Matt Hirschman was a model of consistency during the first three nights of the World Series of Asphalt Stock Car Racing. But the driver known as “Big Money” didn’t earn his nickname by finishing second and third.
On Thursday night, Hirschman used an exciting last-lap pass on Jon McKennedy to break through and score his first victory of the week at New Smyrna Speedway.
“I have to thank my whole team, Pee Dee Motorsports. It’s a big effort to come here and do this, so I have to thank them,” Hirschman said on the NBC Trackpass broadcast. “My whole crew, they’ve been working hard. We’ve been here later than we have in recent years with the delays and rain and stuff like that, so I’m glad to get a win for them. Hope for tomorrow night, too, but at least we got one because one is going to be tough to get this week.”
Former Tri-Track Open Modified Series champion Ronnie Williams set fast time in qualifying at the half-mile oval and started on the outside of the front row after an invert of two. Williams jumped out to the early lead, showing the way for the opening 15 laps.
Jon McKennedy, who has battled bad luck throughout the week, charged to the front and moved under Williams for the lead on lap 16. McKennedy led until the final lap, when Hirschman powered to his inside in turn three and made slight contact battling for the win. As McKennedy drifted high, Hirschman powered off of turn four to the checkered flag and his ninth career World Series victory.
“We’ve been close all week to winning and started getting closer and closer,” Hirschman said. “I would’ve been content with a second, but he just backed up to me too much. The 50 (Williams) was backing up to me at the beginning and I probably should have been more aggressive because as soon as the 16 (Ron Silk) got a chance there, he sent it in. Last night, I saw Preece send it in. It’s been tough, but tonight they came to me at the right time and we didn’t get any late restarts because we’ve been terrible on those.”
McKennedy recorded his best finish of the week with a runner-up performance. Ron Silk finished third, while Patrick Emerling and Ronnie Williams completed the top five.
With the win, Hirschman will extend his points lead entering Friday’s Richie Evans Memorial, the finale for Tour-type Modifieds at New Smyrna. Ryan Preece, who sat 10 points behind Hirschman after Wednesday’s racing, missed Thursday night’s race while competing in the Duels at nearby Daytona International Speedway.
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-Story by: Brandon Paul, Speed51 Director of Content – Twitter: @Brandon_Paul51
-Photo credit: Speed51 / Will Bellamy
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