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Unexpected but Talented Drivers Rise to the Top

Tom Morris/Myracenews photos

Oxford, ME (August 24, 2019): The Tri-Track Open Modified Series (TTOMS) made their debut at Oxford Plains Speedway (OPS) on Saturday night as part of the Oxford 250 weekend.  And, while Matt Hirschman of Northampton, PA, had never raced at the Oxford, ME, oval his ‘inexperience’ at the track proved to be inconsequential for the experienced veteran who dominated the race to take down the victory.

Ronnie Williams of Ellington, CT chased Hirschman to the checkers and Andy Jankowiak of Tonawanda, NY, put on quite a show to complete the podium. Andy Shaw of Center Conway, NH, a multi-time winner at OPS in both Late Models and PASS Modifieds, was fourth followed by Brian Robie of Sunapee, NH.

Hirschman officially led all the laps of competition. The race; however, was not without some tense moments for the eventual winner.

By virtue of his heat race victory and a good pull during the redraw, Hirschman started the 100- lap event from the pole. He jumped out to the lead from the drop of the green with Anthony Nocella of Berlin, MA, taking chase. Woody Pitkat of Bellingham, MA, and Brad Babb of Windham, ME, were looking racy in the early going; running inside the top-five.  

Johnny Kievman, of Deerfield Beach, FL, who had started fifth, was falling back through the field. In the early going, contenders like Matt Swanson were struggling to make headway. Up front, Nocella began to falter losing positions to Pitkat and Babb.  Babb immediately went in search of second. Williams had moved up a few positions and into fifth. Ron Silk of Norwalk, CT, too, was making slow progress. Gaining two positions to move into seventh. 

By lap 20, Babb got by Pitkat to take over the runner-up spot. A bit deeper in the pack, Shaw was keeping pace with Silk as the two worked their way toward the front.  Leader Hirschman could not get any breathing room over Babb during the green flag run. Pitkat and Nocella ran nose-to-tail as Williams took chase in fifth.

At lap 30, the battle was heating up between Pitkat, Nocella, and Williams while Shaw continued to shadow Silk. Nocella was able to take the spot away from Pitkat on lap 37. Just outside of the top-five, Robie, Jankowiak, Matt Galko of Meriden, CT, Les Hinckley of Windsor Locks, CT and Russ Hersey of Swanzey, NH, were locked in a battle of their own.

By lap 40, Williams had also gotten by Pitkat. A few laps later Pitkat lost ground to Shaw and Silk; falling further down in the running order. Up front it was all Hirschman and Babb. Just shy of halfway, Nocella showed a surge. Passing Babb for second on lap 49 and bringing others along for the ride.

At the halfway marker Hirschman now led Nocella, Williams, Shaw, and Babb inside the top-five. Silk, Pitkat, Robie, Jankowiak and Hinckley comprised the top-ten at the crossed flags.   

Williams begin to look low on Nocella for second with Shaw right in his tire tracks. He made the pass stick on lap 55. Shaw followed suit. Williams immediately caught Hirschman. Robie began to pressure Silk for sixth. This allowed Jankowiak, Hersey and Hinckley to join the fray.

Up front, Hirschman had a mirror full of Williams who, in turn, had to contend with Andy Shaw. The lead pack was in heavy lapped traffic before the first caution flew on lap 71 for a single car spin by Calvin Carroll of Andover, NJ. Tommy Barrett of Millis, MA, was put to the rear of the field for his involvement in the incident.

Under the caution everyone headed to pit road except for four cars – of which Jankowiak and Hersey where only on the lead lap. After quick service from his crew, Hirschman came off pit road first followed by Nocella, Williams, Swanson, Silk, Richard Savary of Canton, MA, Robie, Babb, Hinckley and others. Shaw lost the most ground on pit road and was relegated to restarting outside of the top ten. 

The ensuing restart found Jankowiak and Hersey on the front row. What could have been a race-winning strategy was for naught; especially for Hersey. Contact between the lead duo sent both cars sliding and the second caution flag flying.  With contact, Hirschman got hooked together with Jankowiak. Showing veteran prowess, the duo continued driving and eventually became dislodged. When the dust settled Galko, Nocella and Savary were also collected. Under caution, Hersey, Jankowiak, Galko, Nocella and Savary headed to pit road. All but Savary were able to continue.

Without a lap complete, it was once again Hirschman and Williams at the head of the field for the ensuing restart. Swanson and Silk made up row two. Back under green, there was three-wide action deeper in the pack with Carl Medeiros, Jr., of Westport, MA, Pitkat and Hinckley vying for position. Medeiros got the short end of the exchange; falling back several positions. A spin by Babb on lap 75 brought out the third caution.

When racing resumed it was Hirschman once again showing the way with Williams taking chase. Swanson ran a distance back in third with Shaw and Robie in tow. Silk was experiencing some woes having faltered and falling back toward the rear of the field. He would soon retire from the event.  

The front duo had worked their way out to a half-straightaway advantage, but Hirschman had no real pressure from Williams. The best battle on the field was for fourth between Shaw and Jankowiak. Robie and Nocella were locked in a heated battle as well.

Jankowiak got by Shaw on lap 88 and immediately hunted down Swanson. The complexion of the race changed for several drivers on lap 90. Jankowiak was looking to get by Swanson for the third when the two made contact. Jankowiak went spinning also collecting Swanson and Nocella. The caution was the fourth and final of the event

The new running order inside the top -five with 10 to go was Hirschman, Williams, Shaw, Robie, and Pitkat. The likes of Carroll, Joey Jarvis of Ascutney, VT, and Jacob Dore of Sanford, ME, were setting up to have strong nights restarting inside the top-ten with the dash to the checkers.

On the ensuing restart Hirschman began to check out on the field. Williams ran a distant second. Shaw and Pitkat were duking it out for third. Robie headed a battle for fifth that included none-other than a recovered and fast Jankowiak, Hinckley and Babb. Jankowiak took over the position and was looking for more. He got by Robie, took a position from Pitkat.  Not done yet, the hard-charger took third position from Shaw with only a couple of laps left.

With Hirschman handily taking the win over Williams. Jankowiak had a stout run to come home third. Coming to the checkers, contact found Pitkat spinning with Shaw running to a fourth-place finish over Robie. Hinckley, Babb and Carroll wound up in sixth through eighth. Pitkat, who took the checkered backward, was credited with ninth. Kirk Alexander of W. Swanzey, NH, completed the top-ten.

Heat race victories went to Nocella, Hirschman, Swanson and Robie.  The consolation event was won by Alexander. The feature event was paced by two different era Modifieds owned by the late, great Bob Judkins, after the Series’ paid tribute to the Hall of Fame driver.

Tri-Track Open Modified -Oxford 100 Official Finish – August 24, 2019 – Oxford Plains Speedway – Oxford, ME: 1. Matt Hirschman, Northampton, PA; 2. Ronnie Williams, Ellington, CT; 3. Andy Jankowiak, Tonawanda, NY; 4. Andy Shaw, Center Conway, NH; 5. Brian Robie, Sunapee, NH; 6. Les Hinckley, Windsor Locks, CT; 7. Brad Babb, Windham, ME; 8. Calvin Carroll, Andover, NJ; 9. Woody Pitkat, Bellingham, MA; 10. Kirk Alexander, W. Swanzey, NH; 11. Anthony Nocella, Berlin, MA; 12. Jacob Dore, Sanford, ME; 13. Matt Galko, Meriden, CT; 14. Matt Swanson, Acton, MA; 15. Joey Jarvis, Ascutney, VT; 16. Jon Kievman, Deerfield Beach, FL; 17. Larry Barnett, Moosup, CT; 18 .Geoff Rollins, Groton, MA; 19. Colbey Fournier, Berkley, MA; 20. Kurt Vigeant, Oxford, MA; 21. Russ Hersey, Swanzey, NH; 22. Tommy Barrett, Millis, MA; 23. Anthony Sesely, Matawah, NJ; 24. Ron Silk, Norwalk, NJ; 25. Carl Medeiros, Jr., Westport, MA; 26. Richard Savary, Canton, MA; 27. Kris Watson, Hermon, ME. DNQ: Andrew Charron, E. Greenwich, RI; Steven Dickey, Milford, NH; Derek Robie, Bellingham, MA; Bill Dixon N. Waterboro, ME; George Sherman, Framingham, MA. 


RANSOMVILLE, N.Y. (August 24, 2019) – Erick Rudolph of Ransomville picked up his fifth win of the season in the Krown Undercoating 358 Modifieds on Friday night at Ransomville Speedway during Fan Appreciation Night presented by Nutrien Ag Solution, Niagara Frontier Publications, the Youngstown Fire Company, Faery’s Nursery and Bub’s Backyard Speedway

In additional action, Garrison Krentz of Pendelton, N.Y. earned his first win of the season in the Investor’s Service Sportsman. Billy Bleich of Port Robinson, Ontario claimed the win in the Ki-Po Chevrolet Street Stocks. Cole Susice of Ransomville extended his Gippster’s Collision Mini Stock points lead with his second win of the season. In the Stevenson’s Hardware Novice Sportsman, Mike Martin of Appleton, N.Y. secured his first of 2019.

Mat Williamson started on the pole of the Krown Undercoating 358 Modified feature as he began the event 23 points behind Erick Rudolph for the division lead. Rudolph started fourth, but managed to drive under Williamson on the opening lap to take the lead. 

Rudolph and Williamson quickly pulled away from the field, but their progress was slowed on lap 8 when Steve Lewis, Jr. stopped on the race track to bring out the caution. 

Williamson turned the tables on Rudolph on the restart as he was able to regain the lead. The pair resumed their battle as they pulled away once again. This time there was no caution to impede their progress, but instead lapped traffic would come into play. Rudolph was able to get underneath Williamson on lap 19 to take the lead as the pair drove through slower cars.

Rudolph managed to get some separation from Williamson as he had difficulty clearing lapped traffic. Rudolph drove on to score his fifth of the year at the “Big R” and his 21st victory overall in 2019. Williamson settled for second place, which extended Rudolph’s points lead to 27 with one race left in the season.

Chad Brachmann finished third for his third-straight top three performance. Gary Lindberg placed fourth with Mike Bowman rounding out the top five. 

Just like the Modifieds, the Investor’s Service Sportsman also had their penultimate points race of the season on Friday. Derek Wagner took command of the field from the drop of the green flag after starting on the outside pole. 

Wagner dominated for most of the race as he led through a handful of caution periods. His luck changed, however, when Noah Walker brought out the final caution of the race on lap 19 when he stopped on the backstretch. 

Garrison Krentz, who had been running second for the entire race up until that point, lined up alongside Wagner on the restart. Krentz slid up in front of Wagner in turn two to steal the lead in what turned out to be the deciding move of the race. 

Krentz drove away for the final laps to secure his first win of the season. Wagner had to settle for a second place finish, one spot ahead of Brett Senek. That one position trimmed Senek’s points lead to 13 as they head into the final points race. Jonathan Reid finished fourth followed by Zach George.

The Ki-Po Chevrolet Street Stock feature was decided by a series of events that took place with five laps to go. It all started when Pete Stefanski stopped on the track with five laps remaining to bring out the caution. Stefanski, who was second in the points standings, then headed to the pits. 

This set up a restart with Pat Dell leading Jaren Israel, Cory Sawyer and Bill Bleich. The quartet had battled at the front of the field for most of the race, including making a wild four wide run down the backstretch. The intensity boiled over on lap 17 when Dell and Israel made contact in turn three. The duo slammed together, and then continued to get physical as Bleich drove underneath them to take the lead. Sawyer tried to drive around them to the outside, but he clipped the end of the turn four wall. His car went into the moat along the front straightaway and tagged the inside retaining wall before coming to a stop. 

With the rest of the front runners taken out of contention, this allowed Bleich to pick up his first win of the season at Ransomville. Anthony Guthrie finished second followed by Chris Dziomba, Dan Korpanty and Zach Bleich. 

Despite Sawyer’s hard hit he still kept his points lead over Stefanski for the track title. Stefanski returned from the pits and finished two laps down in seventh. He was able to finish one spot ahead of Sawyer.

In the Gippster’s Collision Mini Stocks, Cole Susice picked up his second win of the season as he led all 15 laps from the pole position. Susice had the field covered as he extended his points lead in the division. Ryan Plante finished second with Mike Kramarz in third. Chuck Cala and Nick Tarnowski rounded out the top five.

Mike Martin claimed a huge late season win in the Stevenson’s Hardware Novice Sportsman. Martin passed Sam Junkin around the outside of turn two to take the lead at the halfway point of the race. He then cruised the final seven laps to score the win. Junkin finished second followed by Tyler Vinson, Orval Harris and Bubby Pawlak.

Martin’s first win of the season came at a crucial time as he trailed Butch Zimmerman by 18 points for the track championship at the start of the event. The victory combined with a seventh place run by Zimmerman cut the lead to just two points going into the final points race of the season next week. 

Next Friday, August 30, Ransomville will crown the track champions in all three open-wheeled classes on Season Championship Night. The Modified will settle their championship with a $2,000-to-win, 50-lap main event. There will also be a $1,000-to-win 4/6-Cylinder demolition derby presented by Triple T Auto Parts. Racing starts at 7:15 p.m.

About Ransomville Speedway: Opened in 1958, Ransomville Speedway is located on Braley Road in the hamlet of Ransomville, just 20 minutes from Niagara Falls and Lockport. “The Big R” is a 3/8-mile DIRTcar sanctioned facility that is the home of the Summer Nationals. Ransomville also features a 1/16-mile Go-Kart track for action on the “Little R” on Thursday nights. For more information, please visit our updated website at as well as follow us on Twitter @Ransomville and like us on Facebook. You can also contact the speedway by phone by calling (716) 791-3602 or (716) 791-3611.



Heat Winners: Rick Richner, Phil Vigneri III, Gary Lindberg

Feature: 1. 25-Erick Rudolph, [4]; 2. 6-Mat Williamson, [1]; 3. 3-Chad Brachmann, [9]; 4. 37S-Gary Lindberg, [7]; 5. 71-Mike Bowman, [5]; 6. 42-Pete Bicknell, [3]; 7. 38-Ryan Susice, [17]; 8. 111-Allan Wills, [14]; 9. 47V-Phil Vigneri III, [8]; 10. 4-Greg Martin, [12]; 11. 55C-Jesse Cotriss, [11]; 12. 28ZT-Darren Peters, [10]; 13. 27-Jim Zimmerman, [13]; 14. 678-John Smith, [2]; 15. 6M-Mike Williams, [18]; 16. 26-Rich Richner, [6]; 17. 11S-Steven Lewis Jr, [15]; 18. 132-Brandon Michaud, [16]


Heat Winners: Robbie Johnston, Garrison Krentz, Brett Senek

Feature: 1. 56-Garrison Krentz, [3]; 2. 61-Derek Wagner, [2]; 3. 111B-Brett Senek, [9]; 4. 9-Jon Reid, [10]; 5. 126-Zack George, [15]; 6. 68-Dave DiPietro, [5]; 7. 75-AJ Custodi, [6]; 8. 07-Brian Harris, [16]; 9. 66-Brett Martin, [13]; 10. 35T-Cameron Tuttle, [4]; 11. 12W-James Harbison, [1]; 12. 33J-Robbie Johnston, [8]; 13. 22-Noah Walker, [12]; 14. 54JR-Scott Just, [17]; 15. 14-Darrell Borkenhagen, [18]; 16. 111-Kevin Wills, [7]; 17. 33-David Fingerlow, [14]; 18. 80-Cody Wolfe, [11]


Heat Winner: Chris Dziomba, Pat Dell

Feature: 1. 108-Bill Bleich, [3]; 2. 43-Anthony Guthrie, [5]; 3. 55D-Chris Dziomba, [4]; 4. 11-Dan Korpanty, [2]; 5. 108Z-Zack Bleich, [7]; 6. 10X-Jarrod Brown, [12]; 7. 2-Pete Stefanski, [6]; 8. 5X-Cory Sawyer, [9]; 9. 14P-Pat Dell, [1]; 10. 10-Jaren Israel, [8]; 11. 4-Mike Kramarz, [10]; 12. 74-Casey Jonathan, [11]


Heat Winner: Cole Susice, Steve Matson

Feature:1. 98-Cole Susice, [2]; 2. 93-Ryan Plante, [5]; 3. 4-Mike Kramarz, [7]; 4. 126-Chuck Cala, [6]; 5. 88X-Nick Tarnowski, [1]; 6. 17-Brian Melcher, [10]; 7. 29-Steve Matson, [4]; 8. 26-Dave Dussault, [8]; 9. 79M-Chris Miller, [9]; 10. 14-Chris Harlings, [12]; 11. 11-Matt Hornquist, [3]; 12. 20-Jeffrey Wynes, [11]


Heat Winner: Orval Harris, Mike Martin

Feature: 1. 99-Mike Martin, [4]; 2. 2-Sam Junkin, [6]; 3. 93-Tyler Vinson, [7]; 4. 24-Orval Harris, [1]; 5. 1-Bubby Pawlak, [2]; 6. 8-Tommy LaLomia, [11]; 7. 0-Butch Zimmerman, [9]; 8. 25-Chris Hawkins, [12]; 9. 56-Jordan Moden, [8]; 10. 26-Kyle Richner, [3]; 11. 5-Clayton Cain, [10]; 12. 07W-Ken Washburn, [5]; 13. 18-Cliff Gregg, [13]



(Tom Morris/Myracenews photos)

THOMPSON, Conn. — For the third time in 2019, the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour will invade Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park on Wednesday night. The 30th annual Bud ‘King of Beers’ 150 will bring NASCAR’s top stars back to Connecticut for a crucial race in the tour’s championship battle. 

Joining the Whelen Modified Tour, all five of Thompson’s NASCAR Whelen All-American Series divisions and the NEMA Midgets will also battle. Not only will fans be able to watch some of NASCAR’s best, they will also witness sprint car veteran and champion Sammy Swindell compete in a Midget for Bertrand Motorsports, and some of the top local talent from New England in their short-track action.  

On the Whelen Modified Tour championship front, Doug Coby, Ron Silk and Justin Bonsignore enter the race as the title favorites with just six races remaining in their season. Coby leads Ron Silk by 24 points, but Silk is coming off back-to-back series victories at New Hampshire Motor Speedway and Stafford Motor Speedway. 

Bonsignore is chasing some history at Thompson on Wednesday. The driver of the No. 51 Phoenix Communications Inc. Chevrolet has been to Victory Lane in the last six tour races on the high-banks and is showing no signs of slowing down. Bonsignore didn’t lead the most laps in the Thompson 125 in June but was in the right position when it mattered most. He’s become the only driver to win five, and the only driver to win six races in a row at Thompson over the last four months. 

Coby and Silk aren’t going to be far behind him. Both have their eyes set on the championship chase and are former winners at TSMP. Coby most recently won the finale en route to the title in 2015, but Silk hasn’t carried the checkered since 2012 in the Icebreaker. 

Outside of them, there are over 25 more drivers planning to compete. Jon McKennedy will be behind the wheel of the famed No. 7NY for Tommy Baldwin, while the Whelen Modified Tour Sunoco Rookie of the Year battle continues with Sam Rameau entering the race ahead of Timmy Catalano and J.B. Fortin. Fans can also watch for names like Jimmy Blewett, Matt Swanson, Eric Goodale and Chris Pasteryak. Woody Pitkat, who has won the last two Late Model races at TSMP, will also compete in the Danny Watts owned No. 82 Chevrolet. 

Through the first five races of the NEMA season, Avery Stoehr leads Todd Bertrand and Randy Cabral in their championship fight.  

Speaking of Pitkat, he will be looking to continue to close the gap in the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Late Model standings in the 25-lap feature. Pitkat is just 17 points back of former champion William Wall, who has one victory, but top 10 finishes in all five races. Derek Gluchacki, who’s looking for his first TSMP win, is 26 points back. 

The Limited Sportsman point chase might be one of the tightest in New England. With the top four drivers separated by just nine markers, anything can, and will happen when the green flag drops for their 20-lap race Wednesday. Kyle Gero, in search of his first title, leads by just one over Shawn Monahan and seven over Meghan Fuller. Ryan Morgan is fourth, while Brent Gleason, with one victory, is fifth.  

The top two in the Mini Stock standings are separated by just six points, with two drivers named Michalski showing the way at the top. Scott leads Steve, but both are not going to give an inch going down the stretch. They both have been to Victory Lane, along with four other drivers this season, making it six winners in six races. Fans can watch names like Russ Barboza, Evan Bourgeois and Ian Brew, who are all inside the top 10 in the points chase but haven’t been to Victory Lane just yet. 

Albert Ouellette and John O’Sullivan look to close the gap to the top of the SK Light Modified® championship standings. Ouellette is looking for his first career win, while O’Sullivan was able to earn his first checkered flag on July 28. They will join the rest of the competitors in a 20-lap feature race. 

Fresh off his second win in six races, Keith Rocco is in prime form in search of another Sunoco Modified title. The Berlin, Connecticut, driver leads the standings entering the mid-week special, but Woody Pitkat is trying to close in. Pitkat was able to earn his first victory of the season on July 28 and followed it up with a second-place finish on August 4. 

Grandstand admission opens at 2:30 p.m., while NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour teams will hit the track for one-hour of practice from 3:55-4:55 p.m. Qualifying races for the NEMA Midgets will begin at 5 p.m. Fans should note that the Bud ‘King of Beers’ 150 is not the final race of the night – as the Mini Stocks and Late Models will follow the tour race.

Grandstand admission is $50, while seniors (65+), veteran and active military are $45. Children 12 and under are free. Anyone who wishes to purchase a pit pass for the evening can do it for just $55. 

For more information on Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park, fans are encouraged to visit, and follow the track on social media via Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.