Story By: KYLE SOUZA / NASCAR – NEW SMYRNA, FL – The World Series of Asphalt Stock Car Racing is well-known for two marquee Tour Type Modified events — the John Blewett 76 Memorial and the Richie Evans 100.
Wednesday, during the 53rd running of the prestigious week of racing at New Smyrna Speedway, Matt Hirschman picked up his second straight Blewett Memorial win.
Hirschman passed Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Rookie of the Year contender Ryan Preece on a restart with 15 laps to go, and even though Preece had one more shot at him on a separate restart, it was Hirschman who pulled away to pick up the checkered flag in the memorial event.
“Just like old times with Ryan Preece,” Hirschman said. “Tonight, though, I was no fan of Ryan Preece. I wanted to beat him. We’ve done this many times before. It’s two years in a row we have won this race.”
It hasn’t really been the best of weeks for Hirschman. Monday, he opened the five nights of racing by finishing second to Doug Coby. But, Tuesday, Hirschman was caught up in a wreck and found himself at the track after hours — and early this morning — piecing the car back together.
“We really worked hard after blowing the right-front off, we had grinders, welders, tape measures and all out,” Hirschman said. “We are going to go out on adrenaline and celebrate this one tonight, but, we are going to hit the pillow hard. We are all tired. But it was well worth it.”
Preece, who was the fastest qualifier for the second straight night, lined up to the outside of the front row for the green following the invert of two. However, he jumped by Hirschman early, and was passed by five-time NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour champion Doug Coby for the lead on lap two. Preece took the top spot back on lap 27, and led until 61, when Hirschman ultimately took the advantage.
It was the final Modified race of the week for Preece as he now turns his attention to the 61st annual Daytona 500 just up the road at Daytona International Speedway on Sunday. He slid back late in the race and ultimately finished ninth.
“The right-front (tire) is gone, so it couldn’t turn, usually we wear the right-rear, but I destroyed the right-front,” Preece told Short Track Scene. “I felt like I was holding a good pace. I was conserving the entire race. Once we lost the lead, it was just difficult because you end up abusing it that much more.”
Chuck Hossfeld finished second and Dave Sapienza worked through the field to finish third. Coby, who entered the night up by just two points in the championship standings, led early but dropped through the field and pitted multiple times. However, in a late fight back, Coby finished fourth.
In the 35-lap Super Late Model feature, Brad May finally knocked a victory off his list of goals for the week. May finished second in the first three races of the week, but after qualifying second on Wednesday, he was awarded the pole after the invert of two. May led all 35 laps of the main event.
“It’s awesome, that’s what we come out here to do,” May said. “After three second-place finishes, you just hope everything goes right. The car was awesome.”
Jeremy Miller had scored his third Pro Late Model feature win, but didn’t pass through technical inspection, awarding the win to Sammy Smith. Wayne Parker picked up the Florida Modified win.
Racing continues with night nine of the World Series on Thursday night, where the Tour Type Modifieds, Pro Late Models, Super Late Models and Florida Modifieds will compete in 35-lap feature events.
Tour Type Modifieds: 1. Matt Hirschman; 2. Chuck Hossfeld; 3. Dave Sapienza; 4. Doug Coby; 5. Jimmy Zacharias; 6. Amy Catalano; 7. Patrick Emerling; 8. Dillon Steuer; 9. Ryan Preece; 10. Jeremy Gerstner; 11. Jimmy Blewett; 12. Nikki Carroll; 13. Tyler Rypkema; 14. Calvin Carroll; 15. Andy Jankowiak; 16. Tommy Catalano; 17. Anthony Nocella; 18. Jeff Goodale; 19. Mike Willis Jr.; 20. Chris Risdale; 21. Bobby Measmer Jr.; 22. Timmy Solomito; 23. Al Amarino; 24. Tom Tonn
Super Late Models: 1. Brad May; 2. Carson Kvapil; 3. Jett Noland; 4. Derek Griffith; 5. Ryan Moore; 6. Travis Braden; 7. Bubba Pollard; 8. Gabe Sommers; 9. Anthony Sergi; 10. Sam Mayer; 11. Colin Garrett; 12. Alex Labbe; 13. Derek Kraus; 14. Nolan Pope; 15. Brandon Herbert; 16. Spencer Davis; 17. Logan Seavey; 18. Clay Greenfield; 19. Christian Rose; 20. Patrick Thomas