The 2019 edition of the Tri-Track Open Modified Series’ Haunted Hundred saw a level of chaos one would expect to see at any season finale, plus a little bit more. Matt Hirschman crossed the line first, but Chase Dowling was awarded the victory after officials disqualified Hirschman for his last-corner contact with Ron Silk.
Dowling of Roxbury, Connecticut scored his second win of the season after winning at Monadnock Speedway back on September 15. With the win, he becomes the only driver other than Matt Hirschman to win the Haunted Hundred after Hirschman won the previous two events.
The race itself featured its fair share of drama, with several cars taking turns at the front before issues put them back in the field. Hirschman took the lead on Lap 44 and held it for the rest of the race, despite strong charges from Silk and Matt Swanson.
But the end of the race – specifically the final lap – is when things got hairy. Hirschman was leading at the white flag before Silk made a move up the inside. The two drivers made slight side-to-side contact in turn two, bumping wheels as Silk powered under Hirschman for the lead.
Hirschman then retaliated in the final corner. Replays showed that Hirschman put all four wheels in the grass as he and Silk entered Turn 3, sending him careening into the side of the Bob Horn-owned No. 50S of Silk. Silk spun, sending several cars spinning in avoidance.
Hirschman was still the leader as he crossed the line, but he was excluded from the race results, handing the win to Dowling, who was fifth in line on the backstretch during the final lap.
Silk was understandably frustrated after the race. He felt like his move on Hirschman was a clean last-lap pass, and said he did not understand why Hirschman chose to dive-bomb him.
“He drove through the grass and cleaned me out,” Silk said after the race. “I really don’t know what else to say about it. We made a little bit of contact when I passed him. I thought I was established under him. […] He was trying to protect the bottom, we clanged a little bit, but I didn’t think it was that big of a deal. But apparently he had a problem with it because he drove through the grass and cleaned me out.
“I think Matt’s a really good racer,” he continued. “I have a lot of respect for him, I just think that was a chickens--- move to pull on the last lap, like sore loser beyond belief in that instance. Like I said, I have respect for him, but that was a joke.”
Hirschman felt Silk’s move was also aggressive and that retaliation was necessary.
“It kind of caught me by surprise,” Hirschman said. “I thought he basically just drove in and cleaned me out, and you have a few seconds to make a decision or react to it, and I drove down into [turn] three and drove through the infield and cleaned him out.”
However, for his part, Hirschman said he had not yet seen a replay of Silk’s pass, but was prepared to admit that his move was overly aggressive.
“I haven’t seen it yet, so if that wasn’t the case or I viewed it wrong or whatever, I’ll own it. The race officials made a call on it, obviously not in my favor, so that wasn’t good. But if that’s not the case, and it was a move that I would have done the same, well then I cleaned him out and cost us both a lot of money and good finishes, and that’s not good.
“I have a good relationship with that team because I race for them as well, so certainly not the car you ever really want to get into something like that with. I will own it, and try and move on. You try and make the best decision you can under whatever the circumstances are, and I guess I learned from it and move on.”
After reviewing video of the last-lap incident, Hirschman released a statement on his Facebook page Sunday morning.
"After watching video I would like to release a statement in regards to the finish of yesterday's Tri-Track event at Seekonk Speedway. Upon taking the white flag when I rolled out of the throttle entering turn 1 the 50 of Ron Silk came to my inside and we made side to side contact. With less than a lap to go in the heat of the moment I drove into turn 3 across the curb, left sides through the grass and into the side of the 50. Unfortunately he spun and others received damage in the process. For this I apologize to all involved. As a result I was disqualified and this reflects poorly on myself and our team. In my racing career I have been on both ends of situations like this I all I can say is I hate being on this end even more than the other. I will learn from this and try to do better next time."
Dowling weaved his way through the last lap smoke to cross the finish line second and inherit the $6,000 victory after Hirschman’s disqualification.
“It’s crazy,” Dowling said. “We’re only supposed to run a few races with Jimmy Paige and these guys. We got sucked into going to Monadnock and we won up there, and then we got sucked into coming here and we won. Obviously not the way you want to win races, but we’ll take them how we can get them.”
Keith Rocco and Andy Jankowiak snuck through the melee on the final lap to finish second and third, respectively. Tommy Barrett brought his machine home fourth, and another Stafford regular, Matt Galko, finished fifth to tally his second straight top-five finish in the series after taking fourth at Monadnock Speedway (NH).
Matt Swanson, driving the famous Boehler Racing No. 3MA, affectionately known as “Ole Blue,” had a strong run as well, running up inside the top three for much of the latter stages of the race before finally finishing sixth. Richard Savary, Chris Pasteryak, Dylan Izzo, and Michael Gervais completed the top 10.
A full replay of the race is available now on Speed51.com.
-Story by: Ian Pettigrew, Speed51 Northeast Correspondent
-Photo credit: Speed51.com
Haunted Hundred Unofficial Results
1 00 Chase Dowling
2 57 Keith Rocco
3 12 Andy Jankowiak
4 9 Tommy Barrett
5 3 Matt Galko
6 3MA Matt Swanson
7 99 Richard Savary
8 75 Chris Pasteryak
9 04 Dylan Izzo
10 33x Michael Gervais
11 48 Jon Kievman
12 25NJ Calvin Carroll
13 76 Kirk Alexander
14 66 Austin Kochenash
15 8 Cam McDermott
16 21 Les Hinckley
17 27 Anthony Sesely
18 88 Russ Hersey
19 02 Geoff Rollins
20 25 Ronnie Williams
21 50S Ron Silk
22 1 Joey Cipriano
23 25NH Brian Robie
24 6 Woody Pitkat
25 27X Derek Robbie
26 176 Dana DiMatteo
27 82MA Rob Murphy
28 47 Joey Mucciacciaro