Perfection In Tire Management Earns Matt Hirschman Chemung Race Of Champions Win
Story By: CAROL HOUSSOCK / CHEMUNG SPEEDROME – CHEMUNG, NY – The Race of Champions took over Chemung Speedrome on Saturday night for what they described as The Night Before the Glen.
Three of their asphalt divisions competed and when it was over “Big Money Matt Hirschman” won the Rod Spalding Classic 75 for the Modifieds, Tim Gullo celebrated in the ROC Super Stock division after their Tribute to Ed McGuire 51, while it was Bob Palmer who took the win in the 4 Cylinder Rod Spalding Classic 25.
The Rod Spalding Classic, a 75-lap event featuring the Race of Champions modifieds, was definitely a classic and a demonstration of perfect tire management. Austin Beers, Daryl Lewis, Jr. and Matt Hirschman won the three heats, with the top four in each drawing for the top 12 starting positions. Row one consisted of Scott Wylie and Andy Jankowiak. The first 36 laps were run caution-free with Jankowiak leading the way. Early on it was Daren Schere in second, before he was passed by Lewis. Roger Coss slowed in turn two and the first of three cautions came out. Andy J prevailed on the restart but when Beers and Patrick Emerling did a tandem spin in turn two it set up an opportunity for Ryan Preece and Hirschman. On lap 58 Hirschman dove underneath the Preece #6 and got the spot. The final caution came out for a Tommy Rought spin and set up a 16-lap run to the checkers. Hirschman, who had saved the tires on his #60, took the lead from Jankowiak, ironically, on lap 60. Behind him, Beers and Preece also got around Jankowiak but they had no time to seriously contend for the win. This one went to Hirschman, over Beers, Preece, Jankowiak and Danny Knoll, Jr.
Twenty-one Super Stocks made up the field for the Tribute to Ed McGuire 51. Heat winners Tim Gullo and Evan Rygielski won the two heats and were factors for all 51 laps of the feature. Luck of the draw put Joe Mancuso on the pole and he led the opening lap. Just four laps in caution came out for flat tires on both the Mike Nichols and Frank Chapman, Jr. cars. Mancuso maintained the race lead but lost it to Gullo on lap seven. Nichols and Travis Montgomery got together in turn two and brought out the second caution with nine laps complete. Gullo prevailed on the restart and left Mancuso to deal with a strong #27 of Rygielski, who got around him on lap 18. Just a lap later DJ Shaw stopped on the front stretch, bringing out a pivotal caution. That restart resulted in contact between Chapman and Tommy Barron heading into turn three and Barron’s night was over. Two laps later, with 21 laps posted, Tony Hanbury got into Gene Sharpsteen. Rygielski got the better of Gullo on the restart, led lap 22, but then Gullo reclaimed the race lead on lap 23. Gullo led the way until lap 36 when Rygielski again took over following a restart. While working lap 37 Hanbury got into Mancuso, ending the night for both but for different reasons. For Mancuso it was damage but for Hanbury it was deemed retaliation and he was parked. The remaining 15 laps saw Gullo and Rygielski in the top spots with Nichols, who had twice come from the rear, trying to close the gap between himself and Rygielski. Gullo stayed out front and took the checkered flag ahead of Rygielski, Nichols, Sharpsteen and Brian DeMark. “The longer we ran, the car got loose on me,” Gullo said. “It’s special to win this because Ed McGuire was a special friend of mine.” The win was a bittersweet, however, as the tech inspectors found an with Gullo’s car in post-race tech. His penalty was the loss of both points and money won, something the the ROC series previously assessed in 2019 after tech inspection.
The 4 Cylinders ran a pair of qualifying heats, won by Tom Shaffer and Charles Palmer, to set the field for the 25-lap race. Nick Robinson, making a rare appearance in his wife’s 4 Cylinder car, made some great moves that put him out in front early on. Bob Palmer, who had run a pair of races earlier in the year at Chemung, quickly moved up to second. Shaffer, new to racing this year, was right behind him running in third. Palmer was all over Robinson and made what was his race-winning pass by lap seven. Shaffer also moved up, taking second from Robinson, and moving him back to third. At the halfway point in this caution-free race, Palmer had checked out and left behind great battles between Shaffer and Robinson for second, and between Gene Purvis and Greg Moldt for 4th. Moldt took over fourth then started to close the gap between himself and Robinson while Shaffer held on to second. Over the final few laps Palmer pulled away and had a comfortable lead. At lap 25 he sailed across the start/finish line to Larry Woodruff’s double checkered flags. “We pulled an all-nighter. We had the motor and transmission out several times this week and got them back in at 3 AM,” Palmer said. “I love this track and it’s a great place to race.” Robinson, Shaffer, Moldt and Purvis rounded out the top five.
This week Chemung returns to Friday night action with a full five-division program, sponsored by Jimmy Joe’s BBQ. The headliner is the final event in the special 4-race Buckley’s Automotive B Mod Challenge and a champion for that series will be crowned. Tony Hanbury, who has won the last two races in the series, enters that event with a 17-point advantage over TJ Potrzebowski. Also on tap are the Insinger Performance Super Stocks, 4 Cylinders, Marion Decker Hobby Stocks and INEX Bandoleros. Gates open at 5, practice gets underway at 6 and racing begins at 7 PM. Admission is $13 for adults, $10 for seniors, $5 for kids ages 5 to 11, and free for kids under age 5.
“Pistol’ Pete Brittain was on hand and put up an extra $500 to the 9th place finisher of the Modified feature. That money went home to Blasdell, NY with Scott Wylie.
The FOAR Score 50/50 winner’s share exceeded $1,200.
Wylie Wade, the announcer at California’s Antioch Speedway, was in attendance for the second week in a row. Look up ‘Wylie’s Race Report’ on YouTube as there just might be a segment on the Speedrome.
ROC Modifieds (Rod Spalding Classic 75) MATT HIRSCHMAN, Austin Beers, Ryan Preece, Andy Jankowiak, Danny Knoll, Jr., Daryl Lewis, Jr., Zane Zeiner, Patrick Emerling, Scott Wylie, Tony Hanbury, Tommy Rought, Daren Scherer, Gunnar Zeiner, Jim Gavek, Ricky Knapp, Jr., Sean Verwys, Roger Coss, Gary Noe, Travis Montgomery, TJ Potrzebowski
Heats: Beers, Lewis, Hirschman
ROC Super Stocks (Tribute to Ed McGuire 51) TIM GULLO, Evan Rygielski, Mike Nichols, Gene Sharpsteen, Brian DeMark, Matt Druar, Frank Chapman, Jr., Travis Montgomery, Joel Gleason, Jason Duke, Jr., David Bailey, Paul Godby, Joe Mancuso, Tony Hanbury, Bill Frisbie, Jr., Jason Duke, Sr., JP Harbst, Tommy Barron, DJ Shaw, Mark Taylor, Gary Noe
Heats: Rygielski, Gullo
ROC 4 Cylinders (Rod Spalding Classic 25): BOB PALMER, Nick Robinson, Tom Shaffer, Greg Moldt, Gene Purvis, Charles Palmer, Nick Bevacqua, Matt Jenkins, Dustin Pruyne, Allison Montgomery, Nick Galusha, Adam Killingbeck
Heats: Shaffer, C. Palmer