Matt Hirschman Catches a Case of Modified Madness By Denise Dupont
Wins $10k in Seekonk Open Show
The fourth annual Viveiros Insurance Open Wheel Wednesday Modified Race, at Seekonk Speedway (MA), was won by Matt Hirschman. The young driver started the race on the pole and led the race for all 100 laps. After the race, he couldn't hide his excitement.
“I am ecstatic,” said Hirschman. “To get a win here and for it to pay $10,000 sure is nice.”
Although the track is a few states away form his own Pennsylvania home, the Seekonk tracks has some pretty strong ties to the #59 team.
“This is a great win for the car owner, Wayne Darling.” said Hirschman, after taking his victory lap. “This is his home track. It's been a great week for me. $10,000 to win is awesome. I got a good pick (for his heat race), and was able to use it to my advantage.”
This is the third year that Hirschman had been participating in the Open Modified Race and each year he has improved.
“Two years ago, I didn't qualify for this race. Last year, I started last and made it all the way up to second, so I know how much qualifying means. This year qualifying well and starting up front made it a lot easier.”
Hirschman won his heat race and went forward from there to dominate the race feature.
“I had a car to win this year. The car was setup good and we were able to do it. I was running as hard as I could. Thanks go to Viveiros Insurance for putting this race on.
“I am just happy to get a win for this team. I have raced with this team for three years and over three years for the other one (NWMT #59 team). And when you don't win a race for the teams and then when a race for both of them within a week. It has been a great week. Unbelievable!
“The car was great. I ran a pace as hard as I could run. The car was perfectly under me the whole time. That is all that you could ask for.”
By the tenth lap Dick Houlihan had jumped into second and he stayed there behind Hirschman for the rest of the race.
“First off, I want to congratulate Matt Hirschman. He did an awesome job and he ran me very clean,” said Houlihan from victory lane.
Hirschman poses after his victory. (Jim Dupont Photo)
”On the last restart I was on the outside and I knew that I did not have anything. I was just way too tight by then and he had a pretty good car. He preserved his car just enough. He would have had to make a big mistake. He was going that good.”
With only three cautions in the 100 laps of racing, the green laps of racing may have hurt those chasing the leader.
“In a way it kind of worked out for me. Probably if my car was a little better I would have wanted some cautions because I would have been able to get something done. But the way that it actually worked out I was tight and it kind of split the field out enough that I could hold my own and ride at a certain speed without hurting the car any worst then it was.”
Chuck Hossfeld had a podium finish at Seekonk after a strong and clean race run.
“Dick Houlihan is a friend of mine and a good racer. I did everything that I could to try to get by him. I did everything but spin him. He did what he had to do and I am glad he could run well for his sponsor.
Hossfeld started out the race in fourth but dropped back in the pack as his car tightened.
“We started out of here snug. We had a long green flag run and we needed that caution that came out.”
On lap 70, the last race caution came out and put a break in the long run of green laps. It also cooled off some tires and may have changed the race outcome.
“That helped us big time“, said Hossfeld about the race change. “It let the front tires cool and we were able to regain some momentum. If I could have gotten by Houli I could have maybe run with Matt.”
In the end Hossfeld wished he raced against Hirschman for the win but he had to settle for running with Houlihan.
“You do not know if he (Matt) had anything in the bank, if he was saving anything. We were definitely faster than Houli. I like Houli and we ran him as clean as we could. He did a good job. He protected the track like he had to and we wound up third. My car is in one piece and I can go home and polish it or whatever.”
Chuck Hossfeld (#22) chases Dick Houlihan (#46). (Jim Dupont Photo)
Kirk Alexander started way back in nineteenth and did what he does best as he made his way through the pack up to finish the race in fourth.
“We had a good run,” said Alexander. “We were able to stay with the leaders.”
Alexander had a perfect bird's eye view as he watched the leaders compete in front of him.
“Matt was checking away there. Dick Houlihan and Chuck Hossfeld were battling pretty good right there.” Then Alexander also had to keep his eye on the rear view mirror. “McKennedy was behind me.”
Alexander drove his own #43 car in the Open Wheel race to compete with twenty-three other racers for the win. “It was a pretty good race at the end. We had a good car.
But even though it was his own car, Alexander ran a little harder coming up through the pack after he used up his tires in the consi race.
“We used it up a little bit coming up through. We had the consi and we ran the tires in the consi also. That kind of killed us. We should have had 15 extra laps on the tires. Oh well, maybe next year.” Alexander said as his #43 car was in post-race inspection. “I had a good run. I cannot complain.”
Jon McKennedy rounded off the top five.
“We had a good car,” said McKennedy. “We started in tenth position. On the long
run the car was really good. On restarts we struggled a little bit.”
McKennedy raced into the top five spot during the last lap ten laps. McKennedy was
one of the racers that wished for a caution as he struggled on the track to get to the
“We needed a few more cautions. There were only a couple of cautions the whole race.
It seemed like whatever lane we were in on the restart it was just not the right lane.
We would loose a few spots (on the restart) and by the time we got the spots back
we gave up a lot of positions and laps.”
But in the end, cautions or not, McKennedy had a finish in the end that he was pleased
“Overall it was a good run, we ended up fifth. There were a lot of good cars here today. I cannot complain the guys worked hard. I would have liked to have been a couple of positions better. But, you cannot win them all. For where we started and what we raced with I think this is pretty good.”
Teams went home from Seekonk with their notes, lessons learned and strategies ready to plan for 2009 and a return to Seekonk for the Open Wheel Race and money.
Seekonk Speedway Race Notes
Matt Hirschman Is On a Roll
Lady Luck has been on Hirschman side in 2008 and he has had stellar performance with all four race teams he has raced for.
“For some reason it is all coming together and I do not know why or what we are doing,” said Hirschman. “I have been winning races in my own car and doing stuff. Now that is four different teams including my own that I have won for this year and we are only half way through the season.
“I am as pleased as you could possibly be and I hope that all four teams involved are. I know how hard this game is and what it takes to win races. So to win and have won this year as many races as I have for all different teams is something special.” It is like a wish come true for Matt Hirschman as he racing proves that the apple does no fall from the tree (Tony Hirschman).
The Seekonk win just built on Matt's existing excitement.
“It has been going great. I do not know what to say” Hirschman said about his recent streak of race wins. Matt Hirschman reached Victory
Lane for the first time in his NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour career on Saturday night (July12th) at Spencer Speedway. “I have been on a high coming in here so I cannot say that I am not probably as excited as I was Saturday because I have not come down from that high yet.”
They say things come in three so where will Matt win next?
“Well, I am going to Oswego On Saturday. That is the next stop so we will see.” And Hirschman did just that. He went to Oswego on Saturday and won the rain shortened ROC race.
So now what are Matt Hirschman's goals for 2008?
“Realistically we are a little bit out of the championship points in the Whelen Modified Tour. And we are not out of it but we are just behind enough. It is certainly going to take problems on other team's part to get close enough to be in contention. That would be a huge goal obviously and it was and is a goal for my career but whether or not it will happen this year is questionable. Right now the way that it is going, I really think that wins are what I am doing and really going for. I do not see us as a Championship contender because of the deficit that we have right now. It is not that we can't but I am more or less looking at wins right now.”
“I had a six all last year and I was thinking if I could beat that goal this year then it is going to be a heck of a season. I am tied with that now already this season.
“I have a lot of racing to go. I looked at my schedule. I think that I have nine or ten races just in the month of August. So there is going to be a lot of opportunity to keep winning. That is all I am going for now just to keep winning races.”
Houlihan to Ride Again
What will Dick Houlihan's next race be?
“It will be the next True Value race here at Seekonk. I am just doing Seekonk races and then that is it. And then I am done, done. Then I am really done.”
Hossfeld Has a Good Time at Seekonk
Chuck Hossfeld is grateful to Seekonk and the Venditti family for their support of modified racing.
“I think that it is really cool that they put this race on. I am always excited to come to this race. To have $10,000 to win is especially nice. I wish we could have run with Matt a little bit. Congratulations to them. I am glad we came out with a third spot.”
“I want to thank my crew guys that came. Don, Craig, Billy, Danny and Chris. And also Jerry Gradl my sponsor. I had a fun night. I really did.”
Consi Helps Alexander For The Race
Running the consi race might have actually helped Kirk Alexander get to the top five in the 100-lap feature race.
“The consi actually helped us for the race tonight. It helped us on what the track was going to do. If I had not run the consi I probably would have made some worse calls and we would have run a lot worse.”
Evonsion Gets Bumped From the Race
In his qualifying heat Dale Evonsion was running in a qualifying spot when he was hit from behind and taken out of contention for the $10,000 race.
“It was just one of those deals where no one is racing for points so everyone is aggressive. We were doing alright on the outside, but the harder I tried it the worst that it was turning. I finally got back into line and we were running third and then Eddy Spiers got up into me. It was not a lot but just enough to turn me around. I tried coming back but came up one spot short.”
Hirschman's winning #59 (Rick Ibsen Photo)
The last thirty laps of racing Chuck Hossfeld was glued to Dick Houlihan's back bumper. Houlihan did everything he could to keep Hossfeld behind him.
“I was just trying to hold my line. I protected the bottom and if he wanted to pass me he had to go on the outside.”
Even though Houlihan did not win, he was pleased with his race.
“I feel pretty good. To be competitive, run good for my sponsors and make the team happy is my goal. They basically feel happy. I think I had my shot at him (Matt Hirschman) earlier in the race. I was out on the outside and I really tried hard to get it done because I hard such a good car. Thought if I could have got in front of him I had a good car and I might be able to hold him off.”
But Houlihan had used his car up trying to get around the leader and in the end he did not have enough left to beat him.
Kirk Alexander (#43) and Jon McKennedy (#73) race at Seekonk. (Jim Dupont Photo)
Pasteryak Has a Rough Night
Second generation driver Chris Pasteryak also had a heat race qualifying spot when he was caught up in a three wide dive for during the first heat race.
“Three wide in the middle two cars made it out and I did not.”
The car was pretty bad and had to be brought of the track on a flatbed. “The incident ripped everything out of the rear end and junked everything on the right front. We have the blue car all ready to go. We just have to change the gears in it and push it in the trailer. So yes, we are going to run the blue car at Oxford Plains.“
Pasteryak's mangled #15. (Rick Ibsen Photo)