Claremont, NH (May 26, 2019): In what may be considered uncharacteristic fashion, Matt Hirschman of Northampton, PA took the lead just past halfway of the Ron Bouchard’s Auto Sales 100 for the Tri-Track Open Modified Series (TTOMS) season opener at Claremont Motorsports Park. Under picture-perfect conditions Hirschman bested a full-field that included runner-up Les Hinckley of Windsor Locks, CT, and emerging hot-shoe Ronnie Williams of Ellington, CT.
Heat races and consolation events set the 26-car field for the first leg of the Ron Bouchard’s Auto Stores Challenge Cup. In total 34 cars attempted to qualify for the night’s event. After the redraw, Andy Jankowiak of Tonawanda, NY, and Ron Silk of Norwalk, CT, led the field to green. A bauble on the start for Jankowiak opened the door for defending race champion Mike Willis of Grantham, NH to make it three-wide with Silk and into the lead.
Todd Patnode of Swanzey, NH, handily made his way into third. The top three cars began to distance themselves slightly from fourth running Jankowiak. Matt Swanson of Acton, MA, in Ole Blue, was getting pressure in fifth from Anthon Sesely of Matawah, NJ.
The battle for the lead was heating up at lap 10 between Willis and Silk. Russ Hersey of Swanzey, NH, began to pressure Sesely for fifth. The first caution of the event flew on lap 13 for a two-car incident that involved Geoff Rollins of Groton, MA, and Carl Medeiros of Westport, MA.
On the restart, Willis was once again able to jump out to the lead over Silk. Contact between the lead duo had Willis sideways; both were able to continue. Jankowiak spun amid the tussle to bring out the second caution again on lap 13.
Willis was back in command on the restart with Silk glued to his back bumper. Hersey was up to fourth and Sesely had his hands full with Hirschman and Sammy Rameau of Westminster, MA. Over the next few laps Silk was getting racy for the lead with Willis. Silk was the new leader at lap 20.
With the top ten cars running nose to tail the best battle on the speedway was for eighth between Williams in the Roscoe Racing #25 and Hinckley, who was piloting the SPAFCO #21 for Art & Kenny Barry. At lap 30, a brewing battle for third place between Patnode and Hersey was slowed when Medeiros slowed on the front stretch to bring out the third caution. Under yellow, Sesely gave up fifth position to head to pit road for service.
For the ensuing restart on lap 30, Silk and Willis made up the front row with Patnode, Hersey and Hirschman completing the top-five. Rameau, Williams, Hinckley, Matt Galko of Meriden, CT, and hometown favorite Bucky Demers of Cornish, NH, made up the top-ten.
Hirschman made his way past Hersey to take over fourth position on the restart behind Silk, Willis and Patnode. Hersey continued to backslide slightly; losing a position to Rameau as well. Contenders Woody Pitkat, of Stafford Springs, in the Stan Mertz #6, Kirk Alexander of W. Swanzey, NH, in the Perry Family entry and Tommy Barrett of Millis, MA, aboard the #43, were mired deep in the field.
Under green Silk was able to gain some distance over Willis while Hinckley was providing pressure to Hersey for sixth. As Silk continued to extend his lead, the top five was Willis, Patnode, Hirschman and Rameau.
At halfway, the top-five remained the same with Hinckley, Demers, Hersey, Williams and Joey Jarvis of Ascutney, VT, occupying the top-ten. The complexion of the race would change dramatically with the unfurling of the event’s fourth caution flew on lap 56 for a spin by Hersey.
Under yellow, all cars headed to pit road for service except Willis, Sesely and Jankowiak; the latter two had pitted previously. Hirschman won the battle off pit road to rejoin the field in fourth followed by Rameau, Silk, Hinckley, Williams, Richard Savary of Canton, MA, and Brian Robie of Sunapee, NH.
Willis jump out to the lead with Sesely falling in line in second, Jankowiak lost third position to Matt Hirschman on lap 57. Silk was hooked up in the outside groove in search for the lead once again.
Silk was gaining ground on the outside when the battle erupted with Silk, Rameau and Hinckley. The result found Silk hard into the outside wall on the front stretch to bring out the fifth caution on lap 61. Other cars collected included potential winners Robie, Patnode, Alexander and Jarvis. Robie, Patnode and Jarvis were able to continue. Rameau was penalized to the rear of the field.
Under the caution, the leader Willis ducked onto pit road for service. After leading many laps of the event, he would ultimately not challenge for the win.
On the lap 61 restart Hirschman was able to rocket by Sesely for the lead. He immediately ran out to a multiple car length advantage. Hinckley battled Jankowiak on the outside for third. Williams was making a charge back to the front; moving into the top-five on lap 66. Brad Babb of Windham, ME, was having a great run; just outside of the top-five.
Hinckley moved into second position on lap 69 while a great battle was emerging for third between Sesely, Jankowiak and Williams. Swanson and Hersey were on the move as well.
Hirschman had a half-straightaway advantage over Hinckley with 25 laps to go. Jankowiak and Williams got by Sesely relegating him fifth. Williams immediately went to work on Jankowiak. Babb exited the speedway under green on lap 81 while running sixth.
Hersey had recovered nicely; knocking on the door of the top-five with less than 20 to go and looking for more. Willis lurked outside the top 10 with only 15 laps remaining.
Hinckley could not cut into Hirschman’s lead as the laps wound down. Hersey took fifth from Sesely on lap 89; leaving Sesely to defend against Swanson. With Hirschman handily out front, the best battle on the track continued to be for third between Jankowiak and Williams. Williams took the spot way with five laps remaining.
Hirschman had stretched his lead over the final few laps and cruised to the victory over Hinckley, Williams, Jankowiak and Hersey. Swanson, Sesely, Barrett, Calvin Carroll of Andover, NJ, and Robie completed the top-ten.
During qualifying, heat race victories went to Hirschman, Sesely, Carroll and Swanson. Consolation race winners were Dana Smith, Sunapee, NH and Colbey Fournier of Berkley, MA.
Tri-Track Open Modified Series-Official Finish-Ron Bouchard’s Auto Sales 100-Claremont Motorsports Park, Claremont, NH: 1. Matt Hirschman, Northampton, PA; 2. Les Hinckley, Windsor Locks, CT; 3. Ronnie Williams, Ellington, CT; 4. Andy Jankowiak, Tonowanda, NY; 5. Russ Hersey, Swanzey, NH; 6. Matt Swanson, Acton, MA; 7. Anthony Sesely, Matawah, NJ; 8. Tommy Barrett, Millis, MA; 9. Calvin Carroll, Andover, NJ; 10. Brian Robie, Sunapee, NH; 11. Joey Jarvis, Ascutney, VT; 12. Sammy Rameau, Westminster, MA; 13. Dana Smith, Sunapee, NH; 14. Woody Pitkat, Stafford Springs, CT; 15. Bucky Demers, Cornish, NH; 16. Mike Willis, Grantham, NH; 17. Richard Savary, Canton, MA; 18. Todd Patnode, Swanzey, NH; 19. Colbey Fournier, Berkley, MA; 20. Geoff Rollins, Groton, MA; 21. Brad Babb, Windham, ME; 22. Carl Medeiros, Westport, MA; 23. Ron Silk, Norwalk, CT; 24. Kirk Alexander, W. Swanzey, NH; 25. Mike Holdridge, Madison, CT; 26. Matt Galko, Meriden, CT. DNQ: Scott Adams, Lake Ariel, PA; CJ Bolton, Weare, NH; Josh Cantara, Sanford, ME; Andrew Charron, E. Greenwich, RI; Cameron Sontag, Sterling, MA; Chris Risdale, Rochester, NY; Kurt Vigeant, Oxford, MA. Scratch: Todd Owen, Somers, CT.