The Chrome Horn News



   Conventional thinking by everyone the past few years has said that you needed to pit for at least a fresh right rear tire at the Oswego Speedway for the 125 lap Parts Plus sponsored Race of Champions Dart Asphalt Modified Tour event.
   On Saturday night that conventional thinking can now be tossed out the window as Matt Hirschman proved you could go 125 laps on the same set of tires and have your car be strong at the end of the race.
   During a lap 68 caution flag period Hirschman was one of only four cars who elected not to pit for a fresh right rear tire. Hirschman was fourth on the track with leader Rick Zacharias in front of him and two cars that were on the tail end of the lead lap in front of the leading duo.
   Hirschman wasted no time in getting the lead as one lap after the restart Hirschman powered by Zacharias to gain the lead he would never give back en route to a $5,000 win and his third feature win in a row at Oswego in 2008.
   By no means was it an easy win for the Northampton, Pa. racer as the final laps saw him mired in heavy lap traffic. This enabled fellow Northampton, Pa. driver Eric Beers to close in and Beers actually pulled under Hirschman in turns three and four on the final lap. But with lap traffic hugging the inside rail Hirschman was able to keep the lead and take the feature win by less than a car length.
   Third generation driver Erick Rudolph garnered his best career Oswego Modified finish with an impressive third with second generation driver Mike Leaty coming home fourth using a DART spec steel headed engine that cost only $13,000. Billy Putney started 22nd and ended up fifth salvaging a day where he had to repair the car following a crash in time trials.
   “ I guess ( I defied the odds ), I don’t know “ said race very happy race winner Matt Hirschman. “ I made a 100 laps here this year, tonight when the time came to pit I didn’t think pitting or not pitting was going to be the winning move. I didn’t have enough confidence at putting on a new tire was going to increase my chances at winning. I just decided to stay with what I had and run hard until the end of the race and that is what we did. I’ve won some races doing it this way and I’ve won some races doing it the other way. The timing has to be right when you pit and tonight everything timed out really well. “
   Starting ninth Matt settled into seventh after the first few laps and most thought that was part of the game plan for the race. As by not racing hard he was not only saving his equipment but more importantly saving his tires. “ At the start I was going to try and get as many spots as I could “ explained Matt on his strategy. “ Remember last time here I went from sixth to second in a lap and then went for the lead right off the bat. This time I started ninth and just didn’t get the breaks and I only gained one or two spots and that was pretty much it. I would have had to chase cars if I wanted to pass somebody to gain a position. So I decided at that point I decided to ride and I didn’t know at that point whether I was going to pit or not going to pit. It was too early in the race for me to chase cars just to get a position. “
   Then came the pivotal point of the race on lap 65 when the yellow came out and when the pits were opened for pit stops on lap 68 it was decision time. “ When that caution came out and everyone started pulling into the pits that is when I made my decision to stay on the track. Pretty much it was a spur of the moment decision as I didn’t have a set plan. I try to keep my options open and I try to take care of the car as much as I can just in case I don’t pit. “
   When the race resumed Matt followed leader Rick Zacharias for one lap before motoring by him and into the lead. Once in front Matt started to open up his lead as he knew a majority of the contenders all pitted for a new tire. “ When I got the lead, it was go time “ recalled Matt. “ The car had a lot left and there is no sense leaving it on the table when the end of the race rolls around. “
   Matt it appeared to have the race in his back pocket until the final five laps when he entered heavy lap traffic. “ Catching lap traffic at the end allowed Eric to catch me, he got under me on the last lap but I stayed in my groove and got a run off the top of the corner like I normally do here and I didn’t care if he was inside me or not coming off the corner. I knew I was going to beat him to the line. “
   There is an old saying in racing that when a driver is dialed in at a race track like Matt Hirschman currently is at Oswego. You know when you have a fast lap and during time trials, that was proved as Matt only took one lap and it was good enough for the pole. But the most amazing part of this was Matt had no idea that he set quick time until he was on the scales. “ I know what I got, especially here as I have such a good feel “ said Matt. “ In time trials I knew that first lap was really good, I didn’t know it was quick time, but I knew if I took a second lap it wasn’t going to be quicker just by the way the car felt on the first lap. So why run the second lap, I don’t need any extra laps here as I got plenty of laps here. “
   The win by Matt, his third win at Oswego this year allowed him to tie his father Tony who also had three wins in a year at Oswego. “ I knew that you ( Matt talking to his dad ) won three in a row here one year and would have won the fourth except the air cleaner flew off and I remember that. I would love to have the opportunity to win four out four here at Oswego this year, but it doesn’t look like I’ll have the opportunity to do that. We’ll see as you never know and if it’s meant to be it’s meant to be, if it’s not next year is another year. “
   Matt who has watched his dad win many races and championships through his storied racing career also knows the importance of winning on big racing weekends at certain tracks. With this win taking place on Budweiser International Classic Weekend at Oswego it takes a special place in the racing career of Matt Hirschman.
   “ It’s extra special to win at Oswego on Budweiser International Classic Weekend “ said Matt. “ I won the Richie Evans Memorial this year and that is one of the top races I’ve won this year. If you’re a racer and you race here you want to win on Classic Weekend, that’s the way I feel about it. The Race of Champions is our biggest race in general and they could hold that race anywhere. If you were going to win a race at Oswego you would pick Classic Weekend as that is Oswego’s weekend. It’s extra special to win here on this weekend and I remember my dad winning the Bud 200 here. To take the ride in the pace car is just an unbelievable feeling. “
   “ I’m not really surprised that Matt went 125 laps without stopping “ said second place finisher Eric Beers. “ Our car was good enough that we might have been able to do that. I was just a hair free and that is why I slowed down at the beginning of the race. I made the call myself to pit and put a tire on to tighten up the stagger a little bit. I knew that I was going to abuse the right rear coming back up through the field so I told the crew to let a pound or two of air out of the tire and that was too much as it made the car too tight. Matt’s car was pretty decent there at the end and we were running the same speeds, just one of those deals. “
   After getting into second on lap 88 Beers closed right in on leader Hirschman setting up a battle for the lead. But a few laps later Beers backed off the pressure and many thought that he was cooling his tires off in an attempt to make a final charge for the win.
   “ Due to the tightness of the car I was playing around with the brake adjustments in the car “ recalled Eric. “ I was adjusting rear brake into the car and one lap I freed the brake up too much and I went sailing into turn three and almost walled it so it took me a few laps to straighten everything out. Then I got a nice even pace going and we really had something for him there at the end. I never had a caution as I had to run him down all by myself. I think my car would have been better on a restart because I would have fresher tires than his. “
   The nice even pace by Beers coupled with heavy lap traffic in front of Hirschman allowed Beers a shot at stealing the five grand from his neighbor on the last lap of the race. “ The lap cars helped me and on that last lap I was under him in three and four but I was all the way down in the dirt ( next to the inside steel wall ) and I couldn’t get a run off four to get alongside of Matt for a chance at passing him for the win. You never want to see lap cars at the end of the race whether you’re first or second because they could end up taking you out. But in this case it helped me close in the last two car lengths I needed and to get next to him at the end, I just didn’t have enough to get up and off the corner. “
   Beers who has always had good Oswego luck started out this year with two bad outings. “ After our first two races here this year where we blew a motor in practice and breaking and dropping out of the other one, this is really good. “
   “ We knew we had to tighten the car up on the pit stop “ said third place finisher Erick Rudolph. “ But we tightened it up too much; I would have loved to see if we had anything for Matt if we had the car dialed in. Matt was awful fast tonight but we‘ll take a third. “


   Jan Leaty had won this race the past two years and he was the favorite going into this year’s event. Jan quickly moved from his sixth place starting spot to the lead in just ten laps on Saturday night. With everything going according to plan Jan pitted on lap 68 coming into the pits first and leaving the pits first and when all of the pit stop juggling ended Jan was third on the race track and in an excellent position to go for the win. Leaty quickly settled into second behind leader Matt Hirschman on lap 75 but coming out of turn two on lap 77 Leaty’s night changed dramatically as the car lost all power. Being pushed into the pits the crew went under the hood to find the problem and repaired it and sent Jan back out without losing a lap. The leaders couldn’t catch Jan as he was racing in front of them until the same problem developed once again and he pitted on lap 83. Jan returned to the track a lap down this time around and retired from the event a few laps later. After the feature Jan said what the problem was. “ The ground for the distributor came apart “ said Jan. “ That’s the story of my year stupid stuff happening that costs us good finishes. Hopefully I can get all of this bad luck out of my system before the next race here. “


   If there could been any driver happier than winner Matt Hirschman on Saturday night it had to be Billy Putney. Putney who is chasing Hirschman for the RoC Overall championship saw his day get off to a terrible start. As on the opening lap of his time trial warm up lap the left rear tire blew sending Putney hard drivers’ side into the outside turn four wall. The impact made the entire VIP Tower shake, Billy emerged uninjured but the same couldn’t be said for the car. After having the car hauled back into the pits via a flat bed truck the crew went immediately to work. Ninety minutes later the car was off the jack stands and Putney was driving the car around the pit area. The ten lap heat race helped Putney get the car dialed in more and by feature time Putney was able to race his way solidly from 22nd to fifth at the checkers.


   If there was a best appearing car award handed out on Saturday the winner no doubt was the absolutely beautiful all brand new Troyer chassis creation built by Billy Colton, driven by Chuck Hossfeld, and owned by John Holland of New England Race Fuels. The car looked exactly like the current dirt surfaced Troyer House Car that is driven by Jimmy Phelps. Even a few members of the dirt crew came over to help on the car for this night as Randy Kisacky and Jamie Beachy were both turning wrenches on the latest Colton / Troyer creation. Other notables in the pit area with the car were Kenny Troyer and crew members of his now defunct Drunken’ Monkeys racing team. The car experienced the first race bugaboo’s but with plenty of new experimental ideas on the car, a veteran driver in Hossfeld, and experienced racing minds like Colton and Kisacky all combining forces on this project. Look for success from this combination in the future and quite possibly before the end of this racing season. The next race for the car will be at New Hampshire in two weeks.

   Qualifying for the 25 car field saw Hirschman set fast time in time trials with a lap of 17. 681 while Mark Tychoniewicz won the heat race.
   The top four times in time trials all received the five bonus points and the top 12 in time trials all advanced directly to the feature.
   Dean Rypkema wrecked in hot laps ending his day while Dave Bellis lost an engine in hot laps and Ken Canestrari lost an engine in the heat race. Donnie Stevens who’s dad, Craig owns the Buck Catalano Modified drove the second Rick Kluth entry.


FINISH; Matt Hirschman, Eric Beers, Erick Rudolph, Mike Leaty, Billy Putney, Pete Brittain, Jim Storace, Rusty Smith, Daren Scherer, Rick Kluth, Chuck Hossfeld, Doug Reaume, Dave Wollaber, John Markovic, Earl Paules, Jimmy Zacharias, Jan Leaty, Rick Zacharias, Mark Tychoniewicz, Lee Sherwood, Donnie Stevens, Matt Clemens.
DNS; Ken Canestrari, Dave Bellis, Dean Rypkema.
LAP LEADERS; Smith (1 – 9), J. Leaty (10 – 68), R. Zacharias (69 – 71), Hirschman (72 – 125).
HOOSIER RACING TIRE HARD LUCK AWARD; R. Zacharias ( 1st to 18th ).


   The Race of Champions Dart Asphalt Modified Tour is sponsored by; Dart Machinery, Sunoco Race Fuels, Hoosier Racing Tire, Gater Racing News, PBM Performance Products, Total Seal Piston Rings, Dura – Bond, Competition Engineering by Moroso, Dynatech, Xceldyne, CV Products, LA Sleeve.


Source: JR's Motorsports Media / RoC Dart Asphalt Modified Series
Posted:  August 31, 2008

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