Column By: DYLAN FRIEBEL / RPW – WEST LEBANON, NY – When the Super DirtCar Series schedule gets posted every year, Lebanon Valley is viewed as one of toughest tracks for invaders to do well at.
It’s hard on equipment, motors and setups.
On the night that Matt Sheppard took sole possession of second place on the all-time series wins list, it was the second place driver, Mike Mahaney, that was almost just as impressive.
Mahaney, from Kings Ferry, NY, took home the runner-up spot in the ‘King Of Spring’ 100 lap event on Monday night.
“It’s a hard place to come to.” Mahaney commented. “I expected the place to be a lot different with the changes made and it is. It races differently, but our old notes still work.”
Mahaney started alongside Sheppard for the 100-lap feature. However, his restarts are what killed him as slipped back at one point during the event towards the back half of the top 10.
The longer the green flag run, the better his #35 race car was.
“I sucked at restarts,” he said. “I needed the thing to go green for a long time. If the race ran like it did yesterday at Weedsport (Speedway), I think we would have been in the winner circle.”
Alas, it wasn’t meant to be.
“We just had too many cautions,” he said. “We did not have enough tires and gear. We don’t have a big track motor and, with some races. you just want to get through it.”
The Lebanon Valley regular field is always stout when the tour invades the High Banks. Regulars like Andy Bachetti, Kenny Tremont and Marc Johnson are always strong and proved to show that at times on Monday. However, the top two spots at the finish were reserved for “invaders.”
“It means a lot to beat those guys,” he said. “They are all stars here, running this track week in and week out. When I came in tonight, I was looking at their times and trying to learn for hot laps and all of it. For the feature, we just guessed and got close.”
In the last two years, Mahaney hasn’t signed on to any tour here in the northeast and is more or less running an outlaw schedule. That has seemed to work for him.
“It’s easier on morale for the team,” he said. “Sometimes, you have to put your foot down and say we are not going to race everywhere. When we go all over the place, we get a lot of different experiences.”
With a second place finish at one of the toughest tracks on equipment in New York, Mahaney’s excited to come back this September for the $25,500-to-win Mr. DIRT Track USA event and also understands what it takes to service his equipment.
“I’m looking forward to coming back,” he said. “Some tracks, you just try to make it through and this is one of them. At Weedsport, all you have to do is dust off the car but when you race here, you have to look more at brakes, driveline and motor before the next time you run it.”