New Race, Familiar Face: Matt Hirschman Wins First Whelen Mod Tour Event At New Smyrna Speedway

Matt Hirschman celebrates victory in the Whelen Modified Tour New Smyrna Visitor’s Bureau 200 Saturday at New Smyrna Speedway (Photo: Jim DuPont/RaceDayCT)

In recent years Matt Hirschman has been the king of the Tour Type Modified division at the annual World Series of Asphalt Stock Car Racing at New Smyrna (Fla.) Speedway.

Saturday, with the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour at New Smyrna Speedway for the first time, Hirschman proved that his crown carried over to the series.

Hirschman, of Northampton, Pa., drove away from the field late to win the Whelen Modified Tour New Smyrna Visitor’s Bureau 200 Saturday at New Smyrna Speedway.

“It means a lot,” Hirschman said. “I never made it to Daytona [International Speedway] or the Daytona 500, but coming down here to be part of Speedweeks and win races, this being the first time the [Whelen Modified Tour is] ever here, it just means a lot. It’s a lot of work. I appreciate all the effort by the PeeDee Motorsports team. We’ve got a lot of work ahead of yet this week. A lot of racing to go, which I’m really looking forward to.”

Eric Goodale of Riverhead, N.Y. was second. Mike Christopher Jr. of Wolcott, making his second series start, was third.

It was the fifth career Whelen Modified Tour victory for Hirschman in his 107th series start since 2005. Hirschman also was the pole winner of the event.

“Of all the things we’ve done with this team, and this is our sixth year, we’ve won other races, [Whelen Modified Tour] races, North-South Shootouts, [Tri-Track Open Modified Series] races, coming to Florida has really been the most enjoyable thing that I’ve done with these guys and this team,” Hirschman said. “You feel like you made it when you come down here and you win a big race. I never made it to Daytona, but this is huge for me. I’m really proud of everybody, myself included, that we’ve been able to accomplish so much down here. It’s awesome.

“Just cool to be down here, [on] FloRacing, packed house here, sold out crowd, this awesome. I’ve been watching racing all week on Flo and others. I’ve watched Sprint cars, Dirt Modifieds, Dirt Late Models, I’ve been watching all kinds of stuff, and now to be part a headline maker here tonight at New Smyrna, this is cool. We’ll just try to keep it up and win some more races [next week].”

Jon McKennedy of Chelmsford, Mass. and Tyler Rypkema of Owego, N.Y. rounded out the top-five respectively.

Hirschman went by Christopher for the lead with 39 laps to go with Goodale moving into second two laps later. Hirschman was easily able to keep a healthy distance between himself and second place the rest of the way.

“I knew I probably wanted to get him early on in [the last] run,” Goodale said. “Matt is way too good of a driver to make mistakes late in the race. I knew with about 15 laps to go that he probably had the better car. I was hoping lapped traffic or a mistake on his behalf would put us right back there in the mix. We were driving away from third. I was just driving the thing as hard as I could to not make any mistakes and stay with him in case he bobbled there.”

Christopher made his only other series start last September driving for Baldwin at Riverhead (N.Y.) Raceway in an event where he finished 14th.

“I hope I put on a good show for the fans,” Christopher said. “I proved to [car owner Tommy Baldwin Jr.] and everyone else that the PSR Chassis is here to play and we’ll be racing the rest of the week with the PSR. We’re here to compete and do well the best that we can. Obviously we were on older tires there at the end but just looking for that yellow. Gambled and it didn’t work out. But I’m pretty happy to be on the podium. Very thankful for this opportunity.”

Ryan Preece looked like he would be Hirschman’s toughed competition for the night, but Preece ended up involved in a wreck with Andrew Krause with about 60 laps remaining coming off turn four while battling for fourth place. Preece ended up 10th.

Two-time defending series champion Justin Bonsignore retired after 32 laps with mechanical issues and ended up last in the 31-car field.


  1. Good start to the 2022 season. The 79 and 16 got a break out of the gate with the 51 having uncharacteristic mechanical issues. Make the points advantage count!

    Hirschman … what can I say love him or hate him the PeeDee team shows up prepared and he drives smart races. Would have mean nice to see a regular win, but smart racing prevailed.

    The BRE team brought about what we have seen in recent years. A very fast 3 car on short runs that fades hard when everything is not going perfectly. Preece gave it 100% but the magic of the past is not quite there.

    Excellent early season start for Goodale again. Hopefully they can make a full season if it.

    Looking forward to the rest of the week at New Smyrna. Flo Racing needs to get the buffering issues figured out.

  2. Phieldbar,
    I had zero buffering issues with Flo during the broadcast. Might have been your own connection? Only issue I had with Flo was not having a lap counter and rundown ticker, but I think that involved an issue with internet at the track that shut down NASCAR’s live timing and scoring.

  3. Liz Cherokee says

    I agree with Shawn–I had zero buffering issues with the broadcast. My biggest problem during the race was that for some reason I decided that I would drink every time Ben Dodge said ‘No question about it…”. That’s a surefire way to get drunk!

  4. That spin Preece had used his tires and changed his car… too bad. Until that spin, the 3 looked rather strong. It would have been a great show for the 3 if it didn’t tangle. Bummer.

    Hirschman/Peedee were probably the most overall experienced and successful team at New Smyrna, no surprise at all to see him win.

    And just like that, team 51 opens the door for the others. But the season is young and the others will also have a DNF or two.

    Losing the 51 and 3 was significant, they were favored.

    I had no issues at all with Flo.

  5. Have to give a shout out to Mike Christopher Jr driving the 7ny on running a great race and finishing 3rd plus I do not think he has ever raced at New Smyrna before great job overall I thought it was a great show to start off Speedweek. I also did not have buffering issues.

  6. Joe, during the show, the announcers said that MC Jr. went down to NSS a few weeks ago for a practice session. It paid off. Glad to see the 7NY stayed together and didn’t have any technical issues.

    Decent season opening race, about normal attrition.

  7. Buffering mostly is a function of the internet speed you purchased. You might want to check that first to see if you have the minimum speed. Timing and scoring did kick in late in the race.

    No question about it, Dodge does lean on a few of his pet phrases and is prone to mistakes more these days. Even so that team of Dodge/Coss was outstanding. There is no substitute. Two modified guys that can throw in so many nuggets and kernels of information while calling the race is what a great race deserves. And that was a great race in my view.

    Preece was like a QB with a big arm that throws a hot one into coverage trying to thread the needle it’s almost picked off then he does it again and gets intercepted. He took on tires, immediately went on the charge just avoiding a mishap. Then he does it again with a car he was going to pass anyway, they touch and the 3 is never the same. Driver error as far as I could see. He was in a modified but driving like he was in the Super Late Model. Ole Blue was fast. Couldn’t beat a guy that owns New Smyrna in qualifying but beat a bunch of really good cars. Could have been good at the end but on that particular track you can’t be charging with funky front geometry.

    We all made out picks and concentrated on the top tier in doing so for the most part. It’s the 51’s championship to lose we said the team is just that good. Then Goodale, the PSR chassied 7ny with a driver that has one NWMT race under his belt and Rypkema crash the top tier party. The 51 that almost never has mechanical issues has an engine go bad. The 82 and 54 turn in good runs and it becomes pretty clear. Good finishes and championships aren’t won on predictions. Now the grind is on and we’ll see what happens.

    To all you naysayers and trash talkers that just love to dump on the NWMT you may have your day at some point in the near future. You know to wag your finger and say I told you so. This however was not it. For this one race you can pucker up, bend over and plant a big smooch on Wilson’s ass because the opener with a sold out crowd, over flowing paddock and great racing was a home run by any standard.

  8. It was interesting to see noted bull ring specialist Matt H. win on a high(er) speed track.

    The 3 & 24 wreck reminded me of the TC/Preece dust up at NS approx. 10 years ago.

  9. Buffering is a you problem

  10. Ben Dodge is like one of those kiddie toys where you pull the string and the toy says something from a very small portfolio of phrases.

    Flo worked great, no problems, and we were also streaming another 2-3 screens of olympics at the same time. No buffering on any screen.

  11. Nerfbarsmurf says

    Hirshman/PeeDee are the David Pearson and Wood Brothers of big time modified racing. And Ben Dodge is the Ken Squire of the modifieds.

  12. Nerfbarsmurf says

    Didn’t see what happened between the 3 and 24 until the 24 was careening into the inside wall. Ouch! Glad Andrew was ok. Thought he may have been holding up the 3 and Ryan wanted to move him. Krause was fast in that race. Passed a lot of cars but, probably not top 5 material either so I figured he was in Ryan’s way. Not so much the case. The 24 team seems to use the same pit strategy in these NWMT events. Didn’t work out this time. Could have probably rant between 11th or 15th and still have car in one piece.

  13. I had no issues with Flo and I was streaming the Olympics, the Woo Sprints and Lucas Oil late models race at the same time. I will say Flo didn’t have the banner with the laps and running order for much of the race which was annoying trying to follow drivers progress after pit stops. It did appear the last 50 or so laps with a fancy NBC logo on it. The announce team wasn’t bad. I will say do not play a drinking game where the key word is meanwhile when listening to Dodge call a race. That is a game with no winners. That and I am not sure why they didn’t cover practice and qualifying but I think it was the same with NBC”s coverage. Those would be my only complaints. And truthfully the complaints are awfully nitpicky. It was a good enjoyable broadcast.

    The race was great. I enjoyed the different strategies employed. The 16 coming in early for a pit stop for gas (I believe) allowing them to make only one stop for tires at the next caution giving them an advantage of getting out ahead of the majority of contenders. Nice to see Ole Blue running upfront. I feel really bad for Kraus he really didn’t deserve that outcome from what looked like a Preece mistake. Watching online I don’t know if there was anything that lead up to that, but it didn’t look intentional to me. Christopher JR getting a top 3 in what may be his first Whelen mod tour start. Please correct me if I am wrong on that one. Nice top 10 finishes for Catalano, Rypkema Goodale and Lutz. Catalano was a magnet for bad luck last year. Hirschman once again shows he is one of the best modified drivers out there against any competition. I would love to see him make a run at the Whelen title sometime. I know why he doesn’t but to really solidify himself as one of the all-time great modified drivers doesn’t he need a Nascar title or two in his resume. Lastly, how about that grandstand? Nice to see the modifieds draw so well. The crowd gave it more of a big race feel compared to a normal show. Overall, I will give the NS show an 8 out of 10 race rating.

  14. After a few months off, Ben D. was shot out of a cannon at the beginning of the telecast. He continues to be a bit much. Coss is a solid pro. Ideal team might be Coss and Kyle Rickey??

  15. TY Shawn et. all

    I just reviewed the Flo Racing FAQ, and I am basically breaking every rule for making Flo Racing run fast. Too many tabs, high resolution, uncleared cache of cookies, streaming from multiple places in the house, etc.

    I am going to do a network reset and switch to the FireStick tonight for the Late Model race. I expect no issues given the number of stresses I was putting on the feed last night.

  16. Rafter Fan wrote, “After a few months off, Ben D. was shot out of a cannon at the beginning of the telecast. He continues to be a bit much.”


    He’s like a perpetual Saturday Night LIVE skit. His voice sounds like it should be knowledgeable, but there is simply no content.

    I would prefer Charles Barkley and Jaromir Jagr to cover NWMT races.

  17. dog wagging his tail went pee dee on the track says

    New Smyrna BRUTAL on tires. Hirschman is a master at saving/tire management. he has just set the bar. unless he has unforeseen mechanical issues he will make everyone look bad. PS how much track does the superstar need ? Clearly trying too hard too soon .I am sure he will blame it on his spotter saying he couldn’t see who was outside ! Me thinks he owes the 24 some relief on parts at minimum for that move. Flo may buffer depending on resolution and server. .Ben Dodge is a welcome and a familiar voice .

  18. Ben Dodge is MODIFIED racing, yes he has his every race phrases, stumbles from time to time but his love and Passion for Modifieds is so great that i enjoy anytime he calls a race.

  19. Flo did a good job, long mostly boring race, too many lapped cars in the way… they need a higher minimum speed. 100 laps is plenty. Smart driving by Money, another mistake by TBR not pitting but a good finish- Jr is the real deal. A really good race at East Bay till the rain ruined it, MAVTV is awesome

  20. I love how you guys when you like a driver ahhh 3 car and that deal last night was a mistake if it was someone else he would be crucified and there was no such word of mistake in any of your comments

  21. Technically true. “Driver error” is not using the work mistake.

  22. 31 cars, this could be attributed to it being speed week, and some of those cars also competing in the tour type races coming up.
    MCJ taking home a third in his first race at the track, could be a peak at what’s to come. Young Talent in top tier equipment,vi think he’s gonna be a force on the tour if they run the full season. Regardless, he’s gonna be a threat to win wherever they show up. Hirshman winning well, that was a given.

  23. David Fisher says

    1. Ben Dodge, give it up.
    2. Lap counter not showing, what lap did Melissa first get lapped on?
    3. Not a bad race, always glad to see Matt win a tour race.
    4. good to see Ole Blue up front, hope Preece wins in that car this year.

  24. The 01 completed 94 laps. Status listed as “handling” again. Is that against the car or driver?

  25. Preece makes it clear he wants to feel he can win in any type of car he chooses to race in. He says he’s there to win and for him there is no other goal. I’m going to suggest that may not strictly be the case.
    I’ve seen it too often. Ryan loves taking on two or three tires with the end of the race in sight. Coming out mid pack and charging to the front. Master of all he surveys and in complete control of the cars he’s passing. You can see the urgency on the track and more times then not he’s wheeling the heck out of the car. Testing every part of the track for the fastest way around whomever is in front of him.
    I believe that’s what he enjoys the most. The thrill of having just the right car, with just the right setup, tires and fuel at just the right time for the charge. I believe he’d take a second after a successful charge as opposed to a strategic win any day although he probably wouldn’t admit it.
    As opposed to Hirschman who is a human calculator. The only guy everyone knows has the race in hand when he’s out of the top 10. It really would be a shame if he did not take a shot at that SRX slot by entering and winning the Sizzler. He deserves to get his shot taking on some of the best on the big stage. That PeeDee 60 looks like it could do it.
    Glad they pulled the 01 and none too soon. Normally she’s fine staying low and out of everyone’s way but my goodness I saw her mid track as some of the leaders rolling up on her and it was whoa nelly, that could have been ugly.

  26. Who is this PSR Chassis that MC Jr was driving? Good move for TBR since it has a hard time getting cars to last the entire race. This looked good for PSR and TBR.

  27. Are all TBR cars now PSR chassis?

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