By DINO OBERTO
Photo: Walter Smith
(LEHIGHTON, PA 8-1-20) Saturday night at Mahoning Valley Speedway was a fitting honor to the late Doug Hoffman as Matt Hirschman drove the No. 60over, a number carried by Hoffman to countless wins, to victory in the Doug Hoffman Modified 60-lap Tribute, which was race #3 of the Mahoning Valley Speedway Hall of Fame Series (MVSHoFS).
In a way it was fitting also in the fact that like Hoffman, Hirschman began his career locally and then went on the road to gain national acclaim. This was his second straight win in the Series and 20th at Mahoning Valley for Hirschman.
“This whole Hall of Fame Series is nice to recognize these past great drivers and this one probably means the most to me because of having the 60over on the car,” said Hirschman.
“Doug’s ability to win at his home tracks and also on the road at just about anywhere he went – I’d like to think that I’m following that same path he took. He’s one of the all-time great drivers from this area and we carry the same number and tonight to add the “over” on it was extra special.”
A redraw put Josh Scherer and Todd Baer on the front row and at the onset of the 60-lap event Baer jumped to the front while Bobby Jones clutched onto second.
During the early going Baer and Jones had a thrilling battle enduring while Scherer watched closely from third and was fending off sixth starting Hirschman.
On a lap 10 restart Jones was able to get the lead and a fast moving Brain DeFebo advanced to second with Hirschman now third and Austin Kochenash up to fourth ahead of Baer.
Hirschman then went to the inside of DeFebo and after a few double-wide laps he grabbed second and continued on towards Jones.
Try as he may Jones was doing all he could to make his car wide in order to protect his lead but in what is rather emblematic of Hirschman, when he wants the top spot he seizes at will and on lap 20 that was just the case.
Not to take away from the fact that behind the him was a group of heavy hitters in the likes of Jones, DeFebo, Kochenash, Chuck Hossfeld and Eric Beers yet as they fought closely together they could not seem to gather up to Hirschman.
Near the end Kochenash had worked into second and a restart with two laps to go saw the decent lead of Hirschman get wiped away and gave a thought of a shootout to the checkers, however, when the race resumed there was no denying the once again stellar performance of Hirschman who went on the claim the $2500 victory.
“This was a shorter race tonight and it was just go from the start and go as fast as I could,” said Hirschman. “We’ve been working to get a faster race car and I need to say a big thanks to my family, crew and sponsors for all the incredible support.”
Kochenash, Eric Beers, Jones and DeFebo rounded out the top five. It was the second straight time that Kochenash was second to Hirschman and add his fourth in the first Series race, he remains the point leader heading into the Marvin Bartholomew 85-lap Tribute on August 22.
“I tried to go as fast I can to catch Matt (Hirschman) and do whatever it took to win because this race meant a lot to me. Doug (Hoffman) let me start racing here when I was 12-years old and he taught me how to race and would make me start in the back until I was good enough to start passing cars, ” said Kochenash.
“Unfortunately I didn’t really have tires left at the end to go and we just had to settle for second again. I could just never get quite close enough to mount a challenge.”
In the Street Stocks it was Todd Ahner capturing the checkers for his first his second win of the season and first with the MVSHoFS.
Even though the fast pacing Ahner began the 30-lap contest from pole, he was surrounded by a bevy of rivals. Eric Kocher and Mark Martini race side-by-side while relentlessly trying to unseat Ahner yet the highly respected veteran was not giving in.
Lap after lap Ahner was able to run a perfect line that enabled him to uphold his lead in spite of the onslaught coming from the others.
Over the final five laps Martini had secured second and was giving the leader fits but it would be to no avail as the victory was captured by Ahner, marking his 38th with a Street Stock. Rick Reichenbach showed good power and claimed a respectable third with Jon Moser and Kocher rounding out the front five.
Just as Ahner did in the Street Stocks, Jacob Boehm was able to lead every lap in the Hobby Stock main but he too had to fend off nonstop challenges that came from Taylor Schmidt and Jesse Bollinger.
Despite the fact that Boehm was solid and never wavered from the lead, he was only a car length ahead of Schmidt and Bollinger. This was his second victory of 2020 and fifth time winning with the Hobby Stock class. Lyndsay Buss had her best run thus far with a very credible fourth while previous week winner Al Arthofer notched fifth.
In the Rookie Hobby Stock feature Makayla Kohler grabbed the lead on the second try from the start and once in front there was no looking back as she controlled the lead confidently even though Paul French Jr., would make several attempts to pass her.
It was no doing, though, as the she held her ground and won for the first time in a stock car and became the sixth different winner in as many races with the Rookie division.
Modified Feature Finish (60-laps): 1. Matt Hirschman, 2. Austin Kochenash, 3. Eric Beers, 4. Bobby Jones, 5. Brian DeFebo, 6. Chuck Hossfeld, 7. Nick Bear, 8. John Markovic, 9. Earl Paules, 10. Josh Scherer, 11. Mike Stofflet, 12. Terry Markovic, 13. Kyle Strohl, 14. Don Wagner, 15. Sean Verwys, 16. Gene Bowers, 17. Rod Snyder, 18. Todd Bear, 19. Jacob Kerstetter, 20. Lou Strohl, 21. Austin Beers DNQ: Heath Metzger, Jesse Strohl, Louie Horvath, BJ Wambold
Street Stock Feature Finish (30-laps): 1. Todd Ahner, 2. Mark Martini, 3. Rick Reichenbach, 4. Jon Moser, 5. Eric Kocher, 6. Mark Deysher, 7. Randy Ahner Jr., 8. John Bennett, 9. Greg Long, 10. Bobby Kibler Jr., 11. Jamie Smith, 12. Rich Moser, 13. Brandon Christman, 14. Dennis Buss, 15. TJ Gursky, 16. Todd Geist, 17. Tucker Muffley, 18. Beau Drobot DNS: Thomas Flanagan DNQ: Bobby Kibler Sr., Kadie Pursell, Steve Tito, Josh Mooney DQ: Shayne Geist, Randy Schlenker
Hobby Stock Feature Finish (25-laps): 1. Jacob Boehm, 2. Taylor Schmidt, 3. Jesse Bollinger, 4. Lyndsay Buss, 5. Al Arthofer, 6. Justin Markel, 7. Devin Schmidt, 8. Cody Geist, 9. Rich Mutarelli, 10. Trish Connolly, 11. Nick Schaffer, 12. Corey Edelman, 13. Jacob Oswald, 14. Ryan Berger, 15. Cody Edelman, 16. John Petro, 17. Tad Snyder, 18. Makayla Koehler, 19. Kevin Behler, 20. James Tout, 21. Hunter Iatalese DNQ: Kyle Troch, Travis Solomon, Terry Peters, Chase Hoffman, Mallory Kutz, Brandon Covert, Tyler Nemeth, Nicholas Kerstetter, James Yons
Rookie Hobby Stock Feature Finish (12-laps): 1. Makayla Kohler, 2. Paul French Jr., 3. Brody George, 4. Jaden Brown, 5. Brandon Eustice, 6. Corey Gulich, 7. Jess Ripkey, 8. Zoe Kuchera, 9. Hallie Muffley, 10. Mia Guy, 11. Maggie Yeakel DNS: Josh Dise