Matt Hirschman Makes First Appearance at Shangri-La II In ROC'n Concrete Rumble on Sun., May 16, But The ROC Series Champion Is No Rookie
The saying "The acorn doesn't fall very far from the tree" definitely applies to Matt Hirschman, the defending champion of the Race of Champions paved track modified tour that arrives at Shangri-La II Motor Speedway on Sunday, May 16, for its premier showing on the concrete half-mile oval.
His father, Tony Hirschman, is a five-time champion of NASCAR's open-wheel division, and one of the talents he passed on to his son was the ability to "read" a new race track. That is, the knack of looking at the track, deciding how it is similar and how it differs from well-known tracks, and setting up the race car to go fast the first time it rolls off the truck.
Many of the rivals Hirschman will face in the 75-lap ROC'n Concrete Rumble, which is also the opening race for the series in 2010, have experience on the unique layout. Some, like track champion John Markovic, are weekly regulars at the Concrete Castle and have hundreds of laps under their belt, even though the track just opened last July. Others, including former series title winner Pete Brittain, have made only scattered appearances, but their crew chiefs have the invaluable setup notes on file. Hirschman's closest encounter has been sitting in the stands at Shangri-La II's Concrete Duals season opener on May 1.
New Favorites Emerge On Opening Day At Shangri-La II; Mothers' Day Delight This Saturday Will See Title Races Start To Take Shape
The times may be changing at Shangri-La II Motor Speedway. Last Saturday's season opener, the Concrete Duals, saw three of the four feature winners visiting victory lane at the Concrete Castle for the first time. Had the apparent winner in the ASA Late Models not been disqualified at post-race inspection, it would have been four-for-four. All of last year's track champions were in competition, but only Modified title winner John Markovic, who led 46 of 50 laps before surrendering the top spot to Brian Defebo, had the look of a main event winner.
The same four classes take to the track this Saturday afternoon for the Mothers' Day Delight program at the ASA Member Track, a chance for the Shangri-La II community to pay tribute to our mothers on the eve of their special day, with carnations to be presented to the first 100 moms through the gate. Pits open at 10:00 a.m. and grandstands follow at 11:30. Practice time is 12:00 noon and the first heat goes on the track at 2:15 p.m.
Making their way to victory lane for the first time, along with Defebo, were Sportsman Modified winner Tony Hanbury, who knocked on the door several times after he began running regularly at Shangri-La II late in the 2009 season, and Street Stock victor Cricket Clonch, who ran infrequently last year. Both have the support they need for the long haul in 2010.
Defebo's Late Pass, Hanbury's Dual Win Highlight Shangri-La II Opener; Clonch and Nurmi also Score Victories
On a hot day of hot competition, Shangri-La II Motor Speedway opened its second year of operation under the ASA Member Track banner Saturday afternoon with Brian Defebo scoring a dramatic victory in the 50-lap Modified feature and Tony Hanbury taking down his second major Sportsman Modified victory in 24 hours. Rick "Cricket" Clonch celebrated his return to full-time racing by sweeping the Street Stock field, while Scott Nurmi was credited with the ASA Late Model honors after apparent winner Tommy Cloce was disqualified at post-race inspection for violating the track gear ratio rule.
Defebo started fifth in the Modified field whch saw 2009 track champion John Markovic take the lead from the pole. A slower car in the outside lane allowed third starting Dean Rypkema and Defebo to move into the top three. Several early cautions slowed the action, eliminating rookies John Ramsey and Scott Conover.
The restart from Conover's accident at lap 14 proved to be the last slowdown of the contest. Defebo rushed past Rypkema at the green flag and began to hound leader Markovic, mostly using the outside groove. Just when it seemed all his rim riding was a bluff to set up an inside pass, Defebo mounted his final attack at the five-to-go sign. On lap 47 he thrust to the high side of Markovic in turn 2, rode side-by-side down the back straight, and cleared Markovic with an outside power move as they swung off turn 4. In the remaining four laps Defebo stretched his , lead to nearly a full second,
Markovic barely held off a charging Rick Zacharias for second, while Daren Scherer and Rusty Smith were a distant fourth and fifth. Jimmy Zacharias, Jim Storace, Andy Walko, Larry Fisher, and Rypkema completed the top ten. Defebo, Storace, and Smith were heat race winners.
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