Saturday marked the ending of one era at North Wilkesboro Speedway and the beginning of a new one.
The final race on the current North Wilkesboro racing surface that has survived since the early 1980s was the inaugural NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Brushy Mountain Powersports 150. Many of the best Modified drivers from the North and South made the trip to Wilkes County looking to write another chapter in North Wilkesboro’s storied history.
Matt Hirschman earned the distinction of winning the first Brushy Mountain Powersports 150 after surviving several late restarts. Hirschman was one of the first to claim a checkered flag during North Wilkesboro’s revival in 2022 and was honored to take another elevator ride to Victory Lane.
“This is probably the biggest win of the year,” Hirschman said. “We haven’t won as many races as we did last year, but here’s a big one that rivals many of the things we did last year. I really enjoy coming here and these are memories that will last a lifetime.”
— NASCAR Roots (@NASCARRoots) October 1, 2023
There was a brief period where Hirschman was unsure if he would even be able to compete in the Brushy Mountain Powersports 150.
A bad crash at Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park in August left Hirschman sidelined with a broken arm. Being out of the car due to the injury was a frustrating time for Hirschman, but he met the best-case scenario on his prognosis and was back racing by the middle of September.
The Brushy Mountain Powersports 150 was Hirschman’s first NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour race since sustaining that injury. Once he made several laps in practice around North Wilkesboro, Hirschman knew he was in perfect shape both physically and mentally to contend for a victory on Saturday night.
Replicating his victory from last August was going to be a more challenging task for Hirschman. Rather than a 50-lap sprint, a 150-lap endurance race required Hirschman and the rest of his competition to be patient and take advantage of opportunistic cautions.
After pitting early, Hirschman cycled to the lead of the race before falling to second behind 2008 Daytona 500 winner Ryan Newman. During the final pit stops of the evening with 40 laps left Hirschman’s team opted for two tires, allowing him to take the lead and eventually the win.
“I felt this was going to be a tough race to win tonight,” Hirschman said. “There were so many ideas in my head as to what possibly could work. What ended up happening wasn’t initially my Plan A, but you just never know how these races are going to play out.”
If we came back next week to run this race again, what I did tonight probably wouldn’t work.”
Even though Hirschman had track position, he still had to play defense during the closing stages. Newman, Doug Coby and Ron Silk all provided Hirschman with strong challenges, but the veteran driver withstood everything that came his way to triumph at North Wilkesboro again.
Hirschman considered his North Wilkesboro victory to be one of the most significant of his career alongside the inaugural NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour event at New Smyrna Speedway last year. Both events attracted notoriety and large fields, which only motivated Hirschman even further.
With North Wilkesboro set to be repaved ahead of the 2024 NASCAR All-Star Race, Hirschman found Saturday’s outcome to be bittersweet in many ways, but he is also happy to see the historic track thrive after nearly two decades of being dormant.
“I hope this place is here to stay for a long time,” Hirschman said. “It’s going to take a while for this surface to age when they repave the whole thing. For the new surface to have the character it had [on Saturday], I don’t know if it’ll happen during my racing career.
“Last year and this year were two different storybook endings and I’m going to remember them for a long time.”
Hirschman considers himself fortunate to have played a key part in North Wilkesboro’s revival and hopes to write many more successful chapters at the track on the new surface in the coming years.
Silk finished behind Hirschman in the second position with Justin Bonsignore, Eric Goodale and Patrick Emerling completing the Top 5. Newman, Andrew Krause, Cobb, Kyle Ebersole and Bobby Santos III were the rest of the Top 10 finishers.
CNBC will broadcast a replay of the Brushy Mountain Powersports 150 at North Wilkesboro Speedway on Sunday, Oct. 8 at 9:30 a.m. ET.
Only two races remain on the 2023 NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour schedule. The penultimate event takes place on Sunday, Oct. 8 at Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park with the running of the World Series 150 present by FloSports.com. FloRacing will provide live coverage.
Brushy Mountain Powersports 150
North Wilkesboro Speedway
September 30 2023
- Matt Hirschman
- Ron Silk
- Justin Bonsignore
- Eric Goodale
- Patrick Emerling
- Ryan Newman
- Andew Krause
- Doug Coby
- Kyle Ebersole
- Bobby Santos III
- Anthony Sesely
- Tyler Rykema
- JB Fortin
- Austin Beers
- Dave Sapienza
- Jake Johnson
- Sam Rameau
- Burt Myers
- Anthony Nocella
- Tommy Catalano
- Kyle Bonsignore
- Andy Seuss
- Jamie Tomaino
- Brandon Ward
- Carson Loftin
- Brett Merervey
- Jacob Perry
- Melissa Fifield
- Gary McDonald
- Chris Hatton
- Gary Putnam
- Ken Heagy
- Bobby Labonte
- Craig Lutz
- Chase Dowling
- Tim Connolly
- John Michael Shenette
- Edward McCarthy Jr.