Story By: MICHELINA FRISS / DIRTCAR -DRUMMONDVILLE, QUE – Mike Mahaney entered the 2023 season unsure if he’d run a full tour.
Now, with a Super DIRTcar Series win at Autodrome Drummond and a guaranteed starting spot in Super DIRT Week 51, his smile in Victory Lane Tuesday night indicated a happiness he did so.
The King Ferry, NY native finished 18th on night one of the King of the North matchup at Autodrome Drummond but came back on night two looking like a different driver.
Starting sixth on the grid for the 75-lap, $10,000-to-win, Feature, he remained relatively quiet for the first third of the caution-filled race. After falling back as far as seventh, he began his charge in his Huttig Motorsports machine, moving into fifth on Lap 37. Three laps later, he was fourth after passing SRI Performance/Stock Car Steel pole winner Felix Roy.
Out front, defending Series champion Matt Sheppard led the way, with St-Damase, QC driver David Hebert challenging him every turn. A defining moment came on Lap 49 when Hebert made contact with Sheppard, causing him to spin in between Turns 3 and 4. It sent the current Series points leader back 20 spots, shifting the momentum of the race and opening the door for someone else to make their way through.
Mahaney moved up to the outside of the front row for the restart, joining new leader Hebert, the last man standing between him, and his first Series win of the season. After several unsuccessful attempts, he tried one more time to pass Hebert.
“I tried it earlier in the race and I didn’t get the grip,” Mahaney said. “I tried going in high and crossing over and crossing low. (Hebert) was running the top. So, I figured I needed that run and crossed under him to get next to him and kind of shake him up a little. When I finally made the move, I went in high, crossed to the bottom of (Turn) 2, got next to him, and was able to get back to the top before we went into Turn 3 and that’s what sealed the deal.”
He took the lead on Lap 59, finding clean air for the first time in the race. After surviving one last restart less than a lap later, Mahaney saw the final 16 laps tick off the counter as he cruised to his first Super DIRTcar Series victory of the season.
“The track felt amazing,” Mahaney said. “It was wide, racy, a middle, a bottom, a top. You could go anywhere on it. You could cross over, you could slide across, you could just race. And that’s what I like to see.”
Mahaney is now the seventh different Super DIRTcar Series winner in the last seven races. Also, with the win, he locked himself in to a starting spot at Super DIRT Week 51 at Oswego Speedway, Oct. 2-8.
“Your (Super DIRT Week) strategy changes (when you have a starting spot),” Mahaney said. “You worry less about the Heat Races and Time Trials, and just focus on that Feature. It can make the week a little more fun. You can enjoy the autograph session and enjoying time with the fans and having a little less pressure.”
Hebert held on to second place, finishing in the runner-up position for the second night in a row.
“The car was very fast tonight,” Hebert said. “It was very fast on the top. It’s really fun when we race with the Series Big Blocks,” Hebert said. “It’s fun with the top Modified guys on the Series. I’m just very happy.”
Erick Rudolph, who piloted the #3RS to its third Series Big Block on night one, delivered another solid performance with a third-place finish to round out the podium.
“It’s hard to complain at all,” Rudolph said. “We weren’t the best in our Time Trial effort tonight but in the Heat Race we ran really well. We ran well in the Feature, too. We didn’t fly up the front necessarily, but we picked them off here and there. Once we got to third, that was pretty much all we had. We didn’t really have anything for the top two there. I’m really happy with it.”
Granby, QC Series driver Steve Bernard charged from eighth to fourth, his most successful performance this season, boosting his campaign for the Rookie of the Year title. Mat Williamson came in fifth and Sheppard charged back to finish ninth – now 54 points ahead of Williamson in the championship battle.
The Super DIRTcar Series heads to Brockville Ontario Speedway on Wednesday, Aug. 2, for a 75-lap, $7,500-to-win, showcase to close out the Canadian swing. Tickets will be available at the gate.
King Of The North – Night 2 (75 Laps)
1. 35-Mike Mahaney; 2. ONE-David Hebert; 3. 3RS-Erick Rudolph; 4. 54-Steve Bernard; 5. 88-Mat Williamson; 6. 91-Felix Roy; 7. 54R-Even Racine; 8. 99L-Larry Wight; 9. 9S-Matt Sheppard; 10. 83X-Tim Sears Jr; 11. 98H-Jimmy Phelps; 12. 8H-Max McLaughlin; 13. 5H-Chris Hile; 14. 215-Adam Pierson; 15. 41-Samuel Charland; 16. 2-Jack Lehner; 17. 92P-Martin Pelletier; 18. (DNF) 21-Yan Bussiere; 19. (DNF) 90JR-Jeremy Roy; 20. (DNF) 96-JF Corriveau; 21. (DNF) 57-Francois Bernier; 22. (DNF) 25P-Michael Parent; 23. (DNF) 21A-Peter Britten; 24. (DNF) 37M-Mathieu Desjardins; 25. (DNF) 12-Darren Smith; 26. (DNF) 90-Dany Gagne; 27. (DNF) 15X-Justin Stone; 28. (DNF) 124-Mario Clair