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No luck of the draw needed: Matt Hirschman repeats at Seekonk Speedway

No luck of the draw needed: Matt Hirschman repeats at Seekonk Speedway

SEEKONK, Massachusetts — Matt Hirschman was visibly disappointed when he made his selection during the redraw for the J&R Precast 150 at Seekonk Speedway.

After setting the fastest time of the day in qualifying, Hirschman would forgo the pole position by drawing the lowest starting position possible, eighth. This left Hirschman with 150 laps to work his way up from the middle of the pack at a 0.333-mile facility where track position is paramount.

Hirschman predominantly relied on skill instead of luck to surge towards the front of the field. After methodically climbing to second, Hirschman emerged victorious in an intense restart duel with his Northampton, Pennsylvania, neighbor Austin Beers to obtain his second consecutive NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour victory at Seekonk.

“We had to work for that one for sure,” Hirschman said. “[Seekonk] is always a challenging track. The characteristics change throughout the race, but the characteristics of my car changed throughout the race. It came in good on the restart and I was able to go side-by-side with Austin and get past him.”

RELATED: Complete race results from the J&R Precast 150

Hirschman joined an exclusive list of drivers who have multiple Seekonk wins in the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour. The only other member of that group is Doug Coby, whose triumphs came in 2017 and 2019, respectively.

Even with his odds of a victory hindered by a poor draw, Hirschman never doubted his ability to find his way towards the front. Each pass required diligence and patience around Seekonk‘s narrow racing line. Hirschman‘s superior speed proved crucial in gaining the valuable track position he needed to chase down Beers.

Despite this, Hirschman still faced a heavy deficit to Beers by the time he had climbed to the runner-up position. With Beers facing no serious challengers as he worked through slower traffic, Hirschman needed a caution to mount a challenge for the lead.

Unlike earlier at the redraw, luck was on Hirschman‘s side when a spin by Tyler Catalano brought out the first and only caution of the night with 30 laps remaining. Hirschman held his own on the top side against Beers, who lost the lead after slight contact with the No. 60 caused him to briefly lose control of his No. 64.

Beers held on to finish second, but he felt dejected knowing he was only a few laps away from claiming a win at the same track where his father Eric picked up his maiden NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour victory in 2005.

There were several aspects of the J&R Precast 150, including the final restart, that Beers wishes he could repeat, but he departs Seekonk feeling optimistic his first victory of the 2024 season is near.

“[Hirschman] was a little bit better,” Beers said. “It was kind of my fault, because I wanted to start a little freer than we usually do and that bit us. I probably should have picked the top and pinched him like he pinched me, but it was a fun side-by-side battle. Three seconds in a row is nothing to hang our heads about.”

For Hirschman, winning at Seekonk was a necessary change of pace following an inconsistent start to 2024 by his standards. In his three starts prior to Seekonk, Hirschman only recorded one top five and had failed to lead a lap.

Hirschman considered himself lucky his first victory of 2024 came during Seekonk‘s tribute weekend to Modified legend Bugsy Stevens, who passed away on May 20. He has long respected Stevens‘ ability as a competitor and hopes to keep honoring his legacy with more Seekonk victories.

“To finally get out on the road and have a big win, that‘s overdue at least in my opinion,” Hirschman said. “Everybody kept working and we got it done tonight on a special night where we remembered Bugsy Stevens. It was an honor to be here.”

NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour points leader Ron Silk placed third after starting 11th. He was followed by Stephen Kopcik and Justin Bonsignore. The rest of the top 10 finishers were Jacob Lutz, Kyle Bonsignore, Patrick Emerling, Jake Johnson and Matt Swanson.

The next stop for the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour will be the series‘ most prestigious venue, New Hampshire Motor Speedway, for the running of the Mohegan Sun 100 on June 22 at 6:40 p.m. ET. FloRacing will provide live flag-to-flag coverage.