After a 35-lap All Star Shootout on Friday night, the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour returned to New Hampshire Motor Speedway on Saturday afternoon for the Eastern Propane & Oil 100. Bobby Santos was looking to defend his title as race winner and Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series regulars, Ryan Preece and Ryan Newman, were also standout’s in the field.
Polesitter Jon McKennedy elected the outside line for the initial start, starting to the outside of Justin Bonsignore. McKennedy took off with the early lead as Tommy Catalano quickly maneuvered his way into the runner-up spot. Bryan Dauzat, Todd Cooper and Jacob Perry (making his first WMT start) all tangled on lap 3 in turn 2, leading to the first caution of the race.
Calvin Carroll faced troubles on lap 9, pulling down to the pits. Tommy Catalano was also on the move early, moving into the top spot over Jon McKennedy on lap 13 as Bobby Santos powered up to third. Woody Pitkat made hard contact with the turn 3 wall on lap 13, leading to another caution. Ryan Newman was among the drivers that pitted during this caution.
Tommy Catalano powered into the lead on the restart as Doug Coby advanced up to fourth. Craig Lutz broke the top 5 on lap 20, advancing into the spot over Friday’s Shootout winner, Patrick Emerling. Calvin Carroll fell victim to the turn 3 wall on lap 21, bringing out another caution. This caution became the competition caution, which was a pre-planned caution allowing drivers to come down to the pits for either tires and adjustments or fuel and adjustments.
Doug Coby and Ryan Newman restarted on the front row following the caution, with Coby powering to the lead. Timmy Catalano and Andrew Molleur made contact on lap 28 in turn 3, leading to another caution. Anthony Nocella and Max Zachem were among the drivers that took a trip down to the pits under yellow. Woody Pitkat’s troubles continued on the restart as he was shuffled to the inside of turn 1, hitting the inner retaining wall. The incident led to yet another caution.
The leaders were 3-wide on the restart with both Justin Bonsignore and Ryan Newman being shuffled back through the field as Patrick Emerling powered into the runner-up spot. Emerling continued his pursuit to the front of the field on lap 49, pulling into the lead over Doug Coby. Coby was quick to steal it back, but Tommy Catalano was right on his heels. The battle for the lead simmered down for a handful of laps before heating back up on lap 54. Turn 3 continued to be a real nightmare, collecting both Anthony Nocella and J.B. Fortin on lap 61, leading to another caution.
Eric Goodale won the battle out of the pits, but Tommy Catalano was forced to make a second pit stop under yellow due to troubles with his left rear tire. Justin Bonsignore’s team also struggled under yellow, causing Bonsignore to lose a handful of positions.
After being shuffled to the outside line on the restart, Patrick Emerling made hard contact with the wall just under the start/finish line, resulting in another caution. This was a heartbreaker for Friday night’s winner, who had been running at the front of the pack all day.
Jon McKennedy and Eric Goodale were neck & neck for the lead on the restart, but trouble was brewing behind the leaders. Bryan Dauzat’s woes continued as he slapped the turn 3 wall on lap 80, leading to a late-race caution.
The field went back to green with 16 to go. Ron Silk seemingly came out of nowhere, claiming the lead. Drivers were 3-wide for eighth place-back on the restart, fighting hard for a spot in the top ten. The field had settled down with 10 to go, going single-file.
Jon McKennedy made a bold move on lap 92, maneuvering to the runner-up spot over Chase Dowling as Doug Coby positioned himself back in third. The three drivers were 3-wide for the lead with just 5 laps to go. On lap 96, McKennedy was shuffled back to fifth from second after battling it out for position.
Max Zachem, 2018 race winner,Bobby Santos, and others were involved in an incident on lap 97 in turn 3, leading to a late-race caution. The incident led to a red flag for extended cleanup efforts. Tyler Rypkema slammed the turn 1 wall on the restart, leading to another caution. The impact left damage to the turn 1 wall, leading to another flag.
Race control ended the race under red-checkered conditions due to the tight schedule of events. Ron Silk was awarded with the win, with Doug Coby, Chase Dowling, Jon McKennedy and Matt Swanson rounding out the top five.
The decision to end the race was met with disapproval from the top finishers, who all felt robbed by the finish. Race winner, Ron Silk, was excited about the win, but bummed that he couldn’t race it out for the win. “I’m pumped for our guys and our team. We’ve had a great year so far and we can’t wait to keep building on that,” he exclaimed in his winning speech.
The race was caution-plagued, but Ron Silk managed to position himself in the right place at the right time to pick up the checkered flag and his second victory of the 2019 Whelen Modified Tour season.
You can catch the tour next at Stafford Motor Speedway on Friday, August 2nd for the Stafford 150 and back at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on Saturday, September 21st for the Musket 250, which is part of the track’s Full Throttle Fall Weekend.
See you there!