Mike Maresca is ending the 2018 season on a strong note in two different forms of racing. The Potsdam, NY resident turned in a solid fourth place result in the Saturday afternoon portion of the SuperDIRTcar Series feature for Big-Block Modified cars two weeks ago at The Dirt Track at Charlotte. And this past weekend the driver of the No. 7mm car scored a pair of third place finishes in his Late Model in a Southern All Star Dirt Racing Series event on Saturday night at Lancaster Speedway and then in the Carolina Clash Super Late Model Series finale at Cherokee Speedway.
Most remarkably about his runs on the two South Carolina tracks in the Late Model was that the 23-year-old racer has relatively little experience in those type of cars compared to most of the drivers he was competing against.
“Being from New York, I normally race Small-Block and Big-Block Modifieds,” Maresca explained in an interview with InsideDirtRacing.com. “I raced Late Models last year a little bit more. We race down here more in the fall because we didn’t have anything going on up home so we came down here. This is actually the place(Cherokee) I did my first Super Late Model race at last year so we came back and went to Lancaster last night and here today.”
During the middle sections of the racing season Maresca and his team can typically be found in the northern parts of the country.
“Up in New York there’s a couple of race tracks around the house I race at,” the racer said. “If I’m racing my Late Model during the summer it’s usually in western Pennsylvania, Ohio, West Virginia, or New York if there’s a Super race going on.”
Maresca, who usually races a total of 80 times per year, is finishing out his season in the Late Model as his Big-Block Modified is already being prepared for the 2019 campaign.
The solid runs in South Carolina were welcomed by the driver who was not happy with his performance in the Late Model in Charlotte. However, his top-5 run in the Modified was satisfying in that it showed improvement over previous trips to the track located in the shadows of NASCAR’s Charlotte Motor Speedway. At the same time, the racer is working hard to adjust to running both cars on the same night.
“I’m still adjusting to bouncing back and forth but we were good in our Modified there,” he pointed out. “I had been there a couple of times and never really had a spectacular run, maybe some top-10s, and that’s about it.”
Some aspects of the two types of race cars are alike while other facets are very different.
“They’ve got similar power, Big-Blocks have got 800 to 900(horsepower) and the Late Models are similar,” Maresca confirmed. “The biggest difference I find is that you can drive the Supers a lot harder. And also the air, if you’re behind someone in a Modified you don’t really feel it as much going into the corner. If you’re behind someone in a Late Model the air coming off of them can throw you off a little bit. That’s probably my biggest adjustment.”
A number of drivers have come from the Big-Block Modified ranks to succeed in other forms of racing. Tim McCreadie and Tim Fuller are examples of racers who have found success in Late Models. Stewart Friesen just completed a season in which he finished seventh on the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series.
Maresca believes that is due to the challenge of driving those high-powered machines.
“I think with the front suspension on them, and even the rear suspension, it’s not as highly advanced as some of the other stuff and they don’t have a lot of down force,” Maresca explained. “They’re extremely hard to drive. You kind of drive them like a Sprint Car and you kind of drive them like a Late Model. You drive them straight, but you know, nice and smooth and sometimes you’ve got to manhandle them. And we race on so many different race tracks because in the region where we run them cars you don’t have a lot of choice, you have to run on a lot of different surfaces and that makes them a challenge too. Any car is difficult to win in but they’re just difficult to drive.”
On the other hand, the Late Models provide a different type of challenge for drivers who attempt to race in both types of cars.
“The Late Model is actually a little more physical because with the steering boxes in the Modified you don’t have to turn the wheel as much so that makes them a little bit easier inside the cockpit. There’s a lot more 100-lappers(in Big-Block features) but 100 laps in a Late Model is harder than 100 laps in a Modified. But depending on the race track, they both can be physical.”
Short-track racing fans:
Please consider reading –> Brandon Setzer making his own way in short-track racing or Matt Craig enjoying racing life as PASS South champion