Northampton’s Matt Hirschman turned in solid performance in picking up his first win of the season at Mahoning Valley Speedway, netting top honors in the George Wambold Tribute 81-lap main.
The event was race number #2 of the 2020 Mahoning Valley Speedway Hall of Fame Series (MVSHoFS) and was an acknowledgment to the legendary Wambold, a multi-time track champion and many time winner.
“This was very special to win a race in honor of George Wambold who was definitely one of the big names in eastern Pennsylvania racing,” said Hirschman from Victory Lane.
“He was one of those tough guys that wheeled cars without power steering and head rests and any of that stuff and I can always appreciate those drivers. They were way tougher than today’s drivers and it’s nice that we’re honoring these guys with this Series.”
Second starting Kochenash had grabbed the lead from the drop of the green over Nick Baer. Within 10 laps point leader Bobby Jones and seventh starter Hirschman where running in tow. By lap 18 Hirschman had took control of second.
Kochenash, however, stayed attentive to his lead and kept Hirschman busy in trying both high and low lanes to make a pass over the next 24 laps. Just prior to a caution coming out on lap 43, Hirschman finally nipped him for the top spot and not long afterwards was facing off against Eric Beers.
Beers and Hirschman where in contention to win in the first MVSHoFS event from the previous month but a tangle between them negated the thinkable outcome.
On a lap 45 restart Beers had showed the power and out-dueled Hirschman for the lead but one lap later it would go back to the Harry’s U-Pull-It No. 60. From there on Hirschman wasn’t taking any chances as he stayed a few car lengths out ahead of the pack en route to his 19th career win at Mahoning Valley.
“The thing here at Mahoning is you have to run as hard as you can because you never know what’s going on behind you but overall it was a good race,” explained Hirschman.
“I was able to test the outside a little with the 72 (Kochenash) and then eventually with a couple moves on the bottom so it was good racing between us and then with Eric (Beers) on the restarts,” he continued.
“You can’t really save anything here. Starting seventh we were able to make progress right away. You have to keep moving and you can’t always just settle in here, that’s the kind of track it is and why the racing is really good here.”
After Hirschman took the lead for keeps Kochenash and Beers waged a great battle with the Wentz Auto Body No. 72 securing the spot in the final laps.
Don Wagner bounced back and forth during the race before securing a hard-earned fourth and likewise with Kyle Strohl who edged Blake Barney in rounding out the top five.
Beau Drobot had made certain that the Wambold race was circled on his calendar and as such it turned out to be a fruitful night as he made his first start of the year worth the effort, winning for the first time with the Street Stock class at Mahoning Valley.
Earlier in the week his car was still in bits and pieces but knowing what the Wambold event meant he put a great effort into making the mount race ready and the hard work was well worth the effort with the end results.
By luck off the draw Drobot would start pole and once the action commenced he was in the company of defending class champ Jon Moser. But, all the while Drobot was shielding his lead despite the ongoing attempts by Moser to unseat him.
For Moser that did happen after a lap 14-restart but Drobot was in no way about to throw in the towel as just one lap later he would regain control and not surrender the rest of the way.
In the waning laps Moser began to drop back as Randy Ahner Jr., took up the chase on Drobot but although being on his rear bumper he had to settle for second. Mark Martini, Todd Ahner and Moser complete the top five.
When Ryan Berger passed Travis Solomon with six laps to go in the Hobby Stock feature it appeared that he was in control there to the finish.
However, on the last lap Solomon came charging and darted to the inside of Berger in Turn 3 and would exit there as the leader. There was a problem with that though. Solomon’s route was done in a non-passing zone as he drove below the designated part of the racing surface that drivers cannot use for such an occurrences as per track rules. With that officials relegated him back two spots in the finishing order.
Berger was then declared the winner, his first in three years while Trisha Connolly claimed the runner up spot. Corey Edelman and Jesse Bollinger rounded out the front five.
Paulie Hartwig III made track history in winning the Rookie Hobby Stock feature as the 9-year old became the youngest driver to win a stock car event at the speedway. It was the first time the young talent had ever raced at Mahoning.
Coming from 13th on the grid Hartwig executed a perfect inside pass on Tobie Behler coming in the final two corners.
This was the second straight win in a stock car for Hartwig as his most recent outing two weeks ago netted the same results at Evergreen Raceway where he became the youngest winner there too.
Modified Feature Finish (81-laps): 1. Matt Hirschman, 2. Austin Kochenash, 3. Eric Beers, 4. Don Wagner, 5. Kyle Strohl, 6. Blake Barney, 7. Eddie McCarthy, 8. Roger Cross, 9. Gene Bowers, 10. Chuck Hossfeld, 11. Sean Verwys, 12. Jacob Kerstetter, 13. Lou Strohl, 14. Mike Stofflet, 15. Bobby Jones, 16. BJ Wambold, 17. Todd Bear, 18. Nick Bear, 19. Brian DeFebo, 20. Heath Metzger, 21. Josh Scherer, 22. Earl Paules, 23. Rod Snyder Jr., 24. Austin Beers, DNQ: Jack Ely, Ricky Collins, Terry Markovic, Jason Arthofer, John Markovic
Street Stock Feature Finish (30-laps): 1. Beau Drobot, 2. Randy Ahner Jr., 3. Mark Martini, 4. Todd Ahner, 5. Jon Moser, 6. Johnny Bennett, 7. Jillian Long, 8. Randy Schlenker, 9. TJ Gursky, 10. Josh Mooney, 11. Tucker Muffley, 12. Brandon Christman, 13. Rich Moser, 14. Jamie Smith, 15. Rick Reichenbach, 16. Frank DelNero Jr., 17. Shayne Geist, 18. Thomas Flanagan, 19. Eric Kocher, 20. Bobby Kibler Jr., 21. Todd Geist, 22. Mark Deysher DNQ: Kadie Pursell, Dennis Buss, Logan Boyer, Cody Geist
Hobby Stock Feature Finish (25-laps): 1. Ryan Berger, 2. Trisha Connolly, 3. Travis Solomon, 4. Corey Edelman, 5. Jesse Bollinger, 6. Justin Merkel, 7. Jacob Boehm, 8. Kassidy Altemose, 9. Klem Underwood, 10. Kevin Behler, 11. James Tout, 12. Devin Schmidt, 13. Tad Snyder, 14. Paulie Hartwig III, 15. Nicholas Kerstetter, 16. Cody Boehm, 17. Taylor Schmidt, 18. Al Arthofer, 19. Neil Rutt III, 20. Lyndsay Buss, 21. Rich Mutarelli, 22. Jacob Oswald DNQ: Mallory Kutz, Tucker Muffley, Kyle Troch, Ralph Borger Jr., Terry Peters, Micah Adams, Brian Romig Jr., Brandon Covert, Tyler Schmeltzle, Robert Miller
Rookie Hobby Stock Feature Finish (12-laps): 1. Paulie Hartwig III, 2. Tobie Behler, 3. Savannah Romig, 4. Corey Gulich, 5. Makayla Kohler, 6. Zach Wetzel, 7. Brody George, 8. Zoe Kuchera, 9. Mia Guy, 10. Paul French Jr., 11. Elia Tito, 12. Hallie Muffley, 13. Micah Adams, 14. Maggi Yeakel