Matt Hirschman headed down to Concord Motorsports Park (NC) for the North-South Shootout Modified event this weekend not knowing what to really expect. The typically “balmy” south resembled something more like the Northern States when 32 out of the 46 drivers attempting to qualify were from North of the Mason-Dixon line and are used to with temperatures falling well below freezing, which came close to happening as time trials for the feature began to get underway.
Matt Hirschman and friends try to stay warm in victory lane. (Jim DuPont Photo)
The cold weather didn’t faze Hirschman though, he set the fast time and then some.
“It was kind of scary out there with the cold tires,” said Hirschman, “I know a lot of guys struggled with it. That second lap was something else, it was a handful on cold tires. I mean this is a fast car, it has been fast all day, but with two laps and as cold as it was tonight, it was very edgy.
“I just pushed it right to the limit, and we were fortunate enough to have a fast lap and I didn’t know if that would hold up. I knew it was a good lap but I thought I even may have left a little bit out there because it felt so on the edge that I didn’t want to push it too much.”
In second place, only one tenth off of Hirschman’s fast time of 15.333 was a member of the southern contingent, Burt Myers. Burt was the only qualifier the entire night who was able to get his first lap into the 15’s (not counting Andy Seuss, but we’ll have more on that later).
“Someone asked me if I thought I might knew what the pole would be and I said that I didn’t have any idea with it being as cold as it was,” said Myers. “When I ran a .43 I thought that was pretty good, and I went and looked at the board and I was already second.
“Of course being in the top-five and not having to run heat races, means a whole lot. To be second is awesome, I am extremely happy. I get to enjoy watching the heat races now that we don’t have to run them. Every other time that I have been here I haven’t gotten to qualify, this is the first time that I have actually gotten to qualify for the North-South Shootout. So first time qualifying, we are on the outside pole, I can’t complain too much about it.”
The most improved lap time award, if there was such a thing, would have to be given to Andy Seuss. On his first lap the New Hampshire driver got loose coming out of turn two, and somehow managed to not hit anything. He turned his car around, and proceeded to take time for his
first lap, which would be 56-odd seconds. His second lap more than made up for it as he put up one of the best qualifying efforts for the night, clocking into the ninth position.
His second lap (which was really his first) would have easily been the fastest first lap of the night, had he not spun with a time of 15.720 seconds.
“The track wasn’t ready for me on the first lap,” laughed Seuss. “I went way too fast on the first lap and spun out. Basically I had it sideways the whole second lap but it was good enough to get us in the .7’s.
"If we would have had two solid laps who knows what would have happened, but it was my fault for going too hard early on. It’s just too cold out here for the racecars.”
Seuss would race his way into the feature later on in the evening by winning his heat race, as would Nevin George, Earl Paules, and Chuck Hossfeld.
Bobby Grigas, Brian Pack and Bobby Santos III time trialed third through fifth and therefore also qualified for the feature on time on Friday evening. Stay tuned to Speed 51 more on the North-South Shootout after today’s consis and feature events.
Andy Seuss won his heat race, but had quite a journey to get to that point. (Jim DuPont Photo)