TIOGA CENTER, N.Y. – Shangri-La II Motor Speedway had to postpone by one week their second of three Race of Champions Modified Tour events.
That postponement kept some of the top cars away as a few of the competitors were on vacation. Matt Hirschman didn’t take a vacation, even though he said ‘wave riding’ was involved. The all-time leader in RoC wins grabbed yet another victory with his methodical driving style on Sunday.
Billy Coyle ended a 5-year winless streak at the Concrete Castle and claimed the Street Stock feature, while Brandon Ameigh went 2-for-2 in the 4 Cylinder class.
Matt Hirschman had to work for Sunday’s win. The second generation driver from Northampton, Pa., prevailed in the 75-lap Race of Champions Modified Tour event, the second of three this season at Shangri-la II Motor Speedway.
The top 4 finishers from the 3 heat races (Brian Defebo, Daren Scherer and Bobby Holmes) drew for starting positions 1-12. Hirschman wasn’t among them. Tommy Cloce drew the pole and Defebo started beside him. Based on his finishing position in qualifying, Hirschman started 15th.
Defebo got a good run off turn two and led the field into turn three. Cloce had his hands full with Holmes, who took over 2nd early on. On the 19th lap Hirschman made an inside pass on Jim Storace and an outside pass on Austin Kochenash and he was up to 7th. The first caution came out for a tangle involving Matt Kurzejewski, Dean Rypkema and T.J. Potrzebowski in turn three. The top four for the restart were Defebo, Holmes, Scherer and Cloce, but two laps later the caution came out again when Storace slid into the infield on the back stretch.
On the lap 22 restart Defebo led the way while Holmes lost 2nd to Scherer. Three laps later Hirschman, who was running sixth, got to the inside of Patrick Emerling’s No. 07 and the No. 69 of Cloce and he was up to fourth. While Defebo pulled away from those behind him, Hirschman wasn’t done. On lap 34 he took over third with an inside move on Holmes; three laps later he passed Scherer on the outside for 2nd.
For the next eight laps Defebo’s lead was shrinking until Hirschman had it down to less than a car length. On lap 46 Hirschman got inside the No. 53 and took over the top spot. Once in front it was never a runaway, as the Berwick, Pa., hotshoe stayed right with him.
The best battle on the track for was fourth among Holmes, Mike Leaty and Kochenash. Kochenash got around Leaty and set his sights on Holmes. On lap 73 Kochenash had a run on Holmes and they made contact. Holmes spun into the pit wall, and the No. 22 sustained heavy damage to the front end. For his part in the incident, Kochenash restarted at the rear.
Troubles continued for Storace, who tagged the turn two wall on the restart. When the final green/white/checkered took place Defebo had one more shot at Hirschman. It wasn’t to be, as the No. 60 pulled into a familiar place – victory lane in an RoC event. Defebo finished second, ahead of Scherer, Leaty and Nick Pecko.
“We came up short in qualifying and thought that might prevent a win today,” Hirschman told the crowd. “It’s very impressive to be doing what we’re doing. I’m riding a wave right now but I know it won’t last forever.”