Matt “The Bounty Hunter” Hirschman of Northampton, Pa., came, saw and conquered yet another Modified Open event — the Bull Ring Bash 100 Powered by Sunoco – Sunday at Lee USA Speedway.
Hirschman started 21st in a stellar 26-car field, hid out in the tall grass for most of the race and then struck like a black mamba with about 20 laps to go, just before the race came apart in a flurry of late cautions.
Partly by calculation and partly through good fortune, Hirschman was always either well behind incidents or ahead of them after dusting off Steve Masse to lead the final seven laps on the way to a $5,000 payday.
As Hirschman was about to take the checkered flag, a multi-car crash in the fourth turn shuffled the finish and wiped out the strong efforts of Masse and Todd Annarummo, who wound up officially scored in 18th and 19th.Ryan Preece was the runner-up with Dennis Perry, Rowan Pennink and Max Zachem following. Perry, a Thompson SK Modified regular who hadn’t raced much at Lee before, was both happy and contrite afterwards. “I couldn’t avoid it,” Perry said. “I gave Todd (Annarummo) a pretty good punt. It happened. I was right on him. I tried to dig underneath for last turn and I gave him that shot. It was nothing intentional, it was a racing deal, but I feel terrible about it.”
“This is me at my best in these short track open shows,” Hirschman proclaimed in victory lane. “I pay attention to what goes on. I pay attention to all racing, all the different series, who’s winning, who does what. I may not have a lot of on-track experience here, but I know what it takes to win these shows. These Tri-Track Open races are the best races you’ll see all year.”
Masse had tried an approach similar to Hirschman’s. At the halfway mark, Annarummo and Pennink were dicing for the lead well ahead of the pack when Masse began gaining ground in the low lane. By lap 70, he was in third. When he took the lead on a lap 76 restart, Hirschman was 14th. Then the combination of worn tires, Speedi-Dry and time running out started the yellow flag deal. When Hirschman arrived, Masse couldn’t match him on the restarts.Dennis Dumas of Nashua won the Hobby Stock feature at Lee. Tommy Tombarello/Small Block Supers and George Helliwell/NE Classic Lites also came out on top.
The next Tri-Track Modified Open event is Saturday, June 14, at Star Speedway where on Saturday, DJ Shaw of Center Conway won the season-opening PASS Super Late Model 150 in the Precision JLM No. 60. Shaw took the lead with 25 laps remaining survived a lap 138 restart and held off Mike Rowe, Richie Dearborn and Joey Polewarczyk Jr. for his second PASS win of the season. He won the Easter Bunny 150 at Hickory Speedway in North Carolina Easter Sunday.
The PASS Super Late Models will be at White Mountain Motorsports Park — which opens this Saturday night — for the Littleton Chevrolet Buick 150 on May 24.
Bear Ridge completed one DIRTcar Bond Auto Sportsman Modified feature from an earlier rainout, which was won by Jason Grey, and followed with another that went to Tim Hodge of Vershire, Vt.
The Sprint Cars of New England were at Legion’s opener where Chris Donnelly of Piermont and Dan Douville of Bridgewater finished first and second.Hudson Speedway begins its 2014 season Sunday with a race card headlined by the Outlaw division — post time 1 p.m.Keith Carzello of Somers, Conn., won the Sportsman Modified feature at Monadnock besting Todd Patnode. Beth Adams took the Mini Stock checkers in the Waxy O’Connor’s Irish Pub No. 87.
Veteran Modified driver Les Hinckley was unable to make the Bull Ring Bash. He and his wife, Tracy, are tending to their 8-year-old son, Allen, who is recovering from brain surgery. A GoFundMe web page is up (gofundme.com/8fkgaw) and a June 7 fundraiser has been scheduled at Sonny’s Place in Somers, Conn. For more information, contact Kara Rogan at (860) 573-0715 or Steve Hinckley at (860) 982-7347.
Tom Herzig’s column appears weekly in the New Hampshire Union Leader. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.