It seems that whenever a 100 lap Modified race takes place at Mahoning Valley Speedway you are certain to see the likes of Matt Hirschman and Eric Beers dicing it out for the win. After all they have a combined 17 victories of the century mark races and for round four of the Mahoning Modified Madness Series (MMMS) the two would once again face off for the checkers. Give this one to Hirschman.
Starting sixth, Hirschman would find his way into the lead on lap 51 and from then on held off Beers en route to the $3000 payday.
In this latest edition of the wildly popular 100-lappers, a redraw from the heats would see Austin Kochenash and Beers share the front row. When the race commenced Kochenash, who earlier this year scored his first two wins in a Modified at Mahoning, jumped into the lead. Beers, the 2013 track champion, was surrounding him from all angles but "Kid Kochenash" would hold tight.
DJ Wagner, Kris Graver and Nevin George would run near the front pair early on but once Hirschman moved up to third after a lap 39 restart, the race became a torrid affair.
There was no telling that Kochenash was a Modified rookie as he ran steady and strong while turning back the two titans. To say they were running under a blanket would be an understatement as the action was incredibly close.
Things then became even more intense nearing the hallway point. Hirschman, who was still riding in third, suddenly surged past Beers and then kept the drive going as he dashed around Kochenash and into the lead just as the second half began.
After a caution on lap 54 the remainder of the race went nonstop and Hirschman was faultless as he had little trouble in fending off Beers and claiming his second victory of the year.
"I knew that was going to be tough with Austin (Kochenash) and Eric (Beers) on the front row but thankfully for us it all worked out. A whole opened up and after that it seemed like we were able to pull away," said Hirschman. Eight of his 10 career Mahoning wins have now come in 100 lap features.
Beers settled for second while a very strong running Brian DeFebo came home in third after passing Kochenash with 12 laps to go. Eric Kocher completed the top five.
With the stretch of green flag laps from 53 to the finish, it allowed Hirschman the opportunity to flex his muscle. Late into the race Beers and DeFebo desperately needed a caution for a chance to pass.
"So far this year when Eric (Beers) gets out front he doesn't get passed. Tonight we were able to get the lead and after that I felt pretty good because I didn't think he'd be able to beat me just like when I'd been behind him. He's had the best season here no doubt but we're going to finish strong with this and the Octoberfast 130," said Hirschman who is now the MMMS heading into the $5000 to win season finale on October 26.
"We just missed the set-up tonight. We were just way too tight from green to checker. We'll come back at the end of the month and show 'em what we got," bottomed lined Beers.
If he or any other driver who finished in the top 15 in points wins the Octoberfast there is a $1000 bonus to be awarded.
Kevin Graver Jr., spoiled Earl Paules from gaining one more Late Model win this season when he out dueled the '13 champ in a dogfight to the finish.
Paules had taken the front on a lap three restart and looked to be on his way but by lap eight Graver tagged along his rear bumper and not long after was going two-wide for the lead. Paules did all he could to protect his spot but surrendered with three laps remaining. It marked Graver's third win of the season and 40th overall.
Three division titles were up for grabs and when all was set and done a total of five combined points are all that separated the respective champions in the Street Stocks, Dirt Mods and Pro 4s. The excitement and drama was off the charts.
In the Street Stocks the season long run of different winners rolled on to an amazing 20 as rookie Aaron Kromer posted his career first win coming on his 24th birthday.
Kromer passed early leader Jamie Smith nine laps from the finish and would need virtually every lap from there on to hold off TJ Gursky who needed to win in order to earn a third straight title.
Point leader Chip Wanamaker saw his season nearly implode when he had mechanical issues with seven laps to go and was forced to make several pit stops. He had been in fifth place at the time. Despite going a lap down Wanamaker's crew thrashed to get him back out to finish the race and although he was a lap down, his 14th place tally was just enough to secure the crown by a scant two points over Gursky.
The Dirt Mod saw Aleia Geisler win a third time this year and she called it her toughest victory to date. Point contenders Jeff Parker and Ricky Yetter raced side-by-side while making repeated tries to unseat her.
At the end of the 25 lap contest they would cross the finish line under a blanket. For Parker, that would have been more than plenty to earn the championship, however, a protest was filed to check his car and he was found to be off with the weight and was disqualified.
That now put him and Yetter in a tie and by virtual of the tiebreaker of more feature wins, Parker was named the class champion.
The Pro 4 showdown came down between a pair of teenage sensations with Nick Baer and Kyle Strohl entering the finale separated by just two points. It was case of one needing to finish ahead of the other.
The race began with Bobby Kibler Jr., taking to the early lead. By lap 10 Strohl drove his way to the front and would have Baer on his tail the rest of the way.
When they reached the conclusion of the race Strohl eked out just enough markers to edge Baer by three. It was his 11th victory in 20 starts.
Jeff Biegley was able to lead all the way in the Hobby Stock feature and in doing so earned his ninth win of the year. It was a race-long dual with newly crowned champion Corey Edelman running alongside him essentially the entire distance.
Modified Feature Finish (100 Laps): 1. Matt Hirschman, 2. Eric Beers, 3. Brian DeFebo, 4. Austin Kochenash, 5. Eric Kocher, 6. Bobby Jones, 7. John Markovic, 8. Chip Santee, 9. Earl Paules, 10. DJ Wagner, 11. Nevin George, 12. Shawna Ingraham, 13. Nick Pecko, 14. Kris Graver, 15. Roger Coss, 16. Todd Baer, 17. Lou Strohl, 18. Mike Quinn, 19. Zane Zeiner, 20. Rick Kirkendall, 21. Matt Wentz, 22. Francis Gross III 23. Terry Markovic DNQ: Jessy Mueller, Randall Richard
Late Model (25 Laps): 1. Kevin Graver Jr., 2. Earl Paules, 3. Mike Sweeney, 4. Paul Effrig, 5. Lorin Arthofer II, 6. George Ramos, 7. Frankie Althouse, 8. Jennifer Kutz, 9. Pat Hargan, 10. Todd Ahner, 11. Kenny Hein, 12. Glenn Slocum, 13. Jeremy Miller, 14. Scott Kotran
Street Stock Feature Finish (30 Laps): 1. Aaron Kromer, 2. TJ Gursky, 3. Jamie Smith, 4. Lonnie Behler, 5. Gene Bowers, 6. Stacey Brown, 7. Justin Mooney, 8. Jason Kuhn, 9. Josh Mooney,, 10. Kyle Strohl, 11. Steven Steigerwalt, 12. Jason Frey, 13. Jillian Long, 14. Chip Wanamaker, 15. Cody Roth, 16. Mike Garris Jr., 17. BJ Wambold, 18. Alan Schlenker, 19. Todd Ahner, 20. Kristy Arthofer DNQ: Jason Beers, Jared Ahner, Willie Knappenberger, Guy Ackerman, Tiffany Wambold
Dirt Modified Feature Finish (25 Laps): 1. Aleia Geisler, 2. Ricky Yetter, 3. Dave Thomas, 4. Ray Deemer, 5. JP Curry, 6. Louie Mitchalk, 7. Dave Gorbatuk, 8. Tom Soldrich, 9. Joe Stangle, 10. Bill Sittler Jr., 11. Jack Ely DQ: Jeff Parker
Pro 4 Feature Finish (20 Laps): 1. Kyle Strohl, 2. Nick Baer, 3. Jake Kibler, 4. Cody Kohler, 5. Danielle Paules, 6. Joe Stangle, 7. Bobby Kibler Jr., 8. Bill Rooney, 9. Tanner Laybourn, 10. Robert Miller, 11. Tyler Stangle
Hobby Stock Feature Finish (15 Laps): 1. Jeff Biegley, 2. Corey Edelman, 3. Bill Verwys, 4. Tony Hilliard, 6. Gunner Yost, 7. Rich Mutarelli