Epping, NH (July 27, 2019): Ron Silk of Norwalk, CT, used pit strategy and veteran moves to win the SBM 125 at Star Speedway for the Tri-Track Open Modified Series (TTOMS) on Saturday night. The victory was hard-fought over runner-up Ronnie Williams of Ellington, CT, and was determined coming to the checkers. It was the second Modified win in the state of New Hampshire in seven days for Silk. The win was also redemption of sorts for Silk who has endured terrible luck in recent TTOMS competition.
Matt Swanson of Acton, MA, turned in another strong performance to complete the podium. Early leader Matt Hirschman of Northampton, PA, finished fourth over Andy Jankowiak of Tonawanda, NY. Richard Savary of Canton, MA, Cam McDermott of Canterbury, CT, Brad Babb of Windham, ME, Woody Pitkat of Bellingham, MA, and Brian Robie of Sunapee, NH, completed the top-ten.
After qualifying through the consolation event and starting deep in the pack, Silk methodically worked his way through the field and by lap 35 he was solidly in the top ten. He took advantage of a lap 47 caution to come to pit road for service. During a lap 71 caution, Silk was one of only three cars to remain on the track; giving him the point when the track went back to green. The strategy worked to perfection for Silk who went on to hold off challenges from Hirschman and finally Williams to score the popular victory.
By virtue of the redraw following heat race qualifying, Hirschman led the 27- car field to green for the start of the SBM 125. Hirschman jumped out to the lead with Pitkat following in line in second with Hersey and Swanson in tow. Over the opening laps a brewing battle for third between Hersey and Swanson was stalled by the first caution of the event on lap 6; involving Josh Cantera of Sanford, ME, and Jon Kievman of Deerfield Beach, FL.
Hirschman was able to retain the lead on the restart ahead of Pitkat and Hersey. From the outside groove Swanson gave up a position to Savary. On lap 11, Savary took third from Hersey. Deeper in the pack, rows of side-by-side racing saw Babb and Jacob Dore of Sanford, ME, McDermott and Anthony Sesely of Matawan, NJ, and Anthony Nocella of Berlin, MA and Andy J vying for position.
Fluid on the race track necessitated a caution on lap 19. Under yellow, Dore, Andy Shaw of Center Conway, NH and Nocella pitted. Back under racing conditions, it continued to be Hirschman over Pitkat and Savary. A bobble from the outside groove on the restart saw Hersey losing several spots.
The third caution flew on lap 20 for a spin my Carl Medeiros, Jr. of Westport, MA. It was much of the same for Hirschman with Pitkat, Savary, and Swanson. Dana DiMatteo of Farmington, CT, joined the top five once back under green. Kirk Alexander of W. Swanzey, NH, joined the fray using the outside groove to get by Babb. Williams was also on the move and into the top ten. The action outside of the top ten continued to be spirited with McDermott, Jankowiak, Sesely and Silk.
The front duo was beginning to breakaway from the field once again. Savary took chase followed by DiMatteo and Swanson. Alexander and Williams had joined the battle for the top-five before the #92 of Nocella slowed on the speedway to bring out the fourth caution on lap 35.
Behind the lead trio, the lap 35 restart saw some movement with the lead pack as Swanson and Williams gained positions. During the stretch of green flag racing, Silk got around Barrett, Hersey and Galko. He immediately went to work on Babb; taking the position on lap 43. He continued his charge to the front with a bold pass on Alexander for seventh.
At the head of the field, Pitkat looked to be getting racy for the lead when the fifth caution flew for a spin by Vigeant on lap 47. Andy Shaw was penalized for his involvement. Silk pitted under the caution.
On the lap 47 restart, Hirschman continued to show the way over Pitkat and Savary. Williams capitalized on the restart to move into fourth. He dove low on Savary on lap 52 and was able to make the pass stick. Once again, the lead duo was getting some breathing room over now third-running Williams. Savary was still in striking distance while Swanson ran alone in fifth.
The top-ten at halfway were Hirschman, Pitkat, Williams, Savary, Swanson, DiMatteo, Alexander, Galko, Sesely, and Babb. Silk was mired deep in traffic.
Hirschman was enjoying his largest lead of the night when the sixth caution flew on lap 71 for a multi-car incident in turn one. Under the caution, the entire field headed to the paddock area for service, except for Silk and Jankowiak, each who had short-pitted, and lucky dog recipient Donny Hartzel of Hunlock Creek, NJ.
For the safety of the competitors, the lap 71 yellow served as a competition caution and a cold pit situation. Teams coming off pit road maintained their positions behind the cars that stayed out. The ensuing restart found Silk and Jankowiak on the front row ahead of Hirschman and Pitkat.
Hirschman darted to the inside; taking over second from Jankowiak. Williams was able to take a spot from Pitkat as well. The top-six ran nose to tail with Silk showing the way over Hirschman. Williams took over third from Jankowiak on lap 79. The lead pack continued to run in close quarters as the laps began to wind down.
At lap 90, Silk was able to gain some breathing room over Hirschman. Williams was getting some pressure from Jankowiak while Pitkat had his hands full with Swanson. Sparks were flying for position just outside the top ten with Alexander, Galko and Cam McDermott as cars stacked up behind DiMatteo. Alexander got the short end of the action losing several positions.
Swanson got underneath Pitkat on lap 98. Despite lapped traffic, Silk was able to maintain his lead. Ten laps later, the lapped traffic nearly played a factor when Calvin Carrol of Andover, NJ, spun in close proximity to the leader, who was bearing down on a pack of cars, to bring out the seventh caution.
The lap 108 restart allowed Hirschman to get alongside Silk. The move opened the door for Williams on the bottom groove. He was able to make the pass and mover into second. Williams was right on the back bumper of Silk. Matt Swanson was similarly working on Hirschman.
A large pile-up of cars deep in the field in turn four brought out the eighth and final caution on lap 114; setting up an 11-lap shootout to determine the winner with some very racy cars up front. On this restart, Silk had to contend with Williams to his outside. Silk got a great restart and darted out to the lead. Williams got in line in second.
On lap 117, Williams poked in nose underneath Silk but could not make the pass. Swanson got by Hirschman to take third. Some ‘bump and run’ between the lead duo allowed Swanson to join the battle for the win. In the end, it would be a two-horse race to the checkers. Over the final laps, Williams tried high and low; to no avail. On the final lap coming to the checkers, Williams dove to the inside of Silk. With the crowd on their feet, the two made contact. But Silk was able to keep it going in the right direction to score the victory.
Tri-Track Open Modified Series, SBM 125, Star Speedway, July 27, 2019 Finish: 1. Ron Silk, Norwalk, CT; 2. Ronnie Williams, Ellington, CT; 3. Matt Swanson, Acton, MA; 4. Matt Hirschman, Northampton, PA; 5. Andy Jankowiak, Tonawanda, NY; 6. Richard Savary, Canton, MA; 7. Cam McDermott, Canterbury, CT; 8. Brad Babb, Windham, ME; 9. Woody Pitkat, Bellingham, MA; 10. Brian Robie, Sunapee, NH; 11. Anthony Sesely, Matawan, NJ; 12. Russ Hersey, Swanzey, NH; 13. Calvin Carroll, Andover, NJ; 14. Matt Galko, Meriden, CT; 15. Mike Holdridge, Madison, CT; 16. Jacob Dore, Sanford, ME; 17. Andy Shaw, Center Conway, NH; 18. Tommy Barrett, Millis, MA; 19. Les Hinckley, Windsor Locks, CT; 20. Dana DiMatteo, Farmington, CT; 21. Kirk Alexander, W. Swanzey, NH; 22. Donny Hartzell, Hunlock Creek, NJ; 23. Kurt Vigeant, Oxford, MA; 24. Anthony Nocella, Berlin, MA; 25. Carl Medeiros, Jr., Westport, MA; 26. Jon Kievman, Deerfield Beach, FL; 27. Josh Cantara, Sanford, MA. DNQ: Geoff Rollins, Groton, MA; Andrew Charron, E. Greenwich, RI; Colbey Fournier, Berkley, MA; Kreig Heroth, Fort Plain, NY; George Sherman, Framingham, MA.