NOTEBOOK: Ron Silk looks to win at Riverhead in honor of Eddie Partridge

Saturday’s NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour race at Riverhead Raceway will be important to Ron Silk for many reasons.

Not only is Silk looking for his first Tour victory of the year, but he also wants to win in honor of his former car owner Eddie Partridge, who suddenly passed away on Sept. 10, 2021, just hours after Ryan Preece gave him his final trophy at Richmond Raceway.

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For five years, Silk and Partridge formed one of the most efficient combinations in the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour. The duo won five races together during that timeframe with their most notable accomplishment being a series championship in 2011, which saw Silk tally three victories, eight top fives, two poles and an average finish of 7.0.

Ron Silk driving Eddie Partridge’s No. 6 Modified at Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park in 2011. (Photo by Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images)

Although Silk parted ways with Partridge following the 2014 season, he considers himself fortunate to simply race for his organization and added that Partridge’s presence in the Modified community has been deeply missed over the past year.

Silk is determined to claim the 256-lap event named after Partridge but expects plenty of challenges toward accomplishing that goal with the increased race length and the inclusion of live pit stops on a temporary pit road in the infield.

Despite having never won at Riverhead during his long career, Silk enters the Eddie Partridge 256 with a sense of ease knowing the cars prepared by Tyler Haydt and Phil Moran have been amongst the best in the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour all year since the season-opener at Florida’s New Smyrna Speedway.

Silk hopes to find some additional speed on Saturday so he can reclaim the points lead he had possessed over the field for most of the 2022 season.

The green flag for the Eddie Partridge 256 will fly on Saturday at 8 p.m. as Silk and the rest of the field look to claim a late-season win. The race will be streamed live on FloRacing.

Three-time Riverhead champion Kyle Soper looking for second career victory

The most recent NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour race at Riverhead Raceway still feels like a dream to three-time track champion Kyle Soper.

A late pass on Justin Bonsignore enabled Soper to pull away for his first series win in seven years of part-time competition. Soper was thrilled to defeat so many talented Modified veterans for the victory and is determined to grab another in Saturday’s Eddie Partridge 256.

“I’m looking forward to it,” Soper said. “Our cars have been pretty fast, but we’re going to take the new car for the tour race, and hopefully we have the same success like we did in June.”

By taking the checkered flag in June, Soper became the first Riverhead regular to win a NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour event at the facility since Ed Brunnhoelzl Jr. accomplished that feat in 1995.

While Soper knows his car is strong enough to contend for the win, he said the addition of live pit stops will add another element to the Eddie Partridge 256 from a strategic standpoint. Soper has not yet decided on a strategy for Saturday. He is considering omitting pit stops for track position depending on when the cautions come out.

Regardless of how his race plays out, Soper’s main goal for Saturday is to bring home a victory in honor of Partridge and everything he did to ensure every single competitor at Riverhead felt welcomed inside the facility.

“Eddie did a lot for [Riverhead],” Soper said. “When I raced my own car, we ran into trouble with our rear end and he basically gave us a brand new one for pennies on the dollar. He really helped all the racers, so to race for him is very special for all of us.”

Soper hopes that his victory at Riverhead in June kickstarts a new trend that sees him and the rest of the track regulars consistently defeat the stars of the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour.

Justin Bonsignore carries momentum, experience into Riverhead

After an uncharacteristically slow start to the 2022 NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour season, Justin Bonsignore is peaking at just the right time.

Bonsignore currently sits third in the point standings following his third victory of the season a couple weeks ago at Oswego Speedway and is looking to capitalize on the momentum when the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour pays tribute to Eddie Partridge at Riverhead on Saturday.

“We are really looking forward to this race for a lot of reasons,” Bonsignore said. “Honoring Ed is going to be a special night with more laps and a pit stop thrown in. There is a lot going on and it adds a bunch of new elements to an already interesting race.”

Justin Bonsignore (51) makes a lap around Wall Stadium. (Photo: NASCAR)

Since Bonsignore’s first full-time season in 2010, Riverhead statistically has been one of his best tracks.

The first NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour victory for Bonsignore came at Riverhead in 2011. He has followed that accomplishment with seven more victories at the track, including a four-race win streak that extended from 2018-2019.

Bonsignore is confident he can claim a ninth victory to his storied Riverhead resume on Saturday evening, adding that wins must become a habit for him if he wants to have an opportunity at the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour championship when the season ends at Martinsville Speedway.

“With just three races left in the season, our goals are to win as many races as possible and let everything else fall where it falls,” he said.

Bonsignore currently trails Tour championship leader Jon McKennedy by 17 points, which puts him well within striking distance of his third consecutive series title.

NOTES:

  • Soper’s closest Riverhead competitors in Dylan Slepian and John Beatty Jr. have each filed an entry for Saturday’s Eddie Partridge 256. Slepian’s two NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour top fives both came at Riverhead this year, while Beatty is looking for his first series top five since 2019.
  • Timmy Solomito is making his sixth start on the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour season on Saturday, which will see him back with his family-owned team. Solomito led a race-high 114 laps in June before ultimately settling for an eighth-place finish.
  • Two weeks after nearly bringing home a victory at Oswego with Chuck Hossfeld driving, the Bertuccio family will be back on the track Saturday with J.R. Bertuccio behind the wheel. Bertuccio will look to improve upon a season-best finish of 18th that he claimed in the season-opener at New Smyrna Speedway.
  • Gary McDonald is bringing two entries to Riverhead on Saturday for the Eddie Partridge 256. His normal No. 26 will be piloted by Ed Brunnhoelzl III in his second start on the year while McDonald moves over to the No. 27.