Silk makes smooth transition to Bowman Gray
By Tommy Bowman/JOURNAL REPORTER
Not many outsiders venture into Bowman Gray Stadium's top division to mix it up with savvy veterans on the tight quarter-mile track. And the few who do rarely fare very well.
Ron Silk was the exception last Saturday night. Silk, who competes regularly in NASCAR's northern-based Whelen Modified Tour, had an impressive debut with a fourth-place finish in the Tucson 100.
"It's a fun little place, and we had a great time," said Silk, who started 21st in a 22-car field and steadily worked his way forward. "We'd like to have won, really, but we had the car a little too tight.
"But I'm happy with my first time being here. We didn't tear anything up, and we came home fourth. It was a good run."
Randy Butner, one of Bowman Gray's veteran drivers, said he was impressed by Silk's performance.
"It's hard for anybody to come to Bowman Gray Stadium not having raced here and have a good run," Butner said. "But he comes from up North, where they have a lot of little bullring tracks. He's used to getting in there and scraping in close-quarters racing. That part is not new to him."
Silk, from Norwalk, Conn., is a full-time driver for Roger Hill of Westfield and has won three times on the Whelen Modified Tour. He also competes when he can in Whelen Southern Modified Tour races.
Silk actually was a replacement for Ted Christopher, the reigning Whelen Modified Tour champion. Christopher was planning to make a Bowman Gray appearance in a car owned by Hill on June 13, but the race was rained out.
"I told them if Ted couldn't come back, I'd love to come down and drive here," Silk said. "We race in Loudon, N.H., (this) weekend, but then we'll be back this way July 3 with the Southern tour race at Caraway Speedway."
Silk won't be able to compete in the Southern Modified Tour race scheduled Aug. 1 at Bowman Gray -- because of a conflict with a northern tour race the same date in Riverhead, N.Y. -- but he said he would like to return sometime.
"I love racing on these little bullrings," Silk said. "We don't use this particular car that much so maybe we could come back here for a race again. I'd love to but, I don't know, you see a lot of torn-up cars here and sometimes you've got to quit while you're ahead and in one piece."
Silk said he was most struck by the size of the crowd that filled the stadium last Saturday night.
"The best part of it was driving down the straightaway and seeing 17,000 people going nuts," Silk said. "I've raced at a lot of racetracks and never have I seen anything like that. It was awesome.
"They're hanging over the rail flipping you the bird every time by. But it's cool.
"They're passionate about racing, and it's great to see a local track doing great like this place is."