NEW SMYRNA BEACH, Fla. – The Richie Evans Memorial 100 at New Smyrna Speedway is becoming Matt Hirschman’s personal playground.
Hirschman closed out the Tour-Type Modified portion of the 55th World Series of Asphalt Stock Car Racing Friday with his fifth overall victory and third-straight triumph in the annual 100-lap event that honors the late NASCAR Modified legend Richie Evans.
“I started my career over 20 years ago at Evergreen Speedway in Pennsylvania. I never knew if I’d win one race,” said Hirschman, who also claimed his third World Series Tour-Type Modified championship with the victory. “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 who has helped get me here.”
Most of the race was dominated by polesitter Craig Lutz, but when Lutz retired from the race with 24 laps left with a mechanical problem, that handed the lead to Hirschman. However, it wasn’t a cruise to the checkered flag for the Pennsylvania driver as he had John Blewett III Memorial winner Ryan Preece hot on his heels.
Preece challenged Hirschman several times, but as the laps clicked off it appeared Hirschman had Preece covered. However, a caution flag with two laps left for the stalled car of J.R. Bertuccio gave Preece another shot at Hirschman.
During the ensuing restart Preece got the jump on Hirschman and pulled his No. 6 into the lead. With the white flag in sight for Preece, the caution would wave yet again as a crash in turn two slowed the action before a lap could be completed.
Since no laps were completed, Hirschman got the lead back for the next restart. He wouldn’t let Preece get the jump on him a second time as he launched into the lead and was uncontested during the final two laps to claim the victory.
His fifth victory in the Richie Evans Memorial 100 ties him with the late Ted Christopher for the most victories in the annual event.
“We’ve had a lot of success here over the last few years. They’re all memorable, these Evans 100 wins,” said Hirschman. “Last night, it’s nice to win, but it’s hard for me to celebrate it because to me there is a bigger prize ahead. Tonight we got it.”
Jon McKennedy was able to work his way up to second during the two-lap dash to the checkers, followed by Anthony Nocella, Preece and Eric Goodale.
Matt Hirschman, Jon McKennedy, Anthony Nocella, Ryan Preece, Eric Goodale, Eddie McCarthy, Ronnie Williams, Chuck Hossfeld, J.R. Bertuccio, Dave Sapienza, Zane Zeiner, Jeremy Gerstner, Bobby Measmer Jr., Brian Robie, Timmy Catalano, Matt Galko, Stephen Kopcik, Chris Finocchario, Tom Martino Jr., Danny Knoll Jr., Tyler Rypkema, Craig Lutz, Tommy Catalano, Patrick Emerling, Chris Jensen, Jimmy Blewett, Tyler Catalano, Ron Silk, Amy Catalano, Andy Seuss, Bobby Jones, Paul Hartwig Jr., Jonathan Laureigh, Jim Gavek.