When you look at the Dirt Modified racing calendar and see a big money event, there’s always a certain group of drivers that you will find there. Mike Mahaney is one of those drivers. Among his races of choice in 2018, the North Region of the Short Track Super Series.
Once every year, the New York-based North Region heads south to Big Diamond Speedway for an annual showdown with the full-time drivers of the South Region in the Anthracite Assault. Now, after a nearly six-week delay for rain and eventual rescheduling, the Modified drivers are ready to make their assault on Pennsylvania’s Coal Region.
While Mahaney is looking forward to racing the 3/8-mile oval, it’s not just for the chance of winning another race; it’s also a chance to get some valuable laps, which Mahaney lacks at Big Diamond.
“Big Diamond is a track that I don’t have a lot of laps at. I’ve only been there a few times and either had a problem in the heat race or gotten rained out,” Mahaney told Speed51.com. “I’m excited to have a solid chance to race there, learn from it, build on it, and if we have success that would be great. But the goal is to get experience, so I can go down there and always be competitive.”
For Monday night’s competition, Mahaney will pilot his No. 33 car, which last saw action in the Garden State Gunfight at New Egypt Speedway (NJ) in late June. Despite some troubles, Mahaney believes that he and his team have been able to work some gremlins out of the machine before heading to the Keystone State.
“I’ll be in the No. 33 Eastern Rigging Big-Block that I race down south, that we keep down there. The car’s been good, we last raced it at New Egypt a few weeks ago and we won the heat race. In the feature I was tight and we took some time during the race to pit and work on the car, didn’t worry about our position. But going into next week, I have some high hopes for what we have, if we can qualify well I believe we can stay up front.”
This is the third different Modified that the King Ferry, NY native will run in STSS competition so far this season, joining the No. 21 owned by Charlie Davis and the No. 88 Buzz Chew team. While Mahaney has a number of options that allows him to race all throughout the year in different parts of the Northeast, it also brings along a whole different set of challenges.
“It’s a struggle, it’s a lot of work to go back and fourth on. I keep my cars in a lot of different places, which is good in that we don’t have to haul them so far for each race with the truck and trailer,” Mahaney explained. “Keeping the maintenance on them is hard, and every time I go from car to car, it’s challenging to figure out the setup for each and drive it consistently.
“It’s a challenge, but it’s what I enjoy, and love being able to race all the time. I get a ton of experience. Once I get a ton of experience at all these tracks I haven’t run a lot, we’ll get stronger, it’s just a matter of having laps at new places.”
As for the weeks to come, Mahaney hopes to reclaim lost consistency in the STSS that slipped away last time out at Accord Speedway (NY). The key is to have a solid run at Big Diamond before heading to one of his favorite tracks, Afton Motorsports Park on July 25.
“We started out with some consistency. We had a good run at Middletown, but last time at Accord we had a good fight in the heat race to get into the feature after drawing last. Started pretty deep in the feature. I feel I chose too soft on the tire compound and struggled to hold my position, so we pitted for a harder tire. Felt like we were coming through, but we got caught in some of the mayhem. So, we’re going to focus on winning races to make points from here.”
Race fans unable to make it to Big Diamond on Monday can watch the Anthracite Assault live on Speed51’s Summer Thunder TV this Monday, July 16. The race will be free for Speed51 Network premium subscribers. If you’re not a premium subscriber, click here to sign up today.
-By: Connor Sullivan, Speed51.com Northeast Editor – Twitter: @Connor51CT
-Photo credit: Speed51.com / MoJo Photos