Wednesday - February - 2018

Hannawa Falls, NY February 21st, 2018 – Mike Maresca is no stranger to Speedweeks. In fact, in 2017 he competed at Volusia Speedway Park in the 7mm Modified. This year was not only different for the Hannawa Falls driver, but it was also much busier than in year’s past. The Russ King Racing 7mm Super Late Model team decided to go all out this year, hitting as many shows as possible in the sunshine state.

With the rain-out of the World of Outlaw’s season opener in Screven, GA, the team decided not to waste away the time but instead keep trucking south towards East Bay Raceway Park to compete with the Lucas Oil Late Model series. The first night out deemed to be a success as Maresca won his B-Main transferring him to the A after only having a handful of laps under his belt. Not to mention in only his 8th start ever in a Super Late Model.  The 7mm Russ King Racing Late Model brought home a 14th place finish that night.

“The track was definitely something I’ve never seen before. The conditions change so much in the matter of a few laps that you have to be prepared for whatever happens.” Maresca stated. With that being said, Friday night brought yet another challenge to the team.

“The track was so wet and slimy; I couldn’t get a grip on anything out there.” The team struggled most of the night, time trialing 14th, finishing 8th in the heat, and 12th in the B-Main; much different from the night before.

“We were really struggling. The track was much different from the night before. I finally got something rolling in the Strawberry Dash but by then it was too late.” Maresca explained. The Strawberry Dash is the last chance qualifier for anyone who doesn’t make it into the main through the B-Main. The winner wins strawberries and the last spot in the A-Main. In this race Maresca went from 12th to 6th in the 12 lap dash.

The final night at East Bay brought better luck for the 7mm RKR team. The team time-trailed 8th and finished 2nd in the Heat race to Late Model legend, Scott Bloomquist. Going into the 50-lap feature the team was ready for whatever was thrown their way. Maresca rode around for the first half of the race to save tires. The rookie was up to 12th with 3 laps to go when he bobbled a corner and got pushed back to 17th where he finished the race.

The 22 year old reflected back on the night: “This place was awesome to start out our week with; Tricky, but we learned a lot in the 3 days we were here. I wish we would’ve finished a little bit better tonight but hopefully it will help us out the rest of the week with the experience we gained.”

After the 50-lap event, the team packed up and made the trip overnight to Ocala, FL for the Lucas Oil Late Model event at Bubba Raceway Park Sunday. The 3/8 mile, D-shaped track was a much different track than Maresca was used to in a Late Model.

After finishing one spot out of a transfer spot in the heat race, Mike started on the outside pole of the first B-Main. While waiting in staging, the track crew decided to do some extensive track prep. Unfortunately it didn’t work to Maresca’s advantage and caused him to get freight-trained by the inside linen on the first lap.

Being so close to qualifying, the rookie was frustrated with how the night went but was determined to make the best of the following week at Volusia Speedway Park where he would compete with the World of Outlaw Late Models.

Maresca focused on the Russ King Racing Late Model all week and left the Modified in the trailer. That surely paid off with his efforts qualifying for his first WoO race of the season Wednesday, finishing second in the B-Main to last year’s champion, Brandon Shepperd. The rookie rolled off for the 50-lap event and was running strong passing cars right from the start until nose damage to the car ended his night. Shortly after the race was “fogged-out” after competing only 26 laps.

The following day was just as successful, if not better, than the previous day. Maresca time-trialed 3rd overall and finished 4th in his heat sending him directly to the A-Main. As the 50-lap feature went on, the 22-year-old rookie’s car kept getting tighter by the lap forcing him to pull in to avoid any further damage to the car.

The final two nights were not as successful as the first two, however they were learning curves that will help with future races. Contact with the turn two wall during the B-Main after starting deep, ended Maresca’s Friday night.

“It sucks we couldn’t perform as well tonight.” The rookie stated. “But I definitely learned that you have to hit your marks perfectly every single time or that will happen.” (Pertaining to the incident in turn two.)

Motor troubles ended Maresca’s Speedweeks Saturday and his 15th overall start in a Super Late Model.

“It’s unfortunate since we started off so strong this week. I really wanted to finish out Speedweeks with a good run in the A-Main. It sucks that there was nothing we could do. We only have one car down here so when something major happens to the car like that we just have to run it; We can’t roll out the back-up car and have a fresh car.” Maresca went on to say: “At the end of the day, I’m lucky enough to have been able to compete the last week and a half. It was really great to get this experience and we have some good notes going into the rest of the year. I can’t thank my crew and sponsors enough for all the hard work and support they’ve given me. I’m looking forward to this year.”

There were rumors swarming that the Hannawa Falls, New York native was going to compete full-time with the World of Outlaws. However, Maresca’s main focus is just to get laps under his belt. He will compete with the World of Outlaw Late Model Series, Lucas Oil Late Model Series, and local Super Late Model races whenever there is a show within responsible distance. Maresca’s season will kick off March 9th and 10th with the World of Outlaws at Smoky Mountain Speedway.