LANCASTER, N.Y. — official track release — JOE GRABIANOWSKI/STRN photo —
Matt Hirschman of Northampton, PA topped a field of 27 Modifieds to capture the 27thannual U.S. Open 125 Race of Champions Modified Tour event at Lancaster National Speedway on Sunday.
In other action from the final day of U.S. Open weekend, Dave Russell of Clarence, N.Y. won the 30-lap X-Press Signs Late Model feature presented by Abbott Rd Pizza. Jake Wylie of Blasdell, N.Y. was victorious in the 25-lap Super Stock feature.
Hirschman passed Mike Leaty for the lead with 18 laps to go and drove on to earn his fourth career U.S. Open win. He had to rally back after being caught up in a spin by Daren Scherer on lap 84 that forced him to the rear of the field.
Nick Pecko and Patrick Emerling the field to the initial green flag in front of a large crowd of Western New York race fans on a sun-splashed day. Pecko would develop troubles on the race’s second lap as he slowed on the backstretch. Rusty Smith ran into the back of Pecko has he lost power, which cut down Smith’s right front tire. Smith would return after a pit stop, but Pecko was done for the day.
This moved Emerling and T.J. Potrzebowski to the front row for the restart. Potrzebowski took command of the field on the race’s second lap, and he quickly established command over the rest of the field.
The race’s first 21 laps were plagued by four cautions, but then the field settled in for a long run of green flag laps. Potrzebowski ran away from the pack during this time while many competitors were concentrating on tire strategy.
One driver that wasn’t worried about tire wear was John Wilber of Elmira, N.Y. Wilber worked his way through the field to the runner-up spot on lap 36. He then chased down Potrzebowski who had built a sizable lead, but Potrzebowski began to develop a vibration in his left fire tire as the race approached lap 50. Wilber caught and passed Potrzebowski for the lead on lap 54 as Potrzebowski struggled to control his car.
As the green flag run wore on, Wilber extended his lead over the rest of the field to more than a straightaway. Wilber, however, gave up that margin when he spun in turn one on lap 63. The caution flag put an end to the green flag run that lasted 42 laps. The large majority of the field took the opportunity during the caution period to make a pit stop, with just Rusty Smith and Amy Catalano remaining on the speedway.
Chuck Hossfeld beat the rest of the cars off pit road to fill in behind Smith and Catalnao in third with Andy Jankowiak in fourth and Mike Leaty in fifth.
2014 U.S. Open winner, Tony Hanbury, brought out the race’s next caution when he stopped on the track with mechanical problems on lap 74. Smith and Catalano gave up their track position at this point to come down pit road. This moved Leaty into the lead followed by Bobby Holmes, Daren Scherer, Rick Kluth and Andy Jankowiak.
Holmes pressured Leaty for the lead as the race went back to green. On lap 80, Holmes drove too hard into turn one and nearly crashed into the wall. He managed to save the car, but gave up five positions in the process.
Four laps later Scherer was being challenged by Jankowiak for second when he spun in turn one. Hirschman had to stop on the track to avoid crashing into Scherer, and was forced to fall to the rear of the field.
Hirschman started 20th and spent the first half of the race conserving his tires. He nearly fell off the lead lap during the long green flag run as Potrzebowski was a few car lengths away from putting him a lap down. Potrzebowski’s handling problems allowed him to stay on the lead lap, and he pitted with the majority of the field on lap 64.
During the caution period Patrick Emerling stopped on the track with mechanical problems. He would eventually return to action, but lost two laps in the pits while making repairs.
Hirschman had worked his way back to seventh on lap 97 when the caution flag flew for Bryan Sherwood stopping on the track. Seven laps later he was up to third, and then Hirschman set his sights on Leaty for the lead. Hirschman drove under Leaty in turn two on lap 107 to take over first place.
That pass proved to be the race winning one as Hirschman cruised the rest of the way for the victory. It was Hirschman’s first win of the year on the Race of Champions Modified Tour.
“It’s been over a year since we won an RoC race,” said Hirschman, “it’s been tough, there were some opportunities this year where things didn’t work out.” “I was really focused in on this, I prepared hard for this, even with the stopping for that caution I was just determined to get it done.”
Hirschman inherited the series points lead following Emerling’s mechanical woes. Emerling led by 14 points at the start of the U.S. Open 125, but now Hirschman leads by 37 going into the season finale next weekend at Chemung for the Race of Champions 200.
Jankowiak finished second followed by Hossfeld, Holmes and Smith.
Dave Russell earned his first career U.S Open feature win as he won the 30-lap X-Press Signs Late Model feature presented by Abbott Rd Pizza. Russell passed Jeff Brown for the lead on lap 17 and drove away for the win.
Bobby Weber was denied a perfect season in the Late Models at Lancaster as he was involved in two incidents early on in the race. He received damaged when he tangled with Matt Alix on the race’s second lap. He then developed mechanical issues on lap nine, which eliminated him from competition.
Jake Wylie won the 25-lap Super Stock feature for his second win of the season at Lancaster. Wylie was running third on lap three when race leader Tommy Krawczyk slid up the race track in turn four. Wylie was able to dive under Krawczyk and second place Lee Sharpsteen to take over the top spot.
Wylie becomes the third member of his family to win an U.S. Open feature. Wylie’s father, Rick, is a three-time Late Model Pro Stock winner while his brother, Scott, has won twice in the Cup Lites and once in the IMCA-Style Modifieds.
Lancaster National Speedway has announced they will open the 2016 season on April 16 & 17. Sunday, April 17 will be the opener for the stock car program which will be headlined by the Sunoco Race of Champions Modified Tour. The RoC Modified Tour will make four visits to Lancaster in 2016 with the Ol’ Boy Cup 60, Tommy Druar/Tony Jankowiak Memorial 110 and U.S. Open 125 on next year’s schedule.
Lancaster closes the 2015 season with Pro Mod-A-Palooza on Saturday, October 10 for the Franco’s Pizza IHRA Drag Racing Series. We will crown our remaining dragway track champions with the final points races for all weekly classes and Quick 16. Plus, there will be a shootout between some of the top Pro Modified teams in the region. The Buffalo Street Outlaws will be part of this amazing show as well.. For more information log on to www.promodapalooza.com.
Founded in 1959, Lancaster National Speedway is a multi-use facility located on 77 acres just outside of metropolitan Buffalo, NY. The facility features a 1/8-mile drag, a 5/8-mile oval track and hosts several non-motorsports events such as car shows and concerts. For the latest information on Lancaster National Speedway & Dragway check out our all-new website www.
RACE OF CHAMPIONS MODIFIED TOUR:
Heat Winners: T.J. Potrzebowski, Partick Emerling, Chuck Hossfeld
Feature: MATT HIRSCHMAN, Andy Jankowiak, Chuck Hossfeld, Bobby Holmes, Rusty Smith, Karl Hehr, Will Thomas, George Skora III, Kevin Timmerman, T.J. Potrzebowski, Daren Scherer, Mike Leaty, Rick Kluth, Patrick Emerling, Dave Rigan, Amy Catalano, Bryan Sherwood, Kirk Totten, Sam Fullone, John Wilber, Tony Hanbury, Chris Ridsdale, Daryl Lewis, Jr., Donny Hartzell, Nick Pecko, Tommy Catalano, Bill Mislin
X-PRESS SIGNS LATE MODELS:
Heat Winners: Bobby Weber, Dave Russell
Feature: DAVE RUSSELL, Jeff Brown, Dave Whittaker, Matt Alix, Sam Fullone, Ron Nurmi, Frank Batista, Jerry Dineen, JD Roberts, Billy Osborn, Nick Crassi, Ron Richter, Bobby Weber, Eldon King III, Terry Weldy, Dave Rigan
Heat Winners: Eric Brown, Mitchell Wright, Jake Wylie
Feature: JAKE WYLIE, Eric Brown, Joe Mancuso, Tommy Krawczyk, Bobby Schosek, Robert Fink, Nate Peckham, Lee Sharpsteen, Vern Headdrick, Chuck Tripp, Tom Zacharias, Pete Pieczysnki, Mike Nichols, Josh Hunter, Jason Dieter, Gary Now, Bill Frisbee, Jr., Billy Coyle DNS: Brandon Sherwood
CREDIT: Lancaster National Speedway PR