The Asphalt Modified scene finally made its return in the Northeast with an event that didn’t disappoint. The John “Peepers” Yerger Tribute 77 at the Mahoning Valley Speedway will be a race that many won’t soon forget, with a packed house, a star-studded field and a finish that was far from what anyone expected.
In a race that was riddled with cautions, it was clear that Pennsylvania locals Eric Beers and Matt Hirschman were the class of the field. The duo ran nose to tail for the majority of the race, but contact late in the going would send both cars to the back, handing the lead and the eventual win to New Jersey native Jimmy Blewett.
When the green flag dropped on the 24-car field, it was Beers and Todd Baer who led the field to turn one. As the early laps clicked off, Beers would hold a solid lead, but it was Hirschman who would put on a charge to the front. After starting eighth, he would find himself in the runner-up position by lap 21, nipping at the heels of the Beers No 45. Through a number of cautions, Hirschman and Beers would keep the top two spots as the field continued to shuffle behind them.
With laps winding down, Hirschman took a look to the inside of Beers coming off of the second turn on lap 60 of the scheduled 77-lap distance. As they approached turn three, the space got small and minimal contact was made between the rear end of Beers and the nose of Hirschman. The contact turned Beers sideways as he drifted his way through turn three, eventually coming the full way around in turn four and bringing out the caution flag. Race control would send Hirschman to the rear for contact as he would give a wave to take blame to Beers while joining him at the tail of the field.
The on-track action would now give the lead to Wall Stadium Speedway regular “Showtime” Jimmy Blewett, who was making his first ever appearance to the tight bullring. As the field tried to complete the remainder of the race, it was a tiraid of caution flags to the finish. The checkered flag waved on lap 66 of the scheduled 77 on a green-white-checkered due to the number of cautions. Blewett would score the victory over Mahoning Valley regular Josh Scherer and invader Blake Barney.
“We had a good car. We had a good spot there. I figured I’d stay behind Bobby (Jones) and Matt and Eric and just follow them guys until the last 10-15 laps when they were getting ready to go. When Matt went under Eric I didn’t think that they were going to get into each other like that” Blewett told Speed51. “It was just unfortunate that the two of them got together because they are both class acts and they live close to each other. I’ve been down that road that they’re both going down right now. I don’t think there is any hard feelings. I was just in the right place at the right time and the car was good. I still had more at the end even when I was in the lead with the green-white-checkered. But I didn’t know what was going to transpire. I was going to wait until five laps to go and give it everything I had. But he said it was green-white-checkered and I felt like I had a little bit of a lead there and ended up with the win.”
Although the contact took both Beers and Hirschman out of contention for the win, both drivers finished the race and no hard feelings were had between them. While Beers was able to salvage a sixth-place finish, Hirschman would have to settle for 11th.
“We had a good enough car to win. I think Matt’s only chance to pass me would be to get me in the first couple laps of a run. He stuck his nose there and I was already coming down and we touched. I almost had it saved and I caught that inside berm and went around,” Beers explained of the incident. “It’s just one of them things. It’s just hard racing. It’s tough to race on a slick track when you’re out there for a couple hours. But I’m not mad at him.”
“All I was really looking to do was just test the waters there and see if there was anything there to try and make that run off of two to try to get up underneath,” said Hirschman. “To be honest with you when we got to the corner I never expected that there would be contact. When we touched there, I immediately jammed on the brakes to give him a chance to save it. I wanted him to save it. I never even intended for that contact to be made. I didn’t think where I was and when we came in there I didn’t think there would be an issue for space.”
Following behind Blewett at the finish was Josh Scherer, Blake Barney, Austin Kochenash and Chuck Hossfeld. A pay-per-view replay from the event can be found on Speed51 by clicking here.
-Story by: Evan Canfield, Speed51 Northeast Correspondent
-Photo credit: Speed51 Photo
John “Peepers” Yerger Tribute Unofficial Results
Mahoning Valley Speedway – June 13, 2020
- Jimmy Blewett
- Josh Scherer
- Blake Barney
- Austin Kochenash
- Chuck Hossfeld
- Eric Beers
- John Markovic
- Rod Snyder
- Tyler Truex
- Bobby Jones
- Matt Hirschman
- Todd Baer
- Eddie McCarthy
- Patrick Emerling
- Kyle Strohl
- Earl Paules
- Nick Baer
- Brian Defebo
- Don Wagner
- Ron Silk
- Terry Markovic
- Jason Althofer
- Austin Beers
- Jack Ely