STAFFORD, Conn. – Ron Silk made an emphatic return to Victory Lane on Friday night.

Silk started from the pole and led every lap to win the TSI Harley-Davidson 125 at Stafford Motor Speedway, snapping an 18-race winless streak on the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour in the process. It was just the kind of effort Silk said he's been waiting for with his Eddie Partridge-owned team.

"It was a good win," said Silk, of Norwalk, Conn. "We got the pole, led all the laps and then won the race. It definitely gets the morale up of the team. It's not like we've been running that bad – we've just been so close to winning a race for a while now, it's nice to get that out of the way."

Silk's last win came in September of the 2009 season, when the won at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. It was the first flag-to-flag win on the Tour since Ryan Preece did it at Riverhead Raceway almost two years ago.

 

Point leader Rowan Pennink finished second for his third straight runner-up effort to open the season. Defending series champion Bobby Santos was third, and Ted Christopher and Erick Rudolph rounded out the Top-5.

Pennink joined only a handful of the leaders when he hit pit road for fresh tires on Lap 46. He waited patiently for his chance to jump at the lead past the halfway mark, first getting by Christopher and then Santos for second.

But lapped traffic slowed his march to the front over the final dozen laps.

"We had the best car tonight, just ran out of time," said Pennink, who now holds a 51-point lead over Silk atop the standings. "We needed a caution there. A caution there with 25 laps to go, or inside that, would have I think won us the race.

"Just ran out of time, and with that lapped traffic – I knew Silky got held up a little bit, and then I caught him a little bit, then I got held up and he pulled away a little bit, but..."

But Silk was long gone, having gone the entire distance on the same set of tires.

"The car got better and better every lap. The guys did a great job," Silk said. "I wasn't worried about (not pitting). They told me that only a couple of (leaders) pitted. And like I said, it's just so hard to pass. My car was just great. I was only worried that it was going to get too free by the end, but it really stayed under me the whole time."

He, too, felt he might have had more car at the end if not for the lapped cars he encountered.

"I just wish they'd give you a little more room. I'm pretty sure everyone feels that way," said Silk, who now has five career Whelen Modified Tour wins. "I wish they'd give you a little more room. I remember when I first started and I was getting lapped, I would make sure I got way down and out of the way. I know they're racing too, but...

"I kind of backed it down a little bit and only made my move when I knew it was going to be easy to clear them."

– TB