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Hirschman's 200th Win Comes in the John Blewett III Memorial 76

Big Money Matt is now the only driver to have won this race three times.


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The decade of dominance continues for Matt Hirschman as ‘Big Money’ became the first three-time winner of the John Blewett III Memorial 76 Tour Type Modified race on Wednesday while also reentering the Speedweeks championship hunt.

Hirschman has now won both of the extra length races held so far at New Smyrna Speedway in the Blewett plus the Whelen Modified Tour opener with one more on Friday night in the Richie Evans Memorial 99. He will be seeking is fourth consecutive victory in that race and sixth in ninth starts.

He says it’s not as easy as it looks.

"I mean, we’ve won our fair share recently and especially in the big races, which is cool but we had our struggles when we first stated coming here in 2009, 10, 13 and 14," Hirschman said. "We won a few then, but we had a lot of struggles and some tough times, some wrecked cars and stuff like that.

"Now with Pee Dee Motorsports, we’ve had a lot of success, six straight years of it and regardless of what happens the rest of the way, I’d call it a success with the Whelen Modified Tour win and tonight."

It was a clinic on Wednesday as Tom Martino Jr. jumped out to a massive early lead with the rest of the field running in a pack and all conserving their tires. Jimmy Blewett, Tyler Rypkema and Hirschman just let him speed away and committed to their plan.

Blewett ultimately finished second but wasn’t surprised when he saw Martino spin and eventually pit before the end of the race.

"That kid will burn the tires off his car in five laps," Blewett said. "He does it every single week, week in and week out, no matter the race track. He wanted to go, and I said, ‘go ahead kid, melt it down,’ and when I saw him spun out with five laps to go and spun out, I just said, ‘great job,’ and moved on."

Hirschman says there’s no specific formula to winning the John Blewett III Memorial 76 because he’s done it by saving and he’s done it with the whole field setting a much faster pace. He says every year is different depending on the timing of cautions and the make-up of the field.

"This race is different because it’s the furthest you’re going to take the tires," Hirschman said. "The 100 lapper, there’s a pit stop and it depends when the caution comes and when you take the tires, but this is likely the furthest you take em all week, and that’s why sometimes conserving and taking the charge late works, and sometimes it doesn’t."

Hirschman also claimed this was his 200th career win.

"It’s been really a great ride," Hirschman said. "Actually tonight was my 200th career win, so there’s a lot of people that have helped make that possible over 20 years. I really appreciate everybody that’s been involved from the beginning until now."

Blewett’s runner-up was his third podium to start the week and places him squarely in the championship lead -- four over Craig Lutz but Wednesday night was about family and community to the Howell, New Jersey native.

"Once again we’re here with another podium finish," Blewett said. "I’ll take a second place. Obviously want to win this one more than anything. Like I said every year, I finish second in all of my brother’s memorial races. We’ll keep coming back and trying.

"I’m very thankful – and I know I’m speaking on my family’s behalf for everybody back home – that they’re continuing to keep my brother’s legacy alive. My brother lived a short life, he was only 33 years old when he lost his life. To see the turnout, the people and the car count that comes year in and year out to show the support not only to my family but to our motorsports family as well. I just want to thank everybody back home that tuned in to watch the race. We’ll never forget John and we’ll keep coming back as many times as it takes."

Lutz now has finishes of first, fifth and third to open his Florida Speedweeks.

"It’s a good run," Lutz said. "Anytime you can finish on the podium, especially with the caliber of guys. Matt’s got this race down to a science and I know Jimmy was trying like hell to get one for his brother. It’s an awesome day to finish on the podium and keep the momentum going for the rest of the week."

Joey Coulter and Patrick Emerling completed the top-five. Spencer Davis has shown speed all week but has been unable to finish races and finally put a complete event together to finish sixth.

John Blewett Memorial 76
Tour Type Modifieds

1. Matt Hirschman
2. Jimmy Blewett
3. Craig Lutz
4. Joey Coulter
5. Patrick Emerling
6. Spencer Davis
7. Tyler Rypkema
8. Andrew Krause
9. Teddy Hodgdon
10. J.R. Bertuccio
11. Eddie McCarthy
12. Cam McDermott
13. Timmy Solomito
14. Amy Catalano
15. Michael Christopher, Jr.
16. Ron Silk
17. David Sapienza
18. Stephen Kopcik
19. Chris Young
20. Tyler Truex
21. Dylan Slepian
22. Tyler Catalano
23. Brian Robie
24. Tom Martino, Jr.
25. Marcello Rufrano
26. Tommy Catalano
27. Earl Paules
28. Dillon Steuer
29. Jeremy Gerstner
30. Chris Ridsdale
31. Chris Andretta
32. Bud McIntyre
33. Jonathan Laurigh
34. Buddy Miller
35. Ronnie Williams
36. Anthony Bello
37. Ricky Moxley
38. Rich Parker