NEW SMYRNA BEACH, Fla. – Multiple competitors tried, but no one was going to take the checkered flag away from Craig Lutz on Monday night at New Smyrna Speedway.
Lutz, a three-time NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour race winner, eventually held off Matt Hirschman to win the first Tour-Type Modified feature of the week during the 55th World Series of Asphalt Stock Car Racing.
The New York native started from the pole following an eight-car invert, which put fast qualifier Hirschman in the eighth position at the start. The field was stacked with more than 30 cars after plans for a B-Main were scrapped due to a rain delay during the ARCA Menards Series East opener earlier in the evening.
The result was a caution-filled affair that forced Lutz to survive multiple restarts. The first caution flag of the evening was the most eventful as Jon McKennedy spun off the nerf bar of Ryan Preece coming out of turn two and down the backstretch.
McKennedy’s modified slid to a stop in the middle of the track, leaving several cars that arrived on the scene seconds later with nowhere to go. The eventual multi-car crash resulted in a lengthy red flag period for cleanup.
Every caution happened behind Lutz, but that doesn’t mean his evening was uneventful. He found himself having to fend off challenges from the likes of Patrick Emerling, Ron Silk and, eventually, Hirschman.
Hirschman was able to race his way into contention following a restart with nine laps left when he went from fourth to second. Another restart a few laps later saw Hirschman snatch the lead from Lutz, but officials deemed Hirschman jumped the start and he was forced to give the position back.
Multiple restarts would follow, but each time Lutz was able to fend off Hirschman’s advances to earn his second career World Series victory.
“This is the longest 50 laps I’ve ever raced,” Lutz said in victory lane. “It all worked out. My guys, we struggled a little bit in practice, but awesome group. My crew chief Doug Ogiejko put an awesome car together.
“It’s a big deal to win down here.”
Hirschman settled for second, with Silk coming home third. Six-time NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour champion Doug Coby came from 21st to finish fourth, with two-time Southern Modified Tour champion Burt Myers taking fifth after starting 20th.
Craig Lutz, Matt Hirschman, Ron Silk, Doug Coby, Burt Myers, Anthony Nocella, Ryan Preece, Brian Robie, Chris Finocchario, David Sapienza, J.R. Bertuccio, Danny Knoll Jr., Buddy Charette, Patrick Emerling, Eric Goodale, Matthew Galko, Marcello Rufrano, Chuck Hossfeld, Chris Ridsdale, Jeremy Gerstner, Jimmy Blewett, Ronnie Williams, Jim Gavek, Bobby Jones, Tom Martino Jr., Zane Zeiner, Timmy Catalano, Amy Catalano, Tyler Catalano, Jon McKennedy, Tyler Rypkema, Eddie McCarthy, Stephen Kopcik, Tommy Catalano, Tyler Truex.