Matt Hirschman has come close to victory in 2016 already with four top five finishes in four on-track appearances. The fifth attempt is where the Northampton, Pennsylvania driver would get it done at the track where he began his Modified racing career, the recently reopened Evergreen Raceway.
“It’s good to get that win today,” Hirschman, who came one spot short of winning the previous night at Mahoning Valley Speedway, told Speed51.com powered by JEGS. “Definitely I wish we could have swept the weekend because this is a big weekend in Pennsylvania. It’s been a long time since we had a double weekend with two big races at both tracks. Had a good car, it’s just same old Evergreen to me really. We picked up kind of where we left off.”
Driving Bob Horn’s No. 50 on this day as well as his last Tour-Type Modified feature win at the 1/3-mile in May 2014, Hirschman started on the outside of row two. Closing in at halfway in the 50-lap feature, he made it to the front of the field after passing pole starter Jason Hearne for the top spot.
The story of the day was the abundance of times the field would be slowed by altercations on the track among the 19 competitors jockeying for the $2,000 top prize. Hearne’s day would come to an end abruptly after contact with Earl Paules and others on one of the many eventful restarts.
“It was all good racing there, I’m just glad I wasn’t back there to see any of that,” Hirschman noted. “The track crew got a workout today with the brooms, but it’s part of it, maybe some inexperienced guys and also some guys that didn’t even race since the track closed. There was almost a year and a half without racing so I think definitely some rust probably set in.”
The first single file restart of the day came on lap 34 and would be the final one with Hirschman pulling away for the victory, but it was an intense battle behind him that went all the way to the checkered flag.
Matawan, New Jersey’s Anthony Sesely drove his Wanick Racing No. 1 to the runner-up finish, but admitted that he never had enough for Hirschman throughout the course of the race distance.
“We were good in practice and were decent in the heat race, but some of my adjustments were a little off I think,” Sesely admitted. “We came in and adjusted on it and got the car a little bit better. Midway through the race we weren’t bad and we got in a little scuffle with a couple cars and knocked the toe out. After that I was just hanging on for the ride.”
Sesely’s biggest fight in the closing laps came from Nanticoke, Pennsylvania driver Brandon Oltra, who started mid-pack and had to climb from the rear twice after spinning earlier in the race.
“It was absolutely used up,” Oltra said. “If we didn’t have to keep going back-to-front, back-to-front, back-to-front, we would have made it interesting for Matt over there. If (fourth place finisher) Brian (Defebo) wasn’t right behind me I would have made another attempt on the outside and I definitely would have got (Sesely).
It was certainly a rewarding third place result for a racer who has funded the Modified effort himself after his car owner passed away a year ago.
“I can’t thank my guys enough for sticking behind me,” Oltra mentioned. “It feels really good to be up here with these two. This is cool. We’ll get a win here this year.”
Sesely kept running the bottom expecting Oltra to roll around the top side, and applauded the clean racing at the conclusion.
“He did a hell of a job and I appreciate him not bumping me,” Sesely said. “He could have used me up a little if he wanted and he didn’t. He raced me like a gentleman and I’ll just have to remember that next time. He earned my respect today and I’ll give him some next time.”
This was the first of seven Tour-Type Modified special shows at the St. John’s, Pennsylvania track with the next event being Sunday, May 22.
-By Aaron Creed, Speed51.com Central NY & PA Editor – Twitter: @aaron_creed
-Photo credit: Speed51.com
Tour Modified Round No. 1 Results
1 4 50 Matt Hirschman
2 5 1w Anthony Sesely
3 10 19 Brandon Oltra
4 6 53 Brian Defebo
5 13 71 Alan Creveling
6 7 8 Earl Paules
7 8 04 Amber Fortin
8 14 22 DJ Wagner
9 12 67 Levi Arthur
10 2 69 Jimmy Dolan
11 11 92 Terry Markovic
12 19 40 Tommy Rought
13 18 42 Brandon Kressler
14 15 14 Broc Brown
15 1 12A Jason Hearne
16 17 3 Wayne Szerencsits
17 16 1 Chris Ridsdale
18 9 27 Harry Buchman
19 3 12 Brian Sones