By MIKE MALLETT
BROCKVILLE, ONT – It’s been a tough year to date for King Ferry, N.Y., driver Mike Mahaney. He and his Doug Emery Motorsports team had yet to register a win and only mustered three top five finishes this season with a best of third. On Saturday night he finally broke through for his second career Lucas Oil Empire Super Sprint (ESS) A-Main win.
Mahaney redrew the pole for the start of the race with Coleman Gulick to the outside. He was able to keep Gulick at bay on the tacky race track in the early go. A caution late set up a dash to the finish where he was forced to keep ESS stalwart Steve Poirier bay. Mahaney was up to the task in taking home the checkers in the 1000 Island RV Centre / Mach 1 Chassis feature event.
“That’s what we needed all year, just a little bit of luck,” stated Mahaney about starting from the pole. “It’s really been a tough year for me and all the teams that I drive for. What a great time turn it around. If I can do anything to inspire any of you guys if you are having a tough time, just keep digging through it. Eventually things get better.”
Mahaney got the lead at the start but that was negated before a lap could be completed as a multi-car melee collected several cars in turn four bringing out the red. Chuck Hebing flipped after contact with Dylan Swiernik who was also involved. Matt Tanner, Jeff Cook and Jason Barney were also collected. All drivers were uninjured with Hebing, Swiernik and Tanner unable to continue.
Mahaney kept the lead on the restart as Gulick looked to keep pace on the high-side as Poirier was marching forward from his ninth position. Mahaney continued to lead on lap five as Poirier moved into third to threaten Gulick for the runner-up position.
The race was slowed on lap nine as Dave Axton and Brett Wright came together in turn four. Wright got into a tire on the bottom of the speedway collapsing his frontend. Axton also suffered damage to the front of his car as well causing him to stop in turn one.
Once the green flag fell it was Mahaney resuming the lead as Poirier shot around Gulick to take the runner-up position. This allowed him to put his full focus on Mahaney. Mahaney was up to the challenge as he kept Poirier in check. Poirier searched and searched for an opening but none came until late.
Mahaney kept up the quick pace catching slower traffic with ten laps remaining. At times he got boxed in as he searched for the right lane to get through the cars at the tail of the field.
“I was trying look ahead to where they were going and stuff, but they got two wide in front of me,” mentioned Mahaney. “The only place to go was the middle. There wasn’t a lot of track there.”
The final yellow flag was flown on lap 23 as Billy VanInwegen got over the cushion in turn four and spun off the speedway surface. This set up a double-file restart with Poirier pulling to the outside of Mahaney for the green flag.
Mahaney got a great jump at the start and beat Poirier into the first corner. From there he opened a gap that Poirier was unable to overcome putting him in Victory Lane.
“There is nothing tougher than Coleman Gulick on the cushion on the start then Steve Poirier at the end when it is slick,” commented Mahaney. “To hold them guys off really feels special.”
Poirier was solid but just not good enough to get a run on Mahaney. By virtue of the second place finish, Poirier moved closer to the top of the point standings as he chases his eighth title.
“Mike did a good job all night long,” cited Poirier. “He was better than us in the heat race. I tried to give him a surprise on that last restart, but things didn’t play out my way. I was surprised he went to the inside. I should have gone to the outside. I was just waiting for a mistake. I’m happy with a good finish.”
Local favorite, Matt Billings made a late rally to get up to the third spot sneaking by Gulick on the final laps to get the spot.
“Thank you to everyone for coming out,” said Billings to the hometown fans. “After the last six weeks we’ve had … I haven’t been doing much right. To get up here and talk to everybody, talk to you makes it fun. We weren’t even going to come tonight because we blew a motor at Can-Am (Speedway) and bent the frame. Mike (Stelter) worked all week fixing this thing. I’m glad I could do something right for him.”
Gulick finished in fourth position after starting on the front row. Shawn Donath advanced from the 19th starting position to complete the top five. Rounding out the top ten were Paul Kinney, Kelly Hebing, Jason Barney, Chris Jones and Jonathan Preston.
Lucas Oil Empire Super Sprints
Mach 1 Chassis A-Main at Brockville – Mike Mahaney ($2,135), Steve Poirier ($1,010), Matt Billings ($810), Coleman Gulick ($630), Shawn Donath ($605), Paul Kinney ($470), Kelly Hebing ($430), Jason Barney ($445), Chris Jones ($435), Jonathan Preston ($500), Chad Miller ($395), Jeff Cook ($320), Billy VanInwegen ($400), Paul Pekkonen ($350), Keith Granholm ($525), Tyler Rand ($300), Dave Axton ($375), Brett Wright ($325), Chuck Hebing ($325), Dylan Swiernik ($300), Matt Tanner ($300)
Car Mate Trailers Heats – Barney, C. Hebing, Mahaney $25
Engler Machine and Tool Halfway – Mahaney $50
Pinnacle Pole Award – Mahaney $50
Insinger Performance Hard Charger – Donath (14 pos), $50
Canadian Sprint Car Nationals 14th Anniversary – Pekkonen $50
Fondations 55 Last Car Lead Lap – VanInwegen $50
Fondations 55 Pick 5 – Donath $25
SUNY Canton Smart Finish – Miller $35
Herbison Tree Service/Cobra Coaches Dash – Preston ($100), Axton ($75), VanInwegen ($50), Wright ($25), Granholm ($25), Jones ($25)
Ashley Lynn Winery Podium – Mahaney, Poirier, Billings $10
Hoosier Tire – Granholm $200
For more Information on the Lucas Oil Empire Super Sprints:
The Lucas Oil Empire Super Sprints are brought to you by: Lucas Oil, Mach 1 Chassis, NAPA Auto Parts, Hoosier Racing Tires, Donath Motorworx, E3 Spark Plugs, Insinger Performance/Sunoco Race Fuels, 1000 Islands RV Centre, Car Mate Trailers, Fondations 4 Saisons, Ohsweken Speedway/Canadian Sprint Car Nationals, Cobra Coaches, Fondations 55, E&V Energy, SUNY Canton, Pinnacle Employee Services, Engler Machine and Tool, Kevin Nouse Design/K1 Racegear, Winters Performance, Brodix Cylinder Heads, Lacaillade Masonry, FX Caprara Ford/Chevy, ASI Racewear and many, many associate sponsors!!