View Full Version : High Stakes; Hirschman by inches over Paules in wild Mahoning Valley Poker Mod finish

06-19-2011, 01:21 PM
By Dino Oberto

(LEHIGHTON, PA 6-18-11) Mahoning Valley Speedway has become infamous for their 100 lap Modified races and Saturday night was yet another prime example as Northampton’s Matt Hirschman came from third to first in a spectacularly wild finish over Earl Paules on the final circuit in Hand 2 of the Modified 100 Poker Series in a night of racing that won’t soon be forgotten.
Even though fans had sat through 100 laps of action, the race came down to the final turn of the final lap when Anthony Sesely attempted to squeeze underneath Paules but in the process caused them both to spin.
With not much room to spare, Paules was holding his line yet Sesely still forced the issue as he turned to the very bottom of the track in an attempt at the lead. With racing room at a minimum, they made contact with both losing control. Paules went into a tailspin while Sesely slid off track.
Although moving backwards Paules was still heading towards the finish line as the race leader while at the same time third running Hirschman had taken evasive action to the very top grove. As they headed to Dick Brown’s waving checkers, Hirschman eked ahead by mere inches and it would be the only time in which he led.
John Markovic emerged home in third with John Bennett and Mike Carroll completing the top five. Sesely never recovered and wound up a disappointing 11th.
“What a race! I was so excited once I crossed the line and we were just one adjustment from having a car that would have outright won the race. But you never give up in these. When the checkered flag is in sight you just put it to the floor and it just all worked out,” said Hirschman who pocketed $3000.
“It’s always good hard racing here. Mahoning Valley Speedway at its best with another fantastic finish.”
Fast timer Don Wagner redrew the pole and was joined at the front by Sesely who was making his first Mahoning start of the season. Once under way Wagner was far and away the dominating force as he built substantial leads throughout the first 50 laps.
Pushing a hard pace, however, would be his pitfall as his tires went away and during a lap 54 restart Sesely was able to stay even with him and four laps later slipped into the top spot.
Over the next 10 laps Bennett and Wagner swapped second spot. Paules then took the position on lap 65 and quickly went to work on Sesely. He needed only four laps to do so as he moved inside of Sesely in turn two with 30 laps left to run.
Over that remaining span Paules and Sesely ran bumper-to-bumper until the ill-fated final go-around.
“What do you do? I’m just going to keep it under my breath. The difference between the opening when I went under him it was clean. When he went under me he ran into my skid rail and turned me sideways. That’s the difference right there,” said Paules.
For Paules it was not only a tough pill to swallow but a costly one as well. Long time sponsor John Schneider of Schneider and Sons, Inc., Scrap Medal of Allentown was again on hand and set to match the first place take which would have been worth $6000.
“In a situation like that anyone of the three of us could have been here in Victory Lane. It’s just fortunate that it worked out for us,” added Hirschman.
This was Hirschman’s sixth Mahoning win and all have come in 100-lappers where he is now the all-time win leader in such events.
In the Late Models Geno Steigerwalt of Jim Thorpe took the lead from George Ramos on lap two and thereafter remained solid in earning his first win of the season.
Paul Koehler, Jr., and point leader Austin Kochenash each drove from the rear of the field to second on separate occasions but neither could make an attempt at Steigerwalt who won for the ninth time in his career.
In an intensely filled Street Stock main Gene Bowers of Lehighton burst through for his first win of the season.
Third starting Bowers settled in behind Austin Santee and Justin Mooney in the early going. Over the first half of the event it was all two-three wide action unfolding with Santee doing a fine job of fending off an onslaught of chargers.
Coming by to complete lap 11 Santee and Mooney where leaning hard on each other as they exited turn four which caused them to drift high. Bowers immediately seized the opening that was afforded him on the bottom line and took the lead. He then held off Shawn Sitarchyk who at most times ran him side-by-side.
For the past 23 years Scott Hulmes of Washington Township, NJ has been trying every way possible to win a feature race and that determination came to fitting halt as he parlayed his pole starting spot into his career first Dirt Modified win.
Hulmes held off Mike Stofflet over the distance in what was a very spirited battle. Over the final laps they were joined by Bill Briggs and point leader Kris Graver which made for a closely run battle to finish. But the former Bridgeport Sportsman runner was up to the challenge.
Barry Christman, Jr., of Northampton continued his dominance in the Pro4 Late Models as the current pint leader raced to his fifth win in six starts.
Kempton’s Roger Snyder held off Wayne Krenn in a race long nose-to-tail duel and in the process annexed his first Micro Stock win of the season.

Modified Feature Finish, 100 Laps: 1. Matt Hirschman, 2. Earl Paules, 3. John Markovic, 4. John Bennett, 5. Mike Carroll, 6. Terry Markovic, 7. Kevin Rex, Jr., 8. Chip Santee, 9. Joe Mooney, 10. Don Wagner, 11. Anthony Sesely, 12. Lonnie Behler, 13. Matt Higgins, 14. Tyler Haydt, 15. CJ Jones, 16. Scott Adams, 17. Ed Heim, 18. Jason Collins

Late Model Feature Finish, 25 Laps: 1. Geno Steigerwalt, 2. Austin Kochenash, 3. Paul Koehler, Jr., 4. Paul Skodacek, 5. Dave Wallace, 6. Rick Wallace, 7. Beau Drobot, 8. Mike Sweeney, 9. Glenn Slocum, 10. Raven Schrantz, 11. Cole Lenhart, 12. George Ramos Did not start: Mike VanFossen

Street Stock Feature Finish, 25 Laps: 1. Gene Bowers, 2. Shawn Sitarchyk, 3. Austin Santee, 4. Randy Ahner, Jr., 5. Jeremy Miller, 6. Todd Ahner, 7. Kevin Smith, 8. Justin Mooney, 9. Jon Moser, 10. TJ Gursky, 11. Steven Steigerwalt, 12. Jason Frey, 13. Steve Hoffman, 14. Jamie Smith, 15. Adam Santee, 16. Joe Stamm, 17. Jillian Long, 18. Chris May, 19. Cory Swartz, 20. Matt May, 21. Josh Mooney, 22. Ethan Rutherford, 23. Tony Turrano
Did not qualify: Paul Effrig, JR Moser

Dirt Modified Feature Finish, 20 Laps: 1. Scott Hulmes, 2. Mike Stofflet, 3. Bill Briggs, 4. Kris Graver, 5. Randy Thomas, 6. Joe Stangle, 7. Mike Stringer, 8. DJ Wagner, 9. Dave Thomas

Pro4 Late Model Feature, 20 Laps: 1. Barry Christman, Jr., 2. Corey Hill, 3. Aleia Geisler, 4. Chad Keiser, 5. Taya Wentz, 6. Jake Kibler

Micro Stock Feature Finish, 15 Laps: 1. Roger Snyder, 2. Wayne Krenn, 3. John Rakos, 4. Brian Correll, 5.AJ Fuge, 6. Calvin Carroll, 7. Bob Wagner, 8. Suzie Carroll, 9. Dave Allen, 10. Tyler Wagner, 11. Mario Oberto, 12. Bill Darling