Column By: RYAN LOEFFLER / RPW – MALTA, NY – Malta Massive Weekend began with a packed grandstand and pit area at the Albany-Saratoga Speedway on Friday night.
The facility played host to the inaugural DIRTcar 358 Series race at the speedway, along with the $10,500-to-win Autism Awareness Pro Stock feature.
The DIRTcar 602 Crate Sportsman, street stocks and 4 cylinders were also on the docket for the evening.
In the 358 Series, it was Mike Mahaney looking like he would be the one to beat early on in the night. His #35 topped the time sheets in hot laps and time trials, showing that they had a brilliant game plan heading into the night.
“The car was great off the trailer” said Mahaney. Mahaney ran at Albany-Saratoga weekly this year when he was not running his big-block.
After winning his heat and the dash, Mahaney was once again pleased with the car, but knew that the track was starting to change.
“It was hard to change anything and make adjustments, but the Pro Stock race will wear the track out and will change track conditions a lot” said the driver out of Kings Ferry, NY.
During the dash, Mahaney felt a driveline vibration and credited his team for getting it fixed in time prior to the feature.
“The guys worked their tails off” said Mike. Mahaney rolled off for the 50 lap feature in the 4th position, which provided a good opportunity to be in the hunt for the win.
After the repairs, Mahaney once again showed speed. He was able to navigate his way to the front of the field. He and Mat Williamson swapped positions for the lead multiple times during the first 20 laps of the event.
Ultimately, it was Williamson prevailing on a restart, as he was able to slide Mahaney heading into Turn 1.
The driver from St. Catherines, Ontario never looked back after, going on to score his 27th win of the season. With the win, Williamson also extended his 358 modified series point lead.
“We were better on the short runs” said Williamson post race. “We feel really good heading into Saturday’s 115 lap Super DIRTcar race” he continued.
In the pro stock feature, it was Chad Jeseo claiming the big $10,500 payday.
“It’s absolutely awesome,” said Chad, “it’s great racing, the field here is the best of the best.”
Jeseo was able to fend off fellow pro stock competitors Nick Stone and “Cousin Luke” Horning to secure the checkered flag in the 53 lap feature. Jeseo is not a stranger to winning big Pro Stock events though, as he won the DIRTcar Pro Stock 50 at the Oswego Speedway back in the 2021 season.
Malta Massive Weekend continues tonight, as this time it will be the “Beasts of the Northeast” taking center stage, as the SuperDirt Car Series returns to the speedway for their second visit this season. Back in the June visit, it was Chris Hile picking up his first career Super Dirt Car Series victory.
Matt Delorenzo finished 2nd on that night, followed by Adam Pierson in 3rd. The DIRTcar pro stocks will also be on the card again tonight, accompanied by the limited sportsman.