Streaking – Hirschman Wins Sixth Consecutive Feature at Holland International Speedway; Emerling, Kochenash, Wylie Finish in Top Five – PTD Exclusive
By MIKE MALLETT
Lake Erie Speedway, Jennerstown Speedway, Evergreen Raceway, Seekonk Speedway, Oswego Speedway and now Holland International Speedway. That’s a list of the tracks that Matt Hirschman has won consecutive features at after winning Saturday night’s Thunder in the Hills 100 at Holland giving him six in a row.
“Best I’ve ever had now by far,” stated Hirschman of his winning streak from the frontstretch of Holland on Saturday night. “We are going to try to keep it going. At the same time, there was a race last night, but we are not trying to race myself and my guys out. We got another big race next week, a Tri-Track (Open Modified Series) race. I’d love to race every night of the week if I could. It just takes so much time and effort to put into this. We came into this 100 percent. Last night the car was ready, I was able to relax and come in here today 100 percent ready. I was able to be prepared for tonight.”
Hirschman waited to make his move until late in the race. He moved into second with 25 laps remaining in the race. He got an outstanding restart to move around Patrick Emerling and Chuck Hossfeld into second. Restarting on the outside was key as he was able to dispatch of Emerling who had been good all race long.
“I think if you ask him (Emerling) he is going to tell you it was,” stated Hirschman about the restart. “I had a good restart earlier where I did work the bottom and get ahead of him and a few others. Then he had restart where he was able to get back by me. The last one, I got back by him. I said this at Oswego, as much as we are on our game, I’m on my A game it still takes breaks like that. Like I said, reverse the rolls on that last restart and he’s here and I might be second.”
After passing Emerling and driving by Hossfeld, Hirschman put his attention on Austin Kochenash. He had led from the drop of the green. Hirschman got to his back bumper with 20 laps to go before making his move by on lap 88. He used a nifty cross over move to take the top spot.
“It’s a race track where you can run the top and bottom,” cited Hirschman. “I compare it to sometimes what you see at a dirt track where you have guys running high and guys running low. That up, down, crossing over and that stuff. That is the kind of the race track this is and the kind of racing it produces. It’s one of my top favorite race tracks. No doubt about it. I love coming here. It’s just so much fun running these cars here. I had to work hard for that two (Kochenash), it wasn’t an easy move. I had to work him for a while. Finally I was able to make the pass.”
Saturday Hirschman obviously got some luck with the restart, but he knows sometimes you need that in racing. With six in a row in his pocket, he’ll be looking for more in the weeks ahead. He’s just going to ride the wave and let things play out.
“In all reality, I’m not trying to down play the win or our winning streak,” said Hischman. “As much of it is the way things fall, timing, all that stuff. In your whole career you might walk into a win or two here or there, but you aren’t going to walk into six straight. A lot of hard work, mental preparation and we’ve been on our A game. The guys are doing a good job. It’s not going to last forever. Next week is a big one. I’d like to keep it going if we can.”
Restart Everything for Emerling
As Hirschman said, sometimes things play out in our favor and sometimes they don’t. Unfortunately on Saturday night, Emerling was on the wrong side of the luck. He moved up into third after utilizing a strong restart in the outside lane to get by Hirschman. He was about to get second from Hossfeld when the caution came out negating the pass. He thinks that was the difference maker.
“That was it,” he said of the restart. “We had it made on that restart beforehand, we had it made. We were in really good shape. We were going to get out there and that other caution, that did us in there. All-in-all it was a great weekend for us. Matt, he is tough to beat. He runs good everywhere. That restart got us. We were in good shape and had a good car. We played our strategy, took it easy and we were there at the end. That last caution killed us.”
It was an impressive weekend for Emerling as he scored two podium finishes that saw him increase his Race of Champions point lead. His second came on the heels of a his second win of the season at Spencer Speedway on Friday.
‘I can’t complain,” said Emerling. “We were in contention. We won last night and second tonight. It’s a good weekend for us. Tonight is good point night. I’m proud of the team, proud of the crew and everyone that helps out.”
Kochenash Comes Close
Austin Kochenash admitted that the start of the 2017 has been a struggle. Saturday he finally got some positive results for his team as he led a race high amount of laps before losing ground to Hirschman and Emerling in the final stages. He held off several challenges from Chuck Hossfeld during the first half of race. Rather than give in to Hossfeld, he did what he could to stay in front which may have been his downfall.
“We’ve really been struggling this year,” mentioned the soft spoken 21-year-old. “It’s our worst start to a year ever. We got behind because the last year we ran the RoC they were on American Racers and then we took a year or two off running one or two races. Now, coming back, with these tires we are struggling a lot. Smaller tracks are where we seem to run better yet. With Chuck behind me I didn’t want to let him go and pass him later. I just wanted to have the lead, control the race and run my pace, but it was a little bit too much too early. It is what it is.”
Wylie Walks Back to the Front
Scott Wylie passed a lot of cars on Saturday in the 100-lap feature. Wylie started near the front but got boxed in early causing him to fall through the field. He then was involved in a crash that damaged the front of his No. 22jr. He worked his way back up through for a hard fought fourth.
“We knew the car was really good in practice,” stated Wylie. “This is one of our home tracks. I grew up here, my dad has been successful, and we’ve been successful in a lot of other classes. The car felt good from the start of the day. When that wreck happened, it knocked the bead off the tire. The toe was fine so we were able to go back out and come back up through the field. We needed a few more cautions to get a few more spots. I’m really happy. This is a new team we put together this year. We’ve only run four races together. We’ve had some mechanical issues, but we’ve been fast. Things stayed together today. I think we showed with the results that we can run up front.”
Wylie admitted the new team is continuing to work out the bugs, but they have a lot of great people in place which should continue to help the team get solid results.
“It’s been a pretty smooth transition,” said the 33-year-old driver from Hamburg, N.Y. “We’ve had some mechanical issues that were unfortunate. The car has been rented out the last few years and not been maintained by any one team. We’ve run into those problems. We’ve teamed up with Billy Putney, who’s been a very successful driver with the RoC Modifieds for a long time. Their team has been in it for 30 years at least. So that has helped. I’ve had experience setting up these cars before with other people. We were successful here with George Skora a couple years ago. It was nice to have those notes to go off too. So between all of us, the Putney’s brought their whole team back and Frank Booker giving me the ride, it’s going pretty well.”
A season high 24 cars were attendance with Hossfeld tuning the fastest lap in time trials at 13.092. Hossfeld, Emerling and Daryl Lewis Jr. won the qualifying heats…
George Skora watched his hopes of a good day go by the wayside early in the feature. Skora’s No. 65 needed the double-hook to be removed from the track after slamming the outside wall in turn three. He marched across the infield to let Randall Richard know of his displeasure…
It was announced after racing action was completed that the historic facility is up for sale.