Epping, NH (July 29, 2017): Matt Hirschman of Northampton, PA, continued his dominance of the SBM series of Modified events at Star Speedway in Epping, NH, but also of 2017 Tri-Track Open Modified Series (TTOMS) with his win on Saturday night. This victory was a repeat for Hirschman in the SBM events and his second straight TTOMS win this season. The victory was his fourth in the six-year history of the event.
A caution just past halfway completely changed the complexity of the race that had been dominated by drivers who ultimately would finish outside of the top – five at the end of the SBM VI. The caution on lap 73, only the second of the event to that point, also set off a rash of cautions that would shuffle the running order. Hirschman, who had been mired deep in the field, came off pit road third; giving him the track position he needed. Over the final stages of the event he held off challenges from a host of notable drivers to score the victory.
Rowan Pennink of Huntington Valley, PA, and Josh Cantara of Saco, ME joined Hirschman on the podium. Anthony Nocella of Woburn, MA, and Woody Pitkat of Stafford, CT, rounded out the top five.
Thanks to the tireless efforts of event founder Kevin Rice, a host of specialty awards were presented on the evening as well.
After the redraw of heat races finishers, Steve Masse led Todd Annarummo to the green flag. In the opening laps the lead duo was followed by Pitkat. Earl Paules and Chris Pasteryak were locked in a tight battle for fourth. Pasteryak jumped to the outside groove looking to make the pass on Paules. He could not make the pass and lost a subsequent position to a charging Richard Savary.
Masse began to distance himself from second-running Annarummo as Savary began to pressure Paules for fourth. Deeper in the field Les Hinckley and Nocella worked traffic looking to gain track position. Hirschman was up to tenth position from his 14th starting spot on lap 14.
Up front Masse led with a tight pack of three cars that included Annarummo, Pitkat and Savary. Masse entered lapped traffic on lap 25. Pasteryak began to apply pressure on Paules once again, this time for sixth.
Savary was able to get by Pitkat for third before the first caution of the event flew on lap 30 when Matt Galko came to rest in turn four. Hinckley and Seuss pitted under caution. Dillon Steuer was the free-pass car.
On the restart, it was more of the same with Masse leading Annarummo, Savary and Pitkat. Pasteryak and Max Zachem were looking racy on the outside near the tail end of the top ten.
Savary was all over the back bumper of Annarummo; making the pass stick on lap 38. Masse, again, was able to gain some distance on second. Pasteryak resumed his assault on Paules. Diving to the inside Pasteryak was able to motor into fifth. Others were able to get by Paules as well; dropping him back deep into the field.
Savary had run down the leader Masse by lap 50. The lead duo had nearly a straightaway advantage over third-running Annarummo. Taking chase were Pitkat and Pasteryak. Carl Medeiros, Jr. was running strong in sixth position. Jon Kievman was turning in a strong performance in seventh. Hirschman still ran in tenth. Barrett, who started scratch on the field, hounded Nocella for position just outside of the top-ten.
At the halfway marker on lap 62 the running order inside the top-ten was Masse, Savary, Annarummo, Pitkat, Pasteryak, Medeiros, Kievman, Pennink, Zachem, Hirschman, and Andy Jankowiak, who had started 18th. One lap later, Pasteryak got by Pitkat for fourth. He immediately went to work on Annarummo; taking the third position on lap 70.
The best battle on the field saw Medeiros and Kievman duking it out. Medeiros held the position when Kievman got out of shape; losing several positions and finally coming to rest after making contact with the tire barrier on the backstretch. The ensuing caution on lap 73 proved to be a game-changer.
Under the caution all but two cars headed to pit road. Only two cars remained on the race track – Galko and Dillon Steuer, who was a lap down. Pasteryak beat everyone out of the pits followed by Annarummo and Hirschman. Pennink, Masse, Pitkat, Paules, Dwight Jarvis, Cantara, and Zachem were also among the top cars off pit road. The biggest loser was Savary, who pitted from second but had to restart outside of the top-ten.
On the restart, Galko and Pasteryak led the field to the green from the front row on lap 73. Pasteryak hung tight on the outside for a lap before settling in behind Galko. Hirschman made a bold move diving to the inside of Pasteryak before the caution flew on lap 75 for a spin by Pitkat. Also collected were Seuss, Paules and Holdridge.
The top three of Galko, Pasteryak and Hirschman ran in a tight pack on the restart. Hirschman grabbed second sliding to the inside of Pasteryak on lap 77. A single lap later he duplicated the move to take over the lead from Galko.
The fourth caution flew on lap 78 for a single car spin by Geoff Gernhardt. On the restart, Masse was making a charge in the outside groove. Masse and Pasteryak went wheel-to-wheel for a handful of laps before contact sent Pasteryak spinning, the field scattering and the caution flag flying once again on lap 81. Masse was able to continue. Pasteryak rejoined the field after heading pit side for service.
It was nearly a repeat a lap later. This time with Masse and Galko battling for second but it would be Zachem that got out of shape during the scuffle; bringing out the sixth caution on lap 82.
Second running Galko went way-wide on the ensuing restart opening the door for a host of cars to get by; falling outside of the top ten.
A series of six cautions flew as the field struggled to get the stretch of laps in the 80s into the record book. The run of cautions involved the likes of Annarummo, Medeiros, Paules, Savary, Pitkat, Pasteryak, Kievman, Nocella, Zachem, Jarvis and Gallup.
During all the commotion, Hirschman was able to maintain his advantage. When the dust finally settled Pennink and Cantara found themselves in the top-five and in the thick of the battle. On a single-file restart on lap 87, Hirschman got a great jump over Pennink. The two got away from a battle for third between Cantara and Hinckley. Pitkat took chase in fifth but not without pressure of his own from Masse. Nocella, who had struggled early, ran in seventh. Hirschman and Pennink continued to gain distance on Hinckley and Pitkat. Hirschman began to stretch out this lead with 25 laps to go.
The 12th and final caution on the event flew on lap 102 when contact deep in the field collected Gernhardt, Steuer and Annarummo. Under the caution, Hinckley headed down pit road giving up the fifth position.
Back under green it was all Hirschman. Pennink fell into the clutches of Cantara with Masse dogging Pitkat for fourth. Pennink was able to gain some breathing room over Cantara but could not make a dent into Hirschman’s lead.
With Hirschman leading Pennink, Cantara, Pitkat and Masse, the driver on the move was Nocella. He dove low on Masse on lap 112 to take over the fifth position. He immediately began to run down Pitkat in third. With 10 to go Hirschman stretched out his lead on Pennink, who enjoyed a sizeable lead over Cantara. Nocella was able to take the inside groove away from Pitkat and the position on lap 118.
It was smooth sailing for Hirschman over the final five laps. Cantara cut into the distance to Pennink while Nocella was gaining on Cantara as well. Nocella was on the back bumper of Cantara as they crossed the checkers. Hirschman, who won the opener at Seekonk, is now two-for-two in Tri-Track Open Modified Series. Pennink, too, is having a strong season; backing up his third-place finish at the Seekonk opener with a runner-up finish at Star on Saturday night. A former Star Speedway Modified Champion, Cantara used ‘home track’ advantage to come home third after starting 24th on the field. It was his second podium finish in SBM competition. Nocella and Pitkat rounded out the top five.
It was a yeoman’s effort for sixth-place finishing Tommy Barrett, Jr., who started scratch on the field, using a provisional to start the event. Masse, newcomer Brian Robie, Kievman and Zachem rounded out the top ten.
The victory netted Hirschman nearly $7,000 in purse and bonuses.
Heat race wins went to Todd Annarummo, Max Zachem, Carl Medeiros, Jr., and Woody Pitkat. The B-Main win went to Dillon Steuer.
Tri-Track Open Modified Series SBM VI Finish-Star Speedway-Saturday, July 29, 2017: 1.Matt Hirschman, Northampton, PA; 2. Rowan Pennink, Huntingdon Valley, PA; 3. Josh Cantara, Saco, ME; 4. Anthony Nocella, Woburn, MA: 5. Woody Pitkat, Stafford, CT; 6. Tommy Barrett, Millis, MA; 7.Steve Masse, Bellingham, MA; 8. Brian Robie, Sunapee,NH: 9. Jon Kievman, Deerfield Beach, FL: 10. Max Zachem, Preston, CT: 11. Les Hinckley, Windsor Locks, CT: 12. Jeff Gallup, Agawam, MA: 13. Chris Pasteryak, Lisbon, CT: 14. Andy Seuss, Hampstead, NH; 15. Carl Medeiros Jr. Westport, MA; 16. Dillon Steuer, Bohemia, NY; 17.Dwight Jarvis, Ascutney, VT: 18. Joe Doucette, Framingham, MA; 19.George Sherman, Framingham, MA; 20. Todd Annarummo, Swansea, MA; 21. Geoff Gernhardt, Salem, CT: 22. Matt Galko, Meriden, CT: 23. Earl Paules, Palmerton, PA; 24. Richard Savary, Canton, MA; 25. Andy Jankowiak, Tonawanda, NY; 26. Kurt Vigeant, Oxford, MA: 27. Mike Holdridge, Madison, CT.
DNQ:Calvin Carroll, Rich Parker, Mike Douglas, Jr., Dylan Rock, Brandee Tree.