In short track racing, gaining momentum in an event after starting off with none is a very tough task. We also often see drivers go an entire event with all the momentum in the world just to lose it all in an instant. There were examples of both of these instances this past Saturday night at Winchester, New Hampshire’s quarter-mile Monadnock Speedway, which played host to round two of the 2015 Tri-Track Open Modified Series.
Current Valenti Modified Racing Series points leader Todd Szegedy led the field to the green flag, but was overtaken on lap 5 of the 100-lap main event by Stafford, Connecticut driver Woody Pitkat. Pitkat would lead all the way through to a series of cautions which began on lap 61 and lasted through lap 74, during which most of the field pitted for fresh tires. Pitkat would stay out through all this to maintain the lead, lining up with Mike Holdridge to his outside on lap 74, but charging up behind was Bullring Bash winner Chris Pasteryak. Matt Hirschman, who has made a reputation of winning the “big money” shows, was also making a strong charge to the front. Both would pass Holdridge with 19 laps to go, but Pasteryak would be unable to close on Pitkat once taking over the second spot.
Another caution for the spinning Anthony Nocella would change everything with Pasteryak lining up to Pitkat’s outside with seven laps to go. Pitkat and Pasteryak refused to give each other an inch on the restart and a proceeding restart after the caution waved on the same lap. A third restart on lap 95 would see Pitkat and Pasteryak running close again going side-by-side for a lap, then on lap 96 Pitkat and Pasteryak would make contact and wash up the race track letting Matt Hirschman and most of the lead lap cars all blow by on the inside, costing both drivers a shot at the $5,000 prize.
Both drivers had different viewpoints at night’s end.
“I just think he (Pasteryak) kind of crowded me there going into one, ran me out of room, and tried to run me down into the speed bumps and just took me out of my line there. That was it, I went over him, it is what it is after that,” said a dejected Pitkat after the race.
A riled up Chris Pasteryak had a different take after seeing his chance at two straight Tri-Track Open Modified Series wins disappear.
“He ran into my left side bar, did that two or three restarts, but it’s okay,” Pasteryak told Speed51.com powered by JEGS. “So finally I clear him, I’m down into turn one and he drove through me. He ran me up on the marbles. I’m dumbfounded that someone can drive a racecar and think that’s the right way to do it, because it’s not. It’s downright disheartening, because from now on it’s going to make me drive like an idiot around him. I don’t want to race like that, but I don’t care anymore.”
Matt Hirschman on the other hand would survive two green-white-checkered attempts and a final charge by Steve Masse to capture the $5,000 payday after advancing through a consolation race and starting 22nd.
“I just tried to keep myself in position and was in the right place there,” Hirschman said of the incident between Pitkat and Pasteryak. “Those two came together, I just cut it as hard to the left as I could and held it to the floor.”
As for having to qualify through the consolation race, Hirschman owed it to the high level of his competitors.
“The competition in general has really stepped up just in Modified racing in general,” said Hirschman. “Guys are stepping up in the motor department. They’re buying new cars, they got new suspensions out there, this car and motor has some time on it and we really got to go to work to win races moving forward. I know what I’m capable of and I did a good job to put ourselves in a position there, but the best car probably didn’t win tonight.”
Despite the intense battle between Pitkat and Pasteryak, and another big money win for “Big Money Matt,” there was another driver being talked about at the end of the night. That was third-place finisher Mike Holdridge, who secured his podium finish after winning the B-Feature, starting 27th and fighting hard on old tires to finish behind Hirschman and Masse when the checkered flag waved.
“I was happy just to finish,” said Holdridge. “We stayed out of trouble through attrition and guys coming to pit for tires. I stayed out and it stayed okay. They gave me some room and raced me with respect and that’s all you need. I’m happy, this is more (money) then we make for winning.”
The Tri-Track Open Modified Series will head to Seekonk Speedway (MA) Wednesday, July 1for the Open Wheel Wednesday show alongside the NEMA Midgets Boston Louie Seymour Memorial.
-By Connor Sullivan, Speed51.com Northeast Correspondent
-Photo credit: Speed51.com
Tri-Track Modified 100-Lap Feature Unofficial Results