Matt Hirschman used a late race move to score the win in Friday’s Richie Evans Memorial 100 for the Tour-Type Modifieds at New Smyrna Speedway.
Hirschman took the point from race leader Ron Silk on the final restart with just 12 laps to go, but it wasn’t over from there. Silk charged back to the bumper and chased Hirschman’s No. 60 all the way around to the checkered flag.
However, Hirschman wasn’t going to be denied. The win completed the week for him in grand style – after he had finished second in two of the first three races.
“All week I’ve been trying to make the pass and not the one trying to protect and it’s been so tough,” Hirschman said. “That was the opportunity where I finally had position and I might have taken a little bit from him, but that’s what everyone else has been doing all week.”
Early in the event, Chuck Hossfeld showed the way, but was overtaken by Hirschman on lap 22. When Silk took the lead on lap 27, Hirschman settled in and stayed inside the top five until a caution on lap 43 brought the leaders to pit road.
At lap 45, Hirschman restarted back in 11th position – but quickly worked his way towards the front. On a restart just after a caution for a single car incident, Hirschman went from fourth to second on the outside lane, then went after Silk. He chased the back bumper of Silk’s No. 82 until the caution, then made his move on the bottom lane in turn one with 12 laps to go and eventually took down the win.
“This could have been multiple wins for us and I’m sure if I had to do some things over I would have done them differently,” Hirschman said. “But I’m glad we at least closed with the big win here tonight.”
Ultimately, Hirschman was able to seal the deal and capture his first win of the week, but it wasn’t enough to take down the modified championship crown.
Instead, Berlin, Conn. driver Ryan Preece — who has plans to return to the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour full-time in 2017 – was able to take the title with his fourth place finish. Preece edged Hirschman by just a mere one point in the final points tally to capture his third straight World Series of Asphalt Stock Car Racing championship.
“It’s a good accomplishment,” Preece said. “I knew Matt was going to be racing for the win here in the 100 lapper and I wish I could have been up there. We ended up coming up here and getting the championship.”
Preece and his team made the decision to pit before the green even flew on Friday night because he wasn’t confident in the adjustments they had made prior to qualifying. Teams weren’t allowed to adjust on their cars in between time trials and the race, so Preece forfeited his starting spot to make a change and had to come from the back of the pack.
“I had a lot of preload in the left front shock and I wasn’t confident with it. The car did what I wanted after that and it was going to be really good but when my bumper got killed it jammed into the swaybar arm and it wasn’t allowing the swaybar to work,” Preece said.
At the finish, Hirschman, Silk, Jon McKennedy, Preece and Justin Bonsignore finished out the top five spots. Timmy Solomito, Chuck Hossfield, Spencer Davis, JR Bertuccio and Richie Pallai Jr. were the top-10.