Matt Hirschman Flashes to Chemung Mod Tour Victory by Jim Blakroch
Hirschman Bites Into Ted Christopher's Point Lead With Two Races Left
Matt Hirschman swept Chemung's WMT events, earning him the broom that his crew members presented him in victory lane. (Jeff Martz Photo)
“If I went high I was definitely too tight. Matt’s line was definitely the preferred line to get around this place,” offered second place finished Todd Szegedy. “Being a little bit down a power, I could a get a run, but he just had the momentum to hold me off. I’m just really happy to finish second. I was pretty awesome on the bottom and my chance to get around these guys was really on the restarts.”
Matt Hirschman of Northampton, Penn., exclaimed that ‘he loved New York’ upon exiting his Ed Bennett Properties machine this past Saturday night after conquering the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Chemung 120. It was a sweep of both Western/Central New York appearances of the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour and it was true sweep for Hirschman on Saturday evening as he swept the pole, won his heat and led all 122 laps to take home his second career victory. The only other time that the Tour visited the track in August of 2001, Jerry Marquis earned the victory with Tony Hirschman (Matt’s Father) won the the Pole.
Hirschman was never truly challenged the entire day. Eric Beers of Northampton, Penn., Chuck Hossfeld of Ransomville, N.Y., and Todd Szegedy of Ridgefield, Conn., all gave chase to Hirschman throughout the day, but it wasn’t to any avail as Hirschman went on to the victory.
“It was the perfect day for us,” grinned Hirschman. “The way the format was. Practice set up the time trial order, the qualifying race and the feature. It was the perfect way to execute the day, you really couldn’t write a better script for us.”
What Hirschman is referring regarding the format is that this was the final ‘Flash’ race of the season (the others were at Riverhead and Spencer). The ‘Flash’ race format includes time trials and qualifying races without a redraw. The time trial order was set by practice speed, so the fastest cars in practice were rewarded with late spots in the time trial order.
"We swept the day and that is difficult to do because the competition is so tough these days,” continued Hirschman regarding the race. “In the heat Eric Beers chased me a little and in the feature, they could challenge me on the restarts, but that was about it.”
Beers chased Hirschman for a majority of the feature before slipping back to fourth behind Todd Szegedy and Mike Stefanik. Szegedy picked up the chase, but couldn’t run down Hirschman to make the pass for the lead.
Hirschman (#59) had to hold off Chuck Hossfeld (outside) and Eric Beers (#46) at Chemung. (Howie Hodge/NASCAR Photo)
Chuck Hossfeld and Ronnie Silk rounded out the top-five. Hossfeld won the second qualifying race.
The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour picks back up into action this weekend with the 36th Annual CARQUEST Fall Final at Stafford Motor Speedway, this Saturday and Sunday, October 11th and 12th.
Tony Hirschman has been called the ‘Iceman’ on many occasions because nothing really bothers him and his son Matt is the same way. He knows what needs to be done and he knows how to get the job done. When it comes to chasing the championship, he has a great perspective on that.
“When we left New Hampshire I wasn’t happy,” stated Hirschman. “We weren’t competitive and I said then we needed to go out and beat him on the race track. I let everyone know that. He won at New Hampshire and we were sixth. At Martinsville we had a better car and beat him and we did the same thing here at Chemung. That’s what it’s going to take us to get the championship. No doubt about it.”
Hirschman continued regarding his championship chase, “We’ve got two races to go and we’ll do the best that we can. “I’d be satisfied with second, but the championship is the ultimate goal.”
Hirschman then turned is attention to the Tour and the lack of pure passing during the race. There was some that took place in the back of the field, but in the top-six positions, passing only occurred during the restarts.
“I think it’s a proven fact that it’s the tires,” stated Hirschman while comparing the Tour car to the Race of Champions Modified. “The lap times with the Tour tire are way faster, but I think that reduces the quality of the racing because the faster speed makes it more difficult to pass. It’s not the cars or the equipment, both series are pretty much the same in that aspect.”
We also chatted about the final two Tour races at Thompson and Stafford. Hirschman will run Ed Bennett’s black car at Stafford and Wayne Darling’s white machine at Thompson.
“I guess my better average finish is at Stafford and at Thompson, I’ve finished in the top three, but not yet at Stafford,” Hirschman related. “Teddy (Christopher) has had more dominating runs at those places, but we’ve been consistent and we have the potential of running well and qualifying well. It is definitely going to be interesting. We’re capable of beating him at both places and we’ll just have to see what happens.”
Tune in or come out to the races, it will be interesting to watch.
Eric Beers ran second or third most of the race; he eventually slipped back to fourth, until Ronnie Silk turned him with just a couple of laps remaining in turn three.
“There are guys on this Tour that you can race with and guys you can’t”, stated Beers who chased down Silk after the checkered and slammed into the back of him. “Look at all the laps where I was second, Chuck (Hossfeld), Mike (Stefanik), Todd (Szegedy) and I raced clean. Even with Matt on the inside on the restarts. He gave me the outside and if I could have got the job done I would have had the room to do it. I don’t know what’s going on at times. Earlier this season, NASCAR made calls to put guys to the rear and as blatant as what he did tonight, they didn’t do anything, so I took things into my own hands. I don’t like doing things like that, but I’m not the only one who has had issues with him. Walk around the pits and ask some of the other drivers, I’m pretty sure you’ll get a consistent response.”
Ted Christopher and Eddie Flemke, Jr., tangled during the race and had a battle that was definitely not pretty. Ultimately, Christopher finished 7th, while Flemke finished 13th. It cost Christopher some distance in the championship, but in talking with him after the race, he was just paying attention to the next race.
“It was a tough night because we got the car much better and then I have to deal with that,” offered Christopher. “It started in the heat and carried over to the feature. We’ll just go to Stafford and see what we can do.”
THE REST OF CHEMUNG
Only 25 cars showed up at Chemung for the Chemung 120 and the fan count was down because it was a more-than-cool evening. Hopefully, John White and Bob Stapleton stick with and work on the scheduling. Chemung is a fun track to attend an event at.
Chuck Hossfeld rebounded after a couple of bad outings with a 4th place finish. Hossfeld was in the hunt all night and was happy with his effort. “We haven’t given up, I can tell you that,” offered Hossfeld. “The car was decent, it just needed a little bit more.”
Tim Connolly, who once drove the same car as Hossfeld, was in attendance at Chemung. Connolly looked like he could get right back in a car and compete. Connolly walked away from the sport a few years back to take time to spend with his family and coach his son’s football team. Connolly is a class act and would be a welcome addition to be back on the tour if a car owner was looking for a different direction.
Szegedy continued regarding racing at Chemung. “I like the track and I really thought the race was great. It’s a nice facility and we need to race on more short tracks like this, with room and the opportunity for more side-by-side racing.”
Stefanik of Coventry, R.I., wound up third.
“We had a good car tonight,” stated Stefanik as he talked to former NASCAR Modified driver, Tim Connolly. “I felt good and we were going forward. If the race was a little longer we might have had a shot at Matt and Todd, but hats off to them, they were running good.”
Stefanik offered his view on racing at Chemung. “It’s very unorthodox. Both ends are different and you have to run strange lines on both ends. You never really get a feeling of comfort. You might try what the guy in front of you is doing and you ask yourself if that was better or not. It wasn’t like you hit one line and said that’s it. It is definitely a challenging little track that will keep you on your toes.”