Monday October 3, 2005


By Brian Danko                       
Click on Photos for Full Size Version

STAFFORD, CT--------Tony Hirschman hardly shows much emotion. That is one of the reasons that you can't count out the four time modified tour champion because of his business like approach to racing.

But Hirschman showed that the Carquest Fall Final meant a lot to his chances to win a fifth title as he dominated the race, leading 133 of the 150 lap event.

Hirschman, of Northampton, Pa. won for the fifth time on the Whelen modified tour and cut the points lead deficit from 61 to 36 points over Ted Christopher, who finished fifth.

"It's getting down to the nitty-gritty, you have to do what you have to do." An elated Hirschman said as he climbed from the Kamco Supply Chevrolet. "We worked hard yesterday, the car wasn't right so we made changes and then we made some last minute changes this morning."

Hirschman, who has perfected the art of going the whole way on tires, used that same strategy Sunday on a perfect afternoon for racing at the Stafford Motor Speedway.

"I got a little bit loose at the end but you have to expect that going 150-laps on the tires. It's not often you have a car this good."

Hirschman, who has finally figured out the Stafford Speedway, just played with everyone according to Chuck Hossfeld who came home third, just behind Donny Lia who was the runner up on three tires.

Donny Lia was charging at the end of the race picking off Jerry Marquis for third on lap 142 and then Hossfeld on lap 144. But on the last lap, the left front tire came off the Huntington Honda Chevrolet on the final lap, going through the fence and reportedly hit a vehicle in the parking lot.

"We had a decision to make around lap 50." Hirschman told the media as to whether to pit or not. "The car was perfect and I said do we come in or not. None of the guys I was battling with came in so we decided to stay out for another caution or so."

Luckily for Hirschman that he didn't pit because another caution didn't come out since the second and final caution on lap 49.

"We were just gonna run to the end. I like these kinds of races. You see what you got." Hirschman said thinking forward to the final two tour races at the Thompson Speedway.

Hirschman gave his crew and his son and crew chief, Matt, credit for giving him a great handling car and said that its fun to race when the car is this good.

"I am looking forward to Thompson, we run real good there so it should be interesting. Ted also runs good there."

For Donny Lia, needless to say, he had an interesting weekend as the Long Island driver won the pole for the event on Saturday and redrew in the fifth spot but then Lia missed the drivers meeting and had to start last on the field.

"I screwed up by not going to the drivers meeting. We struggled somewhat this weekend on communications but overall we had a good day." Lia commented.

When he was asked about the tire coming off, he smiled, "Somehow we managed to get across the finish line. It broke in three and I just hit the gas but then as I cross the finish line, I'm like how am I going to stop?"

"I hit something on the grass and that spun me around and I stopped on the track." Happy that none of the oncoming drivers hit him.

The race started with Carl Pasteryak and Jimmy Blewett on the front row and it was the Jersey Rocket, Blewett leading for the first 16 circuits before Hirschman powered by with Reggie Ruggiero on his rear bumper.

It was the Ruggiero of old that brought the fans to their collective feet as Ruggiero used all of his knowledge to get by Hirschman but Tony had more than enough to hold the Reg at bay. The two opened up a big advantage over Blewett and his brother, John, as well as Carl Pasteryak and Jamie Tomaino.

A good battle for the fifth spot was developing on the 25th lap as John Blewett, Eric Beers and Chuck Hossfeld were all fighting for position.

The field stayed pretty much status quo until Zack Sylvester spun his car in the third turn bringing out the second and what would turn to be the final caution on lap 49.

Hirschman, Hossfeld, Charlie Pasteryak, Ted Christopher, Jerry Marquis all stayed on the track and didn't pit.

Steve Park, who returned to his racing roots, dropped out on lap 67 with front-end problems. Park was a teammate to Ted Christopher, driving one of the Mystique Motorsports cars.

Jerry Marquis now had the Mystic Missile in the fourth spot and was knocking on the door of Ted Christopher who was third on lap 77.

On lap 89, Marquis completed the pass to take fourth as the lead group of Hirschman, Hossfeld, Marquis, Christopher and Charlie Pasteryak continued to set a blistering pace.

As the trio clicked off lap 100, they were pulling away from Christopher in the fourth spot and fighting their way through lapped traffic.

Hirschman continued to slowly pull away from Chuck Hossfeld but now it was Donny Lia moving up as he went by Marquis with 8 to go. Then with just six laps left, went past Hossfeld but it was too little too late as Hirschman cruised under the checkers as Lia finished on three tires.

"We did what we needed to do." Hirschman told the horde of media who followed the Fall Final. "Now it will come down to Thompson the last two races."

The rest of the top ten was Charlie Pasteryak, Eric Beers, Jamie Tomaino, John Blewett, III and Reggie Ruggiero.

Hirschman won $7,850 for the win which was also the 34th of his career, just nine behind Reggie Ruggiero who has 43. Mike Stefanik leads all drivers with 66 wins.


Chuck Hossfeld finished third and the Buffalo, NY driver was happy with the finish.

"I would have loved to pit." Chuck said after the race. "But I have to take my hat off to the 48 crew (Hirschman) they were just playing with us today."

Hossfeld said he almost got Lia at the end as Lia was limping home with three tires.

"I have to thank the whole crew my car. They are a classy bunch of guys and although we haven't won yet, we've had a good season." Hossfeld, one of the media preseason picks to capture the title.

Not only did Steve Park run in the 150-lap race, he also gave command to start engines from the cockpit of his car. Earlier in the day he signed autographs and met with many longtime fans, crewmembers and former competitors.

Donny Lia captured the Bud Pole award for the Fall Final. Lia turned a lap of 18.469 seconds.

Tony Hirschman was second quickest and Ted Christopher was third fastest.

Wayne Anderson, the 1994 NASCAR Whelen modified champions used the past champion provisional to make the race. It is the first time in a while that Wayne has ventured off the Island to compete in a modified race, running just weekly at Riverhead Raceway.

A total of 43 NASCAR modifieds attempted to qualify for the 32 cars staring field.

Some drivers missing the event were Mike Ewanitsko, Tom Bolles, Bobby Santos, III, Wade Cole, Mike Molleur and Howie Brodie.

Matt Hirschman stock continues to rise as he was asked to qualify Mike Stefanik's modified during time trials. Stefanik was racing in the Busch North series event at Lime Rock Park, a road course where he finished fifth.

The 33rd annual Carquest Fall Final was the fourth and final NASCAR Whelen modified tour event at the Stafford Motor Speedway for the 2005 season.

Tony Hirschman won the Spring Sizzler in April while Ted Christopher won the May 150-lap event and it was Tony Hirschman returning to victory lane in August.

Hirschman has been unbelievable at Stafford as in his previous eight races at the tricky half-mile; Tony has four wins and three seconds. His worst finish was 24th in May.

Hirschman is also the defending champion of the Fall Final.

The Stafford Speedway posted total modified tour awards of $80,238. For the 150 event.

Mike Ewanitsko continues to hold the Whelen modified tour track record when Mike toured the track in 18.102 seconds, 99.437 MPH. That record has held up since 2001.

The modified tour heads to the Thompson Speedway this Saturday night, October 8th for the make up Twin 100's for the modified tour and the season finale for the Busch North series.