By MIKE MALLETT
CANANDAIGUA, NY – There was no shortage of action in the second round of Donath Motor Worx Central New York Speedweek for the Lucas Oil Empire Super Sprints at the Canandaigua Motorsports Park. Larry Wight and Mike Mahaney thrilled the crowd with a five lap dash to the finish that saw Wight ride the fringes of the racing surface to take home the $3,025 winner’s check.
It was Wight’s second career series triumph as the Modified ace was able to wrestle the lead away from Mahaney over the course of the final laps in the NAPA Auto Parts US Tour A-Main event. Wight’s only prior victory came back with the series in August of 2014 at the Brewerton Speedway which is the next stop on the CNY Speedweek tour.
“It’s awesome to be able to get win like that after following the leaders and seeing where they’re going,” said Wight. “It’s better than starting up there and running away with it. I’ll take one of these anytime.”
Mahaney redrew the pole position for the start of the 25-lap feature. In the opening stages the King Ferry, N.Y., pilot was challenged by Pennsylvania hotshoe Mark Smith. Smith worked the outside lane while Mahaney kept his No. 33 planted on the bottom of the racing surface.
It took Mahaney a handful of laps to dispatch of Smith as he remained a constant threat on the outside of the speedway. Mahaney consistently hit the moisture on the bottom of the track as Smith worked his way higher and higher around the edge.
The pace was torrid early on as Mahaney reeled in traffic with only six laps in the record books. Initially he maintained his fast pace, but eventually traffic got thicker forcing him to begin to alter his line around the race track. Mahaney kept up the quick pace with the driver chasing him changing several times as Smith, Jason Barney and Wight were all over each other vying for second in the running order.
Halfway through the race Mahaney kept his spot while Smith, Barney and Wight were in a dogfight for the runner-up position. Smith controlled it on lap 13 with Barney and Wight right there. Two laps later, Wight made his own lane around the top of the speedway in a groove that only he could run as he rocketed by both drivers to move into second.
“The car was a little iffy there the first five laps, but then I found the top in three and four and it seemed no one was going up far enough to catch the bite like I was,” stated Wight. “It left the lane open for me.”
One circuit later Wight used that line around the outside perimeter to get the lead away from Mahaney as they exited the fourth corner. Mahaney had become slightly bottled up in traffic giving Wight the opportunity to pounce. It was an opportunity he took full advantage of.
It looked like Wight was going to be able to drive away from there but things changed as the only caution of the race was necessary on lap 19. Coleman Gulick exploded a right rear tire which forced him to slow and stop in the fourth turn. The caution bunched everyone up for a double-file restart.
Wight kept the lead at the green as he went right back to the line that helped him navigate his way to the front of the field. Mahaney, who now had clear track, dove low through the first and second corners to nose in front of Wight off of turn two. Wight edged back in front off of turn four with the pair side-by-side at the line.
A lap later the inside lane proved powerful for Mahaney as his run off of the second corner propelled him back around Wight for the lead. He stayed on the bottom through turns three and four to barely keep the lead from Wight. He’d keep the advantage the next lap with the pair again together at the line.
On lap 23, Wight got an exceptional run off the fourth corner to blast by Mahaney coming to the flagstand. He was able to clear Mahaney going into the first turn which allowed him to dive to the bottom of the speedway. Once he got Mahaney’s line down low he remained on the outskirts of turns three and four. He road those two lines to the checkered flag.
“It was real close,” commented Wight. “A couple times I got a good run coming down the frontstretch, but he shut the door. I was able to get a good enough run through three and four to shut the door on him going into one. It definitely worked out to our advantage.”
A second place finish was a major improvement for Mahaney from his last visit to Canandaigua. Back in May his night ended with flip. Thursday night, Mahaney did all he could, but Wight just got enough of a run to get in front of him and take the lead away. He was forced to settle for second. It was his second top five finish of the week.
“It was exciting racing out there,” Mahaney said. “I didn’t expect him to take my lane down there in one and two on the bottom. That’s not like him, but congrats to him. He did a great job. Hopefully we can come back and get the win tomorrow. Last time we were here we had a stupid accident and ended up upside down. This is a big confidence builder with two top five’s going into Speedweek. Hopefully we can keep rolling.”
Smith crossed the line behind Wight and Mahaney giving him a third to go along with his second on opening night. The Sunbury, Pa., driver was just off on his setup. The miss wouldn’t allow him to go as high as he needed to in order to challenge Wight and Mahaney.
“I don’t know these tracks and I didn’t expect it to get this big,” quipped Smith. “I ran out of gear by the time I got to the flagstand running all the way around out there. We messed up a little bit there, but Larry (Wight) drove a hell of a race. I just want to congratulate them guys on a good job.”
Matt Tanner was able to outlast Danny Varin and Jonathan Preston to finish in the fourth spot with Varin earning hard charger honors by advancing from the 14th starting position up to fifth.
Pit Notes: Night #2 of Donath Motor Worx Speedweek saw 27 cars enter into action…Chuck Hebing was fastest in E&V Energy timed warmups with a time of 15.721. It was an average speed of 114.497mph…Shawn Donath was a DNQ when BOTH cars lost power on him…Hebing was the first car out of the A-Main with overheating issues on his No. 45…Jason Barney suffered the same fate as Hebing as he pulled off while running in the top five during the lap 19 caution with overheating issues himself…The caution that came on lap 19 was the first of the week in the A-Main.
Lucas Oil ESS A-Main – Larry Wight ($3,025), Mike Mahaney ($2,175), Mark Smith ($1,025), Matt Tanner ($630), Danny Varin ($690), Jonathan Preston ($470), Lucas Wolfe ($530), Billy VanInwegen ($420), Matt Billings ($410), Kelly Hebing ($425), Paul Kinney ($385), Darryl Ruggles ($320), Coleman Gulick ($375), Steve Doell ($300), Brett Wright ($325), Jeff Cook ($300), Paulie Colagiovanni ($550), Sammy Reakes IV ($300), Scott Holcomb ($300), Yan Bilodeau ($325), Lee Sanders ($350), Mike Haggenbottom ($350), Jason Barney ($300), Chuck Hebing ($350)
Did Not Qualify – Emily VanInwegen, Erik Karlsen, Shawn Donath
Lap Leader – Mahaney 1-14, Wight 15-20, Mahaney 21-22, Wight 23-25.
Hoosier Tires Bridesmaid Bonus – Mahaney $100
E&V Energy Fast Time – C Hebing, Smith, Wight $25
Car Mate Trailers Heats – C Hebing, Kinney, Mahaney $25
Shuttleworth Asphalt Sealing/Cobra Coaches Dash – Wolfe $100, Varin $75, Sanders $50, K Hebing $25, Bilodeau $25, Wright $25
Engler Machine and Tool Halfway – Mahaney $50
Insinger Performance Hard Charger – ( pos), $50
Lacaillade Masonry B-Main – Colagiovanni $50
Ohsweken Speedway 22nd Anniversary – Haggenbottom $50
Scorpion Security Products Last Car Lead Lap – Gulick $50
Robert Symonds Photography Hard Luck – Donath $50
Scorpion Security Products 12 Redraw – Gulick $25
Fondations 55 Pick 5 – Varin $35
Hoosier Tire – Colagiovanni $200
For more Information on the Lucas Oil Empire Super Sprints:
Android App: Empire Super Sprints