Matt Hirschman Scores Second-Straight Tom Wanick Jr. Memorial 150 At Mahoning Valley
Story By: DINO OBERTO / MAHONING VALLEY SPEEDWAY – LEHIGHTON, PA – The second Annual Modified Spring Zing “Tom Wanick Jr. Memorial 150” held Sunday afternoon at Mahoning Valley Speedway brought together a solid field of cars with an impressively solid field of competitors to boot, all of whom could have been able to take home the $7000 to prize.
But despite the level of talent, none could match up to the one driver who has made winning the high stakes affairs his calling card as Matt Hirschman of Northampton turned it into a race for second after he won for the second time in the event.
Hirschman took the lead for good on lap 105 and from there made it his to lose by keeping all of his opponents at bay. Even though there would be several cautions that kept the field close over the final 40 laps, there was no denying the superiority of Hirschman who was perfect on each restart and then stayed just enough ahead of the rest to secure the win.
Even on a pair of restarts with two laps remaining and Anthony Sesely lined up next to him, it was still Hirschman in control. Matter of fact Sesely wound up battling with Zane Zeiner on the final lap and gave up the runner-up spot at the line.
“It was a stout performance. We were here in April for the RoC opener and we were no good and that doesn’t really happen often especially close to home and I feel we’ve had as many hits as we’ve had misses this year,” said Hirschman.
“We got wins but we also got, at least by my standards, some poor performances so it’s good to get a big win and close to home.”
At the outset Bobby Jones grabbed the early lead and kept it until lap 11 when Don Wagner took over. Wagner’s stay out front would be short lived as Andrew Krause, who was making his first start at Mahoning since 2014, made an impressive charge to the front and soon after had fellow Garden State racers Blake Barney and Jimmy Blewett in tow while Hirschman and Austin Kochenash ran fourth and fifth respectively.
Blewett and Hirschman had taken over second and third after 25 laps while keeping a close check on Krause. As Krause remained fixed on the race lead Blewett and Hirschman raced hard against each other for the runner-up slot and on lap 37 it would go to the No. 60.
Once in second Hirschman began to put all of his home track experience to work on Krause but the No. 24NJ stayed the course nicely.
Then on a lap 47 restart Hirschman worked the top line to get around Krause and assume the lead for the first time. Now in third was Kochenash and he would then begin applying pressure over the next 20 tours and his persistency finally paid off, moving into the tire tracks of Hirschman.
By this point Zeiner was catching the eye of everyone as the 17th place starter was vying for third, which he got on lap 66 and three laps later used a lap 71 restart to motor to second. Right after that, however, Zeiner would begin a rollercoaster ride of bouncing in and out of the pits and would not become a factor again until late in the going.
With 88 laps complete a caution waved when Cody Kohler and Nick Baer got together. Under the yellow several cars used that time to make pit stops including Hirschman, Krause and Blewett who all gave up there top five spots.
After cycling through pit stops Kochenash and Blake Barney, who stayed out, ran one-two with Earl Paules, Stephen Kopcik and Brian DeFebo in the top five.
When the action resumed Barney was all over Kochenash and eventually would take over the lead, but it was not to be as officials called him out for passing to far below the inside line and made him give the spot back. As he did there was a jumble that suddenly occurred and several cars near the front went scattering.
There was now 50 laps to go and after sorting things out Kochenash was back in front over Hirschman. And in a span on the next five laps Hirschman simply bided his time while using the outside lane and took back the lead for good.
And as he never wavered from then on second place remained hotly contested. Krause and Kochenash would go side-by-side for several laps. Then it was Barney going after Krause after Kochenash made his intended pit stop. And once again a heated battle ensued for second and not only was it between Barney and Krause but Blewett, Sesely and Zeiner were part of the action as well.
As the laps were winding down Sesely showed the best strength and powered his way to second followed by Zeiner.
Although there would be several cautions that pulled the field together, it was no problem for Hirschman as he had the upper hand on Sesely each time. When the white flag waved Hirschman had a car length lead that he held to the checkers.
“This is great to get a big win close to home and they won’t have a bigger race then this. I appreciate having Harry’s-U-Pull-It, a local sponsor that supports us and we have this obligation to fulfill with them being close to home and all of our sponsors and my team who gives a great effort just like they always do,” said Hirschman.
“We were on our game today and as I said it was a really good performance. I do totally disagree with the new rule with the line they put down and that got me early in the race and it also caused a wreck on the back stretch,” he continued.
“I don’t like to complain because we need these race tracks and I like to support them but I do disagree with that rule. It kind of forced my hand in pitting when we did because late in the race that’s when you make moves and make passes off the corner and you have to finish them in the corner without driving into the guy next to you. I’d rather run the apron then drive over someone and put my right front in their window. Today it all worked out.”
Sesely meanwhile went toe-to-toe with Zeiner and was passed at the line for the position. For Zeiner, he passed the most cars throughout the day but at the end never had the shot he would have liked to challenge Hirschman.
“It seems like I’m Mr. Second this year because every race I’ve been in thus far that was the result but a win is coming and we just have to keep digging and everything will work out,” said Zeiner.
“We put tires on and kind of made a mistake and came in and readjusted the car and was able to bring it back to second.”
Third place finisher Sesely had many feeling with the late race restarts that he was the person with the best chance to unseat Hirschman but it was to no avail and not only that but then came the last lap duel with Zeiner.
“Let’s be honest it’s tough to beat him (Hirschman). It was the first time out with this car and it was an excellent run for us and for the Wanick family and to finish on the podium were I don’t race here fulltime anymore, I’m happy with that,” said Sesely, who drives for owner Tom Wanick III.
“Zane (Zeiner) was just a little better than me at the end and the best car finished first.”
In the Street Stocks it was Jacob Boehm picking up his career first class win in a hard fought tussle the whole way.
Boehm took the lead from Cody Geist on lap two and then battled the rest of the way with point leader Jillian Snyder. But although Snyder was very tenacious, Boehm was not ready to give in and held on to claim the victory and $1000 for his efforts.
Parker Ahner proved to be in the right place at the right time en route to becoming a first time winner with the Harry’s-U-Pull-It Hobby Stocks.
Cody Boehm was the leader and first to cross the finish line but race officials placed him back two spots for the infraction of driving below the designated race line.
Ahner had just taken over second two laps from the end from Ryan Berger and was awarded the verdict.
Michael Klotz passed Adam Heckman with four laps to go and drive on to his second Futures victory of the season.
Modified feature finish (150 laps): 1. Matt Hirschman, 2. Zane Zeiner, 3. Anthony Sesely, 4. Brian DeFebo, 5. Earl Paules, 6. Don Wagner, 7. Stephen Kopcik, 8. Nick Baer, 9. Blake Barney, 10. Paulie Hartwig III, 11. Jacob Kerstetter, 12. Cody Kohler, 13. Andrew Krause, 14. Rod Snyder Jr., 15. Johnny Bennett, 16. Bobby Jones, 17. Kyle Strohl, 18. Terry Markovic, 19. Chris Risdale, 20. Lou Strohl, 21. Nevin George, 22. Jaden Brown DNQ: Carsten DiGiantomasso, Tommy Rought, Vinny Morone DQ: Austin Kochenash, Jimmy Blewett
Street Stock feature finish (30 laps): 1. Jacob Boehm, 2. Jillian Snyder, 3. Geary Rinehimer Jr., 4. TJ Gursky, 5. Brandon Christman, 6. Jon Moser, 7. Kyle Strohl, 8. Randy Ahner Jr., 9. Frankie Althouse, 10. Randy Green, 11. Neil Rutt III, 12. Tucker Muffley, 13. Josh Kuronya, 14. Logan Boyer, 15. Todd Ahner, 16. Cody Geist, 17. Bobby Kibler Jr.
Hobby Stock feature finish (25 laps): 1. Parker Ahner, 2. Cody Boehm, 3. Ryan Berger, 4. Jake Kibler, 5. Corey Edelman, 6. Shayne Geist, 7. Michael Wambold, 8. Travis Solomon, 9. Jared Frye, 10. Don Bauder, 11. James Tout, 12. Maggie Yeakel, 13. Lyndsay Buss, 14. Trisha Connolly, 15. BJ Wambold
Futures feature finish (15 laps): 1. Michael Klotz, 2. Gabrielle Steigerwalt, 3. Adam Heckman. 5. Rodney Breiner, 6. Keith Bilder, 7. Chaz Takacs, 8. Al Gildner, 9. Adam Steigerwalt, 110. Mayson Moyer DNS: Arland Moyer Jr.