CHEMUNG, NY — Race report, audio and photo by Race Chaser Online correspondent Kyle Magda — There’s just no stopping Matt Hirschman.
Hirschman picked up his fourth win on the 2014 Race of Champions Asphalt Modified Tour at Chemung Speedrome Saturday night, taking the lead after a lap 89 restart when the axle broke on the No. 71 car of Jimmy Zacharias, sending Zacharias dead right into the wall.
Zacharias had led every lap up to that point.
Despite the caution and assistance, the win was no easy task for Hirschman, who hovered in and around the top five all race long. The Northampton, Pa. driver had to make a bold three-wide move for second with less than 20 laps to go.
“That was important because if the race would of went to the finish there, my only chance at cutting the distance from first was to get by them two as quick as possible,” Hirschman said of the pass. “It would of taken me probably about five laps to pass those two cars. Instead, I made it into one.”
Buffalo native Andy Jankowiak started up front, but fell back through the field in the early going. Jankowiak had some good restarts towards the end and came home with a third-place finish. Jankowiak has been battling all season with Hirschman and Chuck Hossfeld for the ROC points lead.
“We had a strategy right from the get-go that we were gonna pit, so it didn’t make much sense to race too hard there at the beginning,” Jankowiak said of the race. “We kinda fell back where we felt we could save a little tire without getting any issues (getting) further back into the top 10.
The New York driver got to race in front of the home state fans Saturday night and wheeled his machine back through the field. Jankowiak won earlier this year at Holland (NY) Speedway.
“It’s such a big crowd, so it’s the best night to do it,” he said. “We’re kinda advertising. We want to go on to bigger and better things, so the more people are talking about us the better.”
Daren Scherer finished runner-up to Hirschman and improved on his May finish at Chemung, which was a sixth-place effort.
Zacharias nearly had a perfect night by taking the win in the B-modifieds feature before racing the ROC 100-lap event. He had led every lap until RoC lap 89, when the left-rear axle went on his No. 71 machine right after the restart.
“We kept a rolling, steady pace and stepped on the gas and the left-rear axle just broke on me,” Zacharias said. “Nothing we can do about it, can’t hang our heads.
Zacharias had a similarly-strong at Shangri-La II (NY) Motor Speedway and had a shot to win, but broke the rear end. It was the same bad luck at Chemung, but Zacharias knows his cars have been capable of winning.
“It was absolutely amazing,” Zacharias said of his Chemung car. “We threw a whole different setup that we never think of that would work and it (the car) was absolutely terrific. The car was spot on right from the spot and starting up front helped me because I didn’t have to burn up tires.
The New York driver stated that even though he dominated both events, his ROC modified was better of the two cars.
“My B-mod was actually horrible,” he added. “I don’t like having the pressure of two cars at the track like that. Focus on the mod took away from the weekly car and, honestly, it didn’t look it, but the car was horrible. It was complete junk and it’s the worst it’s ever been here.”
The Race of Champions Asphalt Modified Tour will stay in New York and head next to the Elegant Builders Speedway in Buffalo next Saturday.
RESULTS: Race of Champions Asphalt Modified Tour; Chemung Speedrome; 100 laps
- Matt Hirschman
- Daren Scherer
- Andy Jankowiak
- Chuck Hossfeld
- Patrick Emerling
- Austin Kochenash
- Brian DeFebo
- Mike Leaty
- Nick Pecko
- Brandon Oltra
- Doug Reaume
- TJ Potrzebowski
- Daryl Lewis, Jr.
- Bryan Sherwood
- Terry Cheetham
- Donnie Hartzell
- Jimmy Zacharias
- Tommy Cloce
DNS; Lee Sharpsteen.
Audio with race winner Matt Hirschman:
Audio with 3rd-place finisher Andy Jankowiak:
Post-race audio with Jimmy Zacharias: