Category Archives: Weekly Paved Track Racing

Late race pass nets Matt Hirschman $5000 Mahoning Valley Octoberfast win over impressive upstart Austin Beer

By DINO OBERTO

Noah Watts Photo

(LEHIGHTON 10-13-18) To fans of eastern Pennsylvania short track asphalt racing the names of Hirschman and Beers are synonymous when it comes to the ranks of Modified competition. For years the two iconic racing families, who both hail from Mud Lane in Northampton, have shared countless headlines, many of those coming in one-two finishes between Mahoning Valley, Dorney Park and Evergreen Speedway’s.

Tony Hirschman had gone up against numerous cars owned by the late Dale Beers. Eric Beers and Matt Hirschman took the battle to new heights over the past two decades and on Saturday night at Mahoning Valley during the annual Octoberfast the torch was passed on the next generation as 15-year old Austin Beers showed that he is ready to carry on the duel.

In the 150-lap contest M. Hirschman made his racing winning move with four laps to go over A. Beers and claimed the $5000 first place prize. It would be Hirschman’s sixth consecutive victory, 14th of 2018 and 16th at Mahoning, three of them coming in the Octoberfast.

But make no mistake all eyes were on the younger Beers who clearly was in route to a monumental victory had it not been for the late caution that dramatically changed the outcome.

While most everyone pitted at some point Beers was one of only three others, (Josh Scherer/DJ Wagner), who stayed out the entire race gambling with the same set of tires and it almost paid off. However, when Joey Jarowicz spun four laps from the end Hirschman would use that restart to make his race winning pass with an inside pass off turn two.

“That last caution won me the race otherwise Austin Beers was going to win this thing. It was an incredible run that he had. When he was leading and I was second and the race was going on I knew I was settling for runner-up – I wasn’t going to pass him,” bottom-lined Hirschman.

“I kept thinking back to my first big win I had at Evergreen (Raceway) at the King of the Green and his dad finished second to me. It was at that moment I thought that how awesome this is and how this kid is going to win this big race just like myself and his dad did in 2001.”

Hirschman has been a dominant force everywhere he has run this year and when he brought that winning momentum to Mahoning Valley, his first time at the track in two seasons, the thought was on everyone’s mind as to would his streak go on or could one of the always tough-to-beat Mahoning regulars put it to a halt.

For quite some time it seemed as though that would be the case. Pole sitter Austin Kochenash led the early going with Lou Strohl keeping in a close second. Hirschman, who started fifth, joined the front pair by lap eight and thus began a torrid three car battle.

After 20 laps Hirschman barely shook off Strohl for second and would then latch on to the back end of Kochenash while Gene Bowers moved to third.

Still under tight conditions, Hirschman attempted an inside move for the lead on lap 30 but fell short and made contact with the leader, sending him spinning and several other scattering. He had felt the move was merited at that time as Bowers was looking to get by from the outside. In hindsight, though, he comprehended that it may have been too soon for the endeavor.

“I didn’t need to but there was a car that came up alongside me on the outside and it looked like he was going to go by us both. The 66 (Kochenash) was holding me up some and I thought ‘Well it might be time to get ahead of him with other faster cars breathing down my neck,” said Hirschman.

“I made an inside move down the front straight and I thought I was in but we don’t race with radios here and that’s kind of how it goes. It was probably not the right move at that time and what the end result was but had I just passed him I might have stayed out the whole race like Austin (Beers) did.”

Afterwards Kochenash and Hirschman both pitted while Bowers took control of the race. Scherer and Beers would swap back and forth for second. Kyle Strohl entered into the fray with 50 laps complete.

Bowers, who lost in this same race last year by a whisker to Bobby Jones, was looking for redemption and had it going nicely despite that Beers and Strohl where fixated on his rear tail.

After numerous two-wide laps with Beers second place fell to Strohl and he began an all-out run at the Bowers, successfully taking over the front spot on lap 94. On the same tour Beers followed and was runner-up. 10 laps later a caution would wave and on that re-go Beers would overtake Strohl for the lead.

Through a series of pit stops and hard charging Kochenash had worked his way back to third with 50 laps to go. Likewise Hirschman had motored back into the front five by lap 118.

At the helm Beers was showing that he was going to make it tough for anyone to try and pass him. He was very confident in his car’s handling and even disregarded a pre-race team strategy to pit around lap 100.

With the laps wearing on Beers was looking closer to becoming an upset winner as Strohl and Kochenash could only watch from second and third. Then on lap 132 the action slowed the action for a minor incident and again three laps later for a spinning car.

By then Kochenash had advanced to second and Hirschman made some fancy moves to take third. The pair would then engage a in a dogfight for second and few laps back under green and Hirschman was there.

Heading into the waning circuits it was looking more and more as though Beers was on his way to victory until that ill-fated caution waved four laps from the end.

“I was definably going to be satisfied with second, no complaints. My experience probably paid off and all I can say is what a future that kid has. Things didn’t quite work out the way I had anticipated early but you never give up,” said Hirschman.

“It’s always exciting to be here at Mahoning and it’s never over until the last lap and its fun. I’ll be back that’s for sure.”

Strohl was very fast at the end and settled for third with an impressive Scherer taking fourth over Kochenash who rounded out the top five.

“My dad wanted me to come in at lap 100 but I was second then and just decided to stay out. The car was great tonight. To be leading one of these event was very humbling against such a stout field,” noted Beers afterwards.

“I just ran my own race and if I got beat then so be it. Finishing second to a gut like Matt Hirschman – we’ll take that.”

There were 22 cars on hand with Hirschman, Beers and Kevin rex Jr., annexing heat wins.

Modified Feature Finish (150 Laps): 1. Matt Hirschman, 2. Austin Beers, 3. Kyle Strohl. 4. Josh Scherer, 5. Austin Kochenash, 6. Lou Strohl, 7. Gene Bowers, 8. DJ Wagner, 9. Ron Haring Jr., 10. John Markovic, 11. Todd Baer, 12. Don Wagner, 13. Joey Jarowicz, 14. Terry Markovic, 15. Kristy Arthofer, 16. Cody Geist, 17. Jesse

Justin Bonsignore Completes Thompson Sweep & Celebrates Championship

Caps 2018 NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Title Run With Eighth Victory

THOMPSON, Conn. — Justin Bonsignore couldn’t have dreamt of a better way to end his championship season on the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour.

Bonsignore captured his eighth win of the season in the Sunoco World Series 150 at Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park, ending his title run by celebrating both a race win and a dominating championship.

The win allowed the Holtsville, New York, driver to become the fourth driver in the modern era of the Whelen Modified Tour to sweep all of the events at Thompson in the same season. Steve Park (1996), Mike Stefanik (1998) and Doug Coby (2015) are the other three to accomplish the feat.

“It’s been unreal, ever since we unloaded at Myrtle Beach, we have had a great race car at every single race track,” Bonsignore said. “To come here and to sweep the season, there are only a few select people who have done that, and it means a lot to me. It’s important.”

RACING-REFERENCE: Sunoco World Series 150 Results

Bonsignore started third, but ran just outside the top five for the first half of the race. During a caution on lap 81, he rolled the No. 51 Phoenix Communications Chevrolet to pit road and changed tires. Quick work by his team allowed him to exit the leader of the race, and he never relinquished the top spot.

“We didn’t have the best car, but the pit crew did a great job and got us out there in the end. The car was really good on the second set of tires,” Bonsignore said. “It was the same thing we did all year at Thompson. We were going to race hard because we didn’t have anything to lose today.”

RACING-REFERENCE: Justin Bonsignore’s 2018 Season

He defeated Chase Dowling by 97 points in the final championship standings, with an average finish of 3.4 and top-10 finishes in all but one event.

Jon McKennedy used a late stop for tires, and passed Ron Silk in the final turn, capping his season with a second. Silk was third, followed by Ryan Preece, who led a race-high 83 laps. Burt Myers rounded out the top five.

Doug Coby was sixth, followed by Matt Swanson, Bobby Santos III, Chris Pasteryak and Eric Goodale.

The Sunoco World Series 150 will air on NBCSN on Thursday, October 18, 7 p.m.

Bonsignore and his Kenneth Massa Motorsports team will be honored with the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour top finishers arnd special award winners at the NASCAR Awards Charlotte on Friday, Dec. 7.

NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour-Sunoco World Series 150 Results

Sunday

At Thompson International Speedway

Thompson, Conn.

Lap length: 0.625 miles

(Start position in parentheses)

  1. (3) Justin Bonsignore, Holtsville, N.Y., Chevrolet, 150 laps, 85.638 mph.
  2. (5) Jon McKennedy, Chelmsford, Mass., Chevrolet, 150.
  3. (9) Ron Silk, Norwalk, CT, Chevrolet, 150.
  4. (2) Ryan Preece, Berlin, Conn., Chevrolet, 150.
  5. (7) Burt Myers, Walnut Cove, N.C., Chevrolet, 150.
  6. (4) Doug Coby, Milford, Conn., Chevrolet, 150.
  7. (15) Matt Swanson, Acton, Mass., Chevrolet, 150.
  8. (10) Bobby Santos, III, Franklin, Mass., Chevrolet, 150.
  9. (19) Chris Pasteryak, Lisbon, Conn., Chevrolet, 150.
  10. (18) Eric Goodale, Riverhead, N.Y., Chevrolet, 150.
  11. (17) Anthony Nocella, Woburn, Mass., Chevrolet, 150.
  12. (8) Craig Lutz, Miller Place, N.Y., Chevrolet, 150.
  13. (13) Woody Pitkat, Stafford, Conn., Chevrolet, 150.
  14. (1) Ronnie Williams, Ellington, Conn., Chevrolet, 149.
  15. (14) Kyle Bonsignore, Bay Shore, N.Y., Chevrolet, 149.
  16. (23) Blake Barney, Lakewood, N.J., Chevrolet, 149.
  17. (25) Sam Rameau, Westminster, Mass., Chevrolet, 149.
  18. (12) Rob Summers, Manchester, CT, Chevrolet, 149.
  19. (22) Tommy Catalano, Ontario, N.Y., Chevrolet, 148.
  20. (21) Shawn Solomito, Islip, N.Y., Chevrolet, 148.
  21. (26) Gary Putnam, Vernon, Conn., Chevrolet, 148.
  22. (24) Ken Heagy, Calverton, N.Y., Ford, 148.
  23. (16) Calvin Carroll, Newton, N.J., Chevrolet, 147.
  24. (29) Wade Cole, Hartland, Conn., Chevrolet, 147.
  25. (27) Walter Sutcliffe Jr., East Haven, Conn., Chevrolet, 143.
  26. (11) Dave Sapienza, Riverhead, N.Y., Chevrolet, 132, accident.
  27. (20) Andrew Krause, Holmdel, N.J., Toyota, 131, ignition.
  28. (31) Timmy Solomito, Islip, N.Y., Ford, 93, suspension.
  29. (33) Cory Osland, East Hampton, N.Y., Chevrolet, 88, mechanical.
  30. (6) Chase Dowling, Roxbury, Conn., Chevrolet, 82, ignition.
  31. (32) Melissa Fifield, Wakefield, N.H., Chevrolet, 72, handling.
  32. (30) Dave Salzarulo, Monson, Mass., Chevrolet, 33, engine.
  33. (28) Gary McDonald, Ronkonkoma, N.Y., Chevrolet, 0, accident.

 

Race Statistics

Time of Race: 1 hour 5 minutes 41 seconds

Margin of Victory: 0.448 seconds

Fastest Qualifier: R.Williams (120.553 mph, 18.664 seconds)

Caution Flags: 6 for 28 laps.

Lead Changes: 1 among 2 drivers.

Lap Leaders: R. Preece 1-83; J. Bonsignore 84-150.

Standings: 1. J. Bonsignore, 693; 2. C. Dowling, 596; 3. D. Coby, 575; 4. T. Solomito, 545; 5. C. Lutz, 541; 6. R. Summers, 515; 7. E. Goodale, 495; 8. D. Sapienza, 477; 9. R. Williams, 461; 10. C. Pasteryak, 431.

Payea Captures ACT Championship in Wild Day Two of World Series Weekend : UNOFFICIAL RESULTS

Despite Mother Nature raining on the party early, Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park successfully held day number two of the 56th Annual Sunoco World Series of Speedway Racing on Saturday, Oct. 13. Seven features made up the afternoon with several drivers clinching championships in touring series holding their season finales at the Big-T.

The highlight event of the night was the American-Canadian Tour Late Models who took to the track for the World Series 75, the longest race of the night. Last year’s race winner Eddie MacDonald hoped to continue his success after winning the Granite State Pro Stocks feature on Friday night at Thompson. MacDonald entered the final race of the season 26 pts behind Scott Payea for the championship lead. Payea was seeking his second consecutive title with a perfect record of top tens in 2018 having to finish third or better to secure the championship regardless of what his competition did.

MacDonald and Payea proved to be inseparable throughout the race both staying within three positions of each other on the back end of the top ten while Rich Dubeau took a significant lead on the field up front. The race proved to be a marathon of green-flag laps until lap 67 when a series of consecutive cautions and restarts changed the complexion of the race.

Payea’s smooth day quickly fell apart as he was involved in two different incidents allowing Eddie MacDonald to make up ground and move into the top five. Meanwhile Tom Carey, III and Richard Dubeau traded the lead numerous times on consecutive restarts before another caution on lap 71 saw both drivers spin out seemingly putting Eddie MacDonald in the lead. However, MacDonald was penalized and sent to the back of the field as he was deemed partially responsible for causing the wreck by failing to lift, spinning Dubeau as a result.

With MacDonald going to the rear all Scott Payea had to do was finish as he secured his second consecutive title after a seemingly simple feature turned into one of the most intense battles of the entire weekend. “It was just amazing with this team behind me. The tour is so tough, and it was a wild night. We won it, we lost it and we won it again. I’m just so happy to get this done for the whole team. It’s just amazing,” Payea said in victory lane.

As for the race win it was young Jake Johnson who took advantage of the chaos and charged to his first ever victory at Thompson in his first race at the track in a late model. “We had a really good car and I really didn’t think we would have this type of night. We were eighth or so and then things started going our way. Everyone started getting aggressive and wrecking each other. Once I was in fourth it was hammer time and we were going for it,” Johnson said.

The Valenti Modified Series was just as action packed, closing out the season with a 50-lap feature and a tight points race with Woody Pitkat and Michael Willis, Jr. separate by only 15 points. Pitkat earned his only win of the season on Oct. 7 at Lee USA Speedway and was riding momentum into the final event but luck was not on his side as an engine failure earlier in the weekend and a broken rear end in the opening laps forced Pitkat to pit seemingly ending his championship hopes. However, Michael Willis, Jr. also suffered through an unfortunate evening sustaining damage in a caution halfway thought the race, one of two incidents at halfway that brought out red flags. Willis went on to finish 22nd but it wasn’t enough to overcome Pitkat’s lead giving Pitkat his second title in the Valenti Modifieds despite an early retirement from the event.

“It was a long weekend obviously. Not the way I wanted to finish it off. I can’t thank these guys enough. There’s so many people to thank it’s unbelievable,” Pitkat said after the race. Pitkat won the title driving for different owners throughout the season in order to earn the championship and with the struggles World Series weekend brought he said he felt blessed to have a support team to help him pull it off. “It’s just nice that the hard work we did over the weekend came out because I probably slept about four hours. It’s really unbelievable to have to piece together rides here at the end of the year to cap this off. That’s just my never give up attitude. When you think you’re down you just keep digging.”

Meanwhile in the front of the field the early battle was between Keith Rocco and Chase Dowling with Rocco having the advantage in the opening laps. By lap 16 Dowling had hunted down Rocco and made the pass for the lead where he remained until a restart with six laps to go allowed Owen to get a jump, pushing past Dowling before the final caution waved on lap 45. Owen held the lead off the last restart winning a wild and eventful Velenti Modified feature. Owen said restarts were key to his success at the end of the night.

“When you’re second you need cautions because that’s probably the only point right there where I could have passed (Chase Dowling),” Owen said. “He was probably better on the long run. I knew if we had a restart I could have a good chance at him and that one right there I was able to drive right by.”

The NEMA Midgets started off the evening with their annual Shane Hammond Memorial 25-lap feature, the penultimate race of their season, with Randy Cabral firmly in charge of the points looking for his second consecutive title and seventh overall in eleven years. Cabral, always a threat at the World Series with eight previous wins in Thompson’s annual season-ending weekend, came into the race a model of consistency with three wins and six other podium finishes in eleven races this season.

The race pitted Cabral against John Zych, Jr. by the end of the race setting up a battle between two drivers who are no stranger to victory lane on World Series weekend. In the end is was John Zych, Jr. who took the checkered flag while Cabral all but wrapped up the title with one race left in the season.

After the race John Zych, Jr. celebrated a win at one of his favorite tracks on the circuit. “I love coming here. I love this track and the atmosphere here. For pavement racing this is it,” Zych said. “The car was really good through one and two. I was almost able to flatfoot it around. I knew the car was really good and for someone to pass me they would have had to be really good.” The NEMA drivers will close out their season with one final feature at the Waterford Speedbowl next weekend.

The Exit Realty Truck Challenge crowned a familiar name as champion after a 25-lap feature. Allen Coates won both the title and the feature event, but he had to battle and defeat his son Corey Coates to do it. “I saw (Corey) in the mirror and I was like, ‘oh no, here we go’. I knew I couldn’t miss my corners with Corey there. I told him from the beginning to take advantage of what he gains. I saw him a couple times pretty heavy in the mirror,” Allen Coates said after the race. The legendary racer was joined by his son in victory lane who went on to finish second.

The Pro 4 Modifieds produced a pair of winners during the annual Harry Kourafas Memorial Race Brett Meservey took the overall win while P.J. Peters picked up the win in the limited category. In the North East Mini Stock Tour 20-lap season finale Desmond Skilling scored the feature win, his first career victory on the tour, while Cody LeBlanc overcame and eight-point deficit to Emerson Cayer to win the tour title. Finally, the Street Stock Showdown closed out the night with a 20-lap feature that event was was called after 11 laps just before the midnight hour. Wayne Corey, Sr. was awarded the win while Alby Ovitt was presented with the championship trophy.

Thompson’s 56th Annual World Series of Speedway Racing will come to a close with its biggest day of racing on Sunday, Oct. 14 where several track champions will be crowned in the Mini Stock, Sunoco Modified, and Limited Sportman track divisions. The afternoon will also include the NEMA Lites and ISMA Supermodifieds before the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour closes out its season to end the weekend. Justin Bonsignore comes into Thompson with the Whelen Tour title already secured, but the driver is looking for the Thompson Grand Slam having won all three prior events at the track in 2018. Ronnie Williams will start the race from the pole.

ACT TOUR FEATURE TOP-10: 1. Jake Johnson (Rehoboth, MA); 2. William Wall (Millbury, MA); 3. Nick Sweet (Barre, VT); 4. Jean-Francois Dery (Quebec, QC); 5. Woody Pitkat (Bellingham, MA); 6. Ryan Morgan (Gales Ferry, CT); 7. Ryan Kuhn (East Bridgewater, MA); 8. Scott Payea (Colchester, VT); 9. Mark Jenison (Warwick, RI); 10. Jimmy Hebert (Williamstown, VT)

VALENTI MODIFIED RACING SERIES FEATURE TOP-10: 1. Todd Owen (Somers, CT); 2. Chase Dowling (Roxbury, CT); 3. Matt Swanson (Acton, MA); 4. Anthony Kocella (Woburn, MA); 5. Anthony Flannery (East Hampton, CT); 6. Rob Richardi (Taunton, MA); 7. Bryan Narducci (Colchester, CT); 8. Dave Etheridge (Portland, CT); 9. Andy Shaw (Center Conway, NH); 10. Dave Shneider (Huntington, NY)

NEMA SHANE HAMMOND MEMORIAL FEATURE TOP-10: 1. John Zych, Jr. (Mendon, MA); 2. Randy Cabral (Kingston, MA); 3. Ben Seitz (Bourne, MA); 4. Jim Chambers (Atkinson, NH); 5. Avery Stohr (Lakeville, MA); 6. Todd Bertrand (Danielson, CT); 7. Alby Ovit (Somersworth, NH); 8. Paul Scally (Raynham, MA); 9. Mike Horn (Ashland, MA); 10. Bethney Stoehr (Bridgewater, MA)

PRO 4 MODIFIEDS HARRY KOURAFAS MEMORIAL RACE FINISH: 1. Brett Meservey (Bewster, MA); 2. Rob Richardi (Taunton, MA); 3. Randy Cabral (Kingston, MA); 4. P.J. Peters (Oxford, CT); 5. #75; 6. Julian Gorman (Bethel, CT); 7. Mark Charette (Wolcott, CT); 8. Bill Lucchessi (Putlake, NY); 9. Dion Doyle (Preston, CT); 10. Ben Ashford (Northfield, CT); 11. #87

EXIT REALTY PRO TRUCK SERIES: 1. Allen Coates; 2. Corey Coates; 3. Josh Stringer; 4. Duane Noil; 5. Jacob Perry; 6. Andy Lindamin; 7. Joshua Hedges; 8. Lucas Leone; 9. Dave Koening; 10. Rick Ashlaw

NORTH EAST MINI STOCK TOUR FEATURE TOP-10: 1. Desmond Skillings (Antrim, NH); 2. Cody LeBlanc (Waterville ME); 3. Jacob Rheaume (Rochester, NH); 4. Rich Fournier (Warwick, MA); 5. Matt Boucher (Andover, NH); 6. Cris King (Derry, NH); 7. Mike Viens (Seekonk, MA); 8. Andrew Farnham; 9. Marc Paneroni; 10. Justin Faford (Westminster, MA)

Photo Michael Jaworecki Myracenews