While big names on the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour such as Justin Bonsignore, Patrick Emerling, Ron Silk and others ran into issues last weekend at Richmond Raceway, Ronnie Williams capitalized.
He didn’t win, but a third-place finish for the Ellington, Connecticut, native might as well have been one — with it being his best finish in his 37-race Whelen Modified Tour career to date.
“It’s just good to run well on the tour finally,” Williams said in the garage at the Virginia short-track, the first event in nearly 20 years at the venue for the tour. “We had a fourth-place at New Hampshire and now a third here. We’re definitely going in the right direction.”
The second top-five this season is the most in Williams’ career over a single season and third overall. A two-time Stafford Motor Speedway SK Modified champion and 2019 Tri Track Open Modified Series champion, Williams has run part-time on the Whelen Modified Tour for the last couple of seasons. And it’s results like Richmond that makes the No. 50 group want to prove themselves more on the big stage.
“I mean, this is an SK modified team out of Stafford,” he said. “And to come here and compete with these guys says a lot.”
Williams led three separate times for a total of 34 laps but wound up falling off towards the end, not being able to hold serve with eventual winner Ryan Preece down the stretch.
“We were really good in the middle part of the race and those laps that we led. We pulled away, but just missed it a little bit. Wish it was 100 laps, not 150. But solid effort overall.”
He did allow himself a daydream a little, though. The “what ifs” of the small, part-time team coming to a big NASCAR national series venue and doing the unthinkable. That was, until he was reminded of how long the race was.
“My spotter came over the radio and said, “it’s only lap 76.” I’m like, ‘crap, we have half way to go,’” he joked. “I’ve had two poles on the tour and I’d never led a lap. I don’t know how that makes sense. But it was kind of nice to go out there and just feel like we belong on the tour.”
Ronnie Williams and his No. 50 team plan to compete in the season-finale, the NAPA Fall Final 150, at Stafford on September 25.