HIRSCHMAN STAYS OUT OF TROUBLE TO WIN AT STAFFORD by Mike Twist
TC and Szegedy Tangle For Lead With Two Laps to Go
Tony Hirschman didn't lead the most laps in Friday night's NASCAR Modified Series race at the Stafford Motor Speedway (CT). He might have not had quite the fastest car. What he did have at the end of the event was a car without any marks on the front or rear bumpers and that was the key to victory lane on this particular evening.
"Todd tried to do the bottom shot through the dirt on me and that doesn't work," said Christopher. "He drove into the side of me and f---ed us both up. I saw it coming at the last second, but what are you going to do? If I wasn't there, he was going into the wall."
Szegedy chalked the incident up to hard racing.
"We were all racing just as hard as we could," Szegedy said. "We were driving the wheels off it, went into the corner too hard and hooked wheels. We just went into the corner too hard. I don't blame anybody and I don't blame myself."
It wasn't that Hirschman was slow at all in the race. He started on the pole after the redraw for positions and stayed in the top five, and out of trouble, throughout the evening. He may have even had enough at the end to make a pass for the lead. He didn't have to though.
That's because there were a few other guys who also stayed in the top five for most of the evening, but did not avoid the staying out of trouble part. Ted Christopher set fast time and led a bunch of laps. Todd Szegedy also was quick and
The best view of the incident might have been had by Lia - who was directly behind the start of the accident, but got drawn into the fracas.
"We were all pretty evenly matched," Lia said. "Teddy was stacking everybody up and I was just waiting for something to happen. I saw the #50 (Szegedy) get a run on the bottom. The #48 (Hirschman) was really pushing pressure on him and he had to go. I just knew that something
was going to happen. It did and I was in the wrong place at the wrong time."
led his share of laps. Both looked like they each had a good chance at winning. That ended when they tangled with two scheduled laps to go.
Christopher was leading when Szegedy made a bid for the top spot entering turn one. They touched, spun and collected the luckless Donny Lia - who was running fourth at the time. Szegedy broke an axle in his car. Christopher and Lia lost track position. Hirschman scooted on by and rolled on uncontested in a race that ended up running an extra 12 laps because of late race cautions.
Christopher ended up 9th, Lia finished 14th and Szegedy held on to the 15th position. There wasn't much joy among that threesome after the race.
Szegedy (#50) makes a run on Christopher (#13). (NASCAR Touring/Mary Hodge Photo)
Hirschman chose the right escape route around spinning cars on his way to winning. (NASCAR Touring/Howie Hodge Photo)
The incident marred an otherwise good, close and clean race throughout the evening. The lead pack was nose-to-tail at any given point of the race and consisted of between four and six cars constantly. Hirschman was in that pack all evening and was able to use that position as a springboard for the victory.
"I had a run on Todd and he knew that I was there," said Hirschman. "He tried to make a move on Teddy going into turn one. He was in there and they just got together and that was enough for me to thread the needle and get through there. Sometimes that happens and we've lost quite a few like that through the years. Tonight we won that way. This
means a lot to me and it's great."
Second place finisher Ruggiero shakes the victor's hand after the conclusion of a 162 laps. (NASCAR Touring/Howie Hodge Photo)
When the dust settled at the finish, Reggie Ruggiero finished second with Todd Cravenho, Tommy Cloce and Jamie Tomaino rounding out the top ten.
The NASCAR Modified Series next visits one of the tracks where Speed 51's racing roots got started - the Riverhead Raceway on Saturday night, June 5th.