Erick Rudolph repeats in “Russ King Memorial” taking $3000 Big-Block Mod Tour on Saturday; Will Thomas wins 1st ever RUSH Late Model Tour race in “Gary Knollinger Memorial”; Remainder of program rained out & PPD to spring 2017

By Mike Leone

September 17, 2016              

(Hartford, OH)…Sharon Speedway brought down the curtain on the 87th anniversary racing season as the two-day “Apple Festival Nationals” was cut short by rain Saturday night.  Despite a near 100% chance of thunderstorms in the forecast all day and night, the track was able to withstand some light showers throughout the day and dodge the heavy storms to get started on time.  Two feature events were completed with Erick Rudolph (“Russ King Memorial” Big-Block Mod Tour) and Will Thomas III (RUSH Late Model Tour) celebrating in the Hovis Auto & Truck Supply victory lane before rain washed out the remainder of the program.  The remaining feature events will be completed throughout the spring of 2017 with the dates to be announced in the offseason.

Eric Rudolph won the 2015 “Russ King Memorial” part of the “Apple Festival Nationals”, which was actually made up back on April 16.  On Saturday night, the Mod Tour point leader started back in 10th, but that only delayed the inevitable as he made the winning pass on lap 21 and went on to win the 32-lap rain-shortened event, worth $ 3,000.

After drawing the pole position, J.R. McGinley jumped to the early lead over Skip Moore.  Seventh starting Rex King, a three-time winner of his father’s memorial event, moved to third on lap 10 getting by Dave Murdick then took over second from Moore on lap 14 as Rich Richner and Rudolph followed in third and fourth.

Rudolph then snatched runner-up away from King on lap 20 before making the winning move one lap later following a restart as King followed past McGinley.  Rudolph would then drive away from the field until two-time track champion, Rex King, Jr., brought out the event’s final caution with 32 laps scored as his bid once again ended to win his first memorial event for his grandfather.  At this point the intensity of the rain picked up and the cars were sent off the track.  Too much rain would fall ending the event and the night.  The race was considered complete as it was past the halfway point of the scheduled 35-lap distance.

Rudolph became the eighth driver to score multiple “Russ King Memorial” wins in the 31st running of the event driving the Randy Chrysler-owned #25R.  King was second.  After coming up a close second to Kyle Fink on Friday night in the Big-Block Modified non-winners event, McGinley, who has little Sharon experience, completed an excellent weekend in third after leading the first 20 circuits.

Richner was fourth as Jim Rasey, Rob Kristyak, Moore, Brad Rapp, Eric Gabany, and Kevin Bolland completed the top 10.  Rapp received an extra $ 50 as the hard charger award winner compliments of Double Motorsports after starting 20th.  King, Jr. set fast time in qualifying with a lap of 16.506 just 0.007 over his father.  Heat winners over the 24-car field were King, Jr., King, and Jimmy Weller III.

Will Thomas III out-dueled Matt Latta for his first career Sweeney RUSH Late Model Touring Series victory in the 30-lap “Gary Knollinger Memorial” feature event. Thomas got by Latta on lap 18 following a restart and held him and several other racers off that challenged for the lead in the final laps for the $ 2,000 win. Thomas became the ninth different Tour winner of the season, and also the sixth different “Gary Knollinger Memorial” winner in as many years!

“I’ve always wanted to win this,” acknowledged the 40-year-old Sharpsville, Pa. driver. “We’ve been blessed to win several races over our career at Sharon Speedway, but from what everyone has told me about Gary Knollinger he was a class out and would help any racer, any time. It feels great to win a race in his honor. Matt (Latta) and I work together. We have a great relationship. He’s a first class guy and has a great family. I knew he’d race me clean and I’d do the same. Russ King helps me a ton and we made a last minute tire change and that won us this race. Matt had a really good car, but we were able to be a little better late in the race.”

Following his dash win, Latta took off in the lead over Thomas and Dave Airgood, Jr., who got by John Waters for third on the opening lap. The top four quickly began to distance themselves from the pack on lap two as Waters regained the third spot. Latta opened up some breathing room by lap five as it was a three-car race for second with Airgood taking third once again from Waters. Eric Wilson joined the battle making it a four-car race for the runner-up position on lap seven. Lap after lap Airgood and Waters raced side-by-side for third. On lap 11, Waters regained control of the spot.

As the laps ticked off caution-free, Latta caught the lapped cars of Tony White and Chuck Recker, while Thomas and Waters broke free of Airgood and Wilson. Airgood and Wilson battled for fourth with Wilson moving up a spot on lap 15. The event’s first caution slowed action when Recker spun with 16 laps completed. When racing resumed, Waters ran out of room on the backstretch fighting for position and spun to the infield.

The caution proved critical as when racing resumed, Thomas made the outside stick through turns one and two to come out with the lead- one he’d never relinquish. The man on the move was ninth starting Alan Dellinger. Dellinger took fourth from Wilson on lap 22. A few more late race cautions bunched up the field with the last occurring with 25 laps scored.

The final five laps would go green-to-checkered as Thomas pulled away, while the battle was on for second and on back. Dellinger finally got by Airgood for third on lap 28, but would run out of time to make a bid for second on the #B1D of Latta. Thomas took the win by 1.377 seconds over Latta in his Hallman Foundry/Colonial Metal Products/Russell King Racing/Allstar Performance/955 Automotive-sponsored #9. The win was Thomas’ all-time leading 15th of his career at Sharon in the RUSH Late Models. Thomas also won his fourth career Modified race earlier this season giving him 19 wins for his career at the track.

Latta, who won the 2015 “Apple Festival Nationals” make-up back on April 16, came up just shy of his second Tour win of the season at Sharon for the former track regular. Dellinger was less than seven tenths of a second behind Latta in third place. Airgood was a solid fourth in his first ever Sweeney RUSH Tour start beating out Wilson. Davis, the Sweeney Tour point leader, was never a factor in the event finishing sixth, but was able to stay ahead of Waters, the runner-up point man, who finished right behind him in seventh after coming from the tail in the final 13 laps. Wrightsman was eighth as Brian Knowles and Bob Diver completed the top 10.

On Friday night, Waters set fast time in $ 100 Bobby Lake Motorsports “Shock the Clock” qualifying with a lap of 16.803. Thomas and Latta won the $ 25 Bobby Lake Motorsports heat races. Latta picked up his first K&N “Cold Air Induction” Dash win of the season for a $ 100 K&N certificate.

On Friday, Renegades of Dirt Modified point leader Jacob Hawkins set fast time with a lap of 17.139 then went out and won heat race one and established a new track record with a fast lap of 16.567. Matt Lux and Carl McKinney won the other two heat races. Twenty-one cars were scheduled to start Saturday’s $ 3,000 to-win feature.

A strong field of 24 Lyden/Red Line Oil RUSH Sportsman Modifieds were on hand for their $ 800 to-win Bicknell Touring Series event. Friday night’s heat race winners were point leader Chas Wolbert along with Kyle Martell and Calvin Clay. Chelsie Kriegisch won the K&N Dash.

The Penn-Ohio Stock Car Series brought 43 cars for their event as Randy Wyant, Joe Stajnrajh, Andy Buckley, and Brian Carothers copped heat race wins on Friday night. Saturday’s last chance B mains were won by Rod Laskey and Todd Weldon.

A season high 23 Econo Mods were slated to start Saturday’s 20-lap $ 500 to-win HTMA/Precise Racing Products feature after Friday night’s heat wins went to George Vestal IV, Steve Haefke, and Josh Ferry.

The Deforest Used Parts Mini Stocks also produced a season high car count of 22 cars that were set to take the green for their 15-lap feature after Friday’s heat races were won by three-time champion Bill Fuchs and Logan Keney.

Mod Tour “Russ King Memorial” for Hovis Auto & Truck Supply Big-Block Modifieds (32 laps, $ 3,000 to-win): 1. ERICK RUDOLPH (Chrysler 25R)  2. Rex King (65)  3. J.R. McGinley (66M)  4. Rick Richner (26)  5. Jim Rasey (32)  6. Rob Kristyak (00)  7. Skip Moore (17M)  8. Brad Rapp (11R)  9. Eric Gabany (3E)  10. Kevin Bolland (777)  11. Justin Rasey (21)  12. Mark Flick (Turner 96)  13. Shawn Fleeger (88F)  14. Eric Beggs (29*)  15. Rodney Beltz (64)  16. Rick Regalski, Jr. (13)  17. Jimmy Weller III (23)  18. Bob Warren (96B)  19. Rex King, Jr. (165)  20. Dave Murdick (61)  21. Mark Frankhouser (03)  22. Jeremiah Shingledecker (37MD)  23. Shawn Kozar (3K)  24. Tom Glenn (83T).

Sweeney Chevrolet Buick GMC RUSH Late Model Touring Series “Gary Knollinger Memorial” (30 laps, $ 2,000 to-win): 1. WILL THOMAS III (9)  2. Matt Latta (B1D)  3. Alan Dellinger (Williams 8)  4. Dave Airgood, Jr. (42)  5. Eric Wilson (27W)  6. Bryce Davis (94)  7. John Waters (LeBarron 11)  8. Jamie Wrightsman (21J)  9. Brian Knowles (7)  10. Bob Diver (23)  11. Clay Ruffo (14R)  12. Zach Kane (10)  13. Jake Gunn (14G)  14. Ed Bolyard II (Patrick 05)  15. Tony White (27)  16. Chuck Recker (6R)  17. Jason Knowles (4)  18. Dave Lyon (14L)  19. Clinton Hersh (16).

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 or call 330-772-5481. Become a fan of Sharon Speedway on Facebook at and follow us on Twitter at



Sharon Speedway

“Apple Festival Nationals” Friday & Saturday; Most of the region’s divisions in action highlighted by Mod Tour, RUSH LM Tour, RoD Mods & Penn-Ohio Stocks

By Mike Leone

September 13, 2016

(Hartford, OH)…Sharon Speedway will conclude the 87th anniversary season this weekend with the running of the annual “Apple Festival Nationals” on Friday and Saturday night (September 16-17).  Ten different divisions will compete plus the vintage cars will also be on display and will run an exhibition.  The Mod Lites, Sportsman Dwarf Cars, and Junior Sprints will run a complete show on Friday night along with the “Johnny Zdelar Memorial” for Big-Block Modified non-winners, while The Mod Tour will run their entire “Russ King Memorial” on Saturday night; meanwhile, the RUSH Late Model Touring Series, Renegades of Dirt (E) Modifieds, Penn-Ohio Stock Car Series, RUSH Sportsman Modified Touring Series, Econo Mods, and Mini Stocks will have their shows split over the two days with their features on Saturday night.  Race time is early at 6 p.m. both nights.

The headlining Big-Block Modifieds will have the limelight over the weekend starting with the third annual “Johnny Zdelar Memorial” on Friday night. This year’s event will only be open to drivers that have never won a Big-Block Modified feature in their career.  The feature winner will pocket $ 1,700 and will be a guaranteed starter in Saturday’s Mod Tour event.  Mod Tour rules will be in effect.  Zdelar was a crew member on the King Bros. team for 20 years until tragically losing his life in an automobile accident in November 2013.

The Mod Tour returns for the third time this season as part of the “Russ King Memorial” on Saturday. Tour point leader Erick Rudolph actually won last year’s make-up event back on April 16, while Jim Rasey pocketed $ 2,000 for the “Lou Blaney Memorial” on July 9.  Rex King, Jr. won his second track title this year; however, has never won the prestigious “Russ King Memorial” event for his late grandfather.

To date, there have been 30 “Russ King Memorial” events run with 16 different winners. The late Lou Blaney leads the win list at five.  The top active racers include King, Jim Rasey, and Jim Weller, Jr. with three wins each, which is tied for second with the retired hall of fame racer Bob Kraus.  Steve Feder and Ricky Richner scored upset wins in 2012 and 2013 for their first career wins at the speedway.  One of the biggest upsets took place in 2008 when the “358” of Lonny Riggs won his first career Sharon feature!

After being rained out on April 22, the Sweeney RUSH Late Model Tour will make its first visit of the season in the sixth annual “Gary Knollinger Memorial” racing for $ 2,000 to-win. Knollinger was a top Crate Late Model racer from Triadelphia, West Virginia that tragically lost his life after being struck by an automobile near his business.  Sharon was Knollinger’s favorite track and the site of his first career Touring Series win.  Past winners of the event include Max Blair (2011), Joe Martin (2012), Ryan Montgomery (2013), Russell King (2014), and Jacob Hawkins (2015).  New York racers Bryce Davis, John Waters, and Jason Knowles lead the way in the points.  Davis has an eight-point lead on Waters as both racers have three victories this season.  The Sweeney Tour is coming off a record car count of 58 on Sunday at Tri-City for their Manufacturers Night won by Blair.

Former NASCAR racer, David Stremme, picked up the $ 1,500 inaugural visit by the Renegades of Dirt Modifieds back on July 21 over a 26-car field. This weekend will be the Series’ championship event paying $ 3,000 to-win in one of the richest E-Mod races  in the history of the speedway!  Jacob Hawkins is the Series point leader, while Joe Gabrielson will look to defend his home turf after garnering his first career track championship.  Joel Watson led the way at Sharon winning five features including the 2015 “Apple Festival Nationals” make-up on April 16 despite missing several nights that cost him a chance at the title.

The Penn-Ohio Stock Car Series have been a big part of Sharon’s schedule in 2016 participating in a mini series of high-dollar events as everything will culminate with this weekend’s $ 2,000 to-win event counting for both the mini series and the Series’ regular points. To date, Chris Schneider and Paul Davis have each won two of the mini series events.  Davis has had a career best season winning four feature events totaling $ 3,500 alone in route to his first track championship.  Rob Shook won the $ 2,000 Penn-Ohio make-up event on April 16 from last year’s “Apple Festival Nationals”.

The Lyden/Red Line Oil RUSH Sportsman Modifieds completed their second season as being a weekly division and averaged over 22 cars per night with Brandon Ritchey copping the title. This weekend, the RUSH Mods will compete in an $ 800 to-win Bicknell Racing Products Touring Series event.  Greg Martin won last year’s make-up event on April 16, and Tour point leader Chas Wolbert won on “Manufacturers Night” back on June 25.  Eight different drivers won races this season at Sharon.

The HTMA/Precise Racing Products Econo Mods will battle for a $ 500 payday- their richest of the season. Steve Haefke has been heads and shoulders above the competition this year winning six features in route to his first track championships.  More impressively, Haefke has run off 17 straight top two finishes dating back to last season and will hope to put the icing on the cake Saturday.

The Deforest Used Parts Mini Stocks will race for $ 300 to-win. Steve Walker II and Joe Campbell won the lion’s share of the events during the season.  Walker picked up four wins and beat five-time winner Campbell to capture his second track championship, but first since the inaugural season in 2010.  Three-time champion, Bill Fuchs, finished third in points, but the division’s all-time winningest driver had just one feature win.  The “Apple Festival Nationals” always draws in a lot of top racers from throughout the region that will be sure to give the Sharon regulars all they can handle.

The Mod Lites and Sportsman Dwarf Cars will return once again as part of the “Apple Festival Nationals” running their complete show on Friday along with the Junior Sprints for children. The Mod Lites will race for $ 500 to-win, while the Sportsman Dwarfs for $ 250 to-win presented by Leader Chassis and Joe’s Radiator.   Many of the competitors race weekly at Deerfield Speedway and Mercer Raceway Park and always enjoy a chance to compete at Sharon.

On Friday, pits officially open at 3 p.m. (one window will be open at 2 p.m. to allow for early arrivals to help with congestion) with grandstands at 4. Group qualifying for the Late Models and RoD Mods will take place at 6 p.m. followed by racing on Friday.  The same times will be in effect on Saturday with racing starting at 6.

Breakfast will be served in the main concession on Saturday morning from 8:30-11 a.m. and lunch from 12-2 p.m. There will be a DJ after the races both nights.

Grandstand admission for those 14 and over is $ 12 on Friday and $ 15 on Saturday or $ 25 for a two-day pass. Pit passes are $ 30 on Friday and $ 35 on Saturday or $ 60 for a two-day pass.  As always, children under 13, parking, and camping is always FREE!  Sharon has a no carry-in cooler policy.  PLEASE NOTE: THE BACKSTRETCH GRANDSTANDS WILL NOT BE AVAILABLE FOR GENERAL ADMISSION- ONLY FOR PIT PASS HOLDERS.  This is due to using the area for overflow pit parking.

Also, please be aware that the “Apple Festival” parade will be taking place in Hartford near the intersection of Routes 7 & 305 at 5:30 p.m. on Saturday.

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 or call 330-772-5481. Become a fan of Sharon Speedway on Facebook at and follow us on Twitter at


Sharon Speedway

“410” Sprints return Saturday for final appearance of 2016; Final night of points for Big-Block Mods, E-Mods, Econo Mods & Minis

By Mike Leone

September 6, 2016                

(Hartford, OH)…After being dark over the Labor Day Weekend, Sharon Speedway will return to action this Saturday (September 10) for the final appearance of the 2016 season by the “410” Sprint Cars along with the final “Steel Valley Thunder” program as the points will end for the Hovis Auto & Truck Supply DIRTcar Big-Block Modifieds, Summit Racing Equipment Modifieds, HTMA/Precise Racing Products Econo Mods, and the Deforest Used Parts Mini Stocks. Race time is 7 p.m.   The Lyden/Red Line Oil RUSH Sportsman Modifieds and Gibson Insurance Agency Stock Cars have the night off.

Coming off two successful Arctic Car All Star Circuit of Champions events in June and July for Ohio Speedweek and the “Lou Blaney Memorial” won by the late Bryan Clauson and Danny Holtgraver, the “410” Sprint Cars will appear Saturday in a non-sanctioned, regular event paying $ 1,500 to-win, $ 200 to-start for the 25-lap feature. If 24 or more cars are present, the payoff will increase to $ 2,000 to-win, $ 225 to-start.  The complete payoff is posted below.  The national “410” Hoosier Tire rule will be in effect.  Mufflers are not required.  Drivers will draw pills for the heat race line-ups with a maximum invert of eight or nine (depending on the number of heats) for the feature lineup.  There are no registration, membership or entry fees.  This will be the only “410” Sprint Car event in the western Pa. and eastern Ohio for the entire weekend.

Last year, Jimmy Seger won this event for his first career Sharon victory and his first since returning to racing following a terrifying accident in 2014 at Williams Grove Speedway. Seger was a teammate on this night to Jack Sodeman, Jr.  Sodeman has been red hot on the circuit this year scoring nine victories including six at Mercer Raceway Park and three at Lernerville Speedway.  He also captured the track championships at both tracks.  Sodeman, of North Jackson, Ohio, won the last two track championships at Sharon when the Sprints competed regularly in 2009 and 2010 and owns 12 career wins at the track.

Dan Shetler, who won the 2008 title, has been fast in the region and has been knocking on the door of his first win of the season. Gary Edwards, who competed at both of the earlier Sprint shows this year, is the only other active racer who owns a championship at Sharon.  Edwards won the 2000 title on the old half-mile track.  The now retired Ed Lynch, Jr. leads the all-time win list with 50 victories.  Ed’s son Sye is a weekly competitor at Lernerville, and finished third on Saturday night at Pittsburgh’s PA Motor Speedway in an event won by Carl Bowser.

The early part of the 2016 season in the Big-Block Modifieds saw the father-son duo of Jim Weller, Jr. and Jimmy Weller III dominate action, while recently veteran drivers Jim Rasey, Dave Murdick, Rick Richner, and Kevin Bolland have ended winless droughts. Through it all though, it’s been one of the division’s youngest drivers in Rex King, Jr. sitting atop the Hovis Auto & Truck Supply standings.  With two wins, the Bristolville, Ohio driver will look to capture his second title in three years on Saturday night.  “Cooter” leads Weller III by a pretty comfortable 26 points.  Completing the top 10 points paying positions are Rex King, Murdick, Richner, Rasey, Rick Regalski, Jr., Rob Kristyak, Bolland, and Weller, Jr.

Despite just one victory, Joe Gabrielson has led the Summit Racing Equipment Modified points for much of the season in hopes of his first track championship. Gabrielson’s lead though has shrunk to just nine points over the consistent Jeff Johnson, who hasn’t even won a feature in 2016.  Three-time winner, Scott Stiffler, is 40 points out of the lead and would have no shot at the title unless both Gabrielson and Johnson failed to show.  Four-time champion, Carl McKinney, sits fourth with one victory as mechanical issues have kept him from contending for a fifth title.  Despite missing several events, five-time winner, Joel Watson, is still fifth in points.  Sixth through 10th in the points paying positions are Amanda Stiffler, Shawn Shingledecker, Josh Ferry, Jacob Eucker, and Brandon Blackshear.

The story in the Econo Mods this year has been Steve Haefke. The Austintown, Ohio driver had a strong 2015 season and is in the midst of a career best 2016 season.  Since August of last year, Haefke has reeled off 17 consecutive top two finishes including six feature wins this season alone.  Haefke wrapped up his first career Sharon track championship on August 27 as he now has a huge 102-point lead over Brandon Blackshear.  Brandon’s brother Brad, who competes with a GM 602 crate engine, is third as Wayne Daniels, Jeff Mundell, rookie Kyle Miller, Butch Lambert, Buzz Seitz, Chris Clay, and Zach Myers complete the top 10 points paying positions.

The Mini Stocks have been a three-horse race for most of the season between Steve Walker II, Joe Campbell, and three-time champion Bill Fuchs. It’s been a breakout season for Walker, who captured his fourth victory of the season at the last event on August 27; however, Walker’s lead is just nine points over Joe Campbell, who has had an up and down season.  Walker won his only other career race back in the inaugural 2010 season in route to the championship.  Fuchs would need both racers to have terminal issues and sweep the night to have any shot at his third straight championship.  Logan Keney, second year racer Matt Rubright, former Stock Car racer Will Aley, Pat Drennan, Joe Keney, Jim Haefke, Jr., and Pete Blazczak complete the top 10 points paying positions.

“410” Sprint Car Payoff for less than 24 cars: 1. $ 1,500 2. $ 900  3. $ 725  4. $ 600  5. $ 550  6. $ 475  7. $ 425  8. $ 350  9. $ 325  10. $ 275  11. $ 250  12. $ 225  13-24. $ 200.  $ 100 Tow

“410” Sprint Car Payoff for 24 or more cars: 1. $ 2,000 2. $ 1,000  3. $ 725  4. $ 600  5. $ 550  6. $ 475  7. $ 425  8. $ 350  9. $ 325  10. $ 275  11. $ 250  12. $ 230  13-24. $ 225.  $ 100 NQ/Tow

Summit Racing Equipment will award $ 25 gift cards to the hard charger in the Modified and Econo Mod divisions. Thanks to an anonymous donor, a $ 50 bonus will be posted to the driver that finishes fifth in the Big-Block Modified feature.

Pit gates open at 4 p.m. with grandstands at 5. Sprint engine starts will be at 6:30 p.m. following by warm-ups for the Sprints only.  Heat races begin at 7 p.m.  Grandstand admission for those 14 and over is $ 13.  Pit passes are $ 30.  Children 13 and under along with parking and camping are free.  Sharon has a no carry-in cooler policy.

The 87th anniversary season will conclude next Friday and Saturday (September 16-17) with the annual “Apple Festival Nationals”. Racing begins at 6 p.m. both days.  Check for more information.

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 or call 330-772-5481. Become a fan of Sharon Speedway on Facebook at and follow us on Twitter at


Sharon Speedway

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