Story By: DAVEY SEGAL / NASCAR – DAYTONA BEACH, FL – The stat sheet will show only two races in the books for Matt Hirschman on the Whelen Modified Tour thus far in 2021, but there’s more to his season than what the numbers bare out.
Sure, the results of a win at Oswego Speedway and runner-up at Beech Ridge Motor Speedway are great. But, why only those two races? The four-time winner on the tour has opted to run a limited schedule for multiple years, with his last full-time campaign coming in 2011 — but he makes sure that whenever he shows up, he will be a force to be reckoned with.
Mainly, it’s the increased cost and logistical hurdles involved with gathering up his group to go race all over the Northeast on the tour, coupled with his escapades in other series and big events, that have prevented him from running more races annually.
“I run a busy schedule, a very diverse schedule to start with,” he said. “For us to put the full team together, especially races that have pit stops in it, requires us drawing from several different states to bring everyone together. It’s just difficult to do that multiple times.”
But the Northampton, Pennsylvania, native enjoys the time he does spend racing side-by-side with the names that have populated the NWMT over the years. He just prefers to do so at different venues, citing his first ever trips to Langley Speedway and White Mountain Motorsports Park in recent years as something new to try, where he came home with top-three finishes.
Hirschman always had Beech Ridge in his plans — but postponements in other series made it a bit tougher for the No. 60 team to make it work as the date creeped up. Nevertheless, they came home with a runner-up result after leading a race-high 66 laps from the pole and losing the top spot inside the final 10 laps.
“We’ve tried to do something different each year,” he said. “It’s kind of a combination of things. When you’re only doing three or four (races per year), unfortunately, there’s only a few you’re going to pick and maybe there’s some others that would be of interest that you don’t do.”
Hirschman has spent much of his 2021 season competing in the Tri Track Open Modified Series and currently leads the standings with just one race remaining, closing in on his sixth series title. He’s also spent time competing in the Race of Champions and running locally in Pennsylvania.
On July 24, he was victorious at Star Speedway in New Hampshire, bringing home a hefty $17,000 paycheck for besting the rest over the 125-lap feature. In the five races so far in Tri-Track, he’s only finished outside the top 10 once and hasn’t finished worse than third in every other race. He won the Open Wheel Wednesday $10,000 to win race at Seekonk Speedway on Wednesday night and took home a grand total of $10,600 with bonus awards.
He’s earned the nickname ‘Money Matt’ that everyone in New England knows him by.
“What I do, I probably run as many as much or as or more than anyone in terms of tour type modified races annually,” Hirschman said. “We run a pretty diverse schedule and have been very successful. I kind of believe in the ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’ type of mentality.”
With four races remaining on the Whelen Modified Tour schedule, Hirschman has his eye set on Oswego, the next event on the slate on September 4, where he won earlier this season for the second time in his career with Pee Dee Motorsports, leading a race-high 70 laps.
He’s entering that event with high expectations — per usual — especially given their exceptionally strong results this season and successful history at the .625-mile.
“Winning races is never easy. But if we continue to put ourselves in a position to contend for wins, they seem to come your way,” he said. “If we weren’t a contender to win, it would definitely be a disappointment. But actually winning the event, they’re all tough to win. They don’t come easy. I fully expect to contend.”
The Toyota Mod Classic 150 at Oswego is scheduled to go green at 7:30 pm ET on Saturday, September 4. NBC Sports Gold’s TrackPass will have live coverage of the event. The race is part of the 65th annual Classic Weekend at the historic New York oval.