By Mike Leone
September 25, 2013
(Hartford, OH)…After rain washed out last Saturday’s “Steel Valley Thunder” card, Sharon Speedway is expecting better weather this Saturday night (September 28) for the final “Steel Valley Thunder” regular event of the season. Saturday’s program includes the Governor Insurance Agency DIRTcar Big-Block Modifieds, Barris Supply RUSH Late Models, Summit Racing Equipment Modifieds, Gibson Insurance Agency Stock Cars, HTMA/Precise Racing Products Econo Mods, and Deforest Used Parts Mini Stocks. Race time is 7 p.m.
Fresh off the big $ 3,500 to-win “Russ King Memorial,” the DIRTcar Big-Block Modifieds will wrap up their season on Saturday night in the region’s only event of the weekend for the class. It took New York invader Ricky Richner all season to win one, but he picked a great night to do it on capturing the BRP win on September 14. Richner is currently fourth in points.
Due to last week’s rainout, Jim Weller, Jr. clinched his third championship. The battle will be on for the runner-up spot as last year’s champion, Dave Murdick, trails Rex King, Jr. by 18 points. The elder King is fifth and can finish no worse, but could top Richner for fourth. Bob Warren and Rob Kristyak are sixth and seventh. Just 18 points separate positions 8-11, which are currently held on by Tom Glenn, Jeremiah Shingledecker, Carl Murdick, and Eric Gabany.
Ever since repeating his 2012 season ending first career Sharon win on opening night back on April 6, Dennis Lunger, Jr. has maintained the point leader in the Barris Supply RUSH Late Models. The Albion, Pa. driver has been after his goal of a championship all season long and currently leads defending champion, Will Thomas III, by 29. Lunger can clinch the crown by finishing 19th or better. Thomas missed opening night and also a show-up Sweeney Tour event due to an injury on Memorial Day Weekend.
The 2011 champion, Josh Double is third, while “Futures Cup” point leader Eric Wilson, and Late Model rookie Jamie Wrightsman round out the top five. Completing the top 10 of the points paying positions are Matt Latta, Rocky Kugel, Ben Black, Clay Ruffo, and Brian Booher.
Mike Kinney has captured his first ever track championship in the Modifieds after a tremendously successful and consistent season. Two-time winner, Joe Gabrielson, has a 14-point lead over Alan Dellinger in the battle for second. Jeff Johnson, who has won three features this season, is fourth. He opened the year victorious, won the $ 750 special over Memorial Day weekend, and then bagged the biggest win of his career at the last event on September 14 in the $ 2000 UEMS event to move up to second on the division’s all-time win list at 18.
Jeff Hassay can do no better than fifth, but he’s trying to hold off Shawn Shingledecker for the spot. Joel Watson, Clayton Kennedy, Gary Sullivan, and Trevor Herr currently hold down positions 7-10.
Mike Clark is one of the four of six point leaders who has already clinched the title. The Bristolville, Ohio driver has had a career best season and will celebrate his first ever track championship at the awards banquet this winner.
Brian Carothers has a pretty comfortable 21-point lead on Paul Davis for the second position. Tim Burns, Jamie Duncan, Bryan Wagner, Ron Yarab, Jr., Brent Coleman, Bob McCann, and Jamie Scharba currently fill positions 4-10.
Prior to September 14, Jeremy Double, Jacob Eucker, and Ryan Fraley had won all of the features this season except for one. On Saturday’s $ 500 to-win special, things were different up front with Double and Eucker not finishing and Fraley not in competition. That left division newcomers, but certainly not newcomers to racing, in Tim Deutsch, Jason Longwell, Butch Lambert, and Steve Haefke to garner the top four positions.
Double is sitting on a 21-point lead over Eucker as these two young racers are the only drivers that have a shot at the title. Double can claim his first crown by simply finishing 11th or better in the feature. Fraley, rookie Ty Rhoades, and one-time winner, Steve Burns, Jr., complete the top five. Larry Root, Alan Atkinson, Keith Felicetty, Junior Mechling, and Brian Hathaway are currently occupying the remainder of the points paying positions.
The Mini Stocks is the closest championship race heading into Saturday’s point finale. Scott Gilliland has said all season long he’s never chased points, but as long as he’s leading them he’ll keep going after his first championship. The 46-year-old racer has seven feature wins and is sitting on just a 13-point lead over rookie Travis Creech in the Deforest Used Parts Mini Stocks.
Defending champion Jim Haefke, Jr. and 2011 titilist Bill Fuchs are a distance third and fourth in points, while rookie Tim McAninch completes the top five. Ray Gregory, Geof Pinch, Steve Walker II, Jim Clay, Jr., and Pat Drennan round out the top 10.
Once again Saturday night, one lucky boy and girl under the age of 14 will win a bicycle or scooter thanks to King Bros. and Sharon Speedway. Saturday’s kitchen special is hamburger gravy over mashed with corn.
Pits open at 4 p.m. Saturday with grandstands at 5 and racing at 7. Grandstand admission for those 14 and over is $ 13, while children under 14 are always free. Pit passes are $ 25. Parking and camping is always free.
The 2013 season finale will be on Saturday, October 5 featuring the ULMS Super Late Models for $ 3,000 to-win, Open Stock Cars for $ 1,000 to-win, a $ 500 to-win Modified non-winners program, and the Mini Stocks for $ 200 to-win.
Sharon Speedway is owned by the Blaney, Weller, and Kirila Families and is a 3/8-mile dirt track located on Custer-Orangeville Road in Hartford, Ohio near the intersection of Routes 7 & 305. For more information, check out the website at www.sharonspeedway.com or call 330-772-5481. Become a fan of Sharon Speedway on Facebook at www.facebook.com/sharonspeedway and follow us on Twitter at @SharonSpdwy.