PORT ROYAL, Pa. – Mike Mahaney had to sweat out his first win with the Short Track Super Series in his 67th series start Thursday night at Port Royal Speedway.
The King Ferry, N.Y., driver managed an overheating engine that hovered around 230 degrees for much of the 40-lap preliminary feature, which leads up to Saturday’s Speed Showcase 200. On the cool down lap, Mahaney stopped at the turn four pit entrance so his team could promptly soothe his power plant with cold water.
By weekend’s end, Mahaney needs the engine to last 200 laps with $50,000 on the line.
“Sorry for the wait,” Mahaney told the crowd once he reached victory lane. “Trying to cool [the engine] off. We didn’t want to do any damage. The motor costs more than the paycheck.”
Mahaney did collect $5,500 for his 1.942-second win over Mat Williamson, the reigning Speed Showcase 200 champion. It was only a matter of time Mahaney’s steadiness would take him to victory lane.
Entering Thursday, Mahaney had finished on the podium seven times in 17 Short Track Super Series races without a win to his credit this year. That changed when he thwarted polesitter Ryan Godown from the top spot on lap 12.
Nationally, it’s Mahaney’s fifth big block modified win of the year in 86 events.
“Just really cool to win here,” Mahaney, who led the final 29 laps, said.
“This car has been great,” he added. “If we can get the thing to cool off, it’d be good in the $50,000-to-win race. … I hope this thing lasts through the 200 laps [on Saturday].”
Godown, a weekly racer at New Jersey’s Bridgeport Motorsports Park, landed the pole for the preliminary feature when his drive from the fifth-starting spot to second in his heat made him redraw eligible.
Mahaney started third and ran down Godown in traffic two laps before a caution for David Vanhorn.
Godown stayed within striking distance of Mahaney from laps 14 through 28, the race’s longest green-flag run, and pulled to two cars of the lead at one point. Seventh-running Stewart Friesen drew the last caution of the night when he stopped on the frontstretch.
That set up a 12-lap run to the checkered flag, and Mahaney checked out once things resumed. Behind him, however, the battle for second raged.
Godown had actually jumped into clean air on the initial restart with 12 laps to go, but officials called it back because Mahaney, the control car, didn’t fire first.
On the second attempt, Godown retracted while Williamson, restarting third, saw a window to take second underneath the New Jersey driver.
While Godown cut off the top side of turn four, Williamson gained position inside and stayed on the gas. Contact ensued, as Williamson hip-checked Godown up the banking and into the runner-up spot.
Godown didn’t let Williamson get away and expressed his displeasure in the closing laps.
“It’s a shame we have to go through a back bumper after the race because the guy from Jersey gets upset when you race him like he races everybody else in Jersey,” Williamson said. “I mean, everybody watches Bridgeport every week. The guy’s an asshole, and I’m an asshole all of sudden because he doesn’t fire on a restart.”
Godown held on to third, while Alex Yankowski and Ryan Watt rounded out the top five.
Billy Pauch Jr., Anthony Perrego, Andy Bachetti, Craig VonDohren and Larry Wight completed the top 10.
Short Track Super Series North Region points leader Matt Shepered finished 11th and needed a provisional to start Saturday’s feature.
Night two of Speed Showcase weekend at the half-mile clay oval in the Juniata River Valley takes place Friday with qualifying for Saturday’s feature.
Time trials and 20-lap heat races will set the stage for the second running of the 200-lap main event. Action can be streamed on SPEED SPORT TV affiliate Dirt Track Digest TV.
Mike Mahaney, Mat Williamson, Ryan Godown, Alex Yankowski, Ryan Watt, Billy Pauch Jr., Anthony Perrego, Andy Bachetti, Craig VonDohren, Larry Wight, Matt Sheppard, Joseph Watson, Brandon Grasso, Peter Britten, Alan Johnson, Brett Haas, Mike Gular, Dominick Buffalino, Jared Umbenhauer, Ryan Susice, Jeff Strunk, Dillon Steuer, Sammy Martz, Stewart Friesen, Billy Decker, David Vanhorn Jr., Tyler Dippel, Max McLaughlin, Justin Wright, Duane Howard, Michael Maresca, David Schilling.