Patnode Holds Off Hirschman For $10,000 Racers Honoring Racers 100 Victory at Star
By Jeff Brown
EPPING, N.H. – In a battle of pit strategy, the driver who came out on top was the driver who never pitted at all.
Todd Patnode foiled Matt Hirschman’s late-race charge to claim the checkered flag in Saturday night’s Racers Honoring Racers 100 at Star Speedway, pocketing a $10,000 winner’s purse in the open-competition Modified showdown.
The multiple-time Monadnock Speedway champion from West Swanzey, N.H., started out front, led every lap, and held off one of the Northeast’s best challengers en route to a milestone victory at “The Place to Race.”
Patnode and Hirschman were two of the seven drivers that stayed out under the night’s second caution on lap 38, when most of the field opted to pit for adjustments and a single tire. Outside polesitter Jake Johnson and Teddy Hodgdon vaulted into second and third on the restart, while Patnode continued to set the pace.
When the yellow flew again on lap 52, Johnson, Hodgdon and Hirschman pulled to the pits for their stops, leaving only Patnode, Mike Collins and Tour-type neophyte Jeffrey Battle who had yet to pit. Matt Swanson, fresh off an Open Wheel Wednesday victory at Seekonk Speedway just a few days prior, slipped past Collins for second when racing resumed, looking for his second win in four days.
Hirschman, the winner of last summer’s Racers Honoring Racers 100, restarted 19th and patiently worked his way through traffic, but a nudge from Hodgdon on lap 68 sent the pre-race favorite for a spin, dealing what seemed like a fatal blow to his opportunity to cash in.
Three laps later, though, a stack-up in turn four breathed new life into Hirschman’s hopes.
“Big Money Matt” restarted eighth with 29 laps remaining, quickly climbing to fifth, then third, then passing Swanson for second with ten laps to go. Hirschman closed the gap to Patnode, but with lots of money on the line, Patnode was not about to let Hirschman cruise on by.
And with four laps to go, a crash deep in the field erased Patnode’s slim advantage on Hirschman, staging the two competitors wheel-to-wheel to settle the score.
Hirschman worked the outside line on the restart, staying even with Patnode down the backstretch. But Patnode locked Hirschman out of the preferred groove, slowing the red No. 60 and dropping him to third with only a couple circuits remaining. Hirschman drove past Swanson for second, but by then, the white flag was in sight with no time to run Patnode back down.
The winner of Star’s rain-delayed SBM 125 in 2018, Patnode crossed the line first to collect the $10,000 winner’s check and his second-ever win at the Epping, N.H. quarter-mile.
Hirschman, a seven-time winner at Star, was unsatisfied with second, but recognized the turns of fate that kept him in contention late in the running. Swanson finished third, coming up short of delivering car owner Gary Casella two wins in less than a week.
Hodgdon raced through the field to finish fourth, with Ryan Doucette fifth in the final rundown.
Vermont’s Joey Jarvis was sixth, ahead of veteran Kirk Alexander, whose team was awarded before the race for Best Appearing Modified. Kevin Iannarelli ended the evening in eighth, with home track favorite Jeffrey Battle and Derek Robbie rounding out the top ten.
The Racers Honoring Racers 100 is a joint effort between MDP Motorsports Promotions and promotional team The Racing Guys to pay tribute to the contributions and successes of New England’s racing legends. Supermodified star Bentley Warren, Modified racer Butch Perry, car builder and owner Art Barry, and former Star Speedway patriarch Bob Webber, Sr. were all recognized in Saturday’s second running of the event.
MDP Motorsports Promotions and The Racing Guys thank their longtime supporters for making these events possible, including Ron Bouchard Auto Stores, Key Auto Group, Maurice Enterprises of Claremont, N.H., Hoosier Tire East, and Fuller RV Sales & Rental.
Please follow MDP Motorsports Promotions on Facebook for more information on our upcoming events.
RESULTS, Racers Honoring Racers 100, July 1, 2023
1. (24) Todd Patnode
2. (60) Matt Hirschman
3. (25) Matt Swanson
4. (55CT) Teddy Hodgdon
5. (55) Ryan Doucette
6. (04) Joey Jarvis
7. (76) Kirk Alexander
8. (27I) Kevin Iannarelli
9. (19) Jeffrey Battle
10. (27MA) Derek Robbie
11. (02) Mike Collins
12. (21) Tyler Barry
13. (3MA) Jake Johnson
14. (18) Andrew Martell
15. (25NH) Brian Robie
16. (43) Devin O’Connell
17. (50) Matthew Kimball
18. (47) Jacob Perry
19. (17) Donnie Lashua
20. (99) Richard Savary
21. (52) Mark Bakaj
22. (85) Anthony Bello
23. (55X) Robert Bloxsom III
24. (23) Brad Zahensky
25. (20) Max Zachem
DNS (66) Gabe Brown