Patience is a virtue. Some race car drivers have it, some don’t. Matt Hirschman does.
Just when you thought Hirschman’s goose was cooked in Saturday night’s Race of Champions Modified Series event at Chemung Speedrome in upstate New York, the veteran racer went to work.
Hirschman was as low as ninth early in the 100-lap race. His infamous number-60 machine looked slow. The car appeared to have a push in the middle and out of the corner.
In fact, one person watching the race event shouted, “Matty doesn’t have it tonight.”
No, that’s just Matty being a Hirschman.
“I was working it out (in my head),” Hirschman told Speed51.com powered by JEGS. “I thought some guys were going to take a tire. (EDITOR’S NOTE: Teams were allowed to change one tire during the 100-laps.) So I was going to see what happened. Then the laps were running out.”
With 20 laps to go, the Northampton, Pennsylvania driver made his charge, which included a three-wide move into second place.
“I crossed over and did a three-wide move. That would have been my only shot if the race went all way (green),” explained Hirschman. “Chuck (Hossfeld) was holding the bottom until I made the move to the outside (past Hossfeld and Daren Scherer). I am just glad that worked out.”
And then Hirschman went, well, as he put it, fishing.
“I don’t know. There was about 10 to go and I had the fishing pole out. I was reeling. It would have been close, I was going to catch him.”
Hirschman was referring to race dominator and home track favorite Jimmy Zacharias. His maroon number-71 led the first 89 laps of the event. Hirschman was definitely pulling in the big fish, but then got a little help from a caution flag with 11 laps to go and a problem for Zacharias’ on the ensuing restart.
“The left rear axle broke on the restart. We weren’t shifting or nothing. We were just rolling with steady starts. I stepped on the gas and it sent me for a ride,” said Zacharias while wearing an aggravated smirk on his face.
“Am I heartbroken? Yeah absolutely. That was our race to lose and it happened, bad luck struck us again. I just about started crying. The car was absolutely perfect.”
But was it good enough to hold of Hirschman?
“I think so, being that this is my home track,” claimed Zacharias. “Early on we didn’t have to burn up the tires. He started a little further back and had to work a little bit to get by Chuck, Darren and them. I know how to protect the bottom here and it is hard to pass on the outside. I would have been a good race for sure. Matt would have ran me clean and I would have ran him clean. If he got there, he would have gotten it, but I think I could have held him.”
“Who knows what would have happened,” said Hirschman. “It took him out of it. It made the last 10 laps easier for us. I’m just glad I didn’t clip him when he suddenly jerked like that (with a broken axle).”
Scherer, Andy Jankowiak, Hossfeld and Patrick Emerling rounded out the top five, but it was Jankowiak who put on the best show of this group after stopping for the allowed one-tire change in the middle of the race.
“We played a different strategy just to do something different,” said Jankowiak, who is third in series points. “I think a caution sooner than lap 89 is what we really needed, 10-11 laps just isn’t enough. The guys are so good. I knew it wasn’t going to be easy to pass Hossfeld and by the time we got by Hossfeld, it was getting too late. We got to the back of Daren there and ran out of laps.”
Matt Hirschman’s victory at Chemung Speedrome was his fourth of the season on the RoC trail. He is now second in the standings despite missing one race due to commitments on the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour and trails point leader Chuck Hossfeld by 32 points.
RoC Chemung Modified 100 Official Feature Finish: Matt Hirschman, Daren Scherer, Andy Jnakowiak, Chuck Hossfeld, Patrick Emerling, Austin Kochenash, Brian DeFebo, Mike Leaty, Nick Pecko, Brandon Oltra, Doug Reaume, TJ Potrzebowski, Daryl Lewis, Jr., Bryan Sherwood, Terry Cheetham, Donnie Hartzell, Jimmy Zacharias, Tommy Cloce. DNS; Lee Sharpsteen
By Bob Dillner, Speed51.com Owner – Twitter: @BobDillner. Photo credits: Speed51.com, Rick Ibsen