a great race car tonight, and we were able to put them in victory lane,” Williams told Speed51.
Racing inches apart over the last two laps, Williams and Rocco seemed to give each other less ground as the distance to the checkered flag decreased.
“Just trying to keep it as clean as possible, he and I have a little bit of history. Gave him as much room as possible, gave it everything I had, and we came out on top,” Williams said.
Afterwards, Rocco simply acknowledged that hard-nosed racing is what happens when a $5,000 check is on the line.
“It’s five grand to win, he did what he had to do to win the race," Rocco said. "He got under me and left me out there. We put on a good show for the fans, but when it came down to turn three and four, he did what he had to do to win the race. Five grand, I would’ve done the same, and probably a lot worse.
While Williams appeared to have just a little more speed in the closing laps, Rocco’s experience coupled with a well-handling car on the outside seemed to be enough of a difference at first, with ‘Kid Roc’ holding Williams off at first despite giving the No. 50 the inside line. But, Williams had saved his right-side tires for just such a battle, despite having to come through the field after getting a flat left-front tire in a Lap 41 pileup.
“We were involved in that wreck, which wasn’t very good and at that point I thought the night was kind of over. Went back out there, the car seemed fine, and started driving back to the front. We saved so much throughout the race we were able to use all of our stuff at the end,” Williams said.
Going back even earlier into June, the month has truly been one to remember for Williams. Earlier this month, he celebrated his first Tour-type Modified victory back on June 8 with the Modified Racing Series at Monadnock Speedway (NH). With his $5,000 Modified Racing Series victory at New Hampshire -- which he earned in a photo finish over Anthony Nocella last Sunday -- and his $10,000 Open Wheel Wednesday triumph at Seekonk Speedway, Williams has established himself as one of the hottest short track drivers in the nation this month.
Friday’s SK 5K win makes Williams the first repeat winner in the race’s six-year history and puts him back into the hunt for a second-straight Stafford SK Modified season title. It also puts him in a place in Northeast Modified racing history that will be remembered for some time. It’s no surprise that the 22-year-old Modified hot-shoe considers this month one of the best of his career.
“Of course, you want to take everything in as it comes; every race you want to win, and we’ve been able to do that. We went through some tough spells, but this makes it all worth it. We just kept working and ended up in victory lane.”
-Story by: Connor Sullivan, Speed51 Northeast Editor – Twitter: @Connor51CT
-Photo credit: Speed51 / Rick Ibsen