THOMPSON, Conn. – Ron Silk took advantage of a late caution flag to snag the $10,000 top prize in the Icebreaker 125 at Connecticut’s Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park on Saturday evening.
Silk took the lead from Keith Rocco with 12 laps remaining and was the inaugural winner of the new Outlaw Open Modified Series at the Icebreaker nightcap.
It was the first tour-type Modified victory for Haydt Yannone Racing and came at the end of a night where Silk went up and down the running order like a yo-yo. The 2011 NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour champion kept fighting, though, and triumphed at the Icebreaker for the first time since 2012.
Rocco started on the pole and lead the first seven laps before Ronnie Williams took over. Williams paced the field until a mandatory fuel stop at lap 30. During that stop, Silk’s team was penalized for unauthorized use of equipment. Silk was sent to rear and pitted again for adjustments before the field went back to green.
“My car really wasn’t too good at that point,” Silk said of the penalty. “I was too free anyway, so it might have been a little bit of a blessing. I was kind of hanging onto third at that point, so it was good to come in and get a little bit of an adjustment and figure out that we still needed to go for more when we put (the new) tires on at the end.”
At the front, Williams surrendered the lead back to Rocco on lap 42 before Jon McKennedy took the point 10 circuits later. When the sixth yellow flew at lap 55 for Artie Pedersen’s spin, many of the leaders pitted for fresh tires and/or adjustments, leaving McKennedy and Rocco as the only drivers who hadn’t made at least one non-fuel stop.
Eric Goodale, the recent Martinsville Speedway winner, snatched the lead from McKennedy on lap 58 with Silk not far behind. Williams was flying through the field, though, and went to the front again with 67 laps in the books.
The next trio of cautions greatly changed the event’s cousin. A debris caution on lap 73 led to McKennedy, Rocco, Goodale, and others heading to the pits. But one lap after the restart, the filed got stacked up entering turn one. McKennedy, Goodale, and Chris Pasteryak ended up piling into the wall to bring out the red flag.
Williams and Sam Rameau then pulled away before the ninth yellow on lap 89 when Anthony Sesely and Andrew Krause tangled in turn two. Another en masse visit to the pits followed, with Rocco leading the herd onto the track in fourth. Meanwhile, Williams and Silk took the green in 10th and 11th, respectively.
Rocco made short work on the restart to take the lead from J.B. Fortin on lap 91. Craig Lutz and Williams navigated their way through the field, and with laps winding down, it looked like a three-car shootout for the win. Lutz had gotten up to fourth well back of the lead trio.
But on the 113th circuit, Bobby Santos III spun to bring out the 10th and final caution. Silk saw his opportunity and went for it, jumping from fourth to second on the restart and then diving beneath Rocco in turn three one lap later, with Rocco making an unsuccessful crossover attempt. Silk kept the field at bay from there, leading the final 12 laps for the Icebreaker win.
“It’s cool to say you won the first Open race in this new structure here, and 10 Grand is always great,” Silk said. “(This team has) put a lot of effort and money into this, so it’s good to get them some results.”
Rocco finished second after winning the Sunoco Modified feature earlier in the day. Santos put on fresh tires after his spin and tore through the field to take third. Lutz, Williams, Rameau, Matt Swanson, Sesely, Mike Christopher Jr., and Patrick Emerling completed the top-10.
Ron Silk, Keith Rocco, Bobby Santos III, Craig Lutz, Ronnie Williams, Sam Rameau, Matt Swanson, Anthony Sesely, Mike Christopher Jr., Patrick Emerling, J.B. Fortin, Anthony Nocella, Jeffrey Gallup, Todd Owen, Andrew Krause, Richard Savary, Chris Pasteryak, Eric Goodale, Jon McKennedy, Artie Pedersen III, Noah Korner, Dan Meservey, Max Zachem, Andy Shaw, Trevor Bleau.