Going Away: Matt Hirschman Rolls Ailing SK Mod To Victory At Seekonk Speedway

SEEKONK, Mass. – Matt Hirschman has earned the moniker Big Money Matt for his penchant for winning high paying open Tour Type Modified events over recent years.

Matt Hirschman celebrates victory in Sunday’s $5,000 To Win SK Modified event at Seekonk Speedway

Sunday he showed the nickname fits for SK Modified events too.

With his motor going away over the closing laps, Hirschman, of Northampton, Pa., was still able to nurse his ailing ride to victory lane in Sunday’s $5,000 to win 75-lap SK Modified event Sunday at Seekonk (Mass.) Speedway.

Keith Rocco of Wallingford was second and Kyle James of Ashaway, R.I. third.

How much was left under the hood for Hirschman at the checkered flag? The answer to that question came when Hirschman exited the car in victory and told track officials: “We’re going to need a push truck to get this out of here.”

Black smoke started puffing out of Hirschman’s car before the final restart of the event, and track officials even stopped him to make sure his car wasn’t leaking fluid.

“[The motor] started to develop a miss and the longer we ran the more it started skipping,” Hirschman said. “If I wasn’t leading, I probably would have just pulled off. I knew something was wrong. But you’re leading the race. I’ve never been in that situation where I knew I was doing harm, but the race pays $5,000 so that will go a long way. It’s a hard situation to be in, but I’m glad it worked out.”

It was the first victory for Hirschman racing for Rob Gallaer Motorsports. The event marked the competitive debut of the team’s car.

“He’s been with the [SK Modified team owner] Bob Horn for a long time so it’s like working the same people,” said Hirschman, who won has driven for Horn in the past. “It’s like working with family. But it is the first time we’ve raced the car. It’s great to win a race for all the effort they put in building this. He’s been doing this probably over a three-year period to have this car here. For all the work that he put into it it’s great to do.”

It was the third big money win at Seekonk for Hirschman. He won the track’s annual $10,000 to Tour Type Modified event in 2008 and 2012. He actually accomplished the feat in 2012 racing an SK Modified for Horn, which he plans to do again later this summer at Seekonk. Sunday marked the first time running the special SK Modified event at Seekonk.

“I like it here, I think it’s fun racing,” Hirschman said. “The heat races are a little tough, but as soon it gets later and the lights come on and it gets darker and the outside groove comes in, I have fun here. Some people don’t like it, but I have a lot of fun here. I hope this is something they can keep doing. I think they got a good car count [26 starters]. I really expected more and I think they could do better. It’s one of them things that I scratch my head as to why guys don’t support something that pays above and beyond what you’d get anywhere else. I think it was a good field, but there’s definitely a lot more cars out there.”

Hirschman inherited the lead on lap 57 when second place running Eric Berndt spun leader Woody Pitkat. Berndt was penalized for the move, handing the lead to Hirschman.

Hirschman was able to pull away from Rocco after the ensuing restart, but he knew things weren’t going well under his hood. The race went under caution again with three laps remaining when Victoria Bergenty spun.

“I didn’t want that last caution because I had a big lead and I was able to back off my pace and just stay out of the throttle a little bit,” Hirschman said. “But then I didn’t know if we could beat Keith on the restart because I knew it was a little bit sour.”

Despite the issues, Hirschman was able to keep Rocco at bay after the final restart.

“First time here, I don’t really have this place figured out yet,” Rocco said. “We got the setup figured out, but second place, you can’t really complain. Hirschman, he’s the one to beat here. To finish second to him, that’s a good thing. The only shot I had was on the restart, the last restart with three to go. I tried to move him getting into [turn] three, but that thing stuck pretty good.”

James, a regular in the SK Modified division at the Waterford Speedbowl raced in the top-five for most of the event.

“[Hirschman] was right on,” James said. “I didn’t have anything for Keith either. I was really just trying to hold onto to the podium [finish]. We were super loose. We missed it a little bit. But we had track position and it just worked out in our favor where a lot of guys pitted and Woody got dumped. Hey, I’ll take a third on one of these races.”

Results from Sunday’s $5,000 To Win 75-lap SK Modified Feature at Seekonk Speedway

1. Matt Hirschman, Northampton, Pa.; 2. Keith Rocco, Wallingford; 3. Kyle James, Ashaway, R.I.; 4. Matt Galko, Meriden; 5. Tyler Chadwick, Ledyard; 6. Doug Coby, Milford; 7. Joey Gada, Salem; 8. Ryan Preece, Berlin; 9. Eric Berndt, Rocky Hill; 10. Tommy Barrett Jr., Millis, Mass.; 11. Adam Norton, Brookfield, Mass.; 12. Woody Pitkat, Stafford; 13. Kurt Lenahan, Roxbury; 14. Jeffrey Gallup, Agawam, Mass.; 15. Tom Abele Jr., Norwich; 16. Shawn Monahan, Waterford; 17. Jeff Pearl, Salem; 18. Glenn Griswold, Vernon; 19. Bob Charland, Stafford; 20. Victoria Bergenty, Plainville; 21. Glenn Pressell III, Gales Ferry; 22. Joe Kendall, Winchedon, Mass.; 23. Jeff Rocco, Wallingford; 24. Todd Ceravolo, Gales Ferry; 25. Shelly Perry, Ashway, R.I.; 26. Tyler Jarvenpaa, Orange, Mass.

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