TIM GILLETTE TOPS MARCH 26 “SPRINGDURO 150”; APPROXIMATELY 40 CARS TURN OUT FOR PRACTICE IN FRIGID CONDITIONS
By Mike Leone
March 26, 2011
(Hartford, OH)…After a successful “Circle Track Showdown” snowmobile races two months ago, Sharon Speedway resumed the 82nd anniversary season on a frigid Saturday afternoon. While numerous speedways cancelled their racing programs all throughout the Midwest and Northeast this weekend, Sharon went on with its “Springduro 150” Enduro and open practice session.
A frigid morning saw a sunrise temperature of just 14 degrees and even with the late March sun, the temperature barely hit the freezing mark late in the afternoon. Despite the sub-freezing temperatures that kept many anticipated cars in the garage rather than on the speedway, there was still an excellent turnout of 38 race cars that participated in the open practice session held prior to the “Springduro 150”.
Veteran Enduro competitor, Tim Gillette, added another victory to his impressive resume as he captured the second annual “Springduro 150”. Gillette, who has numerous Enduro wins at regional speedways including three at Mercer Raceway Park, captured his first Enduro victory at Sharon. Gillette inherited the lead on lap 127 after leader Joe Petyak’s day ended and cruised the $1,000 victory.
“This car has 18 Enduros on it,” revealed the Linesville, Pa. driver, who will turn 49 years on April 12. “I knew I was about to go a lap down as I felt the car losing power, but it all worked out in the end. I want to thank Sharon Speedway for hosting this event. I had a blast!”
Gillette started from the pole, but it was it was third starting Doug McMillen taking the early lead. McMillen opened up some ground on Gillette before getting sideways in the lead on lap 11; however, the Natrona Heights, Pa. resident was still able to maintain his lead. In the ensuing laps, McMillen would actually stretch out his advantage again until lapped traffic came into play on lap 17.
Behind McMillen, brothers Brad and Bryan Shaffer were battling hard for third. Older brother Bryan overtook Brad for the position on lap 20. Four laps later, Aaron Hill joined the brothers in a heated race for third. Hill passed Brad Shaffer for fourth on lap 25.
McMillen’s shot at a victory ended on lap 27 when he exited the event handing the lead officially for the first time to Gillette; meanwhile, ninth starting Hill had passed Bryan Shaffer for third then inherited second after McMillen’s misfortune.
A scary incident took place on lap 31 when Brent Johnson ran over an infield tire in turn one after contact with another competitor and barrel-rolled numerous times bringing out the red flag. He was okay.
When racing resumed, Petyak made himself known flying by both Bryan Shaffer and Hill for second. It didn’t take long for Petyak to run down Gillette as he was on the leader’s tail on lap 34. The duo ran side-by-side for the lead on laps 35 and 36, but Gillette was able to hold on for the time behind.
Hill wasn’t about to go away regaining second from Petyak on lap 39. Hill was right with Gillette and got alongside the leader on laps 41 and 42, but wasn’t able to make the move. It was a three-car race for the lead as Hill took his first lead of the day on lap 52 making the move in lapped traffic.
Petyak wasn’t about to quit either as he passed Gillette for second on lap 53 then two laps later became the fourth different leader of the day taking the top spot from Hill. Gillette then lost second to Hill five laps later. The event’s second stoppage took place for a fire on Ben Kuntz’s car with 59 laps scored.
When green replaced red, the next 31 laps were uneventful until Hill’s chance at victory ended on lap 90 when he lost a wheel, which moved Gillette back to runner-up. Gillette now faced a ¾-lap deficit. Petyak was on cruise control until lap 121 when he began to slow. One lap later, Gillette was within a half-straightaway. Gillette then was right on the leader’s rear bumper looking to make the pass, but Petyak suddenly regained power and continued to lead.
Petyak, a 19-year-old Mini Stock racer, who made a three-hour tow from central Pa., saw his day end heartbreakingly when he ran over a tire in turn four on lap 127 after leading 72 laps. The lead fell right into Gillette’s hands as he went on to lead the final 24 laps in his 1990 Toyota Celica, Gillette Import Autowerks-sponsored #1. Gillette led 39 of the 150 laps.
Corry, Pennsylvania’s Eric McCray, who started 25th, crossed the finish line in second one and a half laps behind Gillette to earn $500. Eighteenth starting Greg Sachs of Reynoldsville, Pa. was third despite being five laps down, which was worth $400. William Hurrellbrink of Emlenton, Pa. came from 24th to finish fourth six laps down and picked up $300. After losing 19 laps in the pits, Stock Car driver Bryan Shaffer of New Castle, Pa. returned to the track to finish fifth and earned $200.
Notes…Just seven of the 27 starting cars finished the event, which was run in one hour and 13 minutes despite the two red flag stoppages. The top eight positions were swept by Pennsylvania drivers and in fact 11 of the top 12 finishers were from the Keystone State. Fourteen-year-old Logan Keney of Niles, Ohio was the highest finishing Ohio driver in ninth. Former Modified racer, John Confer, was unable to start the event after his car was leaking fuel prior to the green flag. Defending race winner, Andy Sweetland, was a disappointing 21st after his day ended on lap 23. The track was in excellent condition all day long considering the sub-freezing temperatures, wall-to-wall sunshine, and wind that was present.
All of the “Friday Night Thunder” and Saturday night “Steel Valley Thunder” divisions were represented in practice including the Governor Insurance Agency Big-Block Modifieds, Barris Supply FASTRAK Late Models, Ainsley 500 Heating & Cooling E-Mods, Gibson Agency Stock Cars, Presidential Lawn Care Mini Stocks, Ti22 Performance Outlaw Sprint Warriors, Summit Racing Equipment Econo Mods, Unitech Frame Straightening/Joe’s Radiator Mod Lites, Micro Sprints, and the Joe’s Radiator/Unitech Frame Straightening Sportsman Dwarf Cars. Drivers using transponders can view their lap times at http://www.mylaps.com/results/showevent.jsp?id=635008.
“Springduro 150” Enduro (150 laps, $1,000 to-win): 1. TIM GILLETTE (1) 2. Eric McCray (32) 3. Greg Sachs (18) 4. William Hurrellbrink (24) 5. Bryan Shaffer (7) 6. Phil Kapcewich (22) 7. Bryan Rydbom (2) 8. Joe Petyak (21) 9. Logan Keney (14) 10. Gary Miller, Jr. (25) 11. Aaron Hill (9) 12. Randy Shaffer (8) 13. Harry Wolfe (13) 14. Don Vernier (11) 15. Ben Kuntz (20) 16. Dan McEwen (23) 17. Brad Shaffer (6) 18. Brent Johnson (10) 19. Doug McMillen (3) 20. Robert Carney (5) 21. Andy Sweetland (44X) 22. Brian Sprague (20) 23. Lloyd Riehl (16) 24. Wally Naletko (15) 25. Cliff Deemer (17) 26. Tyler Burns (19) 27. Jamie Wrightsman (21J) 28. John Confer (4)-DNS.
Sharon will return to action next Friday and Saturday with a doubleheader weekend. On Friday night, April 1, the opener for the “Friday Night Thunder” will kickoff for the Outlaw Sprint Warriors, Econo Mods, Mod Lites, Micro Sprints, and Sportsman Dwarf Cars at 7:30 p.m. Then on Saturday, the $1,500 to-win Open Stock Car special will be held along with the Star’s Mod Lites Series for $400 to-win and the Mini Stocks for $300. Race time is 7 p.m. Friday’s program carries an April 8 rain date, while Saturday’s show will be held on Sunday at 5:30 p.m. in the event of inclement weather.
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.