Hirschman "Speeds" to Second Consecutive Turkey Derby Victory
Matt Hirschman set fast time of the day, with a qualifying lap of 11.851. He pulled the second starting spot in the pre-race redraw. And when the checkered flag fell at the end of the 150-lap Tour Mod race it was Hirschman picking up his second consecutive Turkey Derby victory in the headlining division.
If that sounds like an easy day for one of the best Modified drivers in the Northeast, then you obviously weren't on hand to watch this master of Wall Stadium Speedway's high banks overcome a penalty which sent him to the rear of the field more than halfway through the race.
Danny Bohn, a former New Jersey resident who now lives, and primarily races in North Carolina, picked the pole on the redraw. He had timed fifth fastest in his white number 65. However, he looked nothing like the fifth fastest car from the time the green flag waved.
He jumped to the lead, and held it for 119 laps, holding off drivers such as Hirschman, Eric Mauriello, in the Barney Racing number 14, Ryan Preece, the 2013 NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Champion driving for Tommy Baldwin Racing, Tour competitor Doug Coby, and TVMRS 2013 Champion Rowan Pennick.
The turning point of the race came on lap 81 when Danny Bouc spun in turn two. Many of the cars running at the front of the field took this opportunity to come to the pits for new tires, including Hirschman. Leader Danny Bohn chose to stay out, as the other teams tried to outduel each other in the pits.
It looked as if Hirschman's veteran crew had a great stop, as he was one of the first cars to make it back to the track. However, an announcement revealed the truth. The 60 car was called for speeding on pit road, and penalized to start at the rear.
Hirschman returned to the pits, and removed the new tires which they had just put on, and went back to the tires they started the race on. They obviously wanted to save them for a later restart when he was closer to the front rather than have him burn them up charging through traffic.
As the race suffered through numerous cautions over the next twenty plus laps Danny Bohn continued to lead, and any chance Hirschman had at the win seemed to have been taken away with the penalty, as he struggled to make his way forward.
However, at about lap 110 the number 60 seemed to come alive again. He lined up fifth for a lap 113 restart, and immediately drove into third. Suddenly, Hirschman looked like the fastest car in the field again.
Meanwhile, Bohn was obviously beginning to struggle as the only car in the field which had not yet pitted for tires. Pennick, and his brother Michael, were now able to put serious pressure on him on the restarts.
Finally, when the number 20 of Shanon Mongeau spun on lap 119 the decision was made to bring Danny to the pits for tires. They, too, had seen how fast the number 60 was, and knew their only shot to win was to have fresher tires for the end of the race.
Pennick assumed the lead, with Hirschman lined up on the outside of him for the restart. The pair of NASCAR Tour veterans drag raced down the front straight, and raced side-by-side, with Hirschman seizing the lead by the time he got back to the flag stand.
Pennick now had to fight off the challenges of Michael Bohn, and Coby, as Hirschman pulled away.
Matt Hirschman survived two more restarts on the way to his second consecutive Turkey Derby Tout-Type victory. Coby got by Pennick late, with Ryan Preece coming back to fourth after being penalized on lap 113 for over aggressive driving, and Michael Bohn rounding out the top-five.
Hirschman thanked his crew, and family in victory lane, and said patience was the biggest key in his winning the race. A great race car, with one of the most talented short-track drivers in the country behind the wheel didn't hurt either.