WINCHESTER, N.H. – There’s a really good reason they call Matt Hirschman “Money.” The Keystone State Modified star always shines the brightest when big bucks are up for grabs.
By Gary Dutton
Saturday, as Monadnock Speedway opened its ambitious 2022 racing season, Hirschman led the final 17 laps of the Monaco Ford Tri-Track Modified Series 100-lap main event to pocket $6,000, little more than a week after he’d notched a $20,000-plus payday elsewhere.
Saturday was the first of the storied high-banked oval’s two-day Spring Dash season opener and, with $6,000 on the line, a stellar field of 24 tour-type open-wheelers were on hand to wow the huge crowd that turned out to welcome the new season.
Of the 24 entrants, no fewer than eight had at one time or another competed at Monadnock on a weekly basis. Six of those eight would finish the 100-lapper in the top ten, including Westminster, Mass. hot shoe Sammy Rameau, the race winner a year ago and pole sitter Saturday.
Rameau set a blistering pace as he led the first 48 trips around the high banks, then pitting for fresh rubber when a Matt Zachem looper brought out the second caution of the event. Rameau’s pit strategy moved Bennington Blazer Matt Kimball to the point.
Kimball, who’d started 16th on the grid, was fast but soon had his mirror filled with Hirschman – from 18th – who powered past Ronnie Williams for second on lap 54. Hirschman rocketed through the low lane to take the lead on lap 84, with Kimball holding strong in the deuce. But then there was Rameau, charging back through the field.
He pulled into third on lap 88, took second on a lap-96 restart and again set his sights on the top prize. Hirschman, though, wouldn’t bend, sailing under the checkers ahead of Rameau and former track champ Brian Robie, whose strong and solid day’s work netted him third. Kimball was fourth, with front row starter Chase Dowling fifth.
Kenny Thompson set a torrid pace over the first 15 laps of the Street Stock main event, but when second-place runner Keith Johnson was picked off by an errant lapper to bring out the caution, multi-time 2021 winner Chris Buffone came knocking at Thompson’s door.
Thompson, himself, was rudely rattled three laps later, bringing Hillary Renaud alongside Buffone. The Belchertown blaster, though, held strong, earning the win ahead of Renaud and Adam Gray, who’d charged back from a lap-one looper to claim third. Thompson marched back through the field to finish fourth on the day.
Old foes Gordon Farnum and Louie Maher went to war early in the Mini Stock 25-lapper but Sunshine Towner Greg Millette, the winner six days earlier at Claremont, had victory lane plans of his own.
Millette, starting scratch on the field, blasted into the lead on lap 15 and then pulled away. Maher held strong for second, with Farnum at his bumper in third. Nick Houle, in his rookie run in the Minis, was fourth, just ahead of Jeff Asselin.
Kyle Robinson Newell smoked the field in the first Pure Stock event of the season, winning first his heat – Jimmy Zellman won the other qualifier – and then the 25-lap nightcap in convincing fashion. It was the battle behind him that stole the show Saturday.
Multi-time and defending track champ Chris Davis has been racing longer than JD Stockwell has been alive. Saturday, though, they went at it like seasoned dance partners, Stockwell glued to Davis the whole way before settling for third.
Fourteen-year-old pilot Devin Deshaies topped the NELCAR Legends feature. The Harrisville, R.I. young gun led Trevor Krause and Frankie Sweeney into victory lane. In the Pro Truck Series 55-lapper, it was Connor Souza earning the gold just ahead of “G-Rod” Giordano and Dave Koenig. Deschaies, doubling up on the day, was fourth in the trucks.
MONADNOCK SPEEDWAY APRIL 30 TOP TENS
TRI-TRACK MODIFIED 100: Matt Hirschman, Sam Rameau, Brian Robie, Matt Kimball, Chase Dowling, Ronnie Williams, Todd Patnode, Chris Pasteryak, Kirk Alexander, Les Hinkley.
STREET STOCK: Chris Buffone, Hillary Renaud, Adam Gray, Tim Wenzel, Kenny Thompson, Haydon Grenier, Isabella Michella, Dan Robinson, Chris Castor, Mike Robinson.
MINI STOCK: Greg Millette, Louie Maher, Gordon Farnum, Nick Houle, Jeff Asselin, Kevin Clayton, Kevin McKnight, Jeff Heath, Cameron Sontag, Tim Griffith.