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Willis picks off Maresca in late going of limited sportsman race

South Boston News
Mike Maresca (7) and Danny Willis Jr (23) battle for track position in Thursday’s 106-lap race for the limited sportsman race at SBS. (James Price photo) / July 08, 2013
It took 106 laps, but Danny Willis Jr. finally had enough horsepower to slip past Michael Maresca to win the limited sportsman race at South Boston Speedway Thursday.

Willis nosed past Maresca by a scant 0.211 seconds. Tommy Peregoy ran a smart race and finished third, with Garett Bunch fourth and Caleb Davis fifth.

Willis notched his fifth win of the season.

Willis extended his point lead.

“We raced good and hard. We bumped as little bit, but that’s good, hard racing.
“I knew (Maresca) was going to drive me clean as he could,” Willis said.

Willis held off Maresca in a two-lap sprint to the finish following the final yellow to win the limited feature.

Willis made some changes heading into the race.

At the end, Willis made a smart move heading to the outside line.

“We kind of fell in line and rode for a little while. The car got real tight right there a couple of laps into the race.
“I believe Maresca was a little bit better if I ever could have let him get back out in front, but the outside line opened up for me right there at the end of the race. I knew my car was good out there, so we were able to hold him off,” said Willis.

Willis said going outside was the key.

“I knew if I had taken the inside, it would have made me that much looser.
I got back to the gas and taking the outside was the way to go,” said Willis.

Willis averaged 64.555 mph in a race slowed three times for cautions.

Yellow flag laps totaled 19 laps.

Maresca held the lead until lap 67, when Willis seized the point.

Willis led the rest of the way.

Blake Stallings and J.D. Eversole got involved in a turn 4 incident on lap 68, but Willis got a clear lane on the restart and took off.

From there Maresca tried to pull down low on Willis several times. The leaders made contact on lap 88, with sparks flying.

Finally, Joey Throckmorton got involved in a racing incident and lost a wheel, bringing out the third yellow of the night.

That set up a GWC finish, as Willis prevailed.

He said his tires were going away. It felt like a dirt track, he noted, with some wetness in the corners from the steady rainfall that swept through the area earlier.

“It was a ton racing out there (with Willis), side by side. That’s what it all about,” Maresca said,

Third place finisher Peregoy was competitive at the end.

“We went down in turn one. I probably could have pressed the issue a little bit and got second ... We ended up third with a car that would run pretty good for about 20 laps and then got all over the race track,” said Peregoy.

As for the rest of the field, Trey Crews was sixth. Mike Jones, a former winner this season, was seventh. GR Waldrop was eighth and Libby Prevette had a respectable ninth place run. Austin Babb, part of the two-team Sellers stable (along with Maresca) was tenth.

Among other drivers, Blake Stallings got credit for 99 laps and finished 12th.

Throckmorton finished 13th, completing 96 laps.

“We’ve got to keep doing what we’re doing and just keep our nose clean each and every week and try to get the best finish we can. The wins are nice, now we just need to look at the big picture and .... see how we end up at the end of the year,” said Willis.

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