For the seventh time in as many starts at Mahoning Valley Speedway Matt Hirschman has driven to victory, this time doing so for the season opening Race of Champions (RoC) Asphalt Modified Series 75-lapper. And, in each of those wins the runner-up has been Austin Beers.
At one point the race had an extended stretch of green flag laps which put Hirschman as the pace setter but never by far. Bobby Jones was very tough on him and late into the event a strong Kyle Strohl was giving him a run before Beers took up the chase to the checkers.
“That was a workout and sometimes it’s harder to do it from out front than it is when you’re coming from behind,” admitted Hirschman, who collected his 25th Mahoning win.
“We took advantage of a good starting spot and the outside lane opened up. We got to the lead but as I said this was a harder drive then some of the ones when we come from the back.”
An equal mix of RoC and Mahoning regulars made for a well-defined field. A redraw of the top 13 from the three heats run saw Snyder Jr., and Daryl Lewis Jr., on the front row and within one lap after the initial green Snyder led the way but on the subsequent tour the outside lane opened up in the path of Hirschman and he quickly vaulted to the lead.
Jones, who won here the previous week, followed right behind and planted himself on Hirschman’s rear bumper while Snyder held steady in third.
There was a few minor incidents on laps six, 13 and 19 that slowed the action but from that point it was stint of nonstop laps over next 36 circuits. All the while the front trio of Hirschman, Jones and Snyder stayed nose-to-tail.
At lap 55 Lewis came to a halt which in turn prompted a caution. On that restart Hirschman and Jones where still one-two but into third came Strohl who had done a remarkable job of working up from 13th and then took second just prior what was the final caution with 14 laps remaining. At the same time Beers had also joined the front fray.
As the race resumed Beers made a quick move to get around Strohl and from then on kept his sights set on Hirschman. Regrettably for him it was another runner-up.
“I know it’s getting old for him (Beers) but I have to remember that when the roles are reversed not to get too frustrated because he was on the other end,” said Hirschman after
“I actually preferred it if we kept going green because on the restarts the cars are tougher to handle and I was already starting to struggle on that last run.”
For Beers and his runner-up to Hirschman hasn’t just been at Mahoning Valley but elsewhere as well.
“We got pushed back pretty early and fell to about 17th but it we made a good recovery. When we got to second I saw that he (Hirschman) was loose and I stayed with him not thinking that I had a chance but I did and it kind of shocked me and I feel we could have gotten him but unfortunately we ran out of time,” explained Beers.
“Matt is probably the best Modified driver right now and it’s good to know that we’re right with him and not just here but at different tracks too.”
Zane Zeiner worked from as far back as 17th to take fourth while Don Wagner rounded out the top five.
In the Street Stock feature Jillian Snyder took the lead spot from Tucker Muffley halfway through the 30 lapper and once at the helm would never waver, going on to her first win since August 2017.
The race was very captivating as the talented field put on a high speed spectacle of double-wide action for a good number of laps.
Jamie Smith was controlling the way early on with Randy Green next to him while Muffley and Snyder held on directly behind. Muffley was able to slip to second on lap nine and the next time around he and Green worked around Smith.
After a lap 14 restart it became a battle between Muffley and Snyder and in just one lap she was able to work underneath and assume the lead. Jon Moser charged up to second and continued to keep it close but there was no denying the determination to get back to winning for Snyder who drove to car length margin of victory.
Trisha Connolly won the Hobby Stock feature which once again was a highly competitive affair and thus far has become the norm.
Connolly took the lead away from early leader Jaden Brown on lap six and soon thereafter was waging a fierce battle with Taylor Schmidt. At most times they raced side-by-side and taking his fight to the low lane Schmidt cast his way ahead with five laps to go.
However, Connolly refused to fall back and with just two laps remaining did a bump and run that gave her back the position which she held onto for a scant victory, her first of the season.
In the Futures/Rookie Hobby Stocks it was another winning effort by Brody George and Greyson Ahner who took respective victories.
The race actually came down to a last lap shootout as George used a restart with one to go to overtake Ahner. They then went bumper to bumper with George winning in the Futures class for a third time in four starts while Ahner was credited with the Rookies verdict for a record third straight time.
Modified Feature Finish (75-laps): 1. Matt Hirschman, 2. Austin Beers, 3. Kyle Strohl, 4. Zane Zeiner, 5. Don Wagner, 6. Brian DeFebo, 7. Bobby Jones, 8. Daren Scherer, 9. Nick Baer, 10. Daryl Lewis Jr., 11. Kirk Totten, 12. Rod Snyder Jr., 13. Terry Markovic, 14. Chris Risdale, 15. Sean Verwys, 16. Carl Altemose, 17. Cody Kohler, 18. Jim Gavek, 19. Danny Knoll Jr.
Street Stock Feature Finish (30-laps): 1. Jillian Snyder, 2. Jon Moser, 3. Jonny Bennett, 4. Mark Martini, 5. Mark Deysher, 6. Tucker Muffley, 7. Jacob Christman, 8. Todd Ahner, 9. Cody Geist, 10. TJ Gursky, 11. Randy Ahner Jr., 12. Rick Reichenbach, 13. Brandon Christman, 14. Thomas Flanagan, 15. Randy Green, 16. Tobie Behler, 17. Jamie Smith, 18. Eric Kocher, 19. Logan Boyer, 20. Jason Gould DNQ: Jeremy Scheckler, Rich Moser
Hobby Stock Feature Finish (25-laps): 1. Trisha Connolly, 2. Taylor Schmidt, 3. BJ Wambold, 4. Corey Edelman, 5. Justin Merkel, 6. Devin Schmidt, 7. Jacob Boehm, 8. Cody Boehm, 9. Travis Solomon, 10. Al Arthofer, 11. Dave Imler Jr., 12. Nick Schaffer, 13. Lyndsay Buss, 14. Jaden Brown, 15. Tad Snyder, 16. James Tout, 17. Slade Darragh, 18. Ed Herman, 19. Mallory Kutz, 20. Ralph Borger Jr., 21. Nicholas Kerstetter
Futures/Rookie Hobby Stock Feature Finish (12-laps) 1. Brody George, 2. Greyson Ahner, 3. Reid Levengood, 4. Makayla Kohler, 5. Dave Kerr, 6. Deegan Underwood, 7. Tyler Alcona, 8. Zoe Kuchera, 9. Lexus Kutz, 10. Adam Steigerwalt, 11. Gary Lerch, 12. Maggie Yeakel
-Mahoning Valley Speedway Press Release and Photo