Mud Lane Neighbors Battle for Oswego RoC Laurels by Jim Blacroch
Matt Hirschman Scores Third Consecutive Victory at Oswego
“This was a big night for us,” stated Hirschman who scored his third consecutive Oswego Modified victory. “I wanted to get some spots earlier in the race, but it didn't work out that way, so just chose not to pit and tried not to beat the car up at all. It played out well for us tonight and we were able to come home with another win.”
Rusty Smith and Rick Zacharias led the field to the green, but after leading early, Smith relinquished the lead to Jan Leaty who led a lengthy green flag stretch where the field was sorted out. The front running pack of Leaty, his son Mike, Eric Beers and Rusty Smith lapped several machines as well as stretched out a lead that was well over a straightaway on the rest of the field. A caution just past the midway point of the race setup a frenzy of pitstops.
Jan Leaty led everyone down pit road with the exception of Matt Hirschman and Earl Paules. Paules, a former winner at Oswego struggled throughout the event and stated that the car didn't have “any nose on it and wouldn't turn all day and night”.
After the pitstops in which most competitors took fresh right rear tires, Hirschman took over the top spot as Jan Leaty, Mike Leaty, Erick Rudolph and Eric Beers gave chase working through traffic. An intense race changing moment occurred on the backstretch when Rick Zacharias spun and slammed the outside wall while Jan Leaty came to a
Matt Hirschman and Eric Beers are neighbors on Mud Lane in Northampton, Pennsylvania and although they are good friends and softball teammates off the track, on the track it's 'Game On when they race'. We've told the story several times, but once again the duo took home the lion's share of the prize money and prestige from Saturday the DART Asphalt Race of Champions Modified Tour Parts Plus 125 at Oswego Speedway (NY). Two strategies played out for the race to get to that point. Hirschman chose not to pit and went the distance, while Beers pitted, put on a fresh right rear tire and made some chassis adjustments. At the checkers the duo was separated by just a car length as Hirschman nearly slipped up at the checkered flag.
sudden stop on the inside of the backstretch with ignition troubles that removed him from contention.
This incident set up the run to the finish as Beers slipped by Mike Leaty on the outside for third with Rudolph applying heavy pressure to Hirschman in an effort to get by. With less then 40 laps remaining, Rudolph tried the high side but Beers filled the gap and slipped to second.
“I knew with the new tire we'd have to get by Matt rather quickly,” stated Rudolph after the event. “I was getting tighter and tighter and I knew had to go and we tried. When we did Eric (Beers) filled the hole and we finished third.”
Beers got loose once with about 25-to-go which gave Hirschman a bit of a breather from Beers, but coming to the checkers Hirschman slipped off of turn four and Beers shot to the inside and the duo dragged race to the line with Hirschman earning the top spot.
Rudolph hung on for third with Mike Leaty fourth. Billy Putney recovered a time trial crash to finish 5th.
Lee Sherwood won the pole in time trials while Mark Tychoniewicz captured the qualifying event.
The next event for the DART Asphalt Race of Champions Modified Tour is this coming Sunday (September 7th) at the Thompson International Speedway with a 75-lap event as part of the Modified Mania weekend.
BEERS FINDING HIS LEGS AGAIN
For Eric Beers, Oswego has been a special place. He has won the Race of Champions at the track and several other events, but for whatever reason this year it's been a struggle. A blown motor in the first race, a myriad of broken parts in the second that led to a couple of weeks off to regroup and regroup he has. In three races with the family-owned familiar blue Horwith Freightliner machine, he's finished no worse then 2nd and if you throw in his NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour effort, in four races he hasn't finished outside the top-five. Pretty impressive turn around and at Oswego Saturday night, he looked like he might have played his cards perfectly again.
“We just went too far on the pit stop,” stated Beers, who tried to take the blame for tightening up his car too much. “I asked for a little too much to be taken out of the stagger and it cost us. Still, two wins, a fourth and a second in the last four races isn't too bad. I think we can live with that.”
Beers reflected on the rivalry between he and his Mud Lane neighbor.
“We're close friends, but finishing second to him is getting old,” Beers said as he tried to smile. “I thought we might have him tonight, but we just couldn't finish it off because we were too tight.”
Following his performance at Oswego, Beers talked about how things have changed and where things are going in addition to the conflict with the Sunoco Race of Champions event and the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour event at Martinsville.
“We're so close here,” he explained. “We just had to stop and look at what we were doing and then move forward. We found a couple of things and going to Mahoning and getting that confidence back really helped. You know, sometimes that is what it takes. We're going to need some breaks with the weather to run the Race of Champions, I wish that would have been worked out so it wasn't a conflict. It's really the Race of Champions date, but I'm committed to the Tour car and will be in Martinsville, but if something happens where we can make it we will. Marylin (and Don) Toal have worked very hard again and they announced tonight a big lap fund, so it is a great paying race. It's a bit frustrating because when we come back I think we could be better then we were tonight.”
GENERATIONS OF RUDOLPHS GO FAST
Erick Rudolph is a third generation driver in the racing Rudolph family. His Father Charlie was a
star in the sport on multiple levels, on both dirt and asphalt, as well as his Grandfather Jim. For
the younger Rudolph, things are progressing at a rapid pace as he's established himself as a
strong competitor throughout the asphalt Modified division on a multitude of levels. On Saturday
night, Rudolph piloted Dave and Laura DeLange's Troyer machine to a strong third place finish
and when it was over, it sounded like 'old hat' to the driver who hasn't graduated from high school
“We were just too tight,” smiled the young Rudolph. “I thought if we could get by Matt (Hirschman)
then we could hold him back there, but we couldn't get by him and Eric (Beers) slipped by us.
I knew it was first or third and we got third. I'm having fun learning and driving this car and it really
is a great opportunity for me. I could just feel the car getting tighter and tighter so I knew I had to
use the new tire quickly. It just didn't work out tonight.”
NEW TROYER MACHINE LOOKS SSSAAAHHHWWWEEETTT…
Central New York dirt Modified fans were probably doing a double-take at Oswego on Saturday
afternoon when Chuck Hossfeld rolled out the brand new H&H Motorsports Troyer Asphalt
Modified. It was the first time for the car in competition, which has been intended to make its
debut for a couple of months now. Billy Colton and company have partnered with John Holland and
Al Henke to create an asphalt team to develop the new mount, much similar to the H&H effort with
Jimmy Phelps driving. The car was a New England Race Fuels entry with a 98h adorning the door
and a beautiful paint scheme. Troyer employee, and driver of Bob Garbarino's Mystic Missile, Chuck Hossfeld was the driver of choice, while some late night hours spent in the shop this week finished up the assembly of the brand new design. Don Ryersee (one of Hossfeld's former owners), Greg Aumann (Hossfeld's spotter), Hossfeld himself and Bob Mueller burned the midnight oil to get the car ready.
Throughout the day the car was a focal point of the Modified faithful and in the race Hossfeld put the car through its paces beginning to develop a note book on the new piece.
The good news is that the rolling stock that exists on current Troyer cars will be transferrable to the new frame once it becomes available, but there were several new improvements to the car that will assist in several aspects of the car, including driver comfort, ease of entrance and exit from the cockpit and some of the new NASCAR rules that have been put into place.
“It was a learning experience here tonight,” stated Hossfeld, who finished 11th. “We worked hard and wanted to try some different things, but like anything else that's new, it was and R & D night. Sure, whenever you race, you want to win, but that's tough when everything is so new. The car will be good, we just need some time and we'll get the changes right.”
Jan Leaty was fast - plain and simple. After the pit stop he was certainly amongst those who would have been thought to be racing for the win until…
“We had a ground go bad,” quipped Leaty from a chair following the race. “I could see it arcing while I was in the car. It was just one of those things.”
Mike Leaty had a great run in his US Army Troyer machine. The younger Leaty finished fourth but was a little too tight at the end to go for the victory.
Billy Putney had a left rear tire come off in qualifying and he made some serious contact with the outside retaining wall in the turn three and four area of the track. Putney rebounded to come home fifth at the checkers.
“We definitely had a good car,” stated Putney. “We just missed in time trials and it cost us. Then we had to work our way through traffic and got held up a little. Still, for the way the day started, to come home fifth, that's a pretty good night for us.”
Much of the race was run under green flag conditions on the fast 5/8-mile with a feel of years ago with the Modifieds running on Saturday night before the International Classic at Oswego. Kudos to Pat Furlong, Steve Gioia and the entire Oswego staff for having the Modifieds run on Saturday night and giving the division their rightful home on Classic Weekend.
The Race of Champions Dart Asphalt Modified Tour is sponsored by; Dart Machinery, Gater Racing News, Hoosier Racing Tire, Sunoco Race Fuels, PBM Performance Products, Total Seal Piston Rings, Dura - Bond, Competition Engineering by Moroso, Dynatech, Xceldyne, Afco, CV Products, and LA Sleeve.
BOX SCORE - OSWEGO SPEEDWAY - DART Asphalt Race of Champions Modified Tour Championship Event #2
1.)Matt Hirschman 2.)Eric Beers 3.)Erick Rudolph 4.)Mike Leaty 5.)Bill Putney 6.)Pete Brittain 7.)Jim Storace 8.)Rusty Smith 9.)Darren Scherer 10.)Rick Kluth 11.)Chuck Hossfeld 12.)Doug Reaume 13.)Dave Wollaber 14.)John Markovic 15.)Earl Paules 16.)Jimmy Zacharias 17.)Jan Leaty 18.)Rick Zacharias 19.)Mark Tychoniewicz 20.)Lee Sherwood 21.)Donnie Stevens 22.)Matt Clemens
Did Not Start: Ken Canestrari, Dean Ryonkema, Dave Bellis
Hard Charger: Bill PutneyHard Luck Award: Rick Zacharias GATER Bonus: Doug ReaumeDART Head Winner: Mike Leaty
NEXT RoC EVENT; Sunday, September 7th - Thompson International Speedway - Modified Mania - 75 laps - Race #3 of Championship Season.
The new #98 Troyer piloted by Chuck Hossfeld at Oswego. (Paul Cooper Photos - reprinted with the permission of GATER Racing News)