MALTA, N.Y. — Former Albany-Saratoga Speedway DIRTcar modified champion Mike Mahaney has, to put it politely, been struggling this season.
But this week, George Huttig’s Adirondack Auto team dialed their program back a notch and ended up going forward, running down racelong leader Jack Speshock from the fifth row to notch a convincing victory, the sixth of Mahaney’s career on the three-eighths-mile oval.
“We’ve been struggling but finally found the problem,” tipped Mahaney. “We skipped the Super DIRTcar Series race at Can Am to stay home and work on the car. When you race as much as we do, you don’t have time to do what you need to do to get better. You’re lucky to have time to do basic maintenance.
“Earlier in the season we were only good on the bottom. Tonight, we were good there but even faster on the top and even good through the middle when I needed to be.”
Polesitter Speshock blasted off on the initial start and had just hit the stripe to turn the lap counter to four when someone went around behind him, triggering a huge melee that crippled a number of cars. The return to green saw low groove master Marc Johnson, who had lined up beside Mahaney but was already fifth, pick off cars one by one to show second at lap ten.
It took Johnson five more laps to get even with the rim riding Speshock but just when it looked like he was going to take the lead, he coasted to a stop in the infield, drawing a yellow. The resulting restart saw Mahaney, now third, shoot under Robert Bublak for second and start working the young leader, who had yet to finish a race this season.
The battle was interrupted when Peter Britten drew up with a flat tire on lap 20, setting the stage for the night’s only lead change. Speshock chose the bottom for the restart and Mahaney sailed around him in turns one and two and drove off to a comfortable lead in the remaining 15 laps.
“It would have been better to win but it’s good to finally finish,” tipped Speshock. “I would have taken the outside on that last restart but I figured it was too far around the top and he’d get under me. Then I spun my tires on the black part of the track and he drove by me anyway.”
Jessey Mueller ended up third after a battle with Kenny Tremont Jr with Demetrious Drellos and Keith Flach rounding out the top five.
The second five consisted of Bublak, Jeremy Pitts, Jack Lehner and Derek Bornt.
Chad Jeseo claimed the wild $1,000 to win Pro Stock feature, besting Jason Casey, Scott Towslee, Shane Henderson and Luke Horning after a terrific battle among the top five.
In the Sportsman finale, Daryl Nutting bested a fast-closing Tim Hartman Jr with brothers Zach and Andrew Buff trailing.