Whether the crowd wanted it or not, Matt Hirschman provided an encore performance Thursday night at New Smyrna Speedway. In the final night of racing prior to the Richie Evans Memorial on Friday night, "Big Money" took the lead with seven laps to go in the 35-lap feature to score his second straight World Series of Asphalt Stock Car Racing victory.
The victory was Hirschman's sixth career World Series victory; however, it was only his second win in a race less than 50 laps in distance.
Coby led until Lap 8 when Timmy Solomito drove to the inside to take away the lead by inches at the line. From there, Solomito jumped out to the lead until a handful of cautions bunched up the field during the second half of the race.
One of those cautions on Lap 27 involved a number of contenders including Coby, Patrick Emerling and Anthony Nocella. The multi-car incident in turn three ended Coby's night and delivered a huge blow to his championship chances.
On the ensuing restart, Hirschman took advantage of a golden opportunity and powered to the inside of Solomito to take control of the lead on Lap 28. He didn't look back from there, leaving the rest of the field to battle for second behind him.
"That was pretty exciting, actually. I really didn't think tonight was going to be our night after our poor qualifying effort," Hirschman said on FansChoice.TV. "Definitely got to do better there because we missed the opportunity for an invert completely, but I made a few more changes, stuff I wanted to try. At first, I didn't really think it was any good but it really came in well. I don't know if we had the fastest car but we made one good move and that's what we needed."
Solomito finished second after a wild final restart and recorded the best finish of his career at the World Series.
"We just overworked the right front (tire) tonight," Solomito stated. "We've been loose the last couple nights so we tightened the car up and just overworked the right front. I let [Catalano] have the bottom there on that one restart and he used me up for three straight laps, and I couldn't let him have the bottom again. To come away with second is good. I like to win, so it is what it is but we'll build on it, go to the 100 lapper tomorrow and see what we've got."
Chuck Hossfeld continued his string of consistent finishes by rounding out the podium and taking over the Tour-type Modified points lead entering the final night.
"This has been fun here. We race, then we eat, then we drink and then I try to get an adult hug in and repeat," Hossfeld said. "Do it again tomorrow. Everyday it's the same thing. That was like qualifying for 35 laps; these guys are tough. If I was able to win that, I would be so proud because it's against [good teams]. I'm proud of the team and proud of what we've got going on."
North Carolina driver Bobby Measmer, Jr. recorded his best finish of the week by coming home fourth. Catalano completed the top five after battling for the lead in the closing stages.
Four nights of Modified action all leads into Friday night's Richie Evans Memorial 100, the finale for the Tour-type Modifieds at New Smyrna
Race fans can find on-demand coverage of Thursday night's racing by visiting Speed51.com's Trackside Now.
-Story by: Brandon Paul, Speed51.com Editor - Twitter: @Brandon_Paul51
-Photo credit: Speed51.com / Melissa Strahley
Tour-type Modified Unofficial Results
February 14, 2019 - New Smyrna Speedway (FL)
|4||17||Bobby Measmer, Jr.|