ES: Dover: Matt Hirschman race notes

Matt Hirschman Continues To Impress, Sixth At Dover Dover, Del. (Sept. 19, 2008) - Matt Hirschman turned heads last week when he placed fourth in his NASCAR Camping World Series debut at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, a track he had raced at many...

Matt Hirschman Continues To Impress, Sixth At Dover

Dover, Del. (Sept. 19, 2008) - Matt Hirschman turned heads last week when he placed fourth in his NASCAR Camping World Series debut at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, a track he had raced at many times before in a NASCAR Modified. But his second race took place at Dover International Speedway, a track he had never raced on before. Despite that unfamiliarity, Hirschman put in an equally impressive race to bring the No. 9 Gillett-Evernham Motorsports Dodge home in sixth place.

Hirschman, driving a car prepared by Dave Davis Motorsports, learned the track during Thursday's two practice sessions, and then timed in fourteenth-fastest in Friday's qualifying session.

"Practice was a learning experience both for myself and the team," said the Northampton, Pennsylvania driver. "I was just getting comfortable with the track. We were making adjustments to the car and some of them helped, while some of them didn't. At the end of the day, we had come up with a plan for what we needed for Friday and so far the car's responded well to the changes. We timed in fourteenth but we picked up a lot of speed from where we were yesterday."

Hirschman was ninth after an early incident took three leaders out of contention. he narrowly avoided disaster on lap 54 when another car spun ahead of him and he had to jam on the brakes to avoid it as it careened off the banking to the inside of the track. He pitted just once under this caution while others pitted as many as three separate times, and this moved him up to third place on the restart. Another strategy move had him stay on the track for the next caution and this moved him all the way to the race lead.

After enjoying a handful of laps at the front, Hirschman was passed after the lap 77 restart. He hung in second, still on old tires, for ten laps before more cars made their way by. But a lap 102 caution allowed him to come to pit road for fresh tires of his own, setting himself up for a strong race to the finish.

"We stayed on the original tires for a long time," he said, "and they were pretty much worn out while most guys came in and took on tires. We adjusted the car based on how we were running at the time on the old tires and those adjustments, combined with new tires, tightened us up quite a bit and we could have had a better car at the finish than what we did."

Restarting ninth, Hirschman raced hard, but clean, to finish sixth.

"For the first time here at Dover, it went really well," he said. "Both races we've run in this series have been great efforts on all parts: good car, good team, and I've performed well driving it. New Hampshire was a track that I'd already raced on, but I've never run here before and this place is pretty wild. To race as well as we did and to finish as well as we did is a great effort."

He commented on the fact that he's run two Camping World Series races and has yet to really put a mark on the car.

"So far, I've given the guys that I'm racing with a lot of respect, and I've gotten it in return," he said. "You're always going to have your times where you get together with somebody, but if both drivers competing for a position give each other the proper respect, you shouldn't have to touch each other. I'm glad that I could keep the car clean for these guys because it's a lot less work for them, and still get good finishes.

"It's been a great opportunity to drive for Gillett-Evernham and Dave Davis, and I can't thank them enough for having this chance to race with them and get the experience to race at a track like Dover. It's been a great opportunity and I hope they agree that it's been good so far," Hirschman continued.

-credit: ajc

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