Make It A Double: Jake Johnson Tops Monaco Modified Tri-Track Series Again At Star Speedway 

Jake Johnson celebrates victory in the Monaco Modified Tri-Track Series feature Saturday at Star Speedway (Photo: Jim DuPont/RaceDayCT)

EPPING, N.H. – Last July at Star Speedway a new face was celebrated in victory lane for the Monaco Modified Tri-Track Series in their annual visit to the Epping, N.H. bullring. 

Saturday that same face was right back in the same spot at Star. 

Jake Johnson of Rehoboth, Mass. drove away from the field over the closing laps to win for the second consecutive year in the 100-lap Monaco Modified Tri-Track Series event Saturday at Star Speedway. 

Woody Pitkat of Stafford was second and Todd Patnode of Swanzey, N.H. was third. 

Johnson’s team made a decision before the event not to pit and it worked for them, albeit with a helping hand thanks to some drama out front. 

“We made that decision before the race even started that we weren’t coming in,” Johnson said. “We weren’t coming in and we were going to save these tires. This is all thanks to [crew chief] Ryan Stone. He makes the calls behind the scenes and he made the right call today and we got the win.” 

Johnson went to the lead past Stephen Kopcik on lap 52. On lap 54 Matt Hirschman went by Matt Swanson for third place. Five laps later Hirschman got by Kopcik for second with Swanson following to third a lap later. 

Caution flew on lap 69 for the stopped car of Derek Robbie in turn three. Johnson got away on the restart, leaving Hirschman Swanson fighting for second. A turn three pile-up brought the yellow out again on lap 71. Johnson was once again able to get away from the Swanson/Hirschman battle for second on the restart, but caution flew again on lap 74 for Kyle Bonsignore spin on the frontstretch. On the restart Swanson stayed to the outside of Johnson and the pair battled side-by-side for two laps with Swanson edging Johnson for the lead at the line to complete lap 75. Caution flew for a Chris Pasteryak spin in turn four on lap 76. Putting Swanson out front for the ensuing restart. With the choose cone, Johnson chose the inside lane, putting Hirschman to the outside of Swanson for the lap 76 restart. At the green Hirschman edged Swanson into turn one, but Swanson battled back to regain the lead down the backstretch. On lap 78 Hirschman tried to get under Swanson off turn four, but couldn’t make the challenge work. 

Hirschman continued stalking Swanson for the next three laps laps. On lap 81 Hirschman got under Swanson through turns three and four. Contact between the two coming off of turn four sent Swanson spinning. 

“I think it was going to be a really good show for the fans,” Swanson said. “A little bit of impatience resulted really bad for probably the two best cars on the property. All in all we had a really good car. I think it’s one of the better cars that we’ve come here with. … I think there’s just a little bit more fine tuning that needs to be done to our package to make it last and make us not have to be in situations like that where you have to protect your spot.” 

Said Johnson: “I saw a lot of smoke. And I saw a hole and I hammered down. Some people see a wreck, I saw spots.”

Hirschman was penalized for aggressive driving and sent to the rear of the field following the incident. 

He spun himself out. I didn’t spin him out. He’s using both lanes of the track. I don’t know what lane I’m supposed to race in. So that’s why you kind of get more aggravated with the call because he spun himself out and to me I should have been the leader of the race. So I’m more aggravated or frustrated with the call because, what lane am I supposed to use? He’s the one that spun himself out and it didn’t cause any harm to me. So to me, I’m aggravated with the call. If he decided that he was going to do what he did and take himself out of a good finish, that was his choice. But no way should I be put to the rear. What else are you supposed to do? This series, there’s such good racing and good short track racing. The field is tight, there’s good racing, but you’ve also got to let guys race. They don’t want me to race apparently.” 

When told Hirschman said he spun himself out Swanson said: “There’s two sides to every story and one of them is always right and depending on who you talk to, the other one is always wrong. I’ll keep my opinion to myself and we’ll go to the next one.” 

The issues out front put Johnson out front with Patnode in second and Pitkat third. Pitkat was able to get by Patnode on the restart but had nothing for Johnson over the closing laps. 

“We got lucky, it worked out our way,” Johnson said. “Back to back, can’t complain about that.” 

It was the second consecutive year that the race finished with Johnson and Pitkat running first and second. 

“Obviously [Johnson] has got something figured out here,” Pitkat said. “Kind of ironic that we both finished 1-2 two years in a row. Pretty hard to have that happen. That’s cool.

“I didn’t see what happened between [Swanson and Hirschman]. It is what it is. It’s hard racing out there. It’s a bullring. You’re doing everything you can to get an edge.” 

After a frustrating afternoon and evening, Patnode was happy to find the podium to end the night. 

“We got here and we got behind the eight ball.” Patnode said. “We had some motor problems. We didn’t really get a chance to practice. We went out but nothing was running right. And we were just horrendous in the heat race. We came in and made some more adjustments. We went back out. We came in for the change tire and we made one more adjustment. We didn’t get the whole adjustment they wanted in, I don’t know if that would have made a difference or not. But after the way we started the day with all the problems we had, I’m very pleased with my finish and my crew. These guys just did an awesome job.” 

Jake Johnson sprays onlookers with champagne Saturday at Star Speedway (Photo: Shawn Courchesne/RaceDayCT)


  1. Knuckles Mahoney says

    If you didn’t hit him Matt, how do you explain your tore up right front bumper, and Swansons tore up left rear quarter panel?? Quit lying, you hit him.

  2. Marshall says

    Really fun race. I really don’t know what side of the Swanson/Hirschman argument I’m on. From where I sat I felt like Swanson really was trying to squeeze Hirschman when they were already side-by-side. But if I’m Hirschman I know I don’t have to be super-aggressive because I’ve been way faster. It’s short-track racing. I dunno if I would have penalized Hirschman for rough driving when he was just holding his line. Then again when he was arguing positioning after the fact he aggressively accelerated and I thought he might have hit the pace car. I just don’t know if I agree with putting him in the back. He was involved in the wreck and he could have backed out rather than running over Swanson, but it’s short track racing, that stuff happens all the time.

  3. Never Matt’s fault pulled the same thing at Wall when Coby had his right front at his door and pinched him down but screwed up and spun himself out.

  4. I don’t think anyone was going to pass Swanson without a wreck or incident happening. He was using every inch of track and blocking like you would not believe. He was running the 60 so high at one point that Johnson could driven under both of them if he had been a little close.

  5. @knuckles Hirschman’s bumpers got bent in the first caution where he was in the middle of a check-up train when Narducci spun. I think what he’s saying is Swanson spun himself out by driving over Hirschman’s car trying a late block. That’s what I saw, but Hirschman definitely didn’t make an effort to slow down while Swanson was spinning in front of him.

  6. That was a terrible call,Hope the 60 stops supporting this group …His bumper and rear end were damaged early,how about the 5 and the 50 running the 60 high….Come on tri track get your act together.That street stock race was good as well as the car count

  7. Was Matt penalized for the run in with the 25, or for hitting the pace car? Marshall is correct, he did run into the back of the pace car. I saw it point blank, and there was a visible scuff mark on the bumper in the exact spot he hit it.

  8. Eric,
    He was penalized for aggressive driving, spinning the race leader

  9. @Eric watching the flagman he didn’t even reach for the black flag until after I thought he hit the pace car. So if I had to guess that’s what the aggressive driving was.

  10. Marshall,
    I confirmed with the series management. The penalty that was called was for the contact with the leader.

  11. Not having seen the race I have a question for those that did.
    The rule of thumb is you turn a car and the odds are heavily in favor of you incurring a penalty. I gather Hirschman was clearly faster, racing hard, tried a legitimate pass that turned out to be the wrong move for the situation. My question is this. If Hirschman was clearly faster why is he fiddling around trying to make a racing move on a guy that’s taking up the entire track. Why isn’t he giving Swanson a shot in 1 or 3, getting him a little out of shape and making the clean pass without spinning the 25?

  12. Disappointing to see hirschman has lowered himself to crying on social media about how tri-track is run. Really thought he had more class than that. If he doesn’t win all he does is whine about something. Was the same thing when patnode beat him a month ago at star and he cried after that too.

Leave a Reply

Copyright 2018 E-Media Sports

Website Designed by Thirty Marketing