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When Miles Maroney rolled onto the GRC Lites grid for the 2015 season opener in Fort Lauderdale, he had no idea how many races he would be doing in 2015. Running on a race-by-race deal with Dreyer & Reinbold Racing, he showed modest speed in that first race, but only finished seventh in the main event, leaving his next race in question.

Shortly before Daytona, Maroney got the call to get back in the car, and the rest is history. He’s earned one win and four podiums, hasn’t finished worse than fourth since the opener, and heads into his home race in Los Angeles with the Lites points lead.

“It’s been a rollercoaster ride!” Maroney said after taking third place in Washington DC last weekend. “To still be running races at this point in the season, let alone leading the points championship, is amazing. I can’t thank my team enough for believing in me as much as they have, and I’m thrilled we’ve been able to deliver results to justify that belief. I’ve got some of the hardest working guys in the paddock behind me and I’m proud every time I hop in their car.”

Often times, a championship-winning season is built not on what a team does on its the good days, but how much a driver can do with the bad ones. Despite having every challenge imaginable thrown at them at RFK Stadium, Maroney and the DRR squad persevered for their third consecutive podium on Saturday.

“DC was definitely a rough one for us, but we were fast from the first session on track,” he explained. “The early sessions all seemed to go fine, we bounced around P1 and P2 with (teammate) Alex (Keyes), and all was well. But as soon as we got to the heat sessions, mayhem broke out again.

“In the first heat, we lost an oil pump belt on the second lap which ended up putting us at risk of hurting the motor since it lost oil pressure while running. My guys started working on the car as soon as it got back and worked until about 11PM Friday night to get us ready for Saturday. Heat 2 rolled around and after going from fifth to third on the opening lap, the shift linkage broke and I got stuck in fourth gear.”

With ten cars on the GRC Lites entry list in DC, Maroney knew he would get to the final, and without having to deal with the extra four laps of a last chance qualifier, the team was able to put in extra work on the car to get it right. From there, it was time for Maroney to settle it on track.

“I knew we had the pace to run up front, I just had to make quick work of everyone and get there,” he continued. “I jumped to sixth or seventh right at the start and then got to work, making a couple late braking moves at the end of the long straight to get up into fourth. (Austin) Cindric smacked the wall in front of us near the end and ended up checking us up about three seconds which made it so I couldn’t get to Oliver (Eriksson), but to even come home third was a great result with all things considered. Grabbing the points lead just made it even better.”

Each of the past two GRC Lites champions has been offered a full-time Supercar ride for the following season. It’s a prospect that Maroney has on his mind—but he’s not planning to let it pull his focus away from the immediate goal.

“The hope of a 2016 Supercar ride has been the focus all along, but leading the points right now definitely helps make it more real,” he admitted. “It’s a pretty tight paddock amongst everyone, so I have to think the right people are taking notice and hopefully see something in me that makes me a top candidate for any shot that may come up.

“While I would love to be given the chance to drive one and chase that championship, my immediate goal is to rack up more Lites wins and bring home the 2015 Lites championship. We’re still learning every race and it’s only going to keep getting better.”

 

Words: Chris Leone

Photo Credit: Larry Chen (1, 3); Louis Yio (2)

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