October 26, 2019
Seekonk Horror: Chase Dowling Wins Tri-Track Haunted Hundred After Last Lap Chaos, Matt Hirschman DQ
A www.racedayct.com article
SEEKONK, Mass. – As the laps clicked off toward the finish of the Tri-Track Open Modified Series Haunted Hundred Saturday at Seekonk Speedway, a steady stream of cars rolled toward the back of the facility where the “Fear Town” haunted house had opened its gates for the night.
But nothing anybody was seeing at the haunted house could live up to the horrors Ron Silk will have when he thinks about the last lap of Saturday’s Tri-Track feature at Seekonk.
After getting passed by Silk for the lead in turn one on the final lap, Matt Hirschman drove through the grass in turn three and came back out onto the track and intentionally drove into the side of Silk’s car, setting off chaos at the front of the field.
Hirschman’s wild attack spun Silk from the lead and collected third place Matt Swanson and fifth place running Ronnie Williams. Hirschman rolled out of the pileup of leading cars to take the checkered flag first, but was immediately disqualified by series officials.
“I think he’s an --------,” Silk said of Hirschman. “.. I understand it’s the last lap, listen, obviously he’s a really good racer, but what he did today was ridiculous.”
Said Hirschman: “I thought he drove in there and basically drove through me [in turn one] and in return I drove through him. If I look at it and see it differently I’ll own it or whatever, if it was. At the time he caught me by surprise that he was in and bounced into me. You have a few split seconds to make a decision or take action or whatever. Yeah, I drove right through him and cleaned him out. I’ll take a look at it. At the time, I thought, ‘You drive through me, I’ll drive through you.’ But if he was in and then that’s not the case or whatever, it was my bad.”
Chase Dowling, who was running fourth down the backstretch on the final lap, but ultimately crossed the finish line second behind Hirschman, was declared the winner of the event.
“Not a way you want to win,” said Dowling, of Roxbury. “Silk and Hirschman obviously put a clinic on tonight. We were right behind them and you had to be in that position to be there.”
Keith Rocco of Wallingford was second and Andy Jankowiak of Tonawanda, N.Y. third.
Williams limped his damaged car across the start/finish line backwards and was credited with a 20th place finish, which clinched his first series title.
Silk, of Norwalk, was credited with a 21st place finish. Hirschman, of Northampton, Pa, was disqualified from the final running order.
Hirschman inherited the lead under caution on lap 45 after Chris Pasteryak surrendered the top spot to head to the pits. Silk, who was running sixth at the time of the lap 45 caution, also went to the pits and took a new tire.
By lap 70 Silk was back to fifth in the running order. He went by Russ Hersey for fourth on lap 71 and then moved to third past Williams on lap 86. Silk went by Swanson to take second on a lap 88 restart, but after another caution Swanson went back to second on lap 91 restart. Silk fought back by Swanson again and closed on Hirschman on lap 98.
Coming to the white flag Silk took a low line out of turn four and got under Hirschman into turn one with some side-by-side contact. Silk came out of turn two with the lead. But going into turn three Hirschman dove to the track apron and into the grass to intentionally drive into the side of Silk.
“I thought I was in there clean,” Silk said of his pass for the lead in turn one. “I mean, I wasn’t in there by much getting into [turn] one, but I mean I pitted and had a tire at lap  and he went the whole way on his and it was clearly giving up. Did we make a little bit of contact? Sure we did, but it wasn’t anything that was going to wreck him or knock him out of finishing second. I thought we had a better car than him. I was pinned on the bottom so he must have been in the grass to do what he did there going into [turn] three.”
Silk was driving for the Bob Horn Racing team that Hirschman also drives for in selected events.
“I basically reacted and you don’t have much time to really make a decision when you know it’s the last lap or whatever,” Hirschman said. “I hate that being that I have a good relationship with that team and I actually drive for that team. When we race against each other I know we each want to beat each other, but at the same time I’m not looking ever to take them out or cost them money and a finish or whatever and it ended up costing us both. I’d like to take a look at it and I’ll own it if that’s the case. It kind of caught me by surprise. I wasn’t expecting him to be where he was and kind of get in there and into me. Obviously the officials made a call on it and I know my retaliation was blatant, that’s obvious, so I own that.”
Swanson, who ended up sixth and had the best view of Hirschman’s actions down the backstretch, described the incident as: “Matt Hirschman being Matt Hirschman.”
“[Silk] made a clean pass,” Swanson said. “[Silk] races aggressive but he doesn’t overly aggressively wreck someone. When you’re four wheels in the dirt before the corner even starts, that’s blatantly taking someone out.”
Williams said he was just trying to roll without issue through the last five laps to clinch the series title.
“Going into turn three [on the last lap] I saw the melee kind of happen with Hirschman and Silk,” Williams said. “I was like ‘Ok, we’ll just dig low.’ And we got hit somehow in the right rear and it spun us around. I was just looking and I was like ‘We’re not at the start/finish line.’ I was so close. At that point you’re just worrying about if Hirschman was going to get disqualified, and Swanson was close in points. I thought it was going to be smooth sailing in the last five laps and just hoping not for a caution. I’m just happy we got it though.”
Williams is in his first year running the series for team owner Gary Casella.
“It means a lot,” Williams said. “Our first year with Gary Casella and these guys. They work so hard. … These guys worked their butts off.”