Unbroken: Matt Hirschman Tops Whelen Mod Tour At North Wilkesboro; Title Battle Remains Tight 

Matt Hirschman celebrates victory in the Whelen Modified Tour Brushy Mountain Powersports 150 at North Wilkesboro Speedway Saturday (Photo: Fran Lawlor/RaceDayCT)

In his last appearance before Saturday with the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour, on Aug. 16 at Thompson Speedway, Matt Hirschman left the track in ambulance.

Saturday he returned to the series and left the track on an elevator. An elevator ride to victory lane. 

Hirschman held on through a rash of late restarts – including a green-white-checkered overtime restart – to win the Whelen Modified Tour Brushy Mountain Powersports 150 at North Wilkesboro Speedway in North Wilkesboro, N.C. 

Hirschman sustained a broken left arm in a crash at Thompson and was sidelined for about a month. It was his third Whelen Modified Tour win of the season and his eighth win overall with the division. 

“We were good when we needed to be,” Hirschman said. “… I was thinking before this race it was going to be a really hard race to win, just because of the amount of strategy with all the pit stops. Two stops, three stops, you didn’t really know. I’m just really thankful for everything. Good to be back racing again after a month off with an injury.” 

Saturday’s event was the first ever for the Whelen Modified Tour at the historic .625-mile North Wilkesboro oval. Hirschman won an unsanctioned Modified event at the track last year. 

“We did it last year and that was historical and just a great experience,” Hirschman said., “But this is an even bigger race. North Wilkesboro is back and it’s here to stay.” 

Right behind Hirschman on the podium, the super tight battle for the 2023 championship raged once again, with both of the championship contenders ending up on the podium. 

Ron Silk and Justin Bonsignore had a bruising, banging battle in the division’s last event at Riverhead Raceway on Sept. 16. Silk went into that event with a one point lead over Bonsignore. The pair clashed on the track numerous times that day, with the two putting some massive hit on each other over the closing laps. Bonsignore ended up winning the Riverhead event with Silk finishing third. It gave Bonsignore a three point lead heading to North Wilkesboro. 

The pair had some moments together on the track at North Wilkesboro, but nothing that got anyone in trouble. Silk got by Doug Coby for second place on the green-white-checkered restart. Bonsignore restarted fifth on the final restart and ended up passing Coby for third on the final lap. 

The pair left North Wilkesboro with Bonsignore leading Silk by two points with two events remaining. The series is back in action for the Sunoco World Series 150 at Thompson Speedway on Oct. 8 before closing out the season on Oct. 26 at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway. 

“My car was really good the longer the run went so all those little short runs at the end didn’t help me do much,” Silk said. “All in all a really good car. I knew it was going to race well, I could tell by the way it drove in practice. Second is a solid night. Congratulations to [Hirschman] and his team. They did a great job. We’ll go to Thompson and try again. 

“It’s really close. Every point matters. When you’re out there racing at the end you’re thinking about winning the race and not really about the points. It’s close and probably going to be close right to the end.” 

Said Bonsignore: “That green-white-checkered kind of saved us and gained us a couple spots there, got us back to the podium. We were struggling to hang on to fifth [place] coming to the white [flag] right before the [last] caution. Our tires cooled off and we just had a good start. The outside lane didn’t go and [Silk] and I were able to kind of sneak by them guys there and just kind of stole a couple spots. 

“It was a good night. Obviously this is going to go down to the end here. Tit for tat, one point here, one point there each and every week. On to Thompson where we won earlier [on Aug. 16]. We’re looking forward to getting back there and we’ll see how it goes.

“I think we both know the big picture here. We’re not going to put ourselves in bad positions. These are big race tracks too where you can’t be doing things like [at Riverhead]. That’s the respect that Ron and I have had for 15 years we’ve raced against each other, or whatever it’s been. We’ll get back to that I think in these last two races. It will be a lot of fun for the fans. It’s going to be a championship for the ages I think.” 

The starting field of 38 cars marked the largest field for the series this season.

Pole winner Austin Beers set the pace early with Hirschman trailing him over the opening laps. With Beers leading, Hirschman second and Craig Lutz third, the first caution flew on lap 12 for the car of Gary Putnam in the turn two wall. 

On the ensuing restart, Lutz got by Hirschman to take over second. The second caution flew on lap 41 with Tim Connolly in the turn one wall. 

Under caution third place running Hirschman and fourth place Bonsignore went to pit road for tire changes. 

For the restart Beers was out front and Lutz in second with Coby in third, Ryan Newman fourth, Patrick Emerling fifth and Silk sixth. 

On the next restart it was Beers continuing to set the pace out front with Coby moving past Lutz for second. 

Caution flew for the third time on lap 67 for the spinning car of Coby. Running third, Coby came off turn four with Bonsignore to his outside and and Burt Myers to his inside. Going into turn one Coby’s car got loose and made slight contact with Bonsignore’s car in the corner. Bonsignore was able to drive away but Coby spun to bring out the yellow. 

Under caution second place Beers and seventh place Silk were part of a large contingent to head to pit road. 

It was Hirschman holding the top spot on the lap 73 restart. Caution was quickly back out on lap 77 for the spinning car of Jacob Perry. 

Newman got by Hirschman to take over the lead on lap 100. Just behind the leaders, the championship battle came back together on the track with Silk getting up to fourth, just behind Bonsignore in third. 

The fifth caution of the event flew on lap 102 for the smoking car of Ken Heagy slowing on the frontstretch, sending the majority of the field to pit road. 

Hirschman came off of pit road first with Coby coming off second. Bonsignore fell from from third to ninth. Beers was penalized under caution for running over pit equipment. 

Brett Meservey stayed out under caution and led the field to green for the lap 112 restart. Hirschman, Coby and Silk made quick work of Meservey. 

Caution was back out on lap 119 when Bobby Labonte went off track with a left front issue. 

On the lap 125 restart it was Silk getting under Coby to take over second behind Hirschman. The green flag run was short lived though as the seventh caution flew for the stopped car of Anthony Nocella on lap 126. 

On the lap 131 restart it was Coby getting under Silk for second and Silk ended up getting hung out in the outside lane. By lap 134 Silk had fallen to sixth place with Bonsignore up to fourth place. Silk got back to fifth by Andrew Krause on lap 135. On lap 137 Silk found a lane under Bonsignore to move to fourth place. Caution flew on lap 138 for issues with Putnam and Perry. 

On the lap 142 restart it was Hirschman checking out up front. Behind him Silk and Bonsingore made contact in the battle for fourth place just after the green flew. Silk held the fourth place position then moved past Newman for third on lap 145. 

The ninth caution of the event flew when Andy Seuss wrecked to set up a green-white-checkered finish. 

On the green-white-checkered restart it was Hirschman easily getting away from the field again with Silk taking second from Coby. Just after the white flag flew Bonsignore found a way under Coby to take over the third. 

Coby got sideways off of turn four coming to the checkered setting off a massive wreck to end the race. 


  1. Was that a par 3?

    Dug Colby causes THREE wrecks.

    Lots of attrition.

  2. Shawn,

    The first two paragraphs of this report are clever indeed. Old school style.I’m not jealous but I wish I had thought of that. Seeing Fran Lawlor’s v/l photo made me think of Howie Hodge. I think he would have liked the ambulance/elevator comparison too. They got away with starting all the cars this time.I’d a lost money betting they wouldn’t. Only other thing that I would like to know is what got Tommy Baldwin’s sons Luke and Jack kicked out of the support crate race? Can you find out what you can if you can? The truth will be hard to come by except to insiders.

  3. Enduro59,
    I’ll have to look into that question.

  4. So where are all the Matt hater’s now!!! They say he can only win on a bullring. Or they say he can’t pass NASCAR tech!!! Well??????

  5. Admit it!!! HE’S A DAMN GOOD DRIVER!!!!!

  6. The little boy is finally starting to grow up. He is showing he can do well away from the itty-bitty, teensie-weensie bullrings. It’s about damn time.

  7. I heard the track announcer say something about a post qualifying weight check when talking about the Baldwin duo. Not 100% sure though as I really wasn’t paying close attention.

  8. Goodfella when you get spun by Newman hitting you in the LR nerf bar twice you cause a wreck?

  9. You could say that was the Hirschman model for success. Qualify well, stay in front, be in a position to pick your own line minimizing tire wear and be in the best position to survive restarts.
    The 16 team however had the better race. Didn’t qualify well, mired back in the field for the first part of the race then through solid pitting and Silks masterful driving finally got to the front. Almost all for naught getting stuck on the outside, losing positions he still was able to fight back for second. Very impressive.

  10. Crazy in NY says

    The little boy is finally starting to grow up. He is showing he can do well away from the itty-bitty, teensie-weensie bullrings. It’s about damn time

    This might be the single stupidest post ever by Dareal genius here on Raceday. Finally starting to…lol…I almost spit up my breakfast.
    Oxygen deprivation has to be it. carry on

  11. Stephen Jesus says

    Congrats to Brett Meservey on running his first tour race and brining it home in one piece. Good onya Brett

  12. Way to go Matty H…..love it

  13. Now if the biggest dope would finally grow up

  14. Hillary 2024 says

    This might be the single stupidest post ever by Dareal genius here on Raceday.
    Crazy, you mean to tell me you picked that one out of the hundreds of em?

  15. Drunkinirishman says

    I wonder… down the line if hirschman will regret his decision not to participate on the WMT full time… He will likely see Coby and Bonsignore inducted into the NASCAR hall of Fame. Currently, he will not be considered…
    I don’t know hirschman, maybe he doesn’t care? but those other guys will likely be honored for their achievements… Along with Silk, they are the 4 most accomplished drivers in mods today..
    I’m not a hirschman fan, but I do respect and enjoy watching his team’s talent…
    I hope the WMT can make some changes to attract the 60 and more full time teams…

  16. The man is a total tool!!!

  17. Drunkinirishman, what makes you think Hirschman decided to not participate on the WMT full-time?

    That decision was not all his to make. An owner willing to take him on was also needed.

    Just maybe he wanted to run the NWMT full-time, but couldn’t get an owner to meet his demands.

  18. Coby and Bonsignor in the Hall of Fame, that’s an interesting conversation.
    Took forever to get Stefanik in who won championships in three decades at the height of the NWMT competition level and the most wins by far.
    Coby with a pile of championships, different owners and did have a team of his own. He may be in the conversation although I doubt it. Bonsignor hopefully not at least at this stage. The guy has championships but it has a lot to do with the era he’s racing in and the owner. He’s accomplished nil racing in anything other then the 51. The Hall of Fame would probably also consider the era Coby and Bonsignor race in which is pretty weak historically speaking.
    Hirschman regretting not racing in more events is an interesting notion to ponder as well. His dad has as many wins as Coby, won championships against brutal competition but will never be in the Hall of Fame conversation.
    For my money Matt H. is the best active modified driver and by a lot. Any race he’s in is better. There’s all kinds of data points that make him the best but the one under the radar stat that says a lot about his level of excellence is DNF’s. So few and far between it defies all understanding of the complexity level of the modern era tour modified. Not to mention rarely getting caught up in wrecks.
    This is the era of opens, the NWMT is a bit of a dinosaur. Twenty years ago if you had a modified you probably competed on the Tour. Now most tour modifieds do not even compete in one NWMT event. If life were fair there’d be a Hall of Fame that does not require NASCAR event participation. If that were the case Hirschman would no doubt be under consideration likely before any other active driver.
    I’d argue the Matt Hirschman phenomenon we’re currently enjoying is bigger then the Tour as we know it now. I would hope he doesn’t give the Hall of Fame a thought. Currently he annoys the regulars endlessly blowing in and stealing wins like at North Wilkesboro and that should be reward enough in itself.

  19. Drunkinirishman says


    If I remember correctly, Hirschman did not race the first Riverhead race and was replaced by Kyle Soper in the red and gold 60… I believe he raced at mahoning valley on that Sunday, rather then the rescheduled WMT race…
    I won’t pretend to know why he made his decision, but he did prioritize the mahoning race over the WMT…
    Therefore I’d conclude that running the entire series was not his priority…

  20. Talk of the Hall of Fame is about 20 years premature. There are allot of modified greats waiting for the chance. Look how long it took for Mike Stefanik to be inducted. Mike was inducted not only for his accomplishments on track, but off track also. He was a great driver, chassis builder and inovator. Personally, I’d consider TC before Coby or Bonsignor. Teddy not only won in modifieds, but also in allot of other types of vehicles, and was also a great fabricated. He also mentored some drivers, like Keith Rocco, who went on to have great success. So, let’s see 20 years or so from now who if anyone gets to enjoy Hall of Fame status.
    Maybe, in fairness, Nascar should have Regional Halls of Fame, to give everyone a fair chance.

  21. As an old guy it baffles me that any of these names are Nascar Hall of Fame material before Geoff Bodine ? Doug Colby and not Geoff ?

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