Big Score: Matt Hirschman Wins Richie Evans Memorial, World Series Title At New Smyrna

Matt Hirschman celebrates victory in the Richie Evans Memorial 100 and the World Series of Asphalt Stock Car Racing Tour Type Modified division championship Friday at New Smyrna Speedway (Photo: Jim DuPont/RaceDayCT)

Matt Hirschman came to New Smyrna (Fla.) Speedway this week looking to defend his 2020 World Series of Asphalt Stock Racing Tour Type Modified division championship. 

And Hirschman played the defense of that title to near perfection. 

Hirschman, of Northampton, Pa., closed out his second consecutive Tour Type Modified division championship in a way he’s become quite familiar with. 

Hirschman held off Ryan Preece on a green-white-checkered finish to win the Richie Evans Memorial 100 Friday at New Smyrna Speedway. 

The victory Friday easily clinched the championship for the five-event mini-series at New Smyrna. It was the second consecutive victory on the week for Hirschman, who won the 35-lap Tour Type Modified event on Thursday. 

“Last night, it was nice to win, but it was hard for me to celebrate it because to me there was a bigger prize ahead,” Hirschman said. “Tonight we got it. We also won the championship. It’s a team accomplishment. It’s just great to be here.” 

Jon McKennedy of Chelmsford, Mass. was second and Anthony Nocella of Woburn, Mass. third. Preece fell to fourth after getting passed by McKennedy and Nocella on the final lap. 

It was Hirschman’s third consecutive victory in the Richie Evans Memorial 100 and his fifth victory in eight starts in the event. The five victories matched the late Ted Christopher for career wins in the historic event.

“I started my career over 20 years ago at Evergreen Speedway in Pennsylvania,” Hirschman said. “I never knew if I’d win one race. To come down here to Florida and win the biggest race here, named after Richie Evans, is just quite a career. I’m thankful for everyone that’s helped get me here. Not just here to Florida, but just throughout my career, especially tonight. I’ve got to thank my guys. They worked hard all week. Pee Dee Motorsports, we’ve had a lot of success here over the last few years. They’re all memorable these Evans 100 wins.” 

Hirschman was on the podium for all five events at the World Series. He was third in the 50-lap opener on Monday, second in the 35-lap event on Tuesday and third in the John Blewett III Memorial 76 on Wednesday. He got his first win of the week in Thursday’s 35-lap feature. 

Hirschman was the only multi-time winner on the week. Craig Lutz (Monday), Patrick Emerling (Tuesday) and Preece (Wednesday) were the other winners on the week. 

Lutz started on the pole and led the first 76 laps before heading to pit road with mechanical issues. The Lutz retirement handed Hirschman the lead with Preece behind him in second. 

The fourth caution of the race flew on lap 99 when Stephen Kopcik ended up hard into the backstretch wall after his right front tire caught a piece of debris off the car of Chuck Hossleld and came apart. 

On the ensuing restart Preece was able to get the lead from Hirschman. Hirschman battled back with a shot from behind in turn three, but the caution flew once again before the lap was completed, setting Hirschman back to the lead for a second attempt at the green-white-checkered finish. 

On the final restart Hirschman got the jump on Preece and left him fighting for second place. On the final lap McKennedy was able to get outside of Preece for second place with Nocella following to third. 

“We were just able to get ahead of him there and get the win,” Hirschman said of Preece. “Obviously he’s a great talent. I hope he wins the Daytona 500 on Sunday.”

After issues the first two nights McKennedy closed out the week with a fourth place on Wednesday and consecutive second place finishes on Thursday and Friday.

“The car was good, it was a good solid run,” McKennedy said. “My guys all worked their butts off all week. We started off the week a little bit behind there. A couple of torn up cars the first two nights. But the guys did an awesome job the last few nights. A fourth and two seconds. Big thanks to them.”



Comments

  1. Ryan Preece:
    “I’d rather not talk about that restart; I’d rather talk about the one before,” Preece said. “The second [restart] he knew what he was going to do at that point. Matt’s been doing this for a long time and he’s a really good race car driver, obviously. He’s super talented. He tried to make it a fast-paced restart and he spun his tires, so I knew he was going to slow it down. He has enough forward drive to get up and launch when we do that, so it just put me in a position where I was bottled up on the bottom and just too tight.
    “Could’ve ended up second, could’ve won and ended up fourth. But it was a great day. I’m happy with the race, and it was fun racing Matt there at the end. Man, I wish we didn’t get that caution.”

  2. I guess the engine issue is all better now.

    Good luck to Andy J today at Daytona. He was right at the top of the speed chart yesterday.

  3. Amazing how the underpowered engine mysteriously resolved itself. Hmmmmmm, wonder how that happened?

  4. Perfect, right on script… lap 5, Goodale and Blewett jangle. 🤣🤪🤪😝🤣🤪😝 That looked like an omen for a really bad night.

    Too many good cars expired last night… Lutz, Silk, Kopcik, Seuss, Emerling.

    What was left did a good job, and the event was successful.

    Gotta love that 6 car and FURY Chassis!!!!!! FURY CHASSIS, BABY!!!!!!

    Who was complaining about the lack of parity? Looks like tech needs to see why the 60/MH appears to have a power advantage, and then Kleenex should sponsor the 60 and MH in whatever car he drives.

  5. Wait…so you guys don’t agree with Doug that he’s the “single greatest racing talent in this area”

  6. They’ve really stepped it up from the free product of a few years ago. An announcing team that was first rate. They didn’t have all the minutia of modified racing that’s in Ben Dodge’s head but otherwise a terrific straight call. The split screen was new and Punch’s track reporting and mask advertising the fact it’s all presented by Track Pass kept us connected to the drivers at the most important times.
    That said the stream cast was limited in my view. Nocella’s march from 17th to 3rd was evident toward the end. However the runs of Goodale 13th to 5th, McCarthy 16th to 6th, Hossfeld 15th to 8th, Sapienza 24th to 10th plus Zeiner, Gerstner and a few more mostly unnoticed. There was a bunch of passing and good runs in that race that pretty much got squeezed out by the concentration on the front but mostly the track configuration and camera angles.
    New Smyrna is set up the way it is with the infield packed with obstacles and distractions. It prevents better camera angles as far as I can see. A sophisticated product for sure but limited to the grandstand camera switching to the infield camera. Essentially never showing much more then a 6 car race. Stafford’s switching from the camera in turn one to the front stretch gives the viewer a constant view of most of the field. Can’t do that at New Smyrna. All you’d see is the tops of haulers.
    I guess it’s time to ask. What’s up with Ben Dodge? He referred to health briefly in his visit to the Bottom Shot podcast and not at New Smyrna. Given his age it’s the wisest choice to avoid traveling especially to Florida and a race in Florida but it seems more then that.
    A missed opportunity for drama last night.. Lutz switched cars and had engine trouble and the first Hirschman/Preece restart that could have set up a banner finish erased by a caution. Poetic justice I suppose since Hirschman’s easy march to a victory was also erased by a caution. A lot of smoke coming from Preece’s tires on the pace laps and cross over. What’s that braking to keep the tires clean? May have been overkill.
    We’re seeing it now aren’t we. Hirschman criticized and mocked for spotty NWMT races in favor of the what’s best for Hirschman schedule. Staying local first and traveling for big money. Now it appears he was right all the time as more NWMT teams appear ready to move to the pick and choose model of Hirschman.
    Big track, some of the best modified competition in attendance and a full menu of engine choices.
    Hirschman wins the week and in the end it wasn’t even close. Greatest active modified talent in regional racing in the current era and it isn’t even close in my view. And still young.

  7. 🌈🦄2020 says

    Good move by Lutz. Switching cars on the last night. Built motor to a spec motor. Yeah good luck to Andy J. He races pretty much anywhere. Waterford last year, Daytona today. Can’t believe he didn’t run New Smyrna.

  8. I really enjoyed that Richie Evans 100. That was more an example of how the Mods usually race. Matt is really a Talented Driver, so much like His Father… I guess the Troyer / Fuller Racing TFR cars all can be considered a Hybrid Chassis now. Best ideas of both Chassis in one car …. Good luck to Derek Griffith in the ARCA race today…. He’s in quality equipment …. Should have a STRONG SHOT for the Win… Imagine that , from HUMBLE beginnings at Hudson & Star to pulling out onto the HIGH BANKS of DAYTONA !! What a thrill that must be flying down the SUPER STRECH , then hitting 31 degrees of banking… WOW…. Every time one of Our NATIVE SONS MAKES A MARK in National Series it gives all of us in New England a bounce in Our steps….Show them the Talent that is in the North East …!! Go Derek !!!

  9. Dadope let me remind you one more time Troyer 1, 2 ,3 now it’s Fury baby , or your only as good as the crew chief, or can only drive on bull rings , well Matt was in a Troyer and he’s the crew chief and he wasn’t on a bull ring and he pretty much had them covered for 5 nights but now of course he’s cheating and your still smarter than everyone , #45 jr

  10. I for one would like to know how Matt went from being under powered on the first night of racing which you could clearly see in that first race as he was consistently pulled by multiple car lengths down the stretch.So much so that he felt it necessary to get out of the car and not congratulate the winner but complain that he was down power and something needs to be done. Then miraculously the rest of the week, without a motor change, the car wakes up and no more getting smoked down the straight. Somethings not adding up.

  11. Elect, you are getting colder.

  12. Congrats to Matt and all at Team #60. The cream always rises to the top. 3rd Evans win in a row !! Once again proving (to most) that he’s arguably the most complete racer in modified ranks today.Some great runs by others as well. Lutz was stout but unfortunately his engine was not. Nocella showed his strength last night. Had a tough week but looks like he’s going to be a threat to win wherever he goes. Poor Catalanos came full force with all the boys and momma running. Wish they had better results. Don’t know what happened with Preece on last restart, they said a tire going down? Though his post race comments did not state that. McKennedy showing why he’s one of most versatile racers of our generation. All in all a great week, coverage was very good with what they had. Announcers were solid, Jessie Punch doing an admirable job as well. And outside of a few delays Mother Nature did her best, temps were always in 60s-70s. Best of luck to Griffith and Andy J in Arca race. And to Preece in the 500. Looks like going to have to dodge a lot of raindrops but let’s hope for the best. 👍🏁

  13. 🌈🦄2020 says

    The book of New Smyrna 2021 has been closed. You’ll never hear an explanation of how they won with a inferior motor. Now if we don’t hear another thing about the tragedy at the beginning of the week, well that’ll be a tragedy in of itself. Someone needs to be held accountable.

  14. We know both Silk and Lutz switched cars during the week. Hirschman could very well have swapped out his engine or whatever component would help his power issue.
    Fact is engines are big part of the tour mods story now. Really a lot of configurations. We fans poke and prod trying to glean what they are doing but we mostly have no idea. Tri Track is kind enough to publish the engines being used but that can change by the race. Sapienza is using spec power exclusively because he said as much and that’s about all I know.
    So we see a guy like Hirschman go from competitive to very competitive and think somethings up but we really have no idea. His fast laps for the first four nights were 17.75,17.66, ,17.96,17.92. So where did he decide to make some kind of major change?
    It will never be a thing publishing engine configurations it’s just to hard to.
    Very frustrating.

  15. Rich Gourley says

    So many refuse to give Matt his due. Top 5 in every race when everyone else is overdriving their equipment and getting into trouble He races smarter than most and the results show it. As far as the motor goes, don’t you think he was under the same tech process as everyone else ? Smarter is faster.

  16. Rich Gourley, pay attention.

    In the beginning of the week, MH is screaming the sky is falling, that the engine situation is out of control, and New Suhmyrna needs to get it under control or the world will end. He says he’s driving his A-S-S off and barely hanging on, but still quite competitive. Easily over 30 other cars would like to run as bad as MH did. He ends up winning two races, the event, all with this HUGE VICTIM CARD hanging over his head. Come on, give it a break already. Is he complaining he is not winning by large enough margins?

    He might get this due you mention if he just tried being humble and stopped complaining about how disadvantaged he is while being deprived of more wins.

  17. Sorry, but Matt Hirshman is the best Modified driver out there. To some people may say he whines. He gets the job done. He is extremely consistent and a really cerebral driver. Those that whine about him probably never respected what he or his father have done. I also think McKennedy is probably a close second to him as far being cerebral and steady. Those are the two best Modified drivers currently.

  18. I stand by my prediction MH will not win a TT race in 2021.

  19. Cerebral, good work.
    My view he’s the best driver but I wouldn’t argue about it if someone disagreed. What I think he is mostly is a racing A to Z guy in the mold of Evans and Stefanick and current guys like Todd Owen and Rocco. Every single facet of what makes the car go fast they are completely versed in. Hirschman just does it better then anyone else, more then anyone else.

  20. The most complete modified racer in the ranks today? Seriously? You must be one of the MH guys since this is the first I have seen of you on this site being it is New Smyrna week.

    MH picks and chooses his races and in my book that does not make him a complete racer.

  21. Kayman, then you’ve never seen Doug coby with Phil Moran or Justin bonsignore with Ryan stone

  22. Early in the week MH said the spec engines were at a disadvantage to the built motors. Everyone and I mean everyone in the pits knew this and were talking about it. Matt just made it public. And he said he was saying so because he was concerned it might lower car counts in the future. Looking out for the health of the division in the future. Something a guy named Richie Evans would often do. Great observation that MH lap times actually slowed as the week went on. Everyone else had to have slowed even more.

  23. camerissa, you make some good points, but… built motors are done, SPEC motors are the future as long as NASCAR allows them and does not establish parity. There is no parity which is why the SPEC dominates and the built is fading into obscurity. Even #3 ole Blue is running a SPEC which is blasphemous.

    On most, if not all NWMT tracks, the SPEC is superior, given all other rules. Remember, there are gear, weight, LS%, etc. that are part of the package 📦 that impact performance. NSS and their particular packages may have caused this *alleged* disparity. But then, it might just be MH crying WOLF!!! 🐺

    Keep in mind that NSS is a ½ mile high banked track, very similar to Thompson, where a SPEC powered NWMT car rules over a NWMT built engine powered car.

    What went on in NSS this year could be the result of trying to be all things to all people all the time, and that is a recipe for failure. Or MH crying wolf. 🐺

    NASCAR has a SPEC motor available, and they dictate where it is to be procured, and how it is to be serviced and maintained. Think about that. The NWMT had to go to the SPEC because it was impossible to win once it was on the tour. The SPEC motor is not as serviceable as the built motor, hence it is effectively disposable. I knew a top NWMT team that was running an eleven year old built motor block.

    The NWMT used to use built motors that were gems. Hutter, Bruneau, etc. These motors then went to the secondary market and sold to the MRS and other off-broadway modified racers, or low budget NWMT teams, because these racers can not afford the bill for a BRAND NEW built motor. I know an engine builder and he has not sold a single built motor since the SPEC came into play. Hence, the supply of built motors is drying up. When NASCAR announced the use of the SPEC motor, they told the base of engine builders that the SPEC motor would not impact their 18º built engine business.

    Several years ago, when the 51 and 6 were the first cars to run SPECs at Thompson, they sliced and diced the rest of the field. They ate the field up in the corners where the SPEC can turn better because of a lower CG.

  24. I have watched Doug Coby since he ran Sk’s and late models at Stafford. White #10 if I remember correctly. Wasn’t impressed then maybe a bit more now. But, if Todd Szegedy remained in that car can you say he would still have one championship. That team was a winner before Coby got there. I am not a huge fan of Bonsignore either. I believed he raced Sk’s one year at Stafford and gave up. They are Tour drivers only. Not a racer. A tour driver when they are in the right equipment and have no chance of being exposed. Way more than Matt Hirshman. He is prepared when he runs and doesn’t get into trouble. When he runs he runs well. He runs multiple series and brings the 60 since he left the 58 in the tour. Matt in the 58 was a force that one year. I believe Robert and Earl, that you are missing my point. And Jon McKennedy is a close second. He wins in Super Modifieds often. They are both smooth drivers unless you believe that the other options are less likely to create drama on the racetrack. I do not know what everyone believes. I believe Szegedy would have many championships if he focused on it. With the MORAN TEAM.

  25. In fact I was way more impressed with Zack Sylvester during that time period. #15 I believe. You all can poo-poo me all you want. You won’t shake my belief.

  26. goodfella you are correct, Aluminum head engine [ SPEC ] are much lighter than Steel Head Engines. the weight of the steel heads up high off the ground hurts your turn speeds. As all racers know lower and to the left is what Wins Races…… Even if cars weight exactly the same… the spec has the weight lower down than the steel head engine… Hopefully that clears up the REAL ADVANTAGE..of SPECS ….Lower Center of Gravity…..

  27. Kayman, Szegedy could have had many more championships when he drove for Moran with the Don Barker operation, the same operation which was then sold to Smeriglio (I believe). I believe the Don Barker operation was the team that brought the bad-ass Ford to the Tour. They had chassis problems, I think Barker was buds with the CD gang, but the CD chassis just wasn’t working. They had a bad race at Loudon, chassis was falling apart, next race was a Troyer. If only they ran Troyer sooner. Szegedy was replaced after he didn’t produce, and the rest is history.

    Jon McKennedy would have far better stats if his Tommy Baldwin Jr. cars didn’t suck. Those cars have way too many technical bugs and glitches, way too many. What is going on in that garage? It’s a miracle when the 7NY finishes a race on the lead lap. A car with that rep should always be top 10 as a minimum on a bad night. I’d love to see McKennedy is a top notch car, I really like his style.

  28. sour grapes of whine says

    Hirschman probably changed the carb right da real ??? solid rocket boosters .. ..my guess is like his tire strategy was playing possum and whining (head games) early in the week ..like someone said people would be happy to run as bad as he does……. SANTOS is the best driver out there NOT on the tour full time PERIOD ….. the rest of the prima donnas overdrove. its the GD Catalina wine mixer what did you expect.???? Hirchman so good at the end of last season he flat out wrecked people for the win ..no one cares …

  29. Charlie Brown says

    Blah ! Blah ! Blah ; I’m just curious were any of you buttheads that are on here and you no who you are, were you at New Smyrna to see the action, if not shut up, I don’t think any of you idiots actually go to a race !!

  30. OH but of course not like you Chuck who always has informative, insightful comments about alll the races, ypu go girl!!!

  31. I get confused about the spec engine debate. Under optimum conditions they have weight distribution advantages. Fine but in opens they have greater weight so what’s the point. The NWMT has a reduced schedule and the spec is not the engine of choice for anything outside of NWMT events.
    At the Modified Classic 81 at Stafford there were 7 cars with spec engines out of 45 cars. Only Dowling’s was competitive. The rest a mish mash of after market and rebuilt cast iron block configurations with both cast iron and aluminum heads bolted on.
    Dowling won the Classic 81 with a spec, Williams second with a 23 degree aluminum head engine and Hirschman with the 18 degree engine. Had Rocco not had mechanical issues he would have had that Dart steel head deal of his at the front as well. That’s what we want isn’t it. Not to have one type of engine configuration dominate in open races.
    At one time the NWMT was flourishing, NASCAR figured out a way to make money with their own standard package, gave it competitive advantages and sold it as cost effective. It became the engine of choice by the force of NASCAR’s influence. Teams never hailed it as a savior because of it’s limited shelf life and gas guzzling ways. Engine builders could put the kit together by God help them if they strayed from the rigid spec approved formula. They bought it because it was the only way they could be competitive.
    That’s then and this is now. NASCAR is losing influence and race events. Engine builder ingenuity is back. Perhaps they’re building engines off some of the great Chevy crate engines out their using the blocks and adding the heads of choice. In any event they figured some way to build a bunch of tour type modified engines in a relatively short amount of time that are affordable. Were that not the case how could we see the growth we are seeing in open style events?
    Stafford had a chance to include specs this year in their open rules package and essentially thumbed their nose at the idea. Knowing no doubt that the future is not the spec engine nor perhaps NASCAR races after this year.

  32. Hi, Chuck. I have a job and have to be at work. I can’t just mosey down to central Florida to watch a week of racing. I hate to pull the ball away from you when you are kicking it. But you are used to it Chuck. It must be nice to go wherever you want whenever you want. I need to be at work daily at 4:30am. Congratulations though because you are something special. I am just a track nerd. You are a man among men. You showed me. I will, for one, shut up in your presence.

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