Matt Hirschman Enters 2007 on a Hot Streak by Mike Twist
Young Racer Skips Speedweeks as He Gets Ready for Mod Tour Season
Although he drove his own #60 car in the North vs. South Shootout and Mason-Dixon Meltdown, Hirschman wheels #59 cars owned by either Ed Bennett (black car shown) or Darlign Racing (white car - not shown) on the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour (51 Photo)
Going into the winter, no Modified driver was any hotter than Matt Hirschman. Before the holidays rolled around, the second-generation driver put together back-to-back major event victories in the North-South Shootout at Concord Motorsport Park (NC) and the Mason-Dixon Meltdown at South Boston Speedway (VA).
Hirschman entered both events fresh off his rookie season on the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour. His season there was solid, but not spectacular. He didn’t win any races, but he was consistent enough in a division dominated by veterans [including his father, five-time NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour champion Tony Hirschman] to collect five top-10 finishes.
When the extended series began, Matt Hirschman sure kicked it into high gear though. He’s hoping to continue that momentum this spring.
“I’m looking forward to hopefully picking up where we left off,” said Hirschman. “I got hot at the end of the season and I would like for that to continue. We’ll see what happens.”
Hirschman will do plenty of racing in 2007, but he was absent from the recent World Series of Stock Car Asphalt Racing at New Smyrna Speedway. He would have liked to run the races that made up what is commonly known as “Florida Speedweeks,” but that wasn’t in the cards this year. Instead, Hirschman will run his first race of the season on March 24th in the NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified opener at Caraway Speedway (NC).
“I wish that I was there at Speedweeks,” said Hirschman. I did go for the last two nights just to watch, but I really wish that I was racing there.
“Right now, I’ve got a really busy schedule planned for this year and Speedweeks was about the only thing that I’m not going to be racing at. I’ll be doing Whelen Tour races, RoC races, special events, a few SK races and some local stuff in Pennsylvania. I’ve got a lot of racing planned on I’m excited about it.”
Hirschman now knows the value of momentum and he is looking towards the April 15th Icebreaker at Thompson, the opening race for his bread-and-butter division of the Whelen Modified Tour, to set the tone for a good 2007 season.
“Last year, we didn’t get off to a good start and that hurt us,” said Hirschman. “The whole season, it felt like we were battling from behind. We never could quite get caught up. Towards the end of the year, we started to get to where we wanted to be. We almost got into the top 10 in points. Going into the last race, we had a shot to go as far as eighth or ninth and we ended up 11th.
“So if you get over to a good start, you have a lot less to worry about. You want to have some momentum going and not have a bad start where you’re doubting yourself and doubting the cars. It’s all about getting the momentum and carrying it through the season. That’s why finishing well in the Icebreaker is very important.””
Hirschman will also enter the 2007 season with a little bit higher profile than before. He
Hirschman looks over his ride. (51 Photo)
had proven himself on the track before with two RoC Modified titles to his name, but the big victories Concord and South Boston helped raise his stock among fans and other drivers.
“I think that the fans recognize me a little more now,” said Hirschman. “Everyone is aware of the wins at the end of the year. I could definitely tell. With the other competitors, it is more of an on-track thing. They might see me as more of a threat now. You’ve got to earn their respect on the track. So far, I haven’t had any problems with anybody and I’m hoping to keep it that way.”