LANCASTER, N.Y. — The second win of Austin Beers’ brief NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour career required him to hold off one of the best drivers in the discipline.
With Matt Hirschman all over his back bumper during the final 10 laps of Saturday’s Nu-Way Auto Parts 150 at Lancaster Motorplex, Beers did everything possible to defend his race lead before gradually inching away from Hirschman by the time the checkered flag was displayed.
The triumph at Lancaster proved to be emotional for Beers in several aspects. He dedicated the victory to both his mother and late crew member Nate Appell Jr.
“This is for Nate,” Beers said. “We lost him last month, so this one is for him. My mom was here today, and she had to go to the hospital, so this one is for her, as well.”
By defeating Hirschman on Saturday evening, Beers continued a stellar sophomore campaign on the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour.
The son of former competitor Eric Beers, who won two NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour events between 2005-’06, the younger Beers impressed many in the garage area by leading 102 of 150 laps from the pole at Richmond Raceway in March to score his maiden victory.
Since then, Beers has tallied two more poles (Riverhead Raceway and Wall Stadium) with both races seeing him lead more than 50 laps apiece. A 17th in the first Riverhead event is Beers’ only finish outside the top 10 in a year that has seen him complete all but one lap.
Beers carried that efficiency into his first Lancaster appearance on the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour. A time of 17.317 seconds in qualifying put him third on the starting grid behind Hirschman and three-time series champion Justin Bonsignore.
After dispatching Bonsignore on the first green flag run of the evening, Beers took advantage of a long pit stop from Hirschman to slot into the lead. Hirschman methodically worked his way back through the field to chase down Beers but ran out of time to claim his third win on the season.
A late caution for Anthony Sesely’s crash gave Hirschman one last chance to chase down Beers, but he saw his chances evaporate with every lap Beers led under green.
“We were just making up for lost ground on the pit stop there,” Hirschman said. “To make a better race, we needed a caution. We just gave up a little bit more than I would have liked to have seen. With every lap, [Beers] was inching away and [the pass] would needed to have come on the restart.
“I just didn’t get it done tonight.”
The start of the Nu-Way Auto Parts 150 had the makings of another dominant Hirschman victory after he passed the pole-sitter in Bonsignore. Hirschman’s other two NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour wins in 2023 saw him lead 323 of 325 possible laps.
Although he was disappointed to come home second, Hirschman enjoyed the challenges provided by Lancaster’s unique layout. He hopes the speed and hard work shown on Saturday carries over into his next NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour appearance.
“I enjoy coming to Lancaster,” Hirschman said. I’ve always said this place is made for modifieds. With that [late] caution, we made a race out of it. I would have liked to come out on top, but we’ll have to try again next time.”
With his victory, Beers joined Patrick Emerling as the only other driver to take home a NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour checkered flag at Lancaster. Emerling’s triumph in the inaugural event came in 2021.
Trying to fight off Hirschman to become the second Lancaster winner was far from an easy task for Beers. Although he was flawless on track during the final laps, Beers said the crucial turning point was his crew perfectly executing their lone pit stop to get him the lead, which he did not surrender for the rest of the evening.
“This means a lot, especially with everything that has happened the last month,” Beers said. “Since we switched [tire] compounds, we’ve been struggling a little bit, but we’ve been trying to get back on track. This team did a hell of a job and had a hell of a pit stop.
“They won me this race.”
Beers still has plenty of ground to make up to get back in contention for the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour title, but his confidence is high as he looks to add to his win total over the final eight races of the year.
Ron Silk maintained control of the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour points lead with a third-place run over Bonsignore in fourth. Chuck Hossfeld completed the top-five finishers.
Tommy Catalano, Doug Coby, Bryan Narducci, Kyle Bonsignore and Kyle Ebersole rounded out the top 10.