Matt Hirschman Opens Evergreen Raceway Season With 50-Lap Tour Type Modified Win Sunday

Story By: DINO OBERTO / EVERGREEN RACEWAY – BUTLER TOWNSHIP, PA – Evergreen Raceway got its 2023 season underway on Sunday afternoon with a full slate of racing, a full pit area of race cars and it was also a return to victory for a driver who is known for doing so on a regular basis but had been going through a rough patch of late.

Matt Hirschman of Northampton, started out the year like gangbusters with a successful stint at Florida’s New Smyrna Speedway in February and then followed up with a victory at Florence Motor Speedway in Timmonsville, SC at the SMART Tour opener on March 4 but his next four starts did not fare in typical Hirschman fashion as he was shutout from Victory Lane.

But a trip back to where it all began, Evergreen Raceway, was just what the doctor ordered as he parlayed his outside front row starting spot with a return to his winning ways as he cruised out front for all 50 laps and earned his 50th career Tour Type Modified win here.

“This is my home track and where I started my career and hopefully a home win here helps propel us to get back on track and get some more wins,” said Hirschman, who collected $2000 for his afternoon efforts.

“We’ve been on a little bit of a dry spell, a little slump and it’s been two months since we won a race and we’ve had some disappointments in-between there so it’s really good to come back home here for Opening Day and to see a full pit area for all the classes and we’re looking forward to the rest of the season here and it’s nice to see a local track do well.”

Heat finishers dictated the starting grid of the 50-lapper which gave Eddie McCarthy and Hirschman the front row with Brian DeFebo and Earl Paules lined up behind them. When the race got underway there left little doubt as to who had the upper hand as Hirschman out-jumped McCarthy for the lead and was never headed from there on.

While Hirschman would continue to show the way McCarthy was doing a great job of holding second spot over DeFebo. However late into the event he began to fall off the pace, making things quite interesting for the runner-up spot.

“The 20 (McCarthy) was running really well and I think his handling was probably falling off some because he couldn’t maintain his position there late,” said Hirschman.

DeFebo was now runner-up but in heavy company with, Roger Coss, Blake Barney, Jimmy Blewett and 19th place starter Austin Beers. All ran extremely close while Hirschman was able to keep a safe distance from them.

“We were able to get a gap and I was about o navigate some lapped traffic if needed and didn’t have to thanks to the way the cautions fell,” said Hirschman.

In the final few laps there was no denying Hirschman’s dominance on this day, even despite a caution with three laps to go. However, it was a thrilling battle for second as Barney and Blewett went at it back and forth with the No. 14 getting the spot as the took the checkers.

“It was a great run and starting where we did and getting up to second I was really happy with that. At the beginning I got by a couple cars and then I kind of conserved a little bit and the cautions also fell the right way so I could get on the inside for restarts,” said Barney.

“I did get past Blewett at one point and then I let him get back by. He then made the whole a little bit bigger and bigger for me to get in and I had a good car near the end.”

Joey Merlino ran smooth and steady all race long and notched fourth while Beers settled for fifth.

For Barney he admitted that trying to catch and pass Hirschman was tough on this day.

“It’s difficult especially when you start straight up and he got to start on the outside pole and I was in his heat and its difficult in any circumstance when he’s at the race track and when you give him a good starting spot it’s damn near impossible I feel like at times and I got to work harder next time.”

Jarret DiGiantomasso of Jackson, NJ was making his first ever visit to Evergreen Raceway, running his brother Carsten’s No. 33 car for the 602 Crate Modified feature and it would be a memorable one to say the least as he won the 30-lap main, albeit with good driving and a little luck.

DiGiantomasso would be in the right place at the right time when front runner Broc Brown got pinched on a restart with seven laps to go by Paulie Hartwig III.

Brown had just eked ahead of then race long leader Hartwig when a caution soon followed. On the restart Brown saw his shot at winning abruptly come to an end when he was tagged from behind and went for a spin. For his part Hartwig was sent to the rear with Brown for the restart.

DiGiantomasso was now at the head of the pack after just acquiring third spot two laps prior. The race then only lasted one more lap when the time limit expired and the race was called on lap 24.

“This is crazy, first time here racing this track and we only put two new tires on the car and we’re here (Victory Lane),” said DiGiantomasso.

“I knew those guys had been racing each other hard and to be honest I was kind of expecting something to happen, whether they washed up or got together either way I was just ready for it. I just had to stay focused and hit my marks.”

Nick Baer, Jayden Harman, Neil Rutt and Brian Rygielski rounded out the top five.

In the Street Stock feature Mike Pollack of Freeland picked up right where he left off, number one in points.

Pollack, the defending class champion, jumped out front early in the race and would have Jacob Christman hot on his heels. All race long the pair would wage a torrid battle for the top spot as lap after lap Christman was relentlessly making every effort to get by for the lead.

But it would be no doing as Pollock held his ground and held on for his 11th career Street Stock win and begin defense of his ’22 title.

For a while in the 4-Cylinder Stock feature it looked as though Michael Wambold was going to swept the weekend as he won the night before at Mahoning Valley Speedway.

However, his chances were thwarted when Lake Ariel’s Micah Adams used a lap 11 restart to overtake Wambold for the lead. He then held off a closing running Jimmy Ayre for his first division win in two years.

Tyler Skordensky of Nanticoke passed Adam Heckman on lap four for the lead and then held it the rest of way en route to capturing his career first win in the Novice division over Riley Titus.

Tyler Wagner of Rockaway, NJ nipped Josh Patterson in a thriller with the visiting East Coast TQ Midgets.

Modified feature finish (50 laps): 1. Matt Hirschman, 2. Blake Barney, 3. Jimmy Blewett, 4. Joey Merlino, 5. Austin Beers, 6. Brian DeFebo, 7. Bobby Jones, 8. Roger Coss, 9. Jacob Kerstetter, 10. Eddie McCarthy, 11. James Pritchard Jr., 12. Nick Baer, 13. Kurt Vigent, 14. Daren Scherer, 15. Earl Paules, 16. Brian Sones, 17. Don Wagner, 18. Randall Richard, 19. Chris Risdale, 20. Lou Strohl

602 Crate Modified feature finish (30): 1. Jarret DiGiantomasso, 2. Nick Baer, 3. Jayden Harman, 4. Neil Rutt III, 5. Brian Rygielski, 6. Evan Rygielski, 7. DJ Doyle, 8. Mike Pollack, 9. Jaden Brown, 10. Quinn Trimmer, 11. Ryan Fisher, 12. Makayla Kohler, 13. Brian Halecki, 14. Paulie Hartwig III, 15. Brian Osborn, 16. Broc Brown, 17. James Blewett, 18. Eric Lane

Street Stock feature finish (30): 1. Mike Pollack, 2. Tommy Flanagan, 3. Jason Harman, 4. Johnny Bennett, 5. Mitch Hawk, 6. Amber Knecht, 7. Nick Pollack, 8. Thomas Flanagan, 9. Cory Derr, 10. Jacob Christman, 11. Brandon Christman, 12. Gordie Buchman Jr., 13. Blaine Barry, 14. Brandon Oltra, 15. Bobby Kibler Jr., 16. Mike Erney, 17. Dan Palwicki, 18. Abe Romanik, 19. Ken Erney

4 Cylinder Stock feature finish (25):1. Micah Adams, 2. Jimmy Ayre, 3. Jay Kanor, 4. Brian Romig Jr., 5. Michael Wambold, 6. Jared Frye, 7. BJ Wambold, 8. Tony Hilliard, 9. Jay Skupski, 10. Robert McNulty, 11. Dave Imler Jr., 12. Zeb Farber, 13. Justin Carneavale, 14. Jacob Knittle, 15. Michael Klotz, 16. Ed Herman, 17. Maggie Yeakel, 18. Brooklyn Peters, 19. Mallory Kutz, 20. Ralph Boger Jr., 21. Larry Spencer III, 22. PJ Thomas, 23. TJ Kapish

Novice feature finish (12): 1. Tyler Skordensky, 2. Riley Titus, 3. Adam Heckman, 4. Lexus Kutz, 5. Abby McNulty, 6. Sarabeth Mesko, 7. Caitlyn Makarewicz, 8. Ella Sones, 9. Savannah Romig

ECTQM feature finish (20): 1. Tyler Wagner, 2. Josh Patterson, 3. Don Zirinski, 4. Ozzy Carlino, 5. Ken Hirt, 6. Chris Malatrre, 7. Lexi Pryzbelinski, 8. Richie Coy, 9. Brandon Kressler

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