Billy Decker

FLAT OUT: Maresca Motors to First Career Super DIRTcar Series Win

BARBERVILLE, FL – Michael Maresca stomped his throttle at the drop of the green flag and drove wheel-to-wheel with seven-time Volusia Speedway Park winner and three-time Big Gator champion Matt Sheppard to capture his first career Super DIRTcar Series Feature win.

The Pierrepont, NY driver of the #7MM is the pride of the North Country back in New York after topping a DIRTcar Nationals podium crowded with Series championships and Gator trophy winners. Seven-time Series champion Matt Sheppard, from Waterloo, NY, finished second while three-time champ and Gypsum Racing driver Billy Decker finished third.

That’s the definition of a stout crowd. 

“Everyone’s dream, when they start racing in the Northeast, is to win a Super DIRTcar Series race and I finally won one,” Maresca said. “It’s cool to start the year off with a win and to get a Big Block win is especially awesome. It means a lot. I don’t think it’s set in yet. I try to go with the mindset that each race is the same but I’m sure tonight, when I’m lying in bed, I’ll think about all the struggles in the past and realize how awesome this is.”

Maresca, who raced a DIRTcar Late Model earlier in the week, has found speed in his Big Block around The World’s Fastest Half-Mile. 

“Our car had been consistent the last two nights,” he said. “We’ve made little tweaks here or there. We did some testing and the track really suited my style for those first 10 laps when it was really racy.

“We’ve been close the last couple of nights. Our first night was rough but we completely regrouped and went back after it.”

He’s found success with his setup using a new shock package on the #7MM. 

“I want to thank the guys at Penske Racing Shocks,” Maresca said. “They gave us a package to get around this place that’s working really good. There are only two of us here running them. My whole team just kept working and we got it done. I’m really happy to get this car in Victory Lane for those guys.”

When the green flag flew to start the 30-lap Feature, there was an immediate battle between the #9S of Sheppard and Maresca. Sheppard threw his Big Block to the outside but couldn’t execute the pass. 

“We had a really good race there,” Maresca said. “I figured Sheppard would be on the bottom but he came around the outside and I was able to clear him and move up. I think we had a really stout race car.”

Despite falling short of the win, Sheppard was pleased with his result. 

“It was a good night for us,” Sheppard said. “We gave Michael [Maresca] a run on the high side for a while but I just couldn’t get by him once he cleared down to the bottom. I think he was a little better than me anyway.”

Billy Decker has been wracking up podiums all week but, once again, needed a little more out of his Bicknell to get in a winning position. 

“We like parking on the front stretch but obviously we’d like to park down there,” said Decker, of Unadilla, NY. “The Gypsum Wholesaler car has been good. These guys work really hard. We’ve been consistent. We’ve had a rocket since we unloaded it. We didn’t always Time Trial well some nights but we raced really good every night which is important because we normally run really long races. We’re looking forward to it.” 

Max McLaughlin still leads the 50th DIRTcar Nationals Big Gator championship going into Saturday’s finale. Billy Decker rides in second while Maresca climbed into third. Both McLaughlin and Maresca have a chance to win their first Big Gator the same year as their first Little Gators. 

Billy VanInwegen picked up a strong fourth-place finish. He will be eager to come back for the 50-lap Feature while Peter Britten grabbed another top-five.

Next up, on Saturday, Feb. 13, the final night of the 50th DIRTcar Nationals is set to pit the stars of the Super DIRTcar Series Big Block Modifieds against each other for 50 laps and a $5,000-to-win prize. If you can’t make it to the track, watch live on DIRTVision. Hot Laps begin at 5:30pm (ET). 

Full results here

Feature (30 Laps)

  1. 7MM-Michael Maresca [1][$4,000]; 2. 9S-Matt Sheppard [2][$2,000]; 3. 91-Billy Decker [4][$1,000]; 4. 4-Billy VanInwegen [7][$800]; 5. 21A-Peter Britten [5][$700]; 6. 30-Ryan Godown [3][$650]; 7. 98H-Jimmy Phelps [9][$600]; 8. 88-Mat Williamson [10][$550]; 9. 32C-Max McLaughlin [6][$500]; 10. 7F-Tim Fuller [8][$450]; 11. 19M-Jessey Mueller [13][$400]; 12. 25-Erick Rudolph [12][$375]; 13. 2-Jack Lehner [18][$350]; 14. 6-Matt Stangle [17][$325]; 15. 118-Jim Britt [11][$300]; 16. 8-Rich Scagliotta [16][$300]; 17. 14-CG Morey [14][$300]; 18. 16X-Dan Creeden [23][$300]; 19. 20-Brett Hearn [15][$300]; 20. 26-Derrick McGrew [19][$300]; 21. 48T-Dave Rauscher [27][$300]; 22. 1-Darwin Greene [22][$300]; 23. 46-Jeremy Smith [20][$300]; 24. 17D-Marcus Dinkins [25][$300]; 25. 1D-Tyler Dippel [21][$300]; 26. 23-Kyle Coffey [24][$300]; 27. B52-Brandon Hightower [26][$300] Hard Charger Award: 48T-Dave Rauscher[+6]

HALF-SECOND HERO: McLaughlin Edges Decker for First Career DIRTcar Nationals Win

BARBERVILLE, FL – Max McLaughlin raced home to his second Super DIRTcar Series win and his first trip to Volusia Speedway Park’s confetti-filled Victory Lane on Thursday night during the 50th DIRTcar Nationals.

The 20-year-old pilot of the #32C Sweetener’s Plus Big Block Modified was just barely able to box out future Hall of Famer Billy Decker in a wild finish where the two swapped lines on the track trying to block and slide each other at the same time. Hard charger Michael Maresca in the #7MM car cruised from 19th to third in an amazing run through the field.

After a lengthy rain delay, drama built quickly in the 30-lap Feature as McLaughlin made contact with seven-time Series champion Matt Sheppard on the first lap, sending Sheppard’s #9S up the race track and into Peter Britten’s #21A. Sheppard made his displeasure with McLaughlin known during the caution flag, but was able to recover for a fifth-place finish. 

“I got into the water there on lap one,” said McLaughlin, of Mooresville, NC. “It was a bonehead move, I guess. They checked up and he [Matt Sheppard] started pushing and I figured I’d go right below him. The left front hit the water and pushed up and I got into Matt. I hate that. That’s kind of what I was thinking about the whole race.”

When the race returned to green flag action, McLaughlin had to contend with some heavy hitters. “Mad Max” found a way around defending Series champion Mat Williamson as well as “The Baldwinsville Bandit” Jimmy Phelps, who started on the outside pole. 

However, once McLaughlin took the lead on Lap 15 there was no time to relax. Decker had his Gypsum Wholesalers #91 at full song around the top side of the speedway in pursuit during the closing stages.

“I didn’t really know where he was but I knew he was coming around the top,” McLaughlin said. “I knew I had to change something and I saw the [signal] sticks get smaller and smaller. I had to do something different.”

With an adjustment of his line, McLaughlin was able to hold Decker’s crimson #91 at bay. 

Decker did all he could to try and pass for the lead.

“We had to go where he wasn’t,” said Decker,  of Unadilla, NY. “I think we were as good as he was on the bottom, but he fired a little better on the restarts than we did. After a few laps, I think we got it rolling so it was one of those deals where he had to stick to his lane. I started hazing the outside and closing the gap. He obviously got the signal from the infield to move. If he didn’t, he was going to finish where I did. He had to move and I didn’t get him soon enough.”

Decker will look to improve just one more position tomorrow night for a coveted 50th Anniversary DIRTcar Nationals win.

Michael Maresca, from Pierrepont, NY, advanced 16 positions to capture his second consecutive third-place finish. The #7MM started the night behind the eight-ball.

“We buried ourselves in a hole in qualifying,” Maresca said. “We had a really good car all night. I think with it being a little bit wetter, I think it threw me off on my gear selection. We were able to capitalize on good restarts.”

A fast, widening race track gave him what he needed to work through two-thirds of the field in 30 laps. Unfortunately, for the pilot of the St. Lawrence Radiology Big Block Modified, Decker and McLaughlin were just a click faster. 

“Congrats to Max and Billy,” Maresca said. “I couldn’t keep up with them. I think I was just a little bit under-geared for that. But I know our car is good so we are just going to keep trucking and hopefully contend for a win tomorrow.”

Catch all the action in person or on DIRTVision on Friday, February 12 at Volusia Speedway Park as the Super DIRTcar Series take on The World’s Fastest Half-Mile for the fourth night in a row alongside the World of Outlaws Morton Buildings Late Models. 

Keep up with the Super DIRTcar Series at SuperDIRTcarSeries.com and on social media on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram

Full results available here

Feature (30 Laps) — 1. 32C-Max McLaughlin [5][$4,000]; 2. 91-Billy Decker [11][$2,000]; 3. 7MM-Michael Maresca [19][$1,000]; 4. 88-Mat Williamson [4][$800]; 5. 9S-Matt Sheppard [3][$700]; 6. 25-Erick Rudolph [15][$650]; 7. 98H-Jimmy Phelps [2][$600]; 8. 23-Kyle Coffey [21][$550]; 9. 21A-Peter Britten [6][$500]; 10. 1D-Tyler Dippel [10][$450]; 11. 8-Rich Scagliotta [14][$400]; 12. 7F-Tim Fuller [12][$375]; 13. 4-Billy VanInwegen [23][$350]; 14. 16X-Dan Creeden [26][$325]; 15. 118-Jim Britt [9][$300]; 16. 19M-Jessey Mueller [13][$300]; 17. 17D-Marcus Dinkins [25][$300]; 18. 1-Darwin Greene [22][$300]; 19. 20-Brett Hearn [16][$300]; 20. 14-CG Morey [29][$300]; 21. 88T-Tyler Jashembowski [17][$300]; 22. 30-Ryan Godown [8][$300]; 23. 6-Matt Stangle [1][$300]; 24. 2-Jack Lehner [7][$300]; 25. 33T-Cass Bennett [27][$300]; 26. 01W-Justin Wright [24][$300]; 27. 17-Rob Pitcher [20][$300]; 28. B52-Brandon Hightower [28][$300]; 29. 26-Derrick McGrew [18][$300]. Hard Charger Award: 7MM-Michael Maresca[+16].

BACKING IT IN: Friesen Holds off Britten in Dicey Duel, Bags First Big Block Gator of 2021

BARBERVILLE, FL — “Daddy, do we get an alligator?”

Yes, Parker Friesen, you do after your Dad, Stewart Friesen, held off a hard-charging Peter Britten to win the 30-lap DIRTcar Nationals Super DIRTcar Series opener Tuesday night at Volusia Speedway Park.

Britten, from Brisbane, Australia, in a brand new Ryder Racing-sponsored Bicknell chassis Big Block Modified, threw everything he had at Friesen in a mad duel through lapped traffic. Friesen held off the #21A machine for the checkered flag with an aggressive line around the top side of The World’s Fastest Half-Mile, and delivered that Gator Trophy to his young son in Victory Lane.

“It was a very technical race track,” said Friesen, now of Sprakers, NY. “That’s the closest I’ve ever driven a Big Block Modified to a wingless sprint car, I just backed it in. There’s not much grip on the right front.”

Britten and Friesen battled hard throughout the first half of the race. After a long green-flag run during the midpoint of the 30-lapper, Friesen caught the rear of the field. What ensued was a memorable duel where both drivers crisscrossed from top to bottom trying to find the fastest way around the lapped cars and each other.

“I was trying to get through the lapped cars as quick as I could, but it was tough because it was so slick,” Friesen noted. “I kept losing the right front. I felt Peter [Britten] give me a shot out of four one time but the Halmar team prevailed.”

With 19 laps to go, Britten got under Friesen on restart and drove by the #44 in Turn 1, but a caution flag flew for a hard crash involving multiple cars including Jim Britt, Tyler Jashembowski, and Dave Rauscher. Unfortunately for Britten, the pass was nullified as the lap was incomplete. 

“If I hadn’t gotten that caution and gone out ahead, Friesen was fast but we were right there with him,” Britten said. “It would have been interesting to see if we could have held him off. But I’m just tickled to be there.”

Expectations are high for Britten as he moved to a Bicknell-built chassis for the first time in his career. With an all-new all-black paint scheme, it’s hard to avoid the Batmobile comparisons given his nickname “Batman.” But it hasn’t all been good luck for Britten in Florida this year.

“We wrecked a car and it’s been a thrash since then,” Britten said. “A lot of people helped me to get to where I am even to just make it back to the race track. Me and Dylan [Zacharias] thrashed on this thing day and night basically to get it ready. It’s a good feeling to be up here for sure.”

Friesen, who also competes in the NASCAR Truck Series, is now an eight-time DIRTcar Nationals Feature winner after the $4,000 victory. But the native of Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, was racing with a heavy heart following news coming out of his native province. 

“I’m thinking about my friends in St. Catharines, Ontario, Doug and Todd Gordon at Concept 1 Fabrication,” Friesen said. “They had a big fire. They lost a lot, if not everything. They are diehard racers who I grew up with. When I first started racing I could go and see “Flash” and he’d fix me up. We’re going to work hard to get him fixed up again.”

Rounding out the podium was the Gypsum Racing #91 of Billy Decker. The “Franklin Flyer” passed Max McLaughlin for third on the last lap. Decker and McLaughlin traded sliders in the closing stages of the Feature, but the veteran came out on top. 

“The Gypsum Wholesaler car was really good,” Decker said. “It was a tough track tonight. We were blazing around the top. I got to third on a restart and hit lapped traffic and Max [McLaughlin] got by us. Then we hit more lapped traffic we got back by him on the last lap. I’m happy to come out of here with a top-three tonight and we’ll see what we can scrounge up tomorrow.”

CG Morey, of Rutland, VT, advanced 13 positions for the hard charger award. After starting 28th, Morey survived to finish 14th. 

Heat Race winners were Friesen, Britten, Jimmy Phelps, and McLaughlin. 

All 32 Big Block Modifieds on the property started the Feature. 

Derrick Mcgrew Jr. found himself on his roof in Turn 1 after a short wall ride. The young driver got out of the stricken #26 under his own power looking no worse than disappointed. 

Friesen picked up the first Billy Whittaker Cars Fast-Time Award with a 17.463 lap around The World’s Fastest Half-Mile

The action continues on Wednesday night with another 30-lap, $4,000-to-win Super DIRTcar Series Feature plus the World of Outlaws Morton Buildings Late Models. 

Follow the Super DIRTcar Series on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram plus bookmark SuperDIRTcarSeries.com for race reports, features, and more. 

If you can’t make it to the race track be sure to watch live with DIRTVision.

Full race results are available here

Feature (30 Laps)

  1. 44-Stewart Friesen [2][$4,000]; 2. 21A-Peter Britten [3][$2,000]; 3. 91-Billy Decker [6][$1,000]; 4. 32C-Max McLaughlin [4][$800]; 5. 88-Mat Williamson [7][$700]; 6. 9S-Matt Sheppard [8][$650]; 7. 25-Erick Rudolph [18][$600]; 8. 1D-Tyler Dippel [11][$550]; 9. 4-Billy VanInwegen [9][$500]; 10. 16X-Dan Creeden [5][$450]; 11. 98H-Jimmy Phelps [1][$400]; 12. 19-Tim Fuller [15][$375]; 13. 7MM-Michael Maresca [16][$350]; 14. 23-Kyle Coffey [19][$325]; 15. 14-CG Morey [28][$300]; 16. 8-Rich Scagliotta [21][$300]; 17. 17-Rob Pitcher [22][$300]; 18. 1-Darwin Greene [17][$300]; 19. 46-Jeremy Smith [23][$300]; 20. 17D-Marcus Dinkins [32][$300]; 21. 30-Ryan Godown [10][$300]; 22. 20-Brett Hearn [14][$300]; 23. 48T-Dave Rauscher [20][$300]; 24. 19M-Jessey Mueller [24][$300]; 25. 26-Derrick McGrew [25][$300]; 26. B52-Brandon Hightower [30][$300]; 27. 88T-Tyler Jashembowski [29][$300]; 28. 2-Jack Lehner [12][$300]; 29. 6-Matt Stangle [13][$300]; 30. 118-Jim Britt [26][$300]; 31. 33T-Cass Bennett [31][$300]; 32. 01W-Justin Wright [27][$300]

Hard Charger: 14-CG Morey[+13]