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Slickville racer finds success at Jennerstown

| Thursday, June 12, 2014, 8:55 p.m.

Twenty years ago, Joe Maruca bought his first go-kart outside of the Jennerstown Speedway when he was 10 years old.

Now, Maruca celebrates his two decades as a racecar driver by competing professionally on the same track that helped initiate his career in the sport.

Competing in his fourth year as a driver in the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series, Maruca began the season at Jennerstown on May 24 with two top-10 finishes. He followed that performance the next weekend with a sixth-place finish in the Late Model-A Main contest and an eighth-place finish in the Late Model-Twin race.

So far, these results have landed Maruca in fifth place for his division, which crowns the preeminent late model car driver in the region before sending the victor to nationals, a prize Maruca certainly has his sights set on.

“Our main goal is always to go there and compete for wins, and then go on and compete for championships,” Maruca said. “My plan is to win races.”

Maruca's plan has been in the works since the day he bought his first go-kart outside of Jennerstown Speedway. From there, he raced his go-kart to three local championships before jumping up to the state and national level to sharpen his skills.

After graduating high school, Maruca began working full-time as a factory driver for a team in North Carolina. Then, he decided to put a team of his own together.

“It was the cause of a lot of headaches at first,” Maruca said. “To go from racing go-karts to full-size late model car racing is a big jump. We skipped a lot of steps in between.

“I wouldn't have been able to do it without the people that I surround myself with. I was fortunate enough to have three great local drivers join my crew.”

The support Maruca has received and the hard work he has put in over the past two decades is starting to pay dividends.

His team, Maruca Motorsports, just secured another valuable sponsorship for their No. 90 car. Worldwide Safety Consulting, located in Florida, has joined Ambulance Billing Experts and Salem Enterprises as primary backers for the Slickville-based Maruca Motorsports.

Despite the increased attention, Maruca and his team remain grounded in their approach to competition, as evidenced by the number painted on the side of their racecar.

“The number (90) is significant because I am also a volunteer fireman, and that's our station number,“ Maruca said. “I put the department's name on the car too, because they fully support me with what I do.”

The last time Maruca raced with a different number was when he drove a No. 2 car for Tony Stewart at Kevin Harvick's house for a charity event. The experience is one of many remarkable memories Maruca has gathered while chasing the dream that began with him buying his first go-kart 20 years ago.

Maruca Motorsports plans to compete at Jennerstown Speedway every Saturday night until the NASCAR Whelen Series ends in the fall.

Kevin Lohman is a freelance writer.

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