The region’s Tour-Type Modified stars received one final chance on Sunday afternoon to prepare for next month’s King of the Green weekend at Evergreen Raceway (PA). It was a familiar face that was unbeatable from the drop of the green flag, setting himself up as the favorite going into the big October event.
Matt Hirschman finished fourth in his return to the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour at Seekonk Speedway (MA) the night before for the new PeeDee Motorsports team. On Sunday, he was third in his heat race at Evergreen, but it was good enough to be eligible for the redraw for the top nine starting positions. When it came his time, the number one pill was drawn and the remaining 19 competitors would have their hands full once more with the No. 50 Bob Horn-owned ride.
“We’ve had a good enough car here that I think we could win from anywhere,” Hirschman told Speed51.com powered by JEGS. “Drawing the pole is not a given, because last time a kid drew the pole for me and we didn’t end up winning, so it’s never a guarantee. Sometimes you might let your guard down a little bit too thinking it’s going to be easier than it is. Today I tried to make sure that didn’t happen.”
Hirschman led flag-to-flag during the 50-lap distance for his third win in the Evergreen Tour Modified Series, stepping closer to locking up the track title.
A host of drivers would line up along the outside on restarts to no avail, as Hirschman would often clear them by the first corner of the 1/3-mile. Hirschman celebrated in victory lane with his entire family and crew in the late afternoon on this NFL season’s opening Sunday.
“We finished where we needed to, can take it home and go watch football tonight, and know we had a good day,” Hirschman said following the victory. “Today we weren’t really challenged. You take the easy ones because sometimes when you think they are going to be easy or you should win you don’t.”
Closest to Hirschman for a majority of the event was Lehighton’s Bobby Jones, who was making his second 2016 appearance in a Modified at Evergreen. Despite staying with him on restarts, the 2011 track champion was not able to make a major challenge.
“There was just not enough forward drive in it right from the get go, and I knew that,” Jones explained. “I was just trying to make it to the end and not hurt the tires as much. I was running what I thought was a good pace, maybe a little harder than I should have been, but Matt was just that much faster.”
Like many others, Jones will have his sights set on the King of the Green weekend where the Tour-Type Modifieds will run 100 laps on Sunday, October 15. The car he is piloting debuted over the summer at nearby Mahoning Valley Speedway and has already won two features there.
“We’re going to call Troyer and download with them a little bit on what we should do with this new car,” Jones planned. “We’re still learning and it takes little adjustments. This thing really reacts and they build an excellent race car. We’re just trying to get comfortable with what I like and we’re getting there. They’ll straighten me out and get me in the right direction. They always do.”
Another driver admitting improvement that will be needed was Brian Defebo, the winningest Modified driver at the track among records since 1977, who rounded out the podium.
“I think the big preparation is getting a good qualifying position,” Defebo said. “Starting in the back is killing me every time, and Matt has the benefit of starting out front and is not using his stuff up. I’m using way too much car to get up there and then there’s nothing left. It’s a matter of position and a matter of luck. It’s in one piece and we have something to learn with.”
Zane Zeiner had an up and down day, which began with two cut tires in his heat race and a march toward the front to finish in fourth position. Unfortunately, his car did not pass post-race inspection and was disqualified. Roger Coss, in a new Modified making only its second appearance after debuting at the Tri-Track event at Waterford Speedway (CT) a couple weeks ago, and Anthony Sesely represented the Garden State with top five finishes, as a result.
Hirschman is additionally looking ahead at the upcoming special event, which will conclude the facility’s first full season of being reopened in a couple years.
“I’m sure the next race here being 100 laps with a tire change should mix it up some,” the former four-time winner of the annual race said, also adding the likely difference in temperature from the warm summer days that have been experienced. “That’s the biggest one of the year so hopefully we can continue this success. It will be a little tougher for sure.”
-By Aaron Creed, Speed51.com Central NY & PA Editor – Twitter: @aaron_creed
-Photo credit: Speed51.com
Tour Modified 9/11 Feature Results
1 1 50 Matt Hirschman 50
2 3 1 Bobby Jones 50
3 12 53 Brian Defebo 50
4 6 17 Roger Coss 50
5 8 1w Anthony Sesely 50
6 4 19 Brandon Oltra 50
7 5 95 John Markovic 50
8 9 04 Amber Fortin 50
9 7 12 Brian Sones 50
10 16 66 Robby Walton 50
11 11 71 Alan Creveling 50
12 18 3 Wayne Szerencsits 50
13 14 73 Paul Hartwig Jr. 44
14 2 58 Sal Accardi Jr. 43
15 10 14 Blake Barney 29
16 15 76x Randall Richard 25
17 13 12A Jason Hearne 24
18 19 03 Kenny Darch 24
19 20 110 Russ Frantz 6
DQ 17 76 Zane Zeiner 50