In the headlines recently has been Kurt Busch, who is preparing to become the first driver in 10 years to attempt the Indy 500/Coca-Cola 600 double. While Busch’s task is by no means an easy one, on any given weekend there are short track drivers across the United States who race multiple times in a short window, often at different locations or in varying types of cars.
Fittingly on Memorial Day weekend, “Big Money” Matt Hirschman looks to collect the winning check on three occasions in three states for three different teams within a less than 48-hour span.
“I don't know if I've ever done three days in a row before,” recalled Hirschman. “I'd really have to think about it, but I know I've run twice in one day and I know I've run plenty of back-to-back.”
With his vast amount of seat time at each track as well as logistics, the Northampton, Pennsylvania driver sees it as an opportunity to race as much as possible.
“I think it's going to work out fine,” Hirschman told Speed51.com powered by JEGS. "I think in terms of travel it kind of makes sense. We're going to Connecticut over to New York and then down towards home to go to Evergreen. I don't think it should be too much of an issue.”
First up this weekend will be Stafford Motor Speedway (CT) on Friday where he and NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour champion owner Wayne Darling look to build on their result from the Spring Sizzler held at Stafford last month.
“We just communicated some on what we had there the last time and hopefully we improve on that,” said Hirschman. “There's room for improvement. We ended up with a ninth place finish. I think we can definitely bump that up. Hopefully we bump it way up.”
The next day it will be off to Oswego Speedway (NY) where Hirschman not only hopes to win his third straight Race of Champions event of the season, but also rides a streak of four straight wins at “The Steel Palace." However, Hirschman remarked that wins do not come easy at the unique .625-mile track that has four corners but is not technically an oval. The shorter 75-lap distance the competitors will face on Saturday evening could make things a little difficult.
“Last year we won all three and I won three there in 2008, but I went from 09, 10, 11 into 12 without winning a race there,” said Hirschman. “It wasn't that I didn't have a car that could win. It's a tough place. That race, a lot of times track position is important starting right in the heat races. Good draws can really help there.”
On Sunday afternoon it will be the first trip of the year to a track Hirschman has enjoyed a good amount of success at, Evergreen Raceway Park (PA) about an hour from his hometown. It will also be the first time in 2014 driving Bob Horn’s No. 50 Modified, in which they won the King of the Mountain event late last year when the facility was still known as Mountain Speedway. The 75-lap show will be the first for a five race “Poker Series” in which the winning poker hand based on finishing positions will be awarded a $1,000 bonus in addition to each race’s winnings, Sunday’s top prize being $3,000 to the race winner.
This is the new track management’s first big event and Hirschman is optimistic that things are going in the right direction.
“I think it's more inviting than it was looking and hopefully they get a good turnout too,” Hirschman said. “They deserve it and we've got to support these tracks to keep them going.”
Through his knowledge of the bigger events and familiarity with what will attract his opponents, Hirschman shared advice with those running the show as well.
“They seemed to have listened and I gave them some feedback as well about not having such a high entry fee and also a four-tire limit,” said Hirschman. “We don't need to be buying more than four tires to run 75 laps there.”
It has been a cooler and precipitation-filled start to the year throughout New England and the Northeast, and the chance to run at a more regular pace should prove to be an advantage.
Hirschman’s season got off to a slow start before his first win of the year in the opening Race of Champions Asphalt Modified Tour race at Chemung Speedrome (NY) in early May. He then continued that momentum into Lee USA Speedway (NH) climbing to a win from the back of the field in the Tri Track Modified open show the following weekend. After a second Race of Champions victory at Shangri-La II Motor Speedway (NY) on Sunday, he now finds himself with three straight wins in 2014.
Looking forward altogether, Hirschman takes it one race at a time.
“I've won races by dominating and leading every single lap, and I've won races by a last lap pass from behind. Every race is a new challenge. I always use that saying ‘you play the hand you're dealt’ and you just come into each day with an open mind each race and go from there.”
Weather permitting, the holiday weekend will set itself up for Matt Hirschman to potentially do something he has never done before, which is saying a lot for a driver that has already accomplished many achievements in his still young career.