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“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

RUSH Sportsman Mod Tour & MFG Night highlight Saturday’s “Steel Valley Thunder” program

By Mike Leone

June 22, 2016         

(Hartford, OH)…Finally Mother Nature blessed Sharon Speedway not only last Saturday, but also on Tuesday for  Ohio Sprint Speedweek with the first dry forecasts since the April 16 opener.  Sharon will now look to complete its sixth straight show this Saturday night (June 25) in an event highlighted by the Sweeney Chevrolet Buick GMC RUSH Sportsman Modifieds in a Bicknell Racing Products Tour event for their “Manufacturers Night”.  The “Steel Valley Thunder” program will also include the Hovis Auto & Truck Supply DIRTcar Big-Block Modifieds, Summit Racing Equipment 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 kitchen special is a loaded chicken bowl. 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 Lyden/Red Line Oil RUSH Sportsman Modified division will compete in their first of two Bicknell Racing Products Touring Series events this season. The third year division is in its second year of being part of the weekly “Steel Valley Thunder” program and car counts have been impressive all season long ranging from 21-25 cars with 31 different cars participating!  There have been five different winners in six races at Sharon this season.  Brandon Ritchey, the only repeat winner, has a two-point lead over Kole Holden.  Third through fifth are Jerry Schaffer, Chas Wolbert, and Nick Ritchey.

The Bicknell Tour features seven events this season throughout the western Pa. and eastern Ohio with a separate point fund in addition to the Weekly Series point fund that Sharon is part of. Adam Hilton won the Series’ opening event at Tri-City Raceway Park on Sunday.  Saturday will be the Series’ third annual “Manufacturers Night” presented by MSD Performance with it being the first time held at Sharon.  Well over $ 13,000 of prizes will be distributed to the RUSH racers.

As hard as it’s to believe, 2014 Hovis Auto & Truck Supply champion and four-time 2015 winner, Rex King, Jr., has still yet to win a feature this year at Sharon. Nonetheless, the Bristolville, Ohio racer has a fairly comfortable 20-point lead due to his consistency unlike his fellow competitors.  Jimmy Weller III and his father Jim, Jr. are currently second and third in points as each driver has a pair of victories.  Like his son “Cooter”, Rex King, the 2015 champion, is also looking for his season’s first win as he’s fourth in points over New York racer Rick Richner.

Joe Gabrielson ended a near two-year winless drought in the Modifieds last Saturday as his victory extended his Summit Racing Equipment point lead to 20 over Jeff Johnson. Rookie “open” Modified racer, Josh Ferry, is still third over three-time winner, Joel Watson, who missed a show.  After a disappointing nine cars on June 11, the Modified count doubled to 18 last Saturday.

Steve Haefke has certainly stepped up his program since late last year. In the last five Econo Mod races of 2015, Haefke has scored two wins and three runner-up finishes.  On Saturday night, Haefke won for the second time in the last three weeks and has finished in the top two at all six races in 2016; that means Haefke has a streak of 11 straight races with top two finishes!  Haefke has a 20-point lead on Brandon Blackshear in the HTMA/Precise Racing Products standings.  Brad Blackshear, who utilized just a GM 602 crate engine, is third behind his older brother.  Wayne Daniels and Chris Clay are fourth and fifth.

It was only a matter of time before Bill Fuchs returned to winning form. After being shutout this season, Fuchs won his first of the year, which also moved the defending three-time champion into the Deforest Used Parts point lead for the first this season.  On Tuesday, Andy Proper picked up the $ 300 special to become the sixth different winner in seven races!  Fuchs leads fellow Greenville, Pa. racer, Steve Walker II, by just two.  Matt Rubright, Joe Campbell, who is the division’s only repeat winner this season, and Logan Keney are third through fifth.

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.

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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