By BOBBY SWEENEY
FULTON, NY – Mike Maresca has been close on several occasions in 2019 to getting his first “big win.” He came up short earlier this year at the Cornwall Speedway in their Race for the Cure 150 when his teammate Tim Fuller passed him on the final lap.
Saturday night at the Fulton Speedway Maresca was not going to be denied. He was up to the task holding off a late charge from Mat Williamson to take home $20,000 as the winner of the Outlaw 200 at the Fulton Speedway.
Gary Tomkins led the opening laps of the Outlaw 200, chased by Billy Dunn and Matt Sheppard early. Cautions hit early and often, the first yellow flying on lap three for Yan Bussiere and Tom Sears Jr.’s wreck. The first restart of the event saw Sheppard, Mike Maresca, and Larry Wight all get by Dunn, as Dunn slipped to fifth.
Just as Sheppard started to put pressure on Tomkins, Dunn slowed to bring out a lap 13 caution. Ryan Jordan stopped on the following restart, and Gary Lindberg the restart after that. After a couple more laps, a few cars at the back of the field got twisted together for another yellow.
Finally, the lap 33 restart marked the beginning of some green flag racing. Just like before the rash of yellows, Tomkins was under fire from Sheppard, with Sheppard first drawing even on lap 37. Tomkins fought him off and kept the lead, but this battle allowed Maresca to catch both of them.
The top three ran together for a number of laps, with Tomkins and Maresca high and Sheppard low. Tomkins switched to the bottom to defend Sheppard, but Sheppard responded by taking the top and grabbed the lead on lap 47. Maresca followed Sheppard’s path the next lap, putting Tomkins back to third. Tomkins then came under fire from Rob Bellinger and Wight, with Wight getting the best of both drivers at the same time to snag third on lap 53. Just after Wight made that move, a lapped car came to a halt to end the run.
The top three of Sheppard, Maresca, and Wight remained rather calm on the restart, while Tomkins was in a fight with Stewart Friesen and Mat Williamson for fourth. Initially, Sheppard gapped Maresca by nearly three seconds, but Maresca slowly closed in as the lap counter hit 75.
Every few laps, Maresca would take a small chunk out of the lead as the leaders worked through traffic, and heavy traffic with a 44-car starting field. While Williamson and Friesen were having a good battle for fourth, Maresca was within striking distance of Sheppard, drawing to within a car length on lap 90.
However, Sheppard cleared some critical lapped cars in the final laps of the first half, and was scored the leader at the halfway break over Maresca, Wight, Williamson, Tim Fuller, and Friesen. At halfway, Sheppard noted his car “was just a couple small adjustments away from being a winning car.”
After the halfway restart and subsequent two cautions, action began to heat up at the front of the pack. Williamson went to work on Maresca, who in turn was right behind Sheppard. Tim Sears Jr. clawed from the 30’s up to fourth, and also was on Williamson’s rear bumper. The top four were packed together with 115 laps in, with Sheppard keeping everyone at bay running the middle.
Maresca went a lane higher, put the foot down, bounced through the cushion, and drove by Sheppard to lead lap 119. Williamson then shot a slider on Sheppard, a pass that didn’t stick at the time, but Williamson eventually secured the spot by lap 124. This battle allowed Maresca to stretch out to a three second lead over Williamson, who now had Sears behind him instead of Sheppard.
Sears put heavy pressure on Williamson for quite some time, but Williamson finally broke free by lap 135. By this point, all the leaders were in thick traffic, and Maresca was starting to catch some fast cars. Maresca’s lead hit a full straightaway just before lap 150, but the faster lapped cars got increasingly harder to pass.
This allowed Williamson to drastically cut the lead in a short amount of time, as Maresca worked to put a lap on drivers such as Erick Rudolph, Billy Decker, and Jimmy Phelps. By the time Maresca cleared these drivers, his big lead was gone.
Williamson took his first swing on lap 170, pulling even with Maresca. The grip didn’t fall in Williamson’s favor, as Maresca was able to hold him off as the pair split lapped cars.
Williamson had some trouble getting by a couple cars, and allowed Maresca to build up a one second gap, a lead that seemed to stabilize as the leaders got some clear track around lap 180.
Sears had also clawed back to within a couple car lengths of Williamson during this fight, but was running a similar lane and didn’t have a way by. On lap 186, Maresca got into the back of a lapped car and nearly got in trouble, but Williamson couldn’t pounce as he clipped an infield tire at the same time. This hurt Williamson’s momentum worse than Maresca’s, and Maresca got his lead to over a second.
Just as things seemed to be calming down for a moment, Billy Shantel ended up backwards on the backstretch, and the yellow flew on lap 189.
With eleven laps left, Maresca led Williamson and Sears to the restart. For a few laps, Williamson hung within a few feet of Maresca, as Maresca ran half a lane off the bottom and Williamson more towards the top. As momentum built up, Maresca put two car lengths between himself and Williamson, and Williamson had to make a change to not lose any more ground.
With five laps to go, Williamson switched to the bottom and closed the gap once more, with Maresca leading by a car length at the white flag. Williamson took one final shot at Maresca through the final set of turns, but it was Maresca flashing under the checkered flag first for the $20,000 Outlaw 200 win.
Williamson claimed second, followed by Sears Jr., Friesen and Tim Fuller.
October 5th – 34th Annual Stadium International Trucks Outlaw 200 Results
(34th Annual Stadium International Trucks Outlaw 200) – MICHAEL MARESCA, Mat Williamson, Tim Sears Jr., Stewart Friesen, Tim Fuller, Matt Sheppard, Larry Wight, Danny Johnson, Dave Marcuccilli, Chad Brachmann, Rob Bellinger, Chris Hile, Mike Mahaney, Alan Johnson, Erick Rudolph, Ron Davis III, Gary Lindberg, Peter Britten, Roy Bresnahan, Glenn Forward, Chad Phelps, Tyler Thompson, Ryan Arbuthnot, Pat Ward, Jimmy Phelps, Billy Decker, Billy Whittaker, Billy Shantel, Jackie Brown, Gary Tomkins, Ryan Godown, Danny Varin, Brett Hearn, Matt Hulsizer, Todd Root, Kyle Coffey, AJ Kingsley, Tyler Trump, Michael Storms, Ryan Jordan, Rocky Warner, Billy Dunn, Yan Bussiere, Tom Sears Jr.
(Lap Leaders) Gary Tomkins 1- 46, Matt Sheppard 47-119 Michael Maresca 120-200.
Heat Races – Top 4 Qualify – Winner to the redraw:
(Heat 1) – Michael Storms, Yan Bussiere, Brett Hearn, Jimmy Phelps, Brett Tonkin, Ronnie Johnson, Mike Mahaney, Mitch Gibbs, Will Shields.
(Heat 2) – Ron Davis III, Billy Whittaker, Peter Britten, Tom Sears Jr., Jackie Brown, Gary Lindberg, Chad Brachmann, Chris Hulsizer, Kyle Fink.
(Heat 3) – Matt Sheppard, Pat Ward, Ryan Godown, Danny Johnson, Rocky Warner, Randy Shantel, Todd Root, AJ Miller, Jessica Power.
(Heat 4) – Michael Maresca, Tim Fuller, Erick Rudolph, Roy Bresnahan, Dave Marcuccilli, Jeremy Dygert, Tyler Murray, Ben Bushaw, Tyler Siri.
(Heat 5) – Gary Tomkins, Chris Hile, Billy Shantel, Tyler Thompson, Chad Phelps, Nick Nye, Mike Stanton Jr., Brandon Walters, Cameron Black.
(Heat 6) – Larry Wight, Ryan Arbuthnot, Stewart Friesen, AJ Kingsley, Jim Witko Jr., Alex Tonkin, Joe August, Glenn Forward.
(Heat 7) – Billy Dunn, Billy Decker, Ryan Jordan, Matt Hulsizer, Alan Johnson, Tyler Trump, Kyle Coffey, DJ Forbes.
(Heat 8) – Rob Bellinger, Mat Williamson, Danny Varin., Tim Sears Jr., Garret Rushlow, Tim Harris, Mike Mandigo, Nick Krause.
Consolations -Three Qualify:
(Consolation 1) – Gary Lindberg, Mike Mahaney, Jackie Brown, Mitch Gibbs, Chad Brachmann, Ronnie Johnson, Will Shields, Kyle Fink, Brett Tonkin.
(Consolation 2) – Dave Marcuccilli, Rocky Warner, Todd Root, Jeremy Dygert, Ben Bushaw, Randy Shantel, Tyler Murray, Tyler Siri, Jessica Power, AJ Miller.
(Consolation 3) – Chad Phelps, Glenn Forward, Nick Nye, Alex Tonkin, Jim Witko Jr., Chris Hulsizer, Brandon Walters, Cameron Black DNS Joe August Jr.
(Consolation 4) – Tyler Trump, Alan Johnson, Kyle Coffey, Tim Harris, Mike Stanton Jr., DJ Forbes, Mike Mandigo, Garret Rushlolw, DNS Nick Krause.
(Last Chance Qualifier – 3 Qualify) – Todd Root, Jackie Brown, Kyle Coffey, Chad Brachmann, Mitch Gibbs, Nick Nye, Jeremy Dygert, Tyler Siri, Will Shields, Tim Harris, Mike Stanton Jr., Brett Tonkin, DJ Forbes, Brandon Walters, Kyle Fink, Cameron Black, Mike Mandigo, Alex Tonkin, Chris Hulsizer, Tyler Murray, Randy Shantel, Jim Witko Jr., Jessica Power, DNS Ben Bushaw, Garret Rushlow, Nick Krause, Ronnie Johnson, Joe August Jr., AJ Miller.
($300 Top Finishing Bicknell Car) – Michael Maresca.
(Hoosier Tire Hard Luck Award) – Gary Tomkins.
(Drum of VP Race Fuel to Hard Charger of The Race) – Chad Brachmann.
(Larkin Mowing $50 Hard Charger) – Chad Brachmann