Matt Hirschman and Ron Silk came into the Tri Track Open Modified Series’ season-ender dead even for the points lead. The hundred-lap Haunted Hundred, also Seekonk Speedway’s final racing event for 2018 would settle it once and for all, and as TTOMS’ announcer told the crowd:  “This is it.  No tie-breakers.  They’re tied. Whoever comes in ahead of the other wins it.”

            Hirschman and Silk, with a great flair for drama, found themselves running 1-2 on lap 85 and put on a classic duel to the checkers over those final 15 circuits.

            Spence’s words reigned prophetic as the two drivers slugged it out for all the marbles, knowing whichever won the race also grabbed all the accolades for the long season.  In the final analysis, Hirschman held Silk off for the rest of the distance, hauling down the grand prize.

            It hadn’t been Hirschman’s day at all.  He was unable to finish either the heat race or the conci, pitting late-race in both.  He came in on the single provisional spot awarded, started dead last, and languished there for the first 26 laps, while Keith Rocco romped at the front avidly pursued by Brian Robie, Chris Pasteryak and Dana DiMatteo.

            But a lap 26 spin by Colbey Fournier and a number of pit-stops for adjustments on the option, Hirschman vaulted ten spots to seventeenth, and he began to gel.

            Silk fared better in the early going, starting eighteenth and moving steadily forward.  He passed Pasteryak into the top five on lap 35, where a battle was raging.

            Rocco shot off the pole, away from DiMatteo, with Chase Dowling on his coattails.  Pasteryak grabbed third and DiMatteo settled in at fourth.  Patnode held onto fifth as the leaders ran hot and hard in chase mode. It wasn’t until Les Hinckley got by Anthony Nocella to work on Patnode and finally slipped underneath and into fifth on lap 14.

            Rocco was leading Dowling by four lengths and Pasteryak was third.  DiMatteo was six cars back of Pasteryak with Hinckley on the hunt behind him.  Rocco pushed his lead to seven cars just before Hinckley went under and into fourth.  Pasteryak then ducked under Dowling and Hinckley followed him through. It was then that Fournier spun with multiple cars pitting for adjustments.

            Rocco sprinted away from Dowling on the restart, but two laps later, caution waved again.  Rocco bolted back to the lead but this time, Hinckley slipped under Dowling into second.  Matt

Galko slowed suddenly down the backstretch and ran high brining another caution.

            They relined and Rocco was looking at Hinckley on his shoulder and Pasteryak in his rear-view mirror with DiMatteo alongside. Keith zoomed away and Pasteryak got under Hinckley, who decided to battle for the spot.  He nosed ahead in turn two, grabbed second in turn four and fastened onto Rocco’s bumper.

            Silk was making his presence known, now, moving to fifth on Dowling’s rear.  Meanwhile, Hirschman was moving to sixteenth.  Carl Medeiros, Jr.s’ spin in turn four brought another caution.  Two more quick yellow flags set up a lap 36 restart with Rocco, Hinckley, Dowling, Silk anmd Pasteryak the top five.  But now Hirschman was moving and restarting tenth, behind Nocella, DiMatteo, Matt Swanson and Danny Cugini.

            Rocco was away again and Dowling got under Hinckley; Silk held fourth with Nocella in pursuit.  Dowling went after Rocco and finally succeed him at the front on lap 38. Hinckley held on to third and Silk to fifth.  Hirschman was now eighth, in pursuit of Swanson,who was now chasing Nocella. Pasteryak ran between Silk and Nocella.

            The field stretched out again, and the top eight ran in order until a lap 55 caution when Rob Richardi spun.  Half the field took the time to pit for tires during yellow flag laps.  This included Silk, who came back out into the fourteenth spot.  It was a big boost for Hirschman, who bounded up to fourth, the slot Silk had vacated to get the n ew rubber.

            As they resumed, Dowling retained his lead while Hinckley slid Rocco Back to third and Hirschman followed, leading Swanson, Anthony Selsey and Patnode.  Hirschman immediately dug in unbder Rocco, looking for third and then began looking to duck under Hinckley.  Les denied him the initial attempt.  Then Robie and Andy Jankowiak spun in turn two.

            Silk was up to twelfth, now.  On the restart, Dowling ran ahead and Hirschman followed under Hinckley.  He looked under the leader but was denied.  Swanson got under Rocco looking for fourth just before another caution. This put Dowling and Hirschman side-by-side at the front with Hinckley and Rocco behind them, just ahead of Swanson and Selsey.  Dowling squirted ahead by Hirschman let it loose and charged ahead out of turn two. Cowling dropped in ahead of Rocco with Hinckley fourth ahead of Swanson, who ducked underneath Keith to steal fourth.

            Silk began sliding forward as the field ran ten consecutive laps without caution.  On the lap 71 restart, he was now seventh.  It took three tries to get the lap 71 taken care of, and another spin called for a lap 72 caution.  Hirschman now had Swanson on the outside with Dowling and the returning Pasteryak behind him. Selsey and Nocella were row three – and Silk lurked low on the grid behind them.

            Hirschman reclaimed the lead and Swanson dropped into second.  Dowling was under Pasteryak.  But Silk was coming:  he got under Pasteryak into fourth on lap 77 and climbed onto

Dowling’s bumper, then deprived him of third.  In the midst of battle, Hirschman gained a five car lead over Swanson, who led Silk by ten lengths.  Selsey and Dowling followed.  But with fifteen laps to go, the leads collapsed when Fournier spun.  Now Silk was restarting behind Hirschman in row two. Swanson and Selsey were the outside cars.

            Hirschman escaped Swanson in turn two and Silk drove under him into second as the leader took a five-car lead.  Swanson followed Silk.  Before much could happen, another caution halted things on lap 88.  Now Hirschman and Silk – tied for the championship in points, restarted side-by-side with 12 circuits (4 miles) remaining.  After a false start, the brawled it out and it took Hirschman until turn four to grab the lead.  He led by two cars into lap 90 as Pasteryak, Swanson and Dowling chased Silk.  With five to go, Hirschman was five up on Silk and things looked inevitable, but Pasteryak and Swanson tangled; Pasteryak made a save but Swanson sailed into the infield grass and a restart with two to go was on the  table. Hirschman and Silk lined up again.

            Hirschman pulled away once more and Pasteryak looked under Silk, but Ron shut the door.  Under the white flag, Hirschman pulled a two-car lead and they ran in order to the checkers with Hirschman taking all the marbles:  the Haunted Hundred and the Tri-Track Championship. Silk claimed second with Pasteryak third.  Dowling and Selsey rounded out the top five.  Sixth went to Hinckley, followed by Rob ie, Nocella, Patnode, Rocco and DiMatteo.