Matt Hirschman did what he does best Wednesday night at New Smyrna Speedway. The driver known as “Big Money Matt” conserved his tires and pounced at the right time to win his first career John Blewett III Memorial 76.
“This night and this interview is going to be about what this race is about, the John Blewett III Memorial. I’ve never won this race and I’ve always wanted to win this one,” Hirschman said on the FansChoice.TV broadcast. “We probably don’t really realize just how young John died and what he would have accomplished still in his career as good as he was. I was just getting to the point where we were probably going to battle for a lot of wins. We’ve won the Evans race before and it’s good to win this one now.”
Hirschman received additional inspiration as his crew member Dennis Duffy watched on from the Halifax Health Medical Center of Daytona Beach. Duffy suffered a leg injury Monday at New Smyrna Speedway and has since been hospitalized.
“First and foremost, one of my guys got his leg broke here and he’s watching on FansChoice still from Halifax,” Hirschman said. “Hopefully he’s out tomorrow and maybe he can even join us here Friday night.”
Ryan Preece led the early portion of the John Blewett III Memorial before Patrick Emerling took the lead on a lap 56 restarts. Preece would wrestle the lead back before giving it up to Hirschman for good on lap 64.
Emerling eventually made his way by Preece to finish second and record his third straight podium finish.
“I really want to win down here, but strategy just didn’t work out for us,” Emerling said. “I was trying to wear Ryan out and Matt was just back there saving his tires a little bit. The last caution just kind of got us because I got a little bit of wheel spin on that last restart.”
Craig Lutz also made his way by Preece in the closing laps to finish third. Preece and Tommy Catalano, who arrived to the track late, rounded out the top five.
Race fans can find on-demand coverage of Wednesday’s race by visiting Speed51.com’s Trackside Now.
The Tour-type Modifieds will be back in action Thursday night for a regular 35-lap race.
-By Brandon Paul, Speed51.com Editor – Twitter: @Brandon_Paul51
-Photo credit: Speed51.com
John Blewett III Memorial 76 Unofficial Results
New Smyrna Speedway (FL) – February 14, 2018
|9||83||Mike Willis, Jr.|