Matt Hirschman Returns To Winning Ways In Tri-Track Open Mod Series Opener At Claremont

(Press release from the Monaco Modified Tri-Track Series)

Matt Hirschman (Photo: Jim DuPont/RaceDayCT)

In what may be considered uncharacteristic fashion, Matt Hirschman of Northampton, PA took the lead just past halfway of the Ron Bouchard’s Auto Sales 100 for the Tri-Track Open Modified Series (TTOMS) season opener at Claremont Motorsports Park. Under picture-perfect conditions Hirschman bested a full-field that included runner-up Les Hinckley of Windsor Locks, CT, and emerging hot-shoe Ronnie Williams of Ellington, CT.

Heat races and consolation events set the 26-car field for the first leg of the Ron Bouchard’s Auto Stores Challenge Cup.  In total 34 cars attempted to qualify for the night’s event. After the redraw, Andy Jankowiak of Tonawanda, NY, and Ron Silk of Norwalk, CT, led the field to green. A bauble on the start for Jankowiak opened the door for defending race champion Mike Willis of Grantham, NH to make it three-wide with Silk and into the lead. 

Todd Patnode of Swanzey, NH, handily made his way into third. The top three cars began to distance themselves slightly from fourth running Jankowiak. Matt Swanson of Acton, MA, in Ole Blue, was getting pressure in fifth from Anthon Sesely of Matawah, NJ. 

The battle for the lead was heating up at lap 10 between Willis and Silk. Russ Hersey of Swanzey, NH, began to pressure Sesely for fifth. The first caution of the event flew on lap 13 for a two-car incident that involved Geoff Rollins of Groton, MA, and Carl Medeiros of Westport, MA. 

On the restart, Willis was once again able to jump out to the lead over Silk.  Contact between the lead duo had Willis sideways; both were able to continue. Jankowiak spun amid the tussle to bring out the second caution again on lap 13. 

Willis was back in command on the restart with Silk glued to his back bumper. Hersey was up to fourth and Sesely had his hands full with Hirschman and Sammy Rameau of Westminster, MA. Over the next few laps Silk was getting racy for the lead with Willis. Silk was the new leader at lap 20.  

With the top ten cars running nose to tail the best battle on the speedway was for eighth between Williams in the Roscoe Racing #25 and Hinckley, who was piloting the SPAFCO #21 for Art & Kenny Barry. At lap 30, a brewing battle for third place between Patnode and Hersey was slowed when Medeiros slowed on the front stretch to bring out the third caution.  Under yellow, Sesely gave up fifth position to head to pit road for service. 

For the ensuing restart on lap 30, Silk and Willis made up the front row with Patnode, Hersey and Hirschman completing the top-five. Rameau, Williams, Hinckley, Matt Galko of Meriden, CT, and hometown favorite Bucky Demers of Cornish, NH, made up the top-ten. 

Hirschman made his way past Hersey to take over fourth position on the restart behind Silk, Willis and Patnode. Hersey continued to backslide slightly; losing a position to Rameau as well. Contenders Woody Pitkat, of Stafford Springs, in the Stan Mertz #6, Kirk Alexander of W. Swanzey, NH, in the Perry Family entry and Tommy Barrett of Millis, MA, aboard the #43, were mired deep in the field. 

Under green Silk was able to gain some distance over Willis while Hinckley was providing pressure to Hersey for sixth. As Silk continued to extend his lead, the top five was Willis, Patnode, Hirschman and Rameau. 

At halfway, the top-five remained the same with Hinckley, Demers, Hersey, Williams and Joey Jarvis of Ascutney, VT, occupying the top-ten. The complexion of the race would change dramatically with the unfurling of the event’s fourth caution flew on lap 56 for a spin by Hersey.

Under yellow, all cars headed to pit road for service except Willis, Sesely and Jankowiak; the latter two had pitted previously. Hirschman won the battle off pit road to rejoin the field in fourth followed by Rameau, Silk, Hinckley, Williams, Richard Savary of Canton, MA, and Brian Robie of Sunapee, NH. 

Willis jump out to the lead with Sesely falling in line in second, Jankowiak lost third position to Matt Hirschman on lap 57. Silk was hooked up in the outside groove in search for the lead once again. 

Silk was gaining ground on the outside when the battle erupted with Silk, Rameau and Hinckley. The result found Silk hard into the outside wall on the front stretch to bring out the fifth caution on lap 61. Other cars collected included potential winners Robie, Patnode, Alexander and Jarvis. Robie, Patnode and Jarvis were able to continue. Rameau was penalized to the rear of the field. 

Under the caution, the leader Willis ducked onto pit road for service.  After leading many laps of the event, he would ultimately not challenge for the win.  

On the lap 61 restart Hirschman was able to rocket by Sesely for the lead. He immediately ran out to a multiple car length advantage. Hinckley battled Jankowiak on the outside for third. Williams was making a charge back to the front; moving into the top-five on lap 66.  Brad Babb of Windham, ME, was having a great run; just outside of the top-five. 

Hinckley moved into second position on lap 69 while a great battle was emerging for third between Sesely, Jankowiak and Williams. Swanson and Hersey were on the move as well. 

Hirschman had a half-straightaway advantage over Hinckley with 25 laps to go. Jankowiak and Williams got by Sesely relegating him fifth. Williams immediately went to work on Jankowiak. Babb exited the speedway under green on lap 81 while running sixth. 

Hersey had recovered nicely; knocking on the door of the top-five with less than 20 to go and looking for more.  Willis lurked outside the top 10 with only 15 laps remaining. 

Hinckley could not cut into Hirschman’s lead as the laps wound down. Hersey took fifth from Sesely on lap 89; leaving Sesely to defend against Swanson.  With Hirschman handily out front, the best battle on the track continued to be for third between Jankowiak and Williams.  Williams took the spot way with five laps remaining. 

Hirschman had stretched his lead over the final few laps and cruised to the victory over Hinckley, Williams, Jankowiak and Hersey.  Swanson, Sesely, Barrett, Calvin Carroll of Andover, NJ, and Robie completed the top-ten. 

During qualifying, heat race victories went to Hirschman, Sesely, Carroll and Swanson. Consolation race winners were Dana Smith, Sunapee, NH and Colbey Fournier of Berkley, MA.

Tri-Track Open Modified Series-Official Finish-Ron Bouchard’s Auto Sales 100-Claremont Motorsports Park, Claremont, NH: 1. Matt Hirschman, Northampton, PA; 2. Les Hinckley, Windsor Locks, CT; 3. Ronnie Williams, Ellington, CT; 4. Andy Jankowiak, Tonowanda, NY; 5. Russ Hersey, Swanzey, NH; 6. Matt Swanson, Acton, MA; 7. Anthony Sesely, Matawah, NJ; 8. Tommy Barrett, Millis, MA; 9. Calvin Carroll, Andover, NJ; 10. Brian Robie, Sunapee, NH; 11. Joey Jarvis, Ascutney, VT; 12. Sammy Rameau, Westminster, MA; 13. Dana Smith, Sunapee, NH; 14. Woody Pitkat, Stafford Springs, CT; 15. Bucky Demers, Cornish, NH; 16. Mike Willis, Grantham, NH; 17. Richard Savary, Canton, MA; 18. Todd Patnode, Swanzey, NH; 19. Colbey Fournier, Berkley, MA; 20. Geoff Rollins, Groton, MA; 21. Brad Babb, Windham, ME; 22. Carl Medeiros, Westport, MA; 23. Ron Silk, Norwalk, CT; 24. Kirk Alexander, W. Swanzey, NH; 25. Mike Holdridge, Madison, CT; 26. Matt Galko, Meriden, CT. DNQ: Scott Adams, Lake Ariel, PA;  CJ Bolton, Weare, NH; Josh Cantara, Sanford, ME;  Andrew Charron, E. Greenwich, RI; Cameron Sontag, Sterling, MA; Chris Risdale, Rochester, NY; Kurt Vigeant, Oxford, MA. Scratch: Todd Owen, Somers, CT.

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  1. 34 showed up, only 26 were gonna be starting the race, love it!
    When is the last time the NASCAR modifeds had 8 DNQs?

  2. Open wheel fan says

    Tri track is the best thing that ever happened in modified racing. I will take a tri track show in any day over a nascar modified race. Looking forward to the tri track shows that is for sure.

  3. wmass01013 says

    34 cars showed up for the spring sizzler on May 11th and 34 cars RACED on May 11th, so which is better to send cars home or let them race, and I am sure the PURSE was more than Tri track, so before you guys go giddy please check facts, I give all the credit in the world to Jim Schaefer for his work on Tri Track, but lets not act like Tri track is saving Modifieds

  4. factsmatter says

    Phil A, there were 34 mods at the sizzler so if they only started 26 they would have sent 8 home.

  5. Crazy in NY says

    A direct Stafford to Claremont comparison is hard to make. 34 on Stafford works, not so much at Claremont. Seekonk Tour this week is only starting 28 because a bullring is different than a open half miler. What sets TTOM apart is the contingencies. 200 to win a heat , racing your way into the show
    as opposed to clocking your way in. Tire give aways , lap money etc . The Tour works for what it is and the other series do their thing their way. One isn’t better, it’s a matter of preference. I compete
    on both and prefer the more relaxed atmosphere at TTOM, ROC but it’s all good. Support as much as you can.

  6. James Schaefer says

    I’ve always hated the comparisons.. Each series has positive things, and each series has things they can work on.. And it’s NEVER good to send cars home.. but on the short tracks, you simply got to do it. .But we always send them home with money!!! I wish the Whelen races would post their payouts. I do believe they pay out more than us, but from what I’ve heard it usually costs more to go to them. i do know their point fund is super huge compared to ours.. Our point fund is simply a thank you to the teams who come to our races. Support modified racing!

  7. Kudos to you jim I know how much work it is to put on the shows and modified owners really appreciate it not like nascar where it’s all about them and no regard for teams

  8. wamss01013 says

    And Yes I understand the track size sets the amount of cars that can start, my point only was to the 1st 2 post saying THE WMT does not compare to TRI track, I love Modifieds and I wish people would STOP comparing one series to another, all the series have different ways to enjoy Competition, do I wish all races and series had 50 plus cars showing up for every race? YES but that will never happen again, so lets enjoy ANY MODIFIED race we have no matter the SERIES!!
    And JIM you are a TRIBUTE to Modified racing and the things you have and continue to do are a BLESSING to all teams!!

  9. Fast Eddie says

    The only real common denominator is the cars, and that’s a very general comparison. To the elitist fan, nothing is better or counts other than the WMT. However the methods of operation between the two series are like comparing apples and oranges; they are totally different. Time trials vs. heats & consis, counting cautions laps vs. not, bigger tracks vs. bullrings, just to name a few. Although I enjoy WMT races, I really like TriTrack as well. You don’t need the best car and the best engine to be competitive. You need talent and expertise in setting up a good car with a good engine for a short track. There’s a bunch of race teams out there that don’t have the cubic dollars or sponsors to compete on the WMT that have a place to race thanks to groups like TriTrack. To Jim Schaefer and all involved that run the TriTrack series, thank-you for all you do for Modifieds! I have yet to see a TriTrack event that I didn’t thoroughly enjoy! And I highly doubt that will ever happen!

  10. All this love for the TTOMS will bring a tear to your eye. Is there anyone with the courage, insight or more likely ignorance to make a completely futile, snarky comment about the series in this sea of supporters. That would be me.
    So what’s the overall theme of TTOMS races? Is it the crowd, the top names that enter, local favorites against invaders or the excellent management of the series. I’d suggest it’s none of that. It’s the Can Anyone Beat Matt Hirschman Show. The Everyone in the TriTrack Field Vs the Matt Hirschman Modified Racing Series showdown.
    By my count 13 Tri Track races from 2016 to the one just completed. Hirschman won 2 of 4 in 2016, all four in 2017, 1 of 4 in 2018 and the one just completed at Claremont. That’s 8 of 13 for a winning percentage of 62%. Include all podium finishes and it’s 85%. He almost makes it appear like winning isn’t even hard. It is hard, really hard.
    Soooooo if you like Matt Hrischman and we all do to some extent don’t we the TTOMS is can’t miss. If you want to be surprised at a finish it’s also the place to be to say you were present when Big Money didn’t win the big money. Dana Smith who?
    I have a dream. It’s a time when built tour engines are the only engine allowed for non NWMT series and opens. A time when open means any 18 or 23 degree engine with a cast iron block and whatever that thing is that the NWMT seems to love so much stays in that series. Could less open become more open?
    Just having some fun. TTOMS rules. Except the Turkey Derby. That’s pretty interesting as well.The Hirschman vs Blewett show. And unlike the NWMT drivers has a field that isn’t fooled by the high banked big sweeping turns that collide with a straight away wall that comes up so fast its like a Jersey barrier in the middle of the track.

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