After making just seven starts on the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour one year ago, a familiar figure will be returning to full-time competition in 2016. Ron Silk, the 2011 NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour champion, will partner with car owner Danny Watts for what they hope to be a full slate of races this upcoming season.
Silk dabbled in part-time competition on the tour in 2015 while splitting time between the LFR Chassis house car for NWMT events and Bill Park’s Modified for NASCAR Whelen All-American Series races at Riverhead Raceway (NY).
During the offseason, Silk partnered with Watts – another Long Island-based team – and the duo made the trip south to New Smyrna Speedway (FL) for the World Series of Asphalt Stock Car Racing. With Silk piloting the orange No. 82, the team picked up a win on the first night of Tour-Type Modified racing in the Sunshine state.
That performance and their strong run throughout Florida Speedweeks made it an easy decision for the two to carry their partnership into the 2016 NWMT season.
“We are going to try and do the whole season depending on how we are doing,” Silk told Speed51.com powered by JEGS. “If we are struggling we might regroup for a little bit, but I think we’ll be pretty good.”
The Watts team made the long trek from Long Island up to Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park in Silk’s home state of Connecticut this past Saturday to shake down the car and prepare for the Icebreaker 150 at Thompson on April 10. Silk was calmly confident that the team will be able to come out fighting from the get-go when the green flag drops.
“I don’t see why not,” he said. “Obviously there are some really good cars on the Tour, but we’ve got some nice equipment. We know what we got to do with the car so I can’t see why we can’t compete. The car is pretty good, got a little bit to work on, but I’m happy.”
The time spent together between Silk and the team has not only given them a leg up for 2016, it has already yielded a big result. In the first Modified race of the New Smyrna World Series back on February 16, Silk showed a lot of speed by running in the top five while Ryan Preece led much of the 50-lap feature event. A late race caution would play in Silk’s favor after saving his tires. Silk pounced on Preece taking the lead with three laps to go and brought home the checkers.
Silk believes that the time spent together during Florida Speedweeks will be valuable for the season ahead.
“New Smyrna was good to get to race together. These guys can figure out what I like, and I can figure out how they do things,” he explained. “It is just feeling each other out, figuring out what works best for us, but it’s going good so far.”
In addition to his Whelen Modified ride for Danny Watts, Silk will also be competing in the Tri-Track Open Modified Series for Norwalk, Connecticut owner Bob Horn. Silk found immediate success in Horn’s No. 50 one year ago, winning the 100-lap Tri-Track event at the New London-Waterford Speedbowl in their first outing last September.
His plans to compete in both cars gives Silk upwards of 20 Tour-Type Modified races on his schedule in 2016. After having questions marks surrounding his schedule a year ago, he is pleased to be on solid footing this time around.
“It’s good. I like racing and I’m happy to be here.”
-By Connor Sullivan, Speed51.com State Editor (CT, LI, MA) – Twitter: @Connor51CT
-Photo credit: Speed51.com