FULTON — Potsdam’s Michael Maresca drove the race of his career to win the 34th annual Stadium International Trucks Outlaw 200 in front of a huge crowd Saturday at Fulton Speedway.
Maresca got the best of an all-star modified field and took the $20,000 first-place prize.
During the majority of the first segment of the 200-lap race, Maresca, behind the wheel of his St. Lawrence Radiology No. 7mm, chased Matt Sheppard to the lap 100 break.
Whatever changes Maresca made to go back to green for the second 100 laps paid off as he ran down Sheppard and drove into the lead on lap 120.
With only one caution flag in the late going, lapped traffic was heavy, allowing Mat Williamson to put constant pressure on Maresca driving the bottom of the speedway. Williamson pulled even with the leader many times.
After seeing Williamson to his inside and sensing that was the fastest way around the speedway, Maresca switched to running the bottom, taking away Williamson’s momentum. That switch paid off as his car was on rails. Maresca held off Williamson by 0.335 of a second for the win.
One of the most impressive drives came from Fulton Speedway regular Tim Sears Jr. in his small-block modified. He finished third. Sears started the race in 32nd and steadily worked his way toward the front and made a late charge.
Gary Tomkins and Billy Dunn brought the 44-car starting field to the initial green flag, with Tomkins bolting out to the early lead.
Tomkins and Matt Sheppard broke away from the field while the racing behind them was two and three wide. Both Tomkins and Sheppard ran the quick high side of the speedway until Sheppard, on lap 33, went to the bottom.
By lap 40 it was a three-way slugfest for the lead with Tomkins, Sheppard, and Mike Maresca battling in heavy traffic. On lap 47 Tomkins switched to the bottom of the speedway, leaving Sheppard the opening he needed to drive into the lead.
Sheppard kept lapping cars while Maresca and Larry Wight were in a tight fight for second, with Tomkins and Robbie Bellinger fourth and fifth.
By lap 70 Sheppard built a half-a-straightaway lead. Two of the heavy hitters worked their way into contention. Stewart Friesen, who started 18th, and Williamson, who started 16th, ran fourth and fifth.
Sheppard stayed up front to the lap 100 break. The rest of the top 10 at that point were Maresca, Wight, Williamson, Tim Fuller, Billy Decker, Tim Sears Jr., Friesen, Chris Hile, and Danny Johnson. Twenty-three cars remained on the lead lap.
In the second 100-lap segment, Maresca tracked down Sheppard and then drove into the lead on lap 120. He extended his margin with Williamson, Sears, and Sheppard giving chase.
With 30 laps to go, Williamson and Sears gained ground on Maresca, setting up a showdown to the $20,000 payday. Maresca stayed in front in traffic the rest of the way to take the checkered flag.
Williamson, Sears, Friesen, Fuller, Sheppard, Wight, Johnson, Dave Marcuccilli, and Chad Brachmann completed the top 10.
This Saturday, Fulton Speedway will host the 50-lap “Win and You’re In” event during Super DIRT Week. The race winner gets $4,000 and the final starting spot for the Billy Whittaker Cars 200. There will also be a $3,000-to-win feature for the 360 Sprint Cars.
Pits will open at 4 p.m., with the grandstands opening at 5 p.m. Hot laps start at 6:30 p.m., and racing begins at 7 p.m.