Lined Up: Anthony Nocella Tops Matt Hirschman In John Blewett III Memorial 76 Thriller At New Smryna

Anthony Nocella celebrates victory in the John Blewett III Memorial for the Tour Type Modified division Wednesday at the New Smyrna World Series (Photo: Jim DuPont/RaceDayCT)

They proved to have two of the best Tour Type Modifieds at New Smyrna (Fla.) Speedway over the first two events of the 2020 World Series of Asphalt Stock Car Racing.

They put on a side-by-side battle to the checkered on the first night of action.

And on Wednesday night at New Smyrna Anthony Nocella and Matt Hirschman used those Modifieds to put on a show that won’t soon be forgotten. 

A five-lap battle for the lead over the closing laps ended in a virtual dead heat at the checkered flag at the conclusion of the 76-lap John Blewett III Memorial feature Wednesday at New Smryna. 

Following an extended delay at the conclusion of the event, Anthony Nocella was declared the winner. 

“It’s pretty awesome, especially to beat Matt,” Nocella said. “Everywhere we go, anytime we show up and he’s there, he’s a car to [contend to] win and we know we’re going to have to beat him for the win, especially here, especially in these long distance races. He’s probably the best out there in saving tires in these races.” 

“I felt coming to the line, I felt I had him by six inches to a foot,” Hirschman said. “I just looked at a photo that shows that. So, but you know, I can plead my case but at this point it doesn’t look like it’s going to matter. I felt I beat him, but don’t take anything away from that finish. That is a lesson right there for all you young racers out there. Not just Modified racers, but all racers. That’s how you race.” 

It was the second victory in three Tour Type Modified events this week at New Smryna for Nocella, of Woburn, Mass., who won the 50-lap opener on Monday in another side-by-side battle the checkered with Hirschman.

It was the third consecutive second place finish of the week at New Smyrna for Hirschman, of Northampton, Pa. Hirschman was second to Craig Lutz in Tuesday’s 35-lap feature.  

Jimmy Blewett of Howell, N.J. was third. 

The NBC Track Pass image of the finish between Anthony Nocella and Matt Hirschman at New Smyrna

Blewett went by Eric Goodale for the lead on lap 20. 

Nocella got by Hirschman for second place on lap 63 restart and quickly closed on Blewett at the front. 

With nice laps remaining Nocella went by Blewett for the lead with Hirschman moving past Blewett for second a lap later. 

The duel was on at that point between Nocella and Hirschman. Hirschman led at the line on lap 73, but Nocella was scored back to the front on the next lap. On lap 76 Hirschman got the run off of turn two to close down Nocella’s lead coming to the white flag. The pair reached the checkered side-by-side. Officials studied video and photographic evidence to declare Nocella the winner. 

“It’s kind of tough there,” Nocellsa said. “We swapped the lead those last five laps, six laps or so side-by-side. It was kind of whoever got the best run out of [turn] four there. I definitely could hit him up going in there, I’m on the bottom, I could use him up and get him up some and easily probably win it – kind of like we sort of lost the race [Tuesday] night. I grew up in Midgets and stuff like that and you can’t bang. Matt runs me clean for the most part all the time. … He ran me clean the whole rest of the race before that. … I figured I’d give him my best shot there on the bottom. I found a little something down there where my car was working. We were able to get just enough grip up off the bottom there and just beat him to the line.” 

Said Hirschman: “I’m not really disappointed. That was a great race. New Smyrna Speedway, I’ve seen some of the best Modified races I’ve ever watched here and now I’ve been a part of a few of them in the same week. Just incredible really. Great race.” 

Watch Matt Hirschman plead his case to New Smyrna Speedway officials following Wednesday’s feature in a tweet from Kyle Souza below

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  1. Most of you saw it and know what you saw. The announcers couldn’t have been more effusive in their praise of the drivers and the quality of the racing. Second place Hirschman virtually glowing just to be a part of it, looking in the camera and saying that’s how you do it boys and girls. The stands were full and it was all streamed across the country via Nascar Roots. It wasn’t a tree not falling in the forest because no one was there to hear or see it. A very good night and look for modified racing that hopefully will generate more attention and viewership nation wide this season.

  2. Wow, great race. Matt handled his “protest” well, I thought. Good for Nocella getting the win. 2 great competitors, and gentlemen, at least on this night!

  3. Anthony Nocella wins 2 out of three with Matt Hirschman as the primary adversary! Great job by the Woburn MA team! I’ve followed him since he was in midgets; he’s always been one of the least bangin’ ‘n’ bumpin’ guys out there. Congrats to the 92 team, now go get some more!! 🙂

  4. That was one of the most entertaining races I have ever seen. Love the respect shown out there. No one banging someone out of the way. No one moving an outside car up into the first row of the grandstands. Just great hard racing and it produced a great race. I wish Nocella’s transponder was working. I really want to know how close that finish was. I honestly was thinking it was a dead heat. A little respect amongst competitors goes a long way. The NE modifieds are the show in New Smyrna this year. I am surprised how the NE mod car count stacks up against the other divisions which are more prevalent down south.

  5. Looks like Hirschman isn’t doing landscaping anymore. Two more races, we shall see.

    How many more 2Ps can Hirschman get this week? 🥈 🥈 🥈 … ???

    Good race with decent activity going on throughout the field.

    Preece did well, starting at the rear and moving up. Perhaps better results to come. A solid week of running the car can do wonders in figuring out what the car wants. Preece was able to do a couple power moves as he advanced.

    The 🇷🇺Trump Wagon 🇷🇺, what can be said? Started in the back, advanced to the front, ate up the car, fell back. At least he didn’t wreck. 💩4🧠, and that’s a compliment. Never learns, like a trademark.

    Weather looks better for the last two nights. Not perfect, lower risk, but better than has been forecast. Looking forward to the Richie Evans Memorial.

  6. Race Works chassis stealing the show so far. Wow didn’t see that coming!

  7. Have to give credit to both drivers – very professional and clean racing -can’t say that about the Tour Mod driver Lutz. Great race not sure about the final decision on the win – Lutz should have been penalized the night before – he clearly beat Antony to the start finish line on that last restart. Can’t wait till tonight.

  8. Racing is better than wrecking.

  9. What’s the purse structure for the Tour Mods at New Smyrna?

  10. If I were Hirshman I’d paint my bumper bright yellow or something. Great job by Novella. Raceworks looks to have figured something out, will be interesting to watch him this season Showtime looked good for a while, but that Trump banner bit him. Karma is a bitch. LoL. So far great racing. How about Amy with that qualifying lap. If she can keep those times up through the race she’ll do good. Preece seems to be getting the handle on that 4 bar car, though I thought he’d have a win by now. Great racing so far. Just my opinion

  11. Rafter Fan,
    Here ya go: 2020 World Series Payouts

  12. Steve – Anthony Nocella is also a tour mod guy. Ran 10 out of 16 races in the prior year.

  13. Get over it. The Trump Banner on the back of the 21 has nothing to do with Karma or Jimmy Blewitts performance. He’s just not that good. He couldn’t shine his brother. John shoes.

  14. Just looked at the image in this article. It does look to me like Hirshman beat him by like 4 inches or so. Hirshman black bumper doesn’t clearly show in the image but if the bumpers are the same length Hirshman got screwed. Had his bumper been easier to see he would have been awarded the win. Look for yourself, see if you see what I see. Just my opinion.

  15. I watched the replay 3 or 4 times I was leaning toward Hirschman but couldn’t say definitively he won. Perhaps New Smyrna should take down the signs on the fence blocking the finish line view. Getting a view of the rest of the car might help/ I think they should have given it to Hirschman based solely on the fact the Nocella transponder wasn’t working properly. Honestly iIts so close you can make an argument for either driver. Just a great finish.

  16. Bill Realist says

    Real race car drivers driving real race cars is what happened. Hell yeah

  17. Saw a race back in the 70s, South Boston Speedway I believe, where the finish was much the same. They called it a tie, split the money and points (each got half of the sum of first and second), ordered a second trophy, and everyone left happy. Haven’t seen that since. This might have been a place for it.

  18. It’s a conspiracy. It’s a vast conspiracy with dozens involved.

  19. Y’all should have seen several of the Modified photo finishes at Loudon.

    Many very close finishes, by fractions of a second. One in particular was TC vs. the V4. I think that was the closest, something like 0.003 seconds. Look it up. I was right about the start-finish line and the fans were all standing going wild… when the cars went by on the last lap, we were all flummoxed… had no idea what happened and if we should be sad or happy if our favorite car won or not. It was crazy. Took a while, but I think the V4 won. There were a couple other close finishes. Amazing that after all those laps on a big track it can come down to a couple thousandths of a second.

    The mods are the best show at Loudon.

  20. Yes dareal…….we know….you’re always right. At least in your small, misguided mind anyway.

  21. Connor? Haven’t seen that screen name before. A new poster? Doug? Is that you? WeldingWonders? Is that you?

  22. I noticed a couple things scum bag. First Connor is exactly like you. Attacking someone for no reason, with no content and having nothing to do with racing. And you pivoting to bring me into it for no reason other then that sick vendetta you have against me and with nothing to do with racing. Proving once again you’re a pathetic scum bag that can’t resist the low hanging fruit because you’re lazy.

  23. Tell you what scum bag here’s an idea. Before attacking me maybe think about aiming first before you shoot.
    Just send Mr. Courchesne a polite email asking for all my aliases. I’m sure he’ll respond he always has when I’ve asked him about something in private. Ask for all the new ones like in the last year since that’s a new attack line for you in your continuing vendetta against me. And it’s a good one for sure. You being a scum bag can accuse anyone that says anything against you as being one of my aliases. It’s not true and you know it but you don’t care do you being a scum bag.
    A nice pivot from your last attack. Let’s see how did that go. Oh yes something like this:
    “A year or so ago we had a Doug that supported a predatory sex offender,”
    Well that that turned out to be a lie based on comments made ALMOST THREE YEARS AGO but you don’t care do you. You’re RaceDayCT’s Trump. You’re the guy repeating the lie Bloomfield uses a crate to stand on.
    A scum bag just can’t help but be a scum bag.

  24. Whoa, what was that about Doug? Bloomfield, of course that would be Mike Bloomberg. Trump may be lying about him standing on a crate and the scum bag lying about me supporting a predatory sex offender but overall it’s been a great day. Uconn beat Memphis in basketball and did you see Daytona?. The image of the full stands, a fly over, our great president, the flag, the pre race interviews,, God Bless America…… was epic. Perhaps the greatest opening to America’s greatest race ever. And to have it postponed just a shame. All that excitement and energy wasted. It was almost un American.

  25. Or was is God crying after seeing Trump take a great American race and make it into a stealth campaign rally for the upcoming election? Kind of brilliant wasn’t it? That is until if rained.

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