NEW SMYRNA, Fla. – Wednesday’s Tour-Type Modified feature at New Smyrna Speedway ended in celebration for Matt Hirschman.
The Northampton, Pennsylvania, driver celebrated his first victory of the World Series, but more importantly, was able to carry the checkered flag for the first time in the annual John Blewett Memorial 76-lap feature.
Hirschman took the lead from Ryan Preece on lap 64 and never looked back, collecting his third consecutive top-five finish as part of the modified class at the 52nd annual event.
“You sometimes don’t realize how young John died and what he would have still accomplished in his career, as good as he was,” Hirschman said, honoring Blewett, who passed away in 2007. “I was just getting to the point where we were probably going to be battling for a lot of wins. We have won the Richie Evans race before, and it’s great to win this one now.”
Blewett’s career included 10 victories in 164 career starts on the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour, along with a best finish of third in the championship chase, twice.
Hirschman also dedicated the victory to three other New England names that passed away in the racing offseason — along with one of his crew members — who was forced to watch the broadcast on FansChoice.TV because of an injury he sustained while at New Smyrna working on the No. 60 earlier in the week.
“My good friend Ed McGuire passed away, then Cliff Krause passed away from Wall Stadium, then Bobby Webber from Star Speedway,” Hirschman said in Victory Lane. “Tonight is for all of those guys, and really, nothing else matters more than that.”
Behind Hirschman, Patrick Emerling used a late pass of Preece to finish second, followed by Craig Lutz. Preece, who led for much of the race was forced to settle for the fourth spot, while Tommy Catalano rounded out the top five.
“We unloaded and we have had awesome cars all week,” Emerling said following his best finish thus far. “The restarts just didn’t work out in our favor. Matt had a little bit more tire at the end.”
Harrison Burton Storms Back In Super Late Models
Harrison Burton found himself back on top of the Super Late Model field in Wednesday’s 35-lap feature, which in some ways, allowed him to redeem himself.
Tuesday, Burton was racing Stephen Nasse and Ty Majeski for the lead before he went spinning into the infield and left the incident with a mangled car.
Wednesday, the NASCAR Next driver got back to the top.
He drove from eighth to the victory in a caution-free affair after once again setting the fast speed in time trials. Burton was forced to start eighth following an invert, but it didn’t take long for him to slice his way through traffic.
On lap 28, he took the point from Sam Mayer and didn’t turn back — scoring his second victory in four races — and helping himself climb back towards the top of the championship standings.
That’s why I do it right there no one understands the pure joy a driver feels after winning a race!!!! pic.twitter.com/H8mUxyZSVg
— Harrison Burton (@HBurtonRacing) February 15, 2018
Mayer settled for second after leading early, while New Hampshire driver Derek Griffith scored his best finish of the week, a third.
In the Pro Late Model feature, Cole Anderson scored his third straight victory.
Racing at New Smyrna continues on Thursday night, with the Tour Type Modifieds, Super Late Models, Pro Late Models and Florida Modifieds all scheduled for action.
All nine nights of World Series racing are streaming live via a stream on FansChoice.TV.
Harrison Burton rolled to the win in the 35-lap Super Late Model feature Wednesday night. (Jim DuPont)