MIDLAND, N.C. – In one of the wildest John Blewett III Memorial North-South Shootouts in history, Matt Hirschman proved true the old adage that some things just never change.
Hirschman became the final of eight different leaders during the 15th running of the crown jewel event for tour-type modifieds, charging past Ryan Preece with 13 laps to go Saturday afternoon at Concord Speedway and going on to cash another $10,000 payday.
Saturday marked the sixth North-South Shootout win of Hirschman’s storied career and his first since 2013.
“It was an exciting finish,” Hirschman said with a smile in victory lane. “With Ryan getting ahead, I knew he had fresher tires. With fresh tires late I don’t know that there is anybody that is going to be able to wheel it better than Ryan Preece,” Hirschman said. “I thought that maybe was the deciding point. All the restart decisions were based on trying to get the lead before Ryan did.”
“Once we got clear into second I was able to close in on him and I was able to get underneath him and make it. I’m glad that we were able to get back ahead of him and glad to get PeeDee Motorsports a win in this race. We came here for the first time together last year and finished second, and now we’ve got a win. To have a day like today just keeps our incredible season going.”
Perhaps what was most sweet was the fact that Hirschman’s win this time around put to bed the sour taste from his disqualification two years ago, when he crossed the finish line first but had the win stripped due to a tire plug penalty that dropped him to the tail of the lead lap.
“This has been a great race for my career. It should say seven-time winner … we won it two years ago, even though it’s not in the record book that we won it … but we’re always right there,” said Hirschman. “I’ve always been good at this race track and this helps soothe that one that got away two years ago.”
In a 125-lap race that saw changing tides and action from start to finish, the turning point of the event came with 50 to go, when second-running Jeremy Gerstner spun with a flat left rear tire, bringing out the yellow with 50 to go and allowing many of the frontrunners to hit pit road.
Polesitter Brandon Ward took three tires, changing all but the left front, while Matt Hirschman took rear tires in an effort to charge back forward in the closing laps as well.
With then-leader Bobby Measmer Jr. coming down for service under the yellow as well, Preece was left in the lead with the race winding down towards its conclusion.
Preece jumped out to the lead when the green flag flew for the final 50-lap sprint, but he was swallowed up by a hard charging Burt Myers, who took over the top spot on lap 82 as he chased another North-South Shootout win.
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