Just 36 hours after the latest moment that shocked the Modified racing world, the two main combatants on the final lap of Saturday’s Tri-Track Open Modified Series Haunted Hundred at Seekonk Speedway (MA) each took some time to both look back on the incident forward on Monday morning. Both Matt Hirschman and Ron Silk made appearances on Speed51’s Morning Bullring to give there take on the race and each other.
It all comes after the clash on the final lap in a race which Matt Hirschman had dominated, and Ron Silk had marched up to the front after electing to make a pitstop for a fresh tire and adjustments, while Hirschman stayed on track all race long.
Crossing the start/finish line to begin the last lap, Silk made an inside move, getting to the inside of Hirschman and carrying a bit more speed. This resulted in some side-to-side contact between the two and Hirschman yielding the lead to Silk. On the other end of the 1/3-mile bullring, Hirschman upped the ante, taking his No. 60 deep to the inside, crossing over the inside curb and into the grass, making contact with Silk’s left side.
The result sent Silk spinning around, along with a host of cars behind. Hirschman kept his nose straight, crossing the line first, followed by Chase Dowling. Soon after, Tri-Track officials penalized Hirschman with a disqualification, handing the win to Dowling, while Silk made the long walk to the pits with a DNF in 21st position. The two eventually talked in the pits, with Hirschman taking responsibility on social media on Sunday morning after seeing the race video.
While Silk accepted what Hirschman had said, it still didn’t make him feel any better.
“There’s not really much to think about. Matt admitted what he did. I just think it’s pretty unfortunate," Silk said. "I worked pretty hard to get a run underneath him there, we made some slight contact when I went by him there in one and two. I don’t know, I think what Matt did is not really typical of Matt, I’m still surprised he did it. He just lost his mind there temporarily and that was the outcome."
The driver of the No. 50s for Bob Horn Racing went on to defend the validity of move he had first made in turn one.
“The pass I made on Matt, I would’ve done that to anyone, at any point in the race," Silk stated. "Anyone of those guys would’ve done it to me, too. It wasn’t bad what I did to him, I don’t think I did anything to him. I got under him, I stayed on the bottom. I understand the frustration of leading the whole race and getting beat on the last lap. But, we have to keep ourselves in check.”
Silk went on to say that while he still respects Hirschman, it will take some time for things to return to where they were before Saturday.
“Matt and I are going to race each other a lot," he began. "We’ve been racing each other for years already. We talked after the race, he came over after the race, and told me he did it on purpose. I don’t know, it’s respectable that he took the blame for it, but I don’t see any other option he had, clearly doing it intentionally. We’ll move forward and race hard, but if there’s a time where Matt needs me to cut him a break, that probably won’t happen for a while.
"Like I said, Matt’s a great racer, I respect him, I enjoy racing him. It’s good to race one of the best guys and I thought we were going to beat him heads up the other night. Just didn’t play out that way. There’s nothing more to say. It’s disappointing, crashing on the last lap is a disappointing way to end our season.”
Later on in the show, Hirschman came on to give his take on what happened.
“My thought process at the time going into turn one when I rolled out of the throttle, which Seekonk is not a stop-and-go braking race track, it’s a momentum track, a circle, there’s no braking point or anything like that. When I rolled out of the throttle, I was unaware there was anyone there, and whatever you want to call it, he threw it in, filled the hole, whatever. But, we made pretty good side-to-side contact and it was a bit of a surprise because I didn’t know he was there," Hirschman said.
In the time since the incident, Hirschman has spoken with others that were directly affected by the incident as well.
“When you watch the video, our speed at start/finish was identical, so there was no warning," he said. "It’s the last lap and not a whole lot of time to think about it. My reaction to it was trying to get back into the side of him and move him, like I felt he moved me. When you look at it now, and obviously with the lack of time remaining and the move I made to do that, an eye for an eye or whatever, it was far extreme to what he did, and I take full responsibility for that. I apologized to Ron, Bob Horn, and all the other car owners who had damaged cars. I don’t ever want to see anybody’s cars get wrecked or damaged.”
Hirschman then went on to give a similar display of respect for Silk, and that he would have reacted the same to any other driver.
“In the heat of the moment, the contact was made. It was uncharacteristic of me, yes. I realize that, normally I take that, but this time I didn’t. It has nothing to do with Ron. I never had an issue with Ron, I don’t have an issue with Ron. He’s one of the best with his credentials, his accomplishments speak for themselves. They always have a great car. I don’t think I would’ve reacted differently if it was any other car on the track, it’s just how I reacted to that.”
As for the disqualification, Hirschman has accepted the penalty call handed down from series officials.
“I accepted it completely. With amount of cars that were running, they started 28 cars, a lot of cars on the lead lap with the cautions. So, the finish was going to be in the 20th range anyways. At this point, I really don’t have any disagreements with where I was credited for because it wasn’t going to be a good finish anyways. So, I have no issues.”
Going forward, Hirschman will head to Evergreen Raceway (PA) for the make-up event of the King of the Green Modified race on November 2, before finishing the season with his usual slate of the North-South Shootout on November 9 at Hickory Motor Speedway (NC) and the Turkey Derby November 30 at Wall Stadium Speedway (NJ).
As for Silk, he has no further plans at this time for 2019, but did hint the possibility of attending the Turkey Derby himself.
Full race video highlights from Saturday's Haunted Hundred at Seekonk Speedway can be viewed now on the Speed51 Network.
-Story by: Connor Sullivan, Speed51 Northeast Editor – Twitter: @Connor51CT
-Photo credit: Speed51