EPPING, N.H. — Matt Hirschman wasn’t about to be denied.
The Pennsylvania native, who is no stranger to victory lane with the Tri Track Open Modified Series, returned to glory on Saturday night at Star Speedway in the ninth annual SBM race.
The ride to victory wasn’t one that came without difficulty, especially at the end. Hirschman dominated the beginning, taking the lead on lap 25 and leading through lap 83, before a controlled caution slowed the race. While some elected to stay out, Hirschman went to pit road for a fresh Hoosier tire. His charge back to the front started from the ninth position. He would eventually pass Matt Swanson for the top spot during a restart at lap 112 and never look back.
It was the fifth win in the prestigious event for Hirschman, who is one of just two drivers to compete in all previous SBM races. The race was 121 laps, in honor of track owner and operator Bobby Webber’s son Tim Webber, who turned 21 years old the week of the race.
The purse for the event was more than $40,000, a figure that didn’t change post-COVID-19 pandemic. Due to COVID-19, and guidance from the state of New Hampshire, Star Speedway ran at 50 percent capacity for the event in the grandstands and sold out. Tri Track and Star officials made sure that all social distancing and safe health practices were in place.
“I’ve always enjoyed coming here, winning the first time I have ever came here, and having all of this success I’ve had in this SBM race after that,” Hirschman said. “Going back to the original races, it was, and has been, a big deal for us.”
Swanson, who started 27th after earning a provisional into the race, played a different strategy than Hirschman did, and it almost paid off. Swanson elected not to pit as part of the controlled caution period on lap 83, and took over the lead when most others went down pit road. Swanson led the race from lap 83-112, before Hirschman took control when Swanson spun his tires on the restart.
Swanson would finish second, while Andy Jankowiak, who played a similar strategy and stayed out, finished third. Jankowiak was involved in a wreck on lap 25 with veteran Dave Sapienza, but was able to rebound.
Ronnie Williams started third and finished fourth, and Eric Goodale made his return to the Tri Track Series and rounded out the top five. NASCAR Cup Series regular Ryan Preece was sixth in his return to modified racing, while Anthony Nocella, Austin Kochenash, Cam McDermott and Ron Silk finished the top-10.
Earlier in the day, Ron Silk, Matt Hirschman, Andy Shaw and Andy Jankowiak won heat races, while Anthony Nocella and Calvin Carroll earned consi wins.
Matt Hirschman, Matt Swanson, Andy Jankowiak, Ronnie Williams, Eric Goodale, Ryan Preece, Anthony Nocella, Austin Kochepash, Cam McDermott, Ron Silk, Calvin Carroll, Kurt Vigeant, Kirk Alexander, Craig Lutz, Bryan Narducci, Devin O’Connell, Andy Shaw, Les Rose Jr., Dylan Izzo, Tommy Barrett, Dave Sapienza, Richard Savary, Ryan Doucette, Les Hinckley, Carl Medeiros Jr., Dana DiMatteo, Josh Cantara.