Hirschman Takes Some Lumps with Eighth RoC 250 Check

Looking at the results alone from the 70th running of the Race of Champions 250, it appeared to be a case of déjà vu once again with Matt Hirschman taking the Al Gerber Trophy in the oldest Modified race in the land. In truth, it was much more complicated than that.




The sixth straight and eighth overall RoC 250 win, along with the $12,570 check, did not come easy for ‘Big Money Matt’, as he came back from an early crash on Lap 35. That crash was the result of a stopped Jody Buckley on the backstretch causing a stack-up when then leader Tommy Catalano slowed to avoid a collision, with Hirschman and Patrick Emerling receiving damage.


With both driver’s crews helping them to rally back into contention, along with sound pit strategies, Hirschman eventually ran down Catalano for the lead in the late laps.  Hirschman then held off Emerling who finished runner-up ahead of Austin Beers who rounded the podium after a late race charge of his own.


In victory lane, Hirschman showed a glimpse of pride in the work that he and his team have done in the last decade in this legendary race.


“Here we are again, it’s six straight, eighth overall. It’s just incredible, we’re making history. Records are made to be broken, good luck trying to beat this one,” said Hirschman at the end of the day.


As for the incident in question, Hirschman admitted that the 60 camp probably got away with one there.


“I’m not even sure what happened there, it happened quick that’s for sure, made it tougher for us. The competition is getting better which made it harder yet. Luckily I hit him square, destroyed the front bumper, so the rest of the race there was no taps coming from me. So I had to make sure I got out front and have a clean nose, because it wasn’t safe to be in the pack. But, it all worked out.”


After a hard fight through the field, the last third of the race was busisness as usual when it comes to the fall at Lake Erie these past few years.


“It went similar to what’s worked for us the last three years here. Eventually it’s not going to work, but I always believe in the saying, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. I went with that again today, but it’s going to be something to look at for sure.”


Patrick Emerling more than echoed Hirschman’s claim of luck, being thankful for the second-place finish after thinking initially his race was done right there on Lap 35.


“We were set back pretty early on with that deal on the backstretch, we blew the right front off the car, and bent it up pretty good. Blew the brake line. Hats off to my guys, I didn’t think we were going to be able to get back on the track. We got it back together best we could, we were okay at the end, Matt was just a little better than us, and we were pretty beat up.”


Emerling had his hands full on the final two laps, holding off young up and comer Eric Beers who impressed many in attendance with a great drive through the field after being one of the later drivers to take fresh rubber.


“It was a great run, I got to thank Dave and Laura DeLange, I wouldn’t be here without them. Car was great at the end. We had 31 people come here to support us, thanks to all them. Maybe next time we’ll get two spots better.”


Even among Hirschman’s victory, he took the time to recognize the performance of his fellow Northampton, PA native who has become an unofficial pupil of Hirschman.


“Austin coming on in third, he’s just going to get better as a driver. I’m seeing it all the time racing with him in Pennsylvania. He’s learning from me, so eventually this might be him.”


Austin Kochenash and Jon McKennedy rounded the Top 5, while Tommy Catalano, Calvin Carroll, Chris Finocchario, Andy Jankowiak, and Timmy Catalano completed the Top 10.


The RoC Modified season concludes this Saturday, October 3 on the other side of Pennsylvania at Mahoning Valley Speedway.


-Story by: Connor Sullivan, Speed51 Northeast Editor – Twitter: @Connor51CT

-Photo: Speed51

Hirschman Takes Some Lumps with Eighth RoC 250 Check