By Mike Leone
Hartford, OH April 27, 2013 After rough weather to begin the 84th anniversary racing season, Sharon Speedway was finally blessed with the nicest Saturday of 2013 with a sunny 70-degree day. A season high 105 cars filled the pit area.
Celebrating in the Hovis Auto & Truck Supply victory lane were Rex King-Governor Insurance DIRTcar Big-Block Modifieds, Mike Pegher, Jr.-Barris Supply RUSH Late Models, Alan Dellinger-Summit Racing Equipment Modifieds, Paul Davis-Gibson Insurance Agency Stock Cars, Steve Burns, Jr.-HTMA/Precise Racing Products Econo Mods, and Scott Gilliland-Deforest Used Parts Mini Stocks. Will Frantz of Vienna, Ohio and Gwen Reed of Brookfield, Ohio were the two winners of the bike giveaways courtesy of King Bros. and Sharon Speedway.
The King Family made it two-for-two in the DIRTcar Big-Block Modifieds. On opening night, Rex King, Jr. led all 20 laps for the win. After a rainout and a special event, the big blocks were back for week two and this time it was the elder Rex King leading wire-to-wire in the 20-lap Governor Insurance feature adding to his all-time active-leading division win total.
“I didn’t want to listen to that this week,” joked the Bristolville, Ohio veteran about getting beat by his son the first week. “We touched right here then when I came around I saw him (Dave Murdick) up there so I don’t know what he broke or what happened. I hope it’s nothing too serious. I like racing with Davey. He and I have been doing it for the same time.”
King and Murdick, who own five of the last six division championships, brought the field to green. The two made contact on the frontstretch with Murdick getting sideways and eventually finding the turn one wall ending his night. Two more cautions slowed action with one laps completed before things settled down. King raced to the lead over Jim Weller, Jr. and Skip Moore, while seventh starting Jeremiah Shingledecker raced into fourth past King, Jr. on the restart.
Shingledecker continued his progression to the front taking third from Moore one lap later with an inside move in turn four. King, Jr. followed in fourth on lap seven then got a break when the caution was displayed for a spin by Bob Warren with eight laps scored. Shingledecker didn’t have a good restart as both King, Jr. and Moore grabbed third and fourth respectively on lap nine.
Back up front, the last 12 laps would go green-to-checkered and King went unchallenged for his 43rd career win in the KMB Inc., GS Engine Power/Midway Garage Door/University Hospital-sponsored #65. Weller was 3.096 seconds back in second. King, Jr. was a close third to keep within three points of his father in the point chase. Moore and Shingledecker rounded out the top five. NY racer Ricky Richner came back to finish sixth after a pit stop for a flat tire. Rob Kristyak, Kevin Green, Erik Martin, and Jeff Monoskey rounded out the top 10. Heat winners were King and Murdick.
It was a history making day for Mike Pegher, Jr. in the Sweeney Chevrolet Buick GMC RUSH Dirt Late Model Series. After winning the $1,000 Weekly Series special earlier in the day at Pittsburgh’s PA Motor Speedway for his first victory of 2013, Pegher towed north to Sharon and made it a clean sweep of the day adding another $700 in the non-stop Barris Supply feature.
“I may never do that again,” expressed the 27-year-old Wexford, Pa. standout. “I didn’t know if we were even going to make it up. We got here just in time to make the pill draw and was lucky enough to get a good number. I never thought this would happen, but it’s pretty cool! I have to give credit to my crew guy Mike. We set the car up on Wednesday for both Pittsburgh and Sharon that way we knew exactly what to do. As soon as the feature was over at Pittsburgh we changed everything over. I have to thank all of my sponsors and the fans for coming out.”
Last year, Stock Car standout Bobby Whitling won his first career Late Model feature at the track. On Saturday night, Whitling was making his season debut and raced out to the early lead over another newcomer in Billy Henry, Jr. Opening night winner, Dennis Lunger, Jr., was on the move from his sixth starting spot. Lunger raced into the top five after one lap then passed Joe Martin for fourth on lap two.
Pegher worked his way by Henry for second on lap three, but by now Whitling had a straightaway lead built up. The laps ticked off as not much changed up front. Lunger gained another spot when drove around Henry in turn two for third on lap 10. At the halfway point, Pegher cut Whitling lead in half down to a half-straightaway margin.
With each lap, Pegher chewed into Whitling’s lead then made quite a move on lap 13. While Whitling ducked low to lap Late Model rookie Jamie Wrightsman, Pegher eyed the opportunity as he split the duo making it three-wide on the backstretch. Slight contact was made between the trio, but Pegher came out on top.
Once in front, Pegher got faster and faster as he pulled away to win by 3.847 seconds. Pegher’s non-stop time was 5:44.951 minutes in the Lynn Geisler-owned, #1 Cochran/Alternative Power Sources/Pegher Painting/Triple-S Auto Outlet/Zero Wraps-sponsored #1c. The win was Pegher’s all-time division-leading seventh of his career at Sharon.
Whitling turned in a solid runner-up over Lunger, who increased his point lead to eight. Martin passed defending track champion Will Thomas III on lap 14 to finish fourth. Thomas was fifth. Sixth through 10th were “Futures Cup” standout Eric Wilson, Josh Double, Matt Latta, Lauren Longbrake, and Rusty Cade. Heat winners were 15-year-old Longbrake in her first start of the season and Pegher.
In the race of the night, eighth starting Alan Dellinger came out on top of a three-wide battle in the closing laps with Jack Young and Clayton Kennedy for the 15-lap Summit Racing Equipment Modified win. The exciting victory was the first of the year for Dellinger, but extended his all-time division-leading mark to 87! Dellinger also took over the point lead.
“That’s good racing right there,” expressed the 49-year-old great. “I couldn’t run on the bottom. I just tried to get up there to keep the momentum up and hoped they’d stay down there, but they kept coming off the bottom to the top. You had to really drive it in there so they could see you, but once Jack seen me I didn’t figure he’d just drive to the fence. I have to thank Mr. White and his boy Jimmy for doing all the work on the car and giving me a chance to drive their stuff once again. I’m having a good time, and I’ll bet they’re happy tonight!”
Young, the defending co-champion, took off in the lead passing pole-sitter Gary Sullivan. After a pair of cautions with two laps scored, the next 10 would go caution-free. Kennedy, who started sixth, powered by Sullivan for second with Dellinger trailing on lap four as he advanced more than halfway to the front already. Kennedy ran down Young on lap five. Kennedy then got under Young off turn four on seven, but Young continued to lead.
Over the next six laps, Kennedy and Young ran side-by-side with Kennedy on the bottom and Young on the top. Young was able to narrowly lead every lap until finally on lap 12 Kennedy got enough momentum off the bottom of turn four to make the pass stick. The lead would be short-lived though as a spin by Bill Yohe, which collected Sullivan, slowed action with 12 laps scored.
On the ensuing restart, Young regained the lead. Dellinger continued to lurk in third as he had the best seat in the house for the battle for the lead. While Kennedy pulled alongside Young on lap 14, Dellinger decided to make his move as he made it three-wide for the lead. Dellinger came out on top in the lead and then held on in the final lap mad scramble winning by just 0.258 seconds over Young and just 0.478 seconds ahead of Kennedy! Dellinger’s 161st career Sharon win came in Jim White’s #53.
Shawn Shingledecker was fourth over 14th starting Mike Kinney. Rounding out the top 10 were Joel Watson, Joe Gabrielson, Wayne Tessean, John Boardman, and Mike Potosky. Andy Buckley, Jeff Johnson, and Watson won the heat races over the 22-car field.
Paul Davis emerged victorious in a four-car battle for the win in the Stock Cars. Davis’ first win of the year came in the 15-lap Gibson Insurance Agency feature. “You have to run where the fastest part of the track is,” stated the 53 year-old Fowler, Ohio veteran. “I ran the groove where the rubber was at. I knew unless I screwed up, I could pull him (Rod Laskey) on the outside. I didn’t want to get caught on the bottom. This is my kind of track and the way the race car likes it- nice dry, hard track. I have a good setup for this type of track.”
Davis raced into the lead past pole-sitter Jamie Scharba at the start. Last year’s runner-up point man, Rod Laskey, and defending champion, Tim Burns, both passed Scharba for second and third respectively on lap two. Opening night winner, Mike Clark, spun to bring out the event’s first caution with four laps scored then two laps later Jesse Brock spun for the event’s final stoppage.
The last nine laps went green-to-checkered. Davis would have his hands full with Laskey, while Burns and seventh starting Bryan Wagner really went at it for third. Davis had just enough to hold on by 0.441 seconds for his eighth career win in his Hover Racing/Don Williams Excavating/GSM Enterprises-sponsored #3. Burns and Wagner swapped third and fourth back and forth, but it was Burns getting the nod. Brian Carothers was fifth. Burns has taken over the point lead as just four points separates the top six cars! Laskey and Davis won the heats.
Steve Burns, Jr. survived a 15-lap caution-plagued HTMA/Precise Racing Products Econo Mod feature for his first win of the year and also took over the early point lead. Burns was one of the few cars that either wasn’t in an accident or didn’t pit.
“There’s a lot of competition and good cars this year,” acknowledged the 22-year-old Masury, Ohio driver. “A lot of the guys from last year got a lot faster. The 64-car (Jacob Eucker) is definitely fast and is the one to beat. I have to thank my sponsors and everyone in my family that helps out on the car.”
Brian Hathaway led the opening lap before spinning in the lead on lap two handing the lead to Burns. Burns led laps two and three before a caution slowed action. On the restart, seventh starting Jacob Eucker made the pass for the lead. The 12-year-old has now led feature laps all three weeks, but he’d spin in the lead on lap five giving the lead back to Burns.
Burns would survive three more cautions for his third career win in the division and fifth overall at the speedway in the Steve Burns, Sr.-owned, Penn-Ohio Electric/Warehouse Sales-sponsored #70B. After starting 17th, Jace Ferringer missed all of the accidents and then passed Hathaway on the final lap for the apparent runner-up finish, but was disqualified in post-race tech for a carburetor infraction. Hathaway was credited with second over last week’s winner Ryan Fraley, Derek Dellinger, and rookie Tyler Rhoades. Heat winners over the season high 20-car field were Hathaway, Dennis Dellinger, Jr., and Burns.
Scott Gilliland was the benefactor of misfortunes by teammates Jerry Batcher and Pete Blazczak to win his second straight 12-lap Deforest Used Parts Mini Stock feature and greatly extended his point lead.
“Last week I started on the outside pole and kind of cruised a little bit,” said the 40-year-old Warren, Ohio racer. “There was no cruising tonight. That was a battle- a lot of good cars here tonight. We are lucky to come out on top. I got crossed up with the 82-car (Ray Gregory) and Bill (Fuchs) hit me pretty hard actually. I feel bad for him, but we were able to go unscathed and continue on. I have to thank Sharon Speedway- it’s a great place to race. I love racing here and wouldn’t race anywhere else!”
The teammates of Batcher and Blazczak led the field to green. Blazczak led the opening lap before Batcher made the pass for the lead on lap two. Batcher led until slowing on lap six handing the lead back to Blazczak. Gilliland started sixth and was up to third after one lap then inherited second when Batcher exited the track. Blazczak was doing everything he could to hold off Gilliland, but would spin all by himself on lap 11 ending his shot at his fourth career win.
Gilliland inherited the lead and held off defending champion, Jim Haefke, Jr., for his sixth career win in his Lawn Wizard/NRC Management/VP&R/Inventive Sign & Design-sponsored #27. Gilliland is now tied for fourth on the division’s all-time win list. Blazczak came back to finish third over newcomer Cale Sousa and Brian Shay. Gilliland and Batcher won the heat races for the season high 14-car field.
Governor Insurance Agency DIRTcar Big-Block Modifieds (20 laps): 1. REX KING (65) 2. Jim Weller, Jr. (31) 3. Rex King, Jr. (165) 4. Skip Moore (17M) 5. Jeremiah Shingledecker (37MD) 6. Ricky Richner (26) 7. Rob Kristyak (00) 8. Kevin Green (74) 9. Erik Martin (29E) 10. Jeff Monoskey (22) 11. Dave Reges (27R) 12. Rick Regalski, Jr. (13) 13. Tom Glenn (83T) 14. Bob Warren (96B) 15. Greg Unrue (5) 16. Dave Murdick (61) 17. Carl Murdick (6) 18. Ronnie Kahler (7R)-DNS.
Barris Supply RUSH Late Models (20 laps): 1. MIKE PEGHER, JR. (Geisler 1c) 2. Bobby Whitling (7W) 3. Dennis Lunger, Jr. (Schwartz 71L) 4. Joe Martin (55) 5. Will Thomas III (9) 6. Eric Wilson (27W) 7. Josh Double (38) 8. Matt Latta (21) 9. Lauren Longbrake (27) 10. Rusty Cade (47) 11. Rocky Kugel (21) 12. Joe Buccola, Jr. (5B) 13. Clay Ruffo (14R) 14. W.L. Stile (1W) 15. Jamie Wrightsman (21J) 16. Billy Henry, Jr. (McGee 21*) 17. Brian Booher (Hoover 00H).
Summit Racing Equipment (E) Modifieds (15 laps): 1. ALAN DELLINGER (White 53) 2. Jack Young (Hamilton 67) 3. Clayton Kennedy (9) 4. Shawn Shingledecker (54s) 5. Mike Kinney (3) 6. Joel Watson (92) 7. Joe Gabrielson (58) 8. Wayne Tessean (10) 9. John Boardman (79.2) 10. Mike Potosky (m20) 11. Russ Dunn (Clinger 222) 12. Jim Turley (117) 13. Jeff Hassay (10) 14. Gary Sullivan (47s) 15. Jim Dellinger (Turley 1) 16. Bill Yohe (13) 17. Trevor Herr (32) 18. Jeff Johnson (27) 19. Bob Williamson (93) 20. Steve Haefke (41) 21. Andy Buckley (965) 22. Amanda Stiffler (14)-DNS.
Gibson Insurance Agency Stock Cars (15 laps): 1. PAUL DAVIS (3) 2. Rod Laskey (Sloss 44s) 3. Tim Burns (66) 4. Bryan Wagner (56) 5. Brian Carothers (02c) 6. Charlie Jasinski (5J) 7. Jamie Scharba (00s) 8. Jamie Duncan (67J) 9. Mike Clark (7) 10. Dan McEwen (95) 11. Jason Stanke (44) 12. Jesse Brock (22B) 13. Jeff Buccella (Davis 915) 14. Ron Yarab, Jr. (Burns 70B)-DNS.
HTMA/Precise Racing Products Econo Mods (15 laps): 1. Steve Burns, Jr. (70B) 2. Brian Hathaway (93) 3. Ryan Fraley (12) 4. Derek Dellinger (19) 5. Alan Atkinson (30Too) 6. Tyler Rhoades (12R) 7. Gina Thompson (Webber 25) 8. Junior Mechling (89) 9. Jeremy Double (83) 10. Casey Bowers (20) 11. Ron Westover (13) 12. Jacob Eucker (64) 13. Keith Felicetty (98) 14. Dennis Dellinger, Jr. (17) 15. Brian Lacey (51) 16. Larry Root (22x) 17. Bob Williams (8) 18. George Vestal IV (4) 19. Jace Ferringer (02)-DSQ (carburetor) 20. Mike Smith (81)-DNS.
Deforest Used Parts Mini Stocks (12 laps): 1. SCOTT GILLILAND (27) 2. Jim Haefke, Jr. (421) 3. Pete Blazczak (77) 4. Cale Sousa (10) 5. Brian Shay (3J) 6. Steve Walker II (4M) 7. Ray Gregory (82R) 8. James Edison (01) 9. Jerry Batcher (7) 10. Bill Fuchs (10) 11. Travis Creech (75T) 12. Jim Clay, Jr. (84J) 13. Ken Koby II (11)-DNS 14. Dylan Thomas (55D)-DNS.
Sharon Speedway will be back in action this Saturday, May 4 with another “Steel Valley Thunder” program featuring the weekly six divisions. Pits open at 4 p.m. with grandstands at 5 and racing at 7. Grandstand admission is $13 for those 14 and up. Children 13 and under are always free. Pit passes are $25. Parking is always free.
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.