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Former track regular Danny Holtgraver wins $10,000 in All Star Sprints; Jim Rasey ends 5-year winless drought in Big-Block Mods & becomes 1st repeat “Lou Blaney Memorial” winner after 8 years

By Mike Leone

July 9, 2016

Blaney-image-300x181(Hartford, OH)…Sharon Speedway hosted the eighth annual “Lou Blaney Memorial” presented by Ollie’s Bargain Outlet on Saturday night as Tony Stewart’s Arctic Cat All Star Circuit of Champions Sprint Cars made their second and final appearance of the season and were joined by The Mod Tour for the Hovis Auto & Truck Supply Big-Block Modifieds.  A huge crowd turned out as activities took place throughout the day that benefitted the Alzheimer’s Association.  After a beautiful afternoon, clouds rolled in during the evening as two unexpected rounds of showers slightly delayed the program, but not enough to stop the eighth straight event from being completed.

Three years ago Danny Holtgraver won a $ 10,000 “360” Sprint Car race in Florida at East Bay Raceway Park.  On Saturday night, Holtgraver earned his second career $ 10,000 payday with an impressive run on a fast track holding off last year’s “Lou Blaney Memorial” winner, Sheldon Haudenschild, in the 30-lap All Star Sprint feature.  Holtgraver, a former track regular, became the eighth different “Lou Blaney Memorial” winner in as many races!

All Star logo“This is awesome,” expressed the 26-year-old Pittsburgh, Pa. racer after his fourth career Sharon win.  “I grew up racing here.  I didn’t get to watch Lou (Blaney), but I’ve raced with Dale and Dave for a long time so this means a lot for me to win this race and for them to be here.  I can’t thank everyone enough on this 70-car- Pete Grove, Janet Holbrook, and Scott Bonnell along with my dad, and all my sponsors.  Cody Jacobs is working on this thing and is giving me a hell of a race car right now and I’m having a blast.  I’m speechless.  On a race track like this you kind of want a yellow at the end.  You know you can take off with a good restart and it’s going to be tough for someone to get around you unless you really screw up, which I did try and do, but was able to hold on.  The caution didn’t bother me tonight, but any other time I would have been shaking.”

Holtgraver used the outside to fly into the lead past pole-sitter Josh Baughman.  Baughman was coming off his first career “410” Sprint win on Friday night at Lernerville Speedway and was strong all night winning his heat and the dash to earn the feature pole.  Baughman though received front wing damage on the opening lap then spun following a restart for a caution by Jack Sodeman, Jr. with one lap completed.

Fourth starting Caleb Griffith advanced to second for the restart, but he’d only be able to hold the spot until lap four when fifth starting Dean Jacobs made the move.  Holtgraver had a half-straightaway lead by the time Jacobs made his way to second.  Dale Blaney dropped Griffith back to third then Haudenschild, who started back in seventh, began making his way forward taking fourth from Griffith on lap five.  Griffith though didn’t go away as he got back by Haudenschild on lap nine then brought Haudenschild with him as they both passed Blaney for third and fourth respectively on lap 11.

Joe Kubiniec slowed to bring out the caution with 18 laps completed.  Runner-up Jacobs had nose wing damage, which would hamper his chance for the win the rest of the way.  Back under green, Haudenschild once again passed Griffith, this time for third.  Eighth starting Chad Kemenah was able to get by Blaney then passed Griffith for fourth on lap 20.

Lapped traffic came into play on lap 21, but Griffith’s tough luck at Sharon continued when he slowed to bring out the event’s final caution with 24 laps completed.  When racing resumed, Haudenschild passed Jacobs for second.  He went after Holtgraver, but would run of time in his bid to repeat his $ 10,000 win in the event.  Holtrgaver’s second All Star win of the year and 11th of his career came in the Pete Grove-owned, Premier Motorsports/Premier Pallet/Bonnell’s Rod Shop/DKW Transport/Lutz Custom Cabinets/Olympic Forestry -sponsored #70.

After three straight All Star wins, Haudenschild settled for a runner-up as he continues to close in on point leader Chad Kemenah and second place man Blaney.  “Good night overall,” said the Wooster, Ohio second generation racer.  “I just didn’t feel like I got up there quick enough to be able to challenge Holtgraver.  He had clean air and was able to run with it.  Congrats to him and Cody (Jacobs).  They work hard so I’m glad to see that.  It means a ton with everyone that helps out to get us out here each week and it wouldn’t be possible without them.”

Despite the collapsed nose wing, Jacobs held on for a third place improving on his fifth place finish at the Ohio Speedweek event last month.  Kemenah and Blaney were fourth and fifth.  Kraig Kinser, Tim Shaffer, Caleb Helms, Dave Blaney, and 23rd starting Cap Henry completed the top 10.  Dale Blaney set fast time in qualifying over the 39-car field with a lap of 12.990 not far off the 12.704 track record.  Besides Baughman, also picking up heat wins were Griffith, Haudenschild, and Bryan Sebetto.  Lee Jacobs won the B main.

Mod Tour logoOne thousand eight hundred seventy-six days.  That’s how many days had passed since Jim Rasey’s last victory.  But on Saturday night with a new car and pieced together motor, Rasey looked like the Rasey of old driving past some of the region’s best Big-Block Modified racers to capture an improbable $ 2,000 victory in the 30-lap Mod Tour feature for the Hovis Auto & Truck Supply big blocks.  Rasey’s last win was on May 21, 2011; however, became the first repeat winner of the “Lou Blaney Memorial” for the either the Sprints or Modifieds backing up his 2010 event win.

“I’ll tell you what- dad, myself, and the crew worked non-stop all night long for the last three or four nights to get this thing together at 4:30 today,” revealed the 44-year-old Southington, Ohio driver.  “We barely made it.  I have to thank everyone that has been standing behind me in this.  That was a race track tonight!  That was the old school, Lou Blaney track.  I love it- it was great!  I call this a three in one- three motors in one.  Then we call it C4 because we don’t know when it’s going to blow up.  I have to thank Alcon Mechanical, JD Pit Stop and Hovis Tire, who came on board this week to get us a set of tires that we were desperately in need of.  There’s a lot of people over the last five years that really busted their butts thinking it was over, but I guess I proved them wrong.”

A side-by-side battle on the opening lap saw three-time time 2016 winner, Jimmy Weller III, lead the opening lap, but pole-sitter, Jeremiah Shingledecker, took charge of the race on lap two over Weller and Eric Gabany.  It was four-wide for fourth on lap two with sixth starting Rex King, Jr. moving into the position over Erick Rudolph and Rasey.

Shingledecker pulled away from the field by lap five, while the battle was on for second as Weller III tried to hold off Gabany and King, Jr.  Shingledecker opened up his lead to a straightaway on lap nine and then caught lapped traffic on lap 11 as the laps ticked off caution-free.  King, Jr. and Rudolph passed Gabany for third and fourth on laps 11 and 12 respectively.  King, Jr. was all over Weller III on lap 12, 13, and 14 before nosing ahead for the runner-up spot on the 14th circuit.

Shingledecker’s straightaway lead was erased when Shayne Pierce slowed to bring out the caution with 16 laps scored.  After quietly running outside the top five for the first 16 laps, the caution was just what Rasey needed.  Back under green, he passed both Rudolph and Gabany for fourth then one lap later took third from Weller III.  Rasey charged after King, Jr. and drove under him for second on lap 22 before a caution for Jim Weller, Jr., who didn’t make it off the track.

When racing resumed on lap 23, Rasey took charge as King, Jr. followed past Shingledecker for second.  The event was slowed for the final time with 25 laps completed when Rick Richner hit the frontstretch wall head on and Garrett Krummert clipped Richner’s rear leaving a debris field all over the frontstretch.

After the lengthy cleanup, the final 10 laps went green-to-checkered.  Rasey increased his lead every lap and took the checkered flag first by a comfortable 2.594 second margin in his Alcon Mechanical/Hovis Tire/JD Pit Stop-sponsored #32.  Rasey’s 19th career Sharon win tied him for seventh on the all-time win list, ironically with King, Jr., the track’s point leader who crossed the line in second.

After leading 21 laps, Shingledecker dropped to third over Rudolph, who is The Mod Tour point leader and April 16 “Russ King Memorial” winner.  Gabany had a solid fifth despite being underpowered with his “358” small-block.  Michael Maresca, Weller III, Rex King, Dave Murdick, and Brad Rapp were sixth through 10th.  Murdick, Rudolph, King, Jr., and Brian Swartzlander copped the heat races over the 33-car field.  Tom Mattocks won the B main.

All Star Circuit of Champions Sprint Cars (30 laps, $ 10,000 to-win): 1. DANNY HOLTGRAVER (Grove 70)  2. Sheldon Haudenschild (93)  3. Dean Jacobs (Seeling 97)  4. Chad Kemenah (Hunter 10H)  5. Dale Blaney (CH Motorsports 1)  6. Kraig Kinser (11K)  7. Tim Shaffer (Rudzik/Demyan 49)  8. Caleb Helms (40)  9. Dave Blaney (Motter 71M)  10. Cap Henry (Coomer 21)  11. Andrew Palker (57x)  12. Bryan Sebetto (Chappel 8)  13. Carl Bowser (10)  14. Jack Sodeman, Jr. (23Jr)  15. T.J. Michael (8M)  16. Brad Howard (49H)  17. Lee Jacobs (Lewis 81)  18. Caleb Griffith (Marshall 33M)  19. Mike Bauer (46)  20. Travis Philo (5T)  21. Joe Kubiniec (19)  22. Chris Andrews (Armbruster 73)  23. Jimmy Morris III (4N)  24. Josh Baughman (17)  25. Dan Kuriger (08)  26. Kory Crabtree (60).

DNQ for the feature: Brandon Spithaler (22), A.J. Flick (2), Adam Kekich (5K), Brandon Matus (13), Lance Moss (McCall 23), Gary Edwards (57), Alex Paden (24), Eric L. Williams (4W), Paul Kish (4c), Mike Flynn (12X), Brent Matus (33), Darren Pifer (23), Gale Ruth, Jr. (1R).

Mod Tour for the Hovis Auto & Truck Supply Big-Block Modifieds (35 laps, $ 2,500 to-win): 1. JIM RASEY (32)  2. Rex King, Jr. (165)  3. Jeremiah Shingledecker (37MD)  4. Erick Rudolph (25R)  5. Eric Gabany (3E)  6. Michael Maresca (7)  7. Jimmy Weller III (23)  8. Rex King (65)  9. Dave Murdick (61)  10. Brad Rapp (11R)  11. J.R. McGinley (66M)  12. Shannon Whaley (44)  13. Rob Kristyak (00)  14. Bob Warren (96B)  15. Mark Frankhouser (03)  16. Garrett Krummert (29)  17. Rick Richner (26)  18. Shawn Fleeger (88)  19. Jim Weller, Jr. (31)  20. Tom Mattocks (69)  21. Kevin Bolland (777)  22. Brian Swartzlander (83)  23. Shayne Pierce (88)  24. Mark Flick (Regalski 7z)  25. Skip Moore (17M)  26. Rick Regalski, Jr. (13).

DNQ for the feature: Justin Rasey (21), Dave Reges (27R), Scott Kerwin (7), Rodney Beltz (64), Tom Glenn (83T), Chris Haines (35H), Dave Blaney (18B).

There will be no racing on July 16. The next event will Thursday, July 21 for the Super DIRTcar Series for the Big-Block Modifieds paying $ 6,000 to-win plus the Renegades of Dirt (E) Modifieds. There will be a FREE concert featuring the Southern Rock Superstars on Friday, July 22 for “Summer Jam & BBQ Series” III. Six-division “Steel Valley Thunder” racing returns on Saturday night, July 23 with Hovis Auto & Truck Supply DIRTcar Big-Block Modifieds, Summit Racing Equipment Modifieds, Lyden/Red Line Oil RUSH Sportsman Modifieds, Gibson Insurance Agency Stock Cars, HTMA/Precise Racing Products Econo Mods, and Deforest Used Parts Mini Stocks plus kids power wheels races on Twin-State Auto Racing Club Night.

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 www.twitter.com/sharonspdwy.

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Sharon Speedway

“Lou Blaney Memorial” to feature All Star Sprints again with $10,000 on the line Saturday; The Mod Tour & several activities to benefit Alzheimer’s Assoc on tap

By Mike Leone

July 6, 2016

Blaney-image-300x181(Hartford, OH)…One of the region’s most anticipated events is mere days away as Sharon Speedway is set to host the eighth annual “Lou Blaney Memorial” presented by Ollie’s Bargain Outlet this Saturday night (July 9) featuring Tony Stewart’s Arctic Cat All Star Circuit of Champions Sprint Cars and The Mod Tour for the Hovis Auto & Truck Supply Big-Block division.  Activities to benefit the Alzheimer’s Association will begin at 1:30 p.m. leading up to warm-ups at 6:30.  The rain date is Sunday.

All Star logoFor the second straight year, Saturday’s “Lou Blaney Memorial” will feature $ 10,000 on the line for the event winner under the All Stars’ sanction! There has yet to be a repeat winner in the seven prior “Lou Blaney Memorial” Sprint Car events!  Tony Stewart won the inaugural event in 2009.  Mike Lutz was the first local winner taking the 2010 version for Jim Chappel.  Texan Sam Hafertepe, Jr. won in 2011, while Californian Brad Sweet, who now races with the World of Outlaws, was victorious in 2012.  Jack Sodeman, Jr. became the second local driver to win the prestigious event in 2013, while Dave Blaney won his father’s memorial for the first time in 2014.  Last year, Sheldon Haudenschild, who is coming off a weekend sweep of All Star action in Michigan, won the biggest race of his career.

Despite just one win this season, Chad Kemenah leads the All Stars to Sharon as the Series point leader by 46 over Dale Blaney. The youngest son of the late Lou Blaney would love to add his name to the win list at a track where he owns 14 career wins.  Blaney’s five All Star wins this season have his raised his all-time leading total to 132!  Haudenschild, who like Blaney has five wins this season, is third in points over Cap Henry and Danny Holtgraver.  The All Stars were at Sharon just over two weeks ago for Ohio Speedweek when Bryan Clauson captured the win over the 52-car field.

Dave Blaney will not only try and win his second “Lou Blaney Memorial” in the Sprint Cars, but will try his hand at the Big-Block Modifieds as he debuts one of his own cars. Blaney has been doing a lot of racing in Dan Motter’s #71M Sprint Car, and recently finished second at Williams Grove with the Super DIRTcar Modified Series, which will be at Sharon on July 21.

One of the invaders that will be at Sharon Saturday is Texan Josh Baughman. The local contingent is expected to be led by two-time track champion Jack Sodeman, Jr. along with drivers such as A.J. Flick, Carl Bowser, Brandon Spithaler, Adam Kekich, Brandon and Brent Matus, Dan Kuriger, 2008 track champion Dan Shetler, Andy McKisson, Mike Bauer, Jimmy Morris, Gary Edwards, and others.

Mod Tour logoThe Hovis Auto & Truck Supply Big-Block Modifieds will round out the show in a Mod Tour-sanctioned event paying $ 2,000 to-win. There has yet to be a repeat “Lou Blaney Memorial” winner in the Modifieds either!  New York legend Jack Johnson captured the 2009 race, while local Ohio drivers Jim Rasey and Rob Kristyak stole the thunder in 2010 and 2011.  Kevin Bolland won the prestigious event in 2012 and fellow western Pa. racer Dave Murdick joined him in 2013.  In 2014, Rex King, Jr. won the event part of his dream season, while last season Jim Weller, Jr. added his name to the win list.  The locals have won six straight “Lou Blaney Memorials”…will an outsider end that trend or will we get an eighth different winner!?

One of those outsiders that could steal the locals’ thunder is Mod Tour point leader Erick Rudolph, who already has a win this season at Sharon in the 2015 “Russ King Memorial” make-up for the Tour on April 16. Fresh off his first win of the season last Saturday, King, Jr. leads the Sharon points over the Wellers, who have won five feature this year led by Jimmy III with three and two by Jim, Jr.

Friends of Lou Blaney will again attend the Memorial event to help celebrate the life and accomplishments of the Hall of Fame driver, who won more than 600 feature victories during a five-decade career. The legend has at least 121 Modified wins and another 11 documented in a Sprint Car at Sharon alone.  Blaney passed away in 2009 after battling Alzheimer’s.

Racing won’t be the only attraction at Sharon on Saturday. Grandstand gates will open at 1:00 p.m. for the festivities.  The apparel trailer with the new “Lou Blaney Memorial” shirts along with Blaney merchandise will open at 1 p.m.  A corn hole tournament will take place at 2 p.m. along with activities and games for children.

Alzheimer’s-AssociationThe dinner for friends and family of Lou Blaney will begin at 4 p.m. A silent auction of many, varied baskets will be available for everyone to bid on and then a live auction of race memorabilia and sports related items will be sold off to the highest bidders.   The silent auction will be all afternoon with the live auction beginning after dinner at approximately 5-5:30 p.m.  All proceeds will benefit the Alzheimer’s Association.  There is a complete list of live auction items listed on the Lou Blaney Memorial Facebook page as well as Sharon’s website at www.sharonspeedway.com.

Pit passes will go on sale at 3 p.m. A drivers meeting is tentatively scheduled for 6 p.m. with Sprint engine starts at 6:15, warm-ups at 6:30 with qualifying and racing to follow.  Adult admission is $ 25.  Pit passes are $ 35.  As always, children under 14, parking, and camping is always FREE!  Sharon has a no carry-in cooler policy.

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 www.twitter.com/sharonspdwy.

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Sharon Speedway

“Armed Forces Night” Saturday with a full “Steel Valley Thunder” racing program

By Mike Leone

June 28, 2016

(Hartford, OH)…After a terrible start weather wise to the season, Mother Nature has finally blessed Sharon Speedway with good weather and that trend is expected to continue this Saturday night (July 2).  With the second half of the 87th anniversary season set to get underway, Sharon will look to complete its seventh straight event.  The “Steel Valley Thunder” program for “Armed Forces Night” will feature the Hovis Auto & Truck Supply DIRTcar Big-Block Modifieds, Summit Racing Equipment Modifieds, Lyden/Red Line Oil RUSH Sportsman Modifieds, Gibson Insurance Agency Stock Cars, HTMA/Precise Racing Products Econo Mods, and the Deforest Used Parts Mini Stocks.  Race time is 7 p.m.

Saturday’s promotion is “Armed Forces Night” as all veterans and active service personnel will be admitted free into the grandstands for general admission. Saturday’s kitchen special is hamburger gravy over mashed potatoes and a vegetable..  Hovis Auto & Truck Supply will award six complimentary pit passes for the following week; a pair going to the hard luck driver in DIRTcar Big-Block Modifieds, a pair to a lucky driver in the division that competes first, and a pair to a lucky fan.  Thanks to an anonymous donor, an extra $ 50 will be awarded to position five at all “Steel Valley Thunder” events for the Big-Block Mods, RUSH Sportsman Mods, and Stock Cars.  Summit Racing Equipment $ 25 gift cards will also be awarded.

The Wellers have been on a tear this season in the DIRTcar Big-Block Modifieds. Jimmy Weller III entered 2016 with two career Big-Block Modified wins at the track and has already captured three checkered flags including last Saturday night, while his father Jim, Jr. has added a pair of victories.  Nonetheless, both are still chasing consistent Rex King, Jr., who is out in front of the Hovis Auto & Truck Supply championship chase.  King, Jr., who has yet to win a feature this year at Sharon, has a 13-point lead on Weller III and 28 points on Weller, Jr.  Rex King and Rick Richner are fourth and fifth in points as both racers are always fighting for their first wins of the season as well.

Joel Watson has now won four of the six Modified features he’s entered this year; however, one of those was the non-point make-up and missing one night has kept him from leading the Summit Racing Equipment points. It’s certainly good to have your first name start with a ‘J’ as Joe Gabrielson leads Jeff Johnson by 25, while Joel Watson and Josh Ferry complete the top four in points.  Oddly enough eight of the top 18 in points have their first names start with a ‘J’.  One-time winner, Scott Stiffler, is fifth in points.

The RUSH Sportsman Modifieds continue to churn out new winners and strong car counts. Chas Wolbert became the sixth different driver in seven Lyden/Red Line Oil races to capture feature wins after winning last Saturday’s Bicknell Tour event for his first career win.  Only point leader Brandon Ritchey has repeated as he has a 14-point lead on one-time winner, Kole Holden.  Wolbert is up to third in points with Nick Ritchey and Jerry Schaffer searching for their first wins.  The car count has ranged from 21 to last Saturday night’s record of 26.

After coming up just shy to Mike Clark two years ago, Paul Davis is bound and determined to win a Stock Car championship. Davis won the $ 1,500 Penn-Ohio race on June 18 for his biggest career win and backed it up winning from ninth.  Davis has lots of pressure behind him with Mike Miller trailing by eight points and Andy Buckley nine.  Miller battled hard with Clark last season only to come up shy, while Buckley’s goal is stop Clark from a fourth straight title.  Bob McCann and Clark, who each have a victory, are fourth and fifth in the Gibson Insurance Agency points.

Steve Haefke has definitely become the driver to beat in the Econo Mods. He has an amazing string of 12 straight top two finishes dating back to last season!  He’s won three of the last four features, which means he can start no better than 12th Saturday night due to two straight wins.  In the HTMA/Precise Racing Products points race, Haefke has opened up 21-point lead on Brandon Blackshear.  Brad Blackshear, Wayne Daniels, and Chris Clay complete the top five.

In 2010, back in the old Friday night bi-weekly racing program, Steve Walker II won a feature event in route to the Mini Stock championship. Walker went six years without a win or a championship, but here in 2016 the Greenville, Pa. driver has two feature wins and sits atop the Deforest Used Parts points.  Walker has just a slim four-point lead on Bill Fuchs, while Joe Campbell, Matt Rubright, and Logan Keney round out the top five.

Pits open at 4 p.m. on Saturday with grandstands at 5 and racing at 7. Admission for those 14 and over is $ 10, while children 13 and under are free.  Pit passes are $ 30.  Parking and camping are free.  Sharon has a no carry-in cooler policy.

Coming up next Saturday, July 9 will be the “Lou Blaney Memorial” presented by Ollie’s Bargain Outlet featuring Tony Stewart’s Arctic Cat All Star Circuit of Champions Sprint Cars racing for $ 10,000 to-win along with The Mod Tour for big blocks battling for $ 2,000 to-win. Reserved and advanced tickets are on sale through SharonSpeedway.com.

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 www.twitter.com/sharonspdwy.

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Sharon Speedway


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