Column By: BOBBY CHALMERS / RPW – PORT ROYAL, PA – Mike Mahaney, Ryan Godown and Tyler Dippel all proved to have amazing cars Friday night at Port Royal Speedway, each capturing a 20-lap qualifier win and setting themselves up to have a great shot at the $50,000-to-win Speed Showcase.
Mahaney, who won on prelim night during the 2021 edition of the event, loves this speedway and proved to have a car that might just take home all the money once Saturday night is completed. However, after a vibration in practice earlier in the day, he wasn’t sure how his night would end up.
“It must have been a loose hub or a wheel,” Mahaney said. “Those are the two things we changed but it felt like it was something coming from the right rear. Luckily, in the heat race, it was as smooth as glass.”
How did things change for Mahaney from practice to heat time?
“This was a quick 180 from practice,” he said. “I was really impressed with the turnaround with the race track, from earlier in the day until now and this crew. Everybody worked so hard to ensure we were good in the qualifier. We had a great draw and that helps but and awesome race track and a great car helps more.”
Mahaney utilized the high side on one end of the track once he could run the line he wanted while he had to find the best line for his set up on the other. It showed just how good a piece the George Huttig-owned team has for this weekend.
“This car was on rails around the top in (turns) one and two,” he said. “In three and four, I kind of had to search around a little bit but was pretty comfortable around most of the track.”
Does Mahaney feel like he has a car that can win on Saturday evening?
“I’m really feeling pretty confident now,” he said. “I wasn’t super confident yesterday scaling the car and earlier in practice. During the last session, we stepped it up and got a little faster and then that heat race was way better than we were in practice.”
Now that he’s in the redraw, how important will that be going into the feature?
“The redraw’s BIG,” he said. “Today, the focus was just making the redraw and now that we’re in it, I think starting up front would be big. I feel like if we can at least be in the top six it’d be huge.”
All Mahaney wants is a shot, and that’s exactly what his team’s given him this year.
“We won that prelim race here last year, the 40-lapper, from like fifth or so,” he said. “I have confidence that if we start that high up again, we can get to the front at some point. It is a longer race, however, so we have to be there at the end as well.”
Ryan Godown had to fend off a hard-charging Danny Creeden for several laps in order to win the fourth 20-lap qualifier of the night.
The Ringoes, NJ driver has a great car underneath him but knows he and his team has some work to do if they want to be in contention come main event time.
“We were the fourth heat race so it was kind of tricky to see the track free up the way it did,” Godown said. “I probably would have liked to have been a little tighter. We opted to stay a little free so we could maneuver and it almost bit us.”
How would Godown have preferred things to go?
“I just wasn’t running the top the way I should have,” he said. “I was trying to conserve the right rear tire. Creeden was sneaking on the bottom. He was probably a little tighter than we were but all in all, it’s fine. We got in and we’ll be ready for tomorrow.”
Would Godown have made any other adjustments to his ride for the fourth heat if he had more time?
“The track changed quick from even the third to the fourth heat race,” he said. “If I could have rewound the clock, I probably would have done it a little different. However, we hung on but just had to get up there and drive it a little harder.”
What types of changes does Godown believe he needs to make so he can get his #26 to victory lane in the Short Track Super Series Elite event?
“We’ll tighten the car up,” he said. “We’ll get her back where she needs to be. We started this weekend with notes from how we were back in the spring. We just need to get a little tighter tomorrow and we’ll be fine.”
Tyler Dippel was the first winner on the night as he took checkers in the opening 20-lapper. He is the only driver of the five that wasn’t behind the wheel of a Bicknell race car but he’s pleased with how his machine handled.
“This just shows the good group of guys we have behind us,” Dippel said. “This run says a lot about Teo Pro Car and the team we have. This is a great run for us.”
With as little as he’s run this season, Dippel is getting into his old form that saw him win on many occasions during his career.
“This is only my third race of the year, and to be running with those guys like that, is great,” he said. “We just have to get better in the slick for tomorrow. We’ll fine-tune it, make a couple of changes but I think we’ll be pretty good in the feature.”
Dippel’s success at Port Royal on Friday is a continuation of his late-season accomplishments since returning to the seat of a Dirt Modified.
“This feels great,” he said. “We had a great run for our team at Super DIRT Week last week. Coming here, we’re just keeping the momentum rolling and hopefully we can build off this the rest of the year.”
Qualifying Race No. 1 Finish (20 laps): TYLER DIPPEL, Anthony Perrego, Matt Sheppard, Danny Bouc, Craig Von Dohren, David Schilling, Matt Stangle, Alex Payne, Andy Bachetti, Kyle Coffey, Daniel Morgiewicz, Ryan Riddle, Joey Coppola
Qualifying Race No. 3 Finish (20 laps): MIKE MAHANEY, Billy Pauch Jr., Mike Trautschold, Jimmy Horton, Jeff Strunk, Billy Decker, Sam Martz, Cole Stangle, Jared Umbenhauer, Brett Tonkin, Jacob Dgien, Darren Smith
Qualifying Race No. 4 Finish (20 laps): RYAN GODOWN, Dan Creeden, Duane Howard, Brett Haas, Jordan Watson, Alan Johnson, Rick Laubach, Stewart Friesen, Ryan Krachun, Danny Johnson, Justin Grosso, Neil Stratton