By: Ashley McCubbin
200 career wins is not something that just happens by accident, or overnight. However, that’s the amount of times Matt Hirschman has visited victory lane.
If you were watching the John Blewett Memorial 76 at New Smyrna Speedway on Wednesday night, you would understand why he has that many to his resume. Just as everyone has grown used to, he enters these longer distance events with a strategy and sticks to it.
He conserves a bit at the beginning, not pushing his way through traffic as he was back to seventh in the opening 25 laps. He then picks them off one-by-one, using only as much of his car as he wants to make his way to the lead. Then once holding down the top spot for the final 30 laps, he uses just as much to ensure he has enough to run away on a late-race restart, but yet keep a decent distance on the field behind him.
It seems like an easy science, but it’s not when you are surrounded by a bunch of hungry hounds and some of the most talented open-wheel superstars in the United States. It’s very easy to go early, as Spencer Davis and Tom Martino Jr. did and paid with fading back in the later stages. You could also fall too far back as Patrick Emerling did from second to 11th, and only being able to rebound to fifth at the checkered flag.
Matt Hirschman is the man circled on the entry list in any race he enters, and proved tonight why. His name is also highlighted for Saturday’s Richie Evans Memorial, and the rest of 2022 in whatever he has planned.
That said, you cannot take anything away from the performance Jimmy Blewett delivered. He ran runner-up the majority of the race, and was just a tick off what it took to beat Hirschman. Considering it’s only his third race with Tommy Baldwin Racing and they’ve each ended with podiums, they’re mixing the right ingredients for success.
The battle for the win wasn’t the only exciting mark, as there were spots to watch through the field all race long on FloRacing’s coverage. Joey Coulter’s climb through the field as he adjusts to his modified caught attention, as well as close quarters for others in their highs and lows of the day.
Hirschman driving away from the field, though, left the modifieds with a lack luster finish when you compare to the Pro Late Models and Super Late Models earlier in the day. The young drivers each showed respect in their battles for the top spot – rubbing fenders, pushing the envelope, pulling crossovers, but not enough to wreck another. It’s what short track fans dream about and hopefully will see more in the next couple days.