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.