CENTER LISLE, N.Y. – Mike Mahaney recovered from a tough Tuesday night in a big way.
Mahaney, 24, of King Ferry, N.Y., powered around the outside of Billy Spoonhower on lap 20 and marched to his first career Thunder Mountain Speedway big-block/small-block Modified triumph on Saturday night. The second-generation driver earned $1,200 for his efforts in the 30-lap main driving Charlie Davis’ No. 21 Troyer.
Mahaney, who has admittedly struggled in his first season as a Thunder Mountain regular, failed to qualify for the May 20 ‘Lightning on the Mountain’ National Dirt Racing League (NDRL) Short Track Super Series Fueled By VP special. But there was hope.
“We’ve been struggling here this year,” bottom-lined Mahaney following his triumph. “We didn’t qualify on Tuesday, but I felt like we found something in the car in the consi, so it wasn’t a total waste.”
Mahaney started the main from third spot and quickly darted to second, trailing pole starter Billy Spoonhower. As Spoonhower led, an inside-running Mahaney applied pressure lap-after-lap. Meanwhile Chad Cook, who rolled off the grid sixth, arrived in third. Cook set up a three-car tussle for the top spot.
On lap six, Mahaney briefly pulled ahead of the leader. However, Spoonhower repelled Mahaney’s advance on the outside.
The lead trio remained in tight formation through lap 20, when Cook’s stout run ended with a flat right-rear tire.
Mahaney used the yellow flag and ensuing restart to his advantage.
Setting his Olum’s-sponsored ride to the top of the track, Mahaney swept past Spoonhower. During the race’s final 10 laps, he opened up an advantage of nearly a straightaway, adding his name to the all-time win list at the Center Lisle, N.Y., three-eighths-mile oval.
“I couldn’t get by him (Spoonhower) on the bottom,” Mahaney said. “During that caution, I found a little something on the top and it worked.”
Mahaney, whose father, Jim, had competed at Thunder Mountain in years past, was thrilled to win for the first time on the Mountain.
“It’s incredible,” he said. “It feels awesome to get a win here.”