“FRIDAY NIGHT THUNDER” & SATURDAY NIGHT “STEEL VALLEY THUNDER” KICKOFF DOUBLEHEADER COMING THIS WEEKEND
By Mike Leone
April 6, 2011
(Hartford, OH)…After battling bitter cold temperatures for all three completed events thus far this year, Sharon Speedway will head into this weekend’s doubleheader action hoping for warmer and drier weather. It all begins on Friday night (April 8) at 7:30 p.m. with take number two of the kickoff for “Friday Night Thunder” then wraps up on Saturday night (April 9) at 7 p.m. with the debut of the new “Steel Valley Thunder” program. Saturday’s rain date is Sunday at 5:30 p.m.
Last Friday’s attempted kickoff for “Friday Night Thunder” was halted after two snowy days on top of already wet grounds. With the cancellation, the bi-weekly program was moved to this Friday night’s rain date. Thirteen events are still planned with action taking place next Friday night (April 15) as well.
Friday’s program will include the debut of the new Ti22 Performance PA/OH Outlaw Sprint Warriors, the Summit Racing Equipment two-barrel Econo Mods, the Uni-Tech Frame Straightening & Joe’s Radiator Mod Lites and Sportsman Dwarf Cars along with the Micro Sprints and Mini Late Models.
Pits open at 4:30 p.m. on Friday with the grandstands at 5:30 and race time is set for 7:30. Friday night is Twin-State Auto Racing Club Night with free general admission for all card-carrying members. For all others, adults are $10, students 9-13 are $5, and children eight and under are free. Pit passes are $25.
Over the offseason, Sharon made some changes to its weekly Saturday night card. The new program, which will now include the FASTRAK Late Models, will be run under the “Steel Valley Thunder” name bringing back memories from memorable Late Model days in the past.
The Big-Block Modifieds will headline the weekly program and will be sponsored by Governor Insurance Agency in 2011. The western Pennsylvania/eastern Ohio area is down to just two weekly big-block tracks for the upcoming season with Sharon being one of them; however, Sharon is the only Saturday night track running the ground-pounders within several hours.
Ohio veterans Rex King (2010 champion) and Jim Weller (2000 & 2004 champion) enter 2011 as the division’s top active winners with 34 and 23 wins respectively. Jim Rasey, another Ohio hot shoe, was a one-time winner in 2010 and sits in a tie for seventh overall on the all-time win list at 16 victories with Kevin Bolland, who ended 2010 winning the Russ King Memorial.
Other standouts expected to compete for the crown include 10-time Sharon winner Del Rougeux, Jr., nine-time winner Rob Kristyak, 2009 champion and six-time victor Rob Curtis, veterans Tommy Kristyak and Dean Pearson, who finally captured their first career Sharon wins last season, Mark Flick, Brad Rapp, and Rex King, Jr.
New York star Brian Weaver, who is planning on competing with the BRP Tour in 2011, indicated he expects to compete at both Lernerville and Sharon this weekend.
Excitement has been growing all winter long with the announcement that the FASTRAK Late Models have joined the weekly line-up! The last time the Late Models ran weekly at Sharon was in 1989 when Dick Barton captured the title. Barton ironically was one of the original FASTRAK drivers when the division debuted in the Northeast in 2007.
A strong field of cars is expected on a weekly basis and with many of the area tracks not open yet, an even bigger field is a likelihood for Saturday night as racers from all over the region have expressed interest in attending. Sharon will have the highest to-win amount of any weekly FASTRAK-sanctioned track in the Northeast with $700 on the line plus four Northeast Touring events that will pay either $1,200 or $2,000 to-win! Barris Supply will be the 2011 divisional sponsor.
A total of eight FASTRAK-sanctioned events have been contested over the past two seasons with 2008 and 2010 National Weekly Series Champion Max Blair the only repeat winner. Other winners include Mike Pegher, Jr., David Scott, Alan Dellinger, Josh Holtgraver, and the late Gary Knollinger. Who will become the first Ohio native to capture a FASTRAK event?
A reminder to all FASTRAK racers that the FT400 tire is required on the right rear for all Weekly Series events at Sharon. The FT200 will be permitted for the four Northeast Touring events.
The E-Mod division had quite a resurgence in 2010 with strong car counts and B mains on many nights. The Ainsley 500 Heating & Cooling-sponsored division will again race for $500 to-win with a strong payoff back through down to $75 to-start. After three straight championships for Carl McKinney from 2002-2004, there has been a different champion each of the past six years including Bill Thomas, Russ Dunn, Howard Fraley, Alan Dellinger, Scott Stiffler, and Jeff Johnson!
Sharon has always been blessed with one of the region’s highest weekly Stock Car counts. Sharon continues to be one of the few tracks in the region that requires the 8” tires; in fact, Tim Burns scored the huge upset last Saturday winning $2,100 with 8” tires in the open tire event! Sharon also has one of the region’s highest weekly Stock Car payoffs with $350 to-win and still paying $100 for 11th. The division will be presented by Gibson Agency.
Steve D’Apolito, who was the Stock Car champion in 2004, 2005, and 2007, will be back after a three-year hiatus from weekly action at Sharon in search of his fourth championship. He’ll have to dethrone two of the top racers in Alan Dellinger (2008 & 2010 champ) and Bruce Redman (2009 champ), who ironically tangled last Saturday while battling for the win.
Rounding out the program will be the popular front-wheel-drive, four-cylinder division known as the Presidential Lawn Care Mini Stocks. Bill Fuchs opened the season picking up the $300 non-point special last Saturday. Defending champions are Steve Walker (Friday nights) and Mike Scharba (Saturday nights). Several new competitors have already filed their registrations for the new season.
“I’m real excited about our upcoming season,” acknowledged second year GM Dave Willoughby. “We’ve streamlined our Saturday night program down to five divisions featuring good payoffs for all, and pushed back our starting time to 7 to allow for better track conditions. We had a great return on our registration forms so far and I’ve gotten a lot of response from drivers that are going to call Sharon their home in 2011. Now if only we can just get some decent weather this weekend!”
Pits open at 4 p.m. on Saturday with the grandstands at 5 and racing at 7 p.m. Adult admission is $13, while students 9-13 are $5, and children eight and under are free. Pit passes are $25. A reminder that those brining their rain stubs from Friday’s event will receive $3 off general admission on Saturday! The rain date is Sunday with racing at 5:30 p.m.
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.