Only 13 laps remained when Ron Silk took the lead in Saturday night’s 49th Annual NAPA Auto Parts Fall Final at Stafford Motor Speedway. And with a hungry field of Monaco Modified Tri-Track Series challengers in his mirror, those 13 circuits would be as challenging as the first 67.
But Silk was smooth under pressure, holding off young Jake Johnson in a six-lap sprint to win his second Fall Final and claim the $15,000 winner’s purse.
Saturday’s Fall Final marked the second-ever visit for the Monaco Modifieds to the famed Connecticut half-mile, but their first time ever headlining Stafford’s signature end-of-year event.
The Norwalk, CT veteran started eighth and worked his way to the top-five as Ronnie Williams and Ryan Preece battled for the early lead. Preece established himself as the driver to beat, but by halfway Woody Pitkat had emerged as a challenger, with Silk sitting quietly in third.
A lap-63 spin by Buddy Charette opened the door for teams to pit under caution, with the whole field ducking into the infield for tires and adjustments. Preece’s team got him out ahead of Williams and Craig Lutz, while contact on pit road ended the night for Mike Christopher, Jr.
Silk exited the pits fourth but drove to second on the restart. Williams and Pitkat made contact battling for third, setting off a grinding crash that drew the red flag with 64 laps on the scoreboard and eliminating both contenders.
Preece and Silk lined up side-by-side for the restart, with Silk pressuring Preece for the race lead. Preece countered Silk’s charge, but Silk found his opening after a few laps, driving around Preece to take the point on lap 67. Preece battled back but could not get the lead back.
An opportunity arose on lap 73 with another caution flag, but as the field came up to speed, Preece was turned across traffic, ending the evening for the visiting star. Johnson, a first-time Monaco Modified winner in July’s SBM 125 at Star Speedway, assumed second place for the restart.
Silk got away on the green flag, with Lutz and Johnson battling for second, but another quick caution re-racked the field with Johnson hanging onto the runner-up slot. Silk got away again, this time avoiding another caution and driving into the sunset for the victory.
Silk’s $15,000 win is his fourth career Monaco Modified Tri-Track Series victory and his first since 2019.
Johnson, in only his sixth start with the Monaco Modifieds, finished an impressive second. Matt Galko raced to third in the final sprint in a stellar run for car owner Stan Mertz, with Matt Swanson and Lutz rounding out the top five.
Points leader Matt Hirschman finished seventh, while title rival Chase Dowling was a distant 22nd.
A bumper crop of 46 cars turned out for the Fall Final. Galko, Pitkat, Christopher and Max Zachem claimed heat race victories, with consi wins going to Anthony Flannery and Anthony Bello. Cory DiMatteo won the 20-lap RaceChoice.com Monaco Modified Non-Qualifier race over Joey Cipriano and Devin O’Connell, passing on the prize money to advance to the main event. A two-time feature winner this season in Stafford’s SK Modifieds, DiMatteo finished 17th in the Fall Final.
The Monaco Modified Tri-Track Series schedule concludes on Saturday, October 22 at Seekonk Speedway with the annual “Haunted Hundred.” The Monaco Modifieds will share the track with the American-Canadian Tour Late Models and INEX Legend Cars for a thrilling doubleheader afternoon. Schedule details and ticket pricing will be released shortly.