LOUDON, N.H. – A two-car battle at New Hampshire Motor Speedway turned into a one-car runaway.
Ron Silk pulled away from the field on a green-white-checkered restart, leaving Rowan Pennink and the rest of the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour field behind as he want on to win the New Hampshire 100 on Saturday afternoon. The win was Silk's second career Tour win at New Hampshire and unofficially handed him the series points lead with two races remaining.
Silk and Rowan Pennink had set up a two-car battle for the win. But that dogfight disappeared when Ryan Preece spun off Turn 2 to bring out a late caution flag and set up a two-lap run to the finish.
Silk lined up outside of Pennink, but Pennink never got up to speed on the restart.
"(Pennink) was really good all day. I think he and I probably had the best two cars,," Silk said. "I'm not sure what happened on the restart. Luckily, we were able to edge him out."
Pennink himself wasn't entirely sure what had happened, either. All he knew was that when the field came around for the white flag, he was well behind the field.
"I'm not really sure. I got a good restart there, and it just lost power midway down the straightaway," Pennink said. "I thought I didn't get it in gear all the way, and I tried that, and that's not what happened. I don't know if I broke the carburetor or something."
Pennink had taken the lead from Silk on Lap 83, only to surrender the point back to Silk one lap later. From there, Pennink was content to just ride behind Silk and wait to make a late move.
"We got about six or seven car lengths on (third-place Ted Christopher) there," Pennink said. "I just wanted to push him until the last lap and then battle it out for ourselves. There's no doubt in my mind I could drive it so much further down into three, there's no way he could hold me off."
Though Todd Szegedy and Justin Bonsignore finished behind Silk in second and third, respectively, there was little doubt once Pennink slowed that the victory would be Silk's.
Silk now holds an eight-point advantage over Szegedy with races remaining at Stafford Motor Speedway and Thompson International Speedway.
"At times, it seemed like (Szegedy) was struggling – I looked in the mirror going over the start-finish line and I saw he was second, and I was like, 'Damn, I'm not going to gain too much on him today,'" Silk said. "But me and him have been pretty strong at every track, and I think it's going to come right down to the World Series at Thompson."
Ryan Newman, who won here in July before being disqualified for an illegal engine, ran inside the Top-7 early in the race but retired early with engine failure.
"I couldn't tell if it was guys in front of me or my own water," Newman said of some moisture coming from his car. "We were spitting a little bit of water, and it melted the motor down."
"It's a lot of fun being part of competition like that, and the other good thing is that Ryan Newman was going to have his hands full if he didn't lose the engine," Szegedy said. "It wasn't going to be a runaway race for anybody today."
Except it was. For Silk.
"I knew if I couldn't pass (Pennink) on that restart and clear him, Rowan would be home free," Szegedy said. "But I didn't anticipate Ronnie to be as strong as he was. They definitely hit it right."