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BUMP STOPS: Silky Smooth, Aube's Adventure And Patient Players

Thursday, June 2, 2011
Ron Silk/NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Photo: Getty Images/NASCAR

It's Thursday again... Time to roll that out Mini Stock out of the garage for a spin around the cul-de-sac at the end of the street while I pull together a week's worth of thoughts, observations and musings lacking any real insight.

ONE OF THE best drivers nobody ever talks about on the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour is Ron Silk.

Silk is one of those guys that doesn't necessarily garner a whole lot of attention from the outside. He's not brash, he's not flashy and he's certainly not a headline-hunter. The perfect example of Silk's entire career, it would seem, came at the end of the 2010 season.

While most everybody seemed focus on the fierce championship battle atop the standings between Bobby Santos and Ted Christopher, Silk went virtually unnoticed. Add in the fact that Mike Stefanik was making his own quiet run at yet another title, and Silk's story ranked fourth in the Top-4 stories heading into the final two races of the year.

But Silk finished in the Top-10 in all but four starts last season, including nine Top-5 finishes. He won a pole at Stafford Motor Speedway and only started a race worse than 10th once. For the record, the only start worse than 10th came at Monadnock Speedway – where he started 16th before finishing third. It came during a stretch of five straight Top-3 finishes for Silk.

So, why doesn't he get more love?

 

"I don't really know," Silk said at Stafford last weekend, where he won the pole and led every lap en route to winning the TSI Haulers 125 – his first win in almost two years.

And maybe that's the answer we're looking for. Silk has run the Modified Tour full-time for six seasons now, compiling five wins and four poles. But he's finished in the Top-10 in exactly half of his starts dating back to the beginning of his career, and he's finished in the Top-5 more than a third of the time.

It may not be the flashiest, the baddest or the most brazen of the personalities on the Tour, but Silk's laid-back demeanor has championship mettle. And he'll get one or two before this whole thing is over.

You can count on it.

BEEN A WEIRD weather year so far, hasn't it?

While natural disasters have made headlines, from tsunamis to tornadoes, weather has plagued New England's racing slate, too.

And last week, I can honestly say that fog played a major role on a scale that I can't remember.

While I was at Beech Ridge Motor Speedway watching its NASCAR Whelen All-American Series season opener get fogged out, colleague Shawn Courchesne of the Hartford Courant sent me a text message to let me know that the Waterford Speedbowl in Connecticut was suffering the same fate.

Anyone remember the last time two tracks within a couple hours of one another were fogged out on the same night???

The fog set up an unusual, albeit interesting, chain of events.

Both tracks will now run a program highlighted by double-features for their premier divisions. Beech Ridge will run its this Saturday night, while Waterford's will come a little further down the road.

Furthermore, local promoters Andy Cusack at Beech Ridge and Terry Eames at Waterford have to be commended for making a decision that racers themselves likely would not. Cusack's officials polled several drivers following hot laps for the Sportsman cars, with all of them suggesting they could race through the soupy mist.

Cusack, though, decided that risking a bunch of torn-up race cars on opening night wasn't worth the short-term goodwill. A great call. One driver sent me a text following the cancellation of the remainder of the event saying that he was "pretty happy" that they called it off.

LOOKS LIKE DEVELOPMENT deals are coming to an ACT Late Model Tour event near you.

Had a chance to catch up with three-time champion of the old Busch North Series Jamie Aube recently. Aube has dabbled in some ACT racing over the last couple of seasons, in addition to duties as crew chief for K&N Pro Series East driver Dustin Delaney prior to this season.

Aube, though, isn't done with his racing just yet as he nears the age of 60.

Aube said he will run weekly at Thunder Road International Speedbowl in Barre, Vt., this season, as well us run selected ACT races at New Hampshire Motor Speedway and the TD Bank Oxford 250 in July. Is Aube chasing another championship trophy for his mantel?

Well, not exactly.

Aube said he's interested in putting together a driver development team that will allow him to rent out his Late Model seat to up and coming talent in the northeast. He's running the car himself this season to "make sure the equipment is good," in his own words, so that he can then turn it into his development team.

As strange as it sounds, the same thing was said when Andy Santerre stepped out of the driver's seat and turned Andy Santerre Motorsports into just such an enterprise before anybody else in the K&N Pro Series was doing it. He was ahead of the curve on that one, just as Aube may be here – after all, it was just this past off-season that Rick Paya's RPM Motorsports took Austin Theriault into the fold as a teammate to multi-time Tour champ Brian Hoar.

It will certainly be interesting to see how this unfolds.

MY EARS HURT from one game of listening to the music they play in Vancouver during stoppages in play at the Stanley Cup Finals.

Michael Jackson? Bruce Haley and The Comets? 80's Hair Bands?

And we wonder why Canada is the butt of jokes like "Canadian Bacon." (It's a movie... Look it up.)

What? No KC and The Sunshine Band after victories? How disappointing.

OFF TO THE Madhouse this weekend for the first K&N Pro Series East race at Bowman Gray Stadium this weekend.

The Army Strong 150, a 100-lap Tour-type Modified event and – wait for it... – a chain race. All on the same card.

This ought to be interesting, for sure.

Got a good chuckle out of Brian Hoar telling me he was jealous I'd be heading down. At first, I didn't get the joke.

"No, seriously," Hoar said. "A place that totally promotes wrecking race cars and all the other stuff that goes on there (in the pits)? From a fan perspective, that's pretty awesome. I'd love to go down and sit and watch racing at a place like that."

Hoar, though, made sure to clarify his opinion.

"But don't get me wrong," he said. "There's no way I'd ever want to tow a race car down there. You know it's coming back in pieces."

Looks like we're all going to need some patience in the sweltering southern heat this weekend.

GO HAVE A look at NASCAR Home Tracks at some point. Great feature up there now about The Next 9 – nine K&N Pro Series drivers between the ages of 15-21 who represent the face of the future of the sport.

It's a great project they put together there.

ACT TOUR COMPETITOR and recent Oxford Plains Speedway winner Ricky Rolfe won't be competing in The Big Jab 150 at his home track this weekend.

Why? Because his daughter is getting married on Saturday, that's why.

Kudos to Rolfe – a cancer survivor – for realizing something that racers don't always want to realize: There are bigger things in life than race cars going around in circles.

OK, MAYBE THERE are only a few things in life bigger than cars going around in circles.

YOU'VE BEEN A great audience. Try the BLT with smoked cheddar cheese, and don't forget to tip your waitress. The Kentucky Headhunters are here. Stick around.

– TB