Column By: BOBBY CHALMERS / RPW – FULTON, NY – There was absolutely no denying the fact that Michael Maresca won the Outlaw 200 Saturday night at the Fulton Speedway. He didn’t back into the $20,000 victory. It wasn’t handed to him. He earned it.
Through the first 100 laps of the race, the event was led by pole sitter Gary Tomkins until he was passed by Matt Sheppard who led until the halfway break. Maresca worked his way to the runner-up spot and was able to capitalize when the handling went away on the Sheppard 9s.
The driver of the St. Lawrence Radiology #7MM made a daring move off of turn two to grab the top spot and held off all challengers, including second place finisher Mat Williamson and third place man Tim Sears Jr. for the popular win.
“This is just crazy man,” Maresca said. “We’re just a family that loves to race. We work our butts off on this thing. We work regular jobs and come out to race against guys who do this for a living. To be able to beat them is simply awesome.”
The move of the race was the pass by Maresca on the Sheppard #9s who had a hard time getting into the corners which hurt his exit. Maresca could see this happening and set up the perfect executed pass as the two came off the second corner.
“I wheeled this thing up to the top side of turn two,” he said. “It was a little choppy and I had to be careful because I didn’t want to hurt the car. I went up there, gave it some gas and went around him.”
For Maresca, this is almost like a dream, winning a crown jewel event like the Outlaw 200.
“The whole race is like a blur right now,” he said. “I just tried to focus on the task at hand as best as I could, to hit my marks and make smart moves because I haven’t really raced with anyone like Matt because I haven’t raced up front a lot. He was making some brilliant moves so I learned a lot tonight racing with him.”
Even though, to some, Michael Maresca winning the Outlaw 200 may be a surprise, to the Potsdam, NY driver, he always felt he had what it took to get the job done.
“Deep down, I always felt like I could do this,” he said. “Ever since I was a kid, getting lapped three times a night by these guys, I always kept my head up. I just kept digging because I knew in my heart I could do this and we finally did it tonight.”
Even though Maresca took the lead on lap 120 and led the rest of the way, it was by no means a cakewalk. The final 30 laps were some of the toughest you’ll see anywhere, with the 88 of Williamson breathing down Michael’s neck…even getting by for a corner at one point. However, he held his composure and finished the job.
“I saw Mat down there and I knew the rest of the guys were coming,” he said. I had to be aggressive with lap cars. I had to use my bumpers and even drilled a couple of them, but we just had to do it. With no lapping flag being used, they didn’t know we were there so we had to do what we could.”
For Williamson, it was a good run to come home second, but he’s a competitor. He wanted the checkered flag.
“Finishing second tonight was excellent,” Williamson said. “First and foremost, hats off to Mike. It’s really cool to see him win but tonight, track position was everything. Racing with the lap cars and getting caught up behind some of them while fighting for the lead is disappointing, but hats off to Mike for the win.”
The top three, Maresca, Williamson and Sears had a great race going up front. Not only was it great for the fans to watch but it was also great for the racers.
“It really was a great race up front,” he said. “It was cool to see three young guys up front. That’s not the norm for the Outlaw 200 but we sure had fun tonight.”
Third place finisher Tim Sears Jr. had to come from deep in the starting field, 32nd, to get to the podium. Who knows where he would have ended up if he hadn’t had to work so hard to pass so many cars.
“Right off the bat we had a really good car,” Sears said. “To come from 32nd to be in the hunt late in the race with these guys and to just be there with them is great.”
Lap cars ended up being Sears’ Achilles Heel on Saturday, and he feels that’s where both Maresca and Williamson beat him.
“When we caught lap traffic, they just got through them better than I did,” he said. “When I’d get through them, I’d get back to Mat’s bumper and we’d catch more traffic again. They just got through the lappers better and could move around the track better.”
Fourth was Stewart Friesen who was driving his wife, Jessica’s, #1Z machine. The car was outfitted with a Small Block engine that Jess will run at Oswego this coming week. Husband Stewart was helping to get the bugs worked out of it.
Tim Fuller rounded out the top five while Matt Sheppard fell back to sixth at the finish.
Not to say this was a banner type night for Bicknell Racing Products, but the top 17 finishers were all racing the Canadian chassis.
(34th Annual Stadium International Trucks Outlaw 200) – MICHAEL MARESCA, Mat Williamson, Tim Sears Jr., Stewart Friesen, Tim Fuller, Matt Sheppard, Larry Wight, Danny Johnson, Dave Marcuccilli, Chad Brachmann, Rob Bellinger, Chris Hile, Mike Mahaney, Alan Johnson, Erick Rudolph, Ron Davis III, Gary Lindberg, Peter Britten, Roy Bresnahan, Glenn Forward, Chad Phelps, Tyler Thompson, Ryan Arbuthnot, Pat Ward, Jimmy Phelps, Billy Decker, Billy Whittaker, Billy Shantel, Jackie Brown, Gary Tomkins, Ryan Godown, Danny Varin, Brett Hearn, Matt Hulsizer, Todd Root, Kyle Coffey, AJ Kingsley, Tyler Trump, Michael Storms, Ryan Jordan, Rocky Warner, Billy Dunn, Yan Bussiere, Tom Sears Jr.
(Lap Leaders) Gary Tomkins 1- 46, Matt Sheppard 47-119 Michael Maresca 120-200.
Heat Races – Top 4 Qualify – Winner to the redraw:
(Heat 1) – Michael Storms, Yan Bussiere, Brett Hearn, Jimmy Phelps, Brett Tonkin, Ronnie Johnson, Mike Mahaney, Mitch Gibbs, Will Shields.
(Heat 2) – Ron Davis III, Billy Whittaker, Peter Britten, Tom Sears Jr., Jackie Brown, Gary Lindberg, Chad Brachmann, Chris Hulsizer, Kyle Fink.
(Heat 3) – Matt Sheppard, Pat Ward, Ryan Godown, Danny Johnson, Rocky Warner, Randy Shantel, Todd Root, AJ Miller, Jessica Power.
(Heat 4) – Michael Maresca, Tim Fuller, Erick Rudolph, Roy Bresnahan, Dave Marcuccilli, Jeremy Dygert, Tyler Murray, Ben Bushaw, Tyler Siri.
(Heat 5) – Gary Tomkins, Chris Hile, Billy Shantel, Tyler Thompson, Chad Phelps, Nick Nye, Mike Stanton Jr., Brandon Walters, Cameron Black.
(Heat 6) – Larry Wight, Ryan Arbuthnot, Stewart Friesen, AJ Kingsley, Jim Witko Jr., Alex Tonkin, Joe August, Glenn Forward.
(Heat 7) – Billy Dunn, Billy Decker, Ryan Jordan, Matt Hulsizer, Alan Johnson, Tyler Trump, Kyle Coffey, DJ Forbes.
(Heat 8) – Rob Bellinger, Mat Williamson, Danny Varin., Tim Sears Jr., Garret Rushlow, Tim Harris, Mike Mandigo, Nick Krause.
Consolations -Three Qualify:
(Consolation 1) – Gary Lindberg, Mike Mahaney, Jackie Brown, Mitch Gibbs, Chad Brachmann, Ronnie Johnson, Will Shields, Kyle Fink, Brett Tonkin.
(Consolation 2) – Dave Marcuccilli, Rocky Warner, Todd Root, Jeremy Dygert, Ben Bushaw, Randy Shantel, Tyler Murray, Tyler Siri, Jessica Power, AJ Miller.
(Consolation 3) – Chad Phelps, Glenn Forward, Nick Nye, Alex Tonkin, Jim Witko Jr., Chris Hulsizer, Brandon Walters, Cameron Black DNS Joe August Jr.
(Consolation 4) – Tyler Trump, Alan Johnson, Kyle Coffey, Tim Harris, Mike Stanton Jr., DJ Forbes, Mike Mandigo, Garret Rushlolw, DNS Nick Krause.
(Last Chance Qualifier – 3 Qualify) – Todd Root, Jackie Brown, Kyle Coffey, Chad Brachmann, Mitch Gibbs, Nick Nye, Jeremy Dygert, Tyler Siri, Will Shields, Tim Harris, Mike Stanton Jr., Brett Tonkin, DJ Forbes, Brandon Walters, Kyle Fink, Cameron Black, Mike Mandigo, Alex Tonkin, Chris Hulsizer, Tyler Murray, Randy Shantel, Jim Witko Jr., Jessica Power, DNS Ben Bushaw, Garret Rushlow, Nick Krause, Ronnie Johnson, Joe August Jr., AJ Miller.
($300 Top Finishing Bicknell Car) – Michael Maresca.
(Hoosier Tire Hard Luck Award) – Gary Tomkins.
(Drum of VP Race Fuel to Hard Charger of The Race) – Chad Brachmann.
(Larkin Mowing $50 Hard Charger) – Chad Brachmann