By Mike Leone

April 9, 2011

(Hartford, OH)…Though it was only in the 50s on Saturday for the “Steel Valley Thunder” kickoff, it felt like a heat wave of sorts compared to the past three events this year at Sharon Speedway. After another rainy, cool week that left the grounds a soggy sponge, Saturday dawned dry as the sun finally returned late in the day.

Track conditions were excellent for the first full night of racing and were sung the praises by all of the racers. Celebrating in the Hovis Auto & Truck Supply victory lane were Rex King-Governor Insurance Agency Big-Block Modifieds, Joe Martin-Barris Supply FASTRAK Late Models, Joel Watson-Ainsley 500 Heating & Cooling E-Mods, Bruce Redman- Gibson Agency Stock Cars, and Randy Sprouse-Presidential Lawn Care Mini Stocks.

Rex King- the all-time active leading Sharon Big-Block Modified winner, added another victory to his resume snatching the win away from Rob Kristyak in the final laps to win the non-stop 20-lap Governor Insurance Agency feature. King’s victory was the 35th of his illustrious career moving him within four of retired racer Bob Kraus for second on the all-time Modified win list.

“It took us awhile to get going there then once we did we drove up on Kevin then I could get under Rob,” explained the Bristolville, Ohio veteran. “We just kept digging and got where we needed to be. When I got out there it didn’t feel like we were going fast on the top. I could gain ground on the bottom and it seemed to work. That was a lot of turning! I could have used a break or two in there.”

Though Mike Turner and Jim Rasey sat on the pole for the feature, neither of them would lead the first lap as Rasey slipped high in turn one slamming the fence and exiting the event, while third starting Kristyak ducked under Turner for the lead. Lap two saw three-wide action between Turner, King, and Kevin Bolland with Bolland getting third. One lap later, Bolland drove under Turner for second, and King followed in third on lap four.

Dean Pearson started back in seventh and was turning the quickest laps of the event. The 58-year-old made a nice move to sweep around both Brad Rapp and Turner with a three-wide move in turn two on lap seven to grab fourth. At the halfway point, Bolland and King began to close on Kristyak and by lap 12 it was a three-car race for the lead.

King and Bolland resumed their battle racing side-by-side for runner-up on lap 15. King drove hard under Bolland coming out of turn four and taking Bolland’s line away from him with contact at the flag stand. King then was quickly right on Kristyak. King pulled even with Kristyak on lap 16 and the two raced side-by-side for nearly two laps before King got a strong run off the bottom of turn one to lead lap 17.

King would pull away to win by 2.665 seconds over Kristyak in the KMB Inc-owned, Bristol Disposal/Midway Garage Door/RD Banks Chevrolet/Hunyady Auction/Cedar Steel/Auntie V’s Pizza/GS Engine Power-sponsored #65. Bolland edged the hard charging Pearson for third. Rapp was fifth. Completing the top 10 were Rex King, Jr., Turner, Del Rougeux, Jr., Rick Ryder, and Rasey, who won the heat race.

The FASTRAK Late Models were brought into Sharon Speedway in 2011 as a weekly division after successful special events held the past two seasons at the Hartford, Ohio. It was the first time a Late Model division had been on the weekly card since the “Supers” back in 1989. And like the past eight shows that produced great racing and excellent car counts, Saturday’s debut was no different as 30 cars filled the pit area and provided great racing.

Joe Martin, who last year won a $1,000 special at Sharon, looked strong all night long and ran a great race holding off a late charge by two-time National Weekly Series and Northeast Touring Series Champion, Max Blair, for the 20-lap Barris Supply victory. Martin now joins Blair as the division’s only repeat winners in nine races run at Sharon and continues the shutout of Ohio racers from victory lane at the Buckeye State speedplant.

“This is my first ever opening night win so it’s a good way to start out I know that,” stated the soon-to-be 26-year-old Mayport, Pa. third year racer. “My car actually wasn’t that good. I had my hands full. That was not my type of track. I like it slowed down, get on the bottom, keep it the car straight-type of track. I have to thank Russ King. He told me to get up on the wheel. I don’t like to do it, but the last five laps I started to. I want to thank Barris (Supply) for sponsoring FASTRAK. I love Sharon; we didn’t tear up any cars tonight and the track was smooth. We couldn’t do this without my sponsors. I have to thank them along with all my family, my girlfriend, and Mike Blose- they all make it go.”

Martin took over the lead from Bud Watson, who was racing a Mod Lite at Sharon one week ago, on the opening lap with Newt Tackett getting by Josh Holtgraver for third. The top four remained the same and action was just heating up when lapped traffic came into play on lap 10 before Eric Wilson spun to bring out the first caution.

Blair, who started 10th, lined up sixth on the restart and would pass Josh Double for fifth when racing resumed. On lap 12, Blair shot to the inside of Holtgraver in turns one and two to grab fourth. Another caution for Wilson and Mark Moats, Jr. slowed action with 12 laps scored. When green replaced yellow, Blair took third away from Tackett, while eighth starting Mike Blose entered the picture moving into the top five.

The third and final caution slowed action with 13 laps completed. On the ensuing restart, Blose inched closer to the front passing Tackett for fourth. Watson’s great run ended when he slipped high in turn two on lap 15 allowing Blair and Blose by for second and third. When Blair got to second he had a half-straightaway deficit to Martin, but he was unable to close the gap as Martin took the win by 1.682 seconds. Martin’s sixth career FASTRAK-sanctioned victory came in the STS Rental/Neese Trucking/Martin Farms/Allegheny Crane Rental/Juart Bros. Excavating/Primitive Peddler/Freedline Auto Repair-sponsored #55.

Blose, Watson, and 16-year-old Tackett were third through fifth. Rounding out the top 10 were Ben Black, Holtgraver, 18th starting Rod Laskey, Double, and Dave Airgood, Jr. Heat wins went to Black, Martin, and Tackett. John Volpe won the B main and set a new FASTRAK track record with a lap of 16.706. The FASTRAK Late Models were running lap times comparable with the Big-Block Modifieds all night long!

The E-Mods put on the best race of the night with seventh starting Joel Watson winning a thriller over eighth starting and all-time leading winner Alan Dellinger to capture the 15-lap Ainsley 500 Heating & Cooling event. “I have to write this one up on the books; I think that was the first time I ever passed Alan Dellinger,” explained the Conneaut, Ohio racer. “Alan is a great guy on and off the track. The lapped traffic certainly helped. The track was fast all over the place. There’s a lot of traction and room for racing. I couldn’t ask for a better surface.”

Joe Gabrielson passed Greg Johnson to lead lap one. Following a caution with four laps completed, Dellinger passed both Rich Michael, Jr. and Johnson for second on lap five. The final caution of the race slowed action with six laps completed. On the ensuing restart, Watson became a contender taking third from Johnson.

Up front, Dellinger was all over Gabrielson on lap eight. Dellinger pulled even with the leader on lap nine running the bottom. Dellinger continued to pressure Gabrielson before finally making the pass by driving around the leader in turns one and two on lap 11. One lap later, Watson took second from Gabrielson with an inside move in turn two.

Dellinger had about a five-car-length lead when Watson moved into second. That margin quickly disappeared when Dellinger was caught in a swarm of lapped cars. Watson ran Dellinger right down on lap 13 and pulled alongside the leader on lap 14 before making the pass in turn four in lapped traffic. Watson went on for his second career Sharon victory by 0.593 seconds in the Northwest Restoration/Zimmer’s Service Center/Racecar Fabrication/Hoosier Tires-sponsored #92.

Dellinger was aboard the Bootie Petsko #00 and finished second over Gabrielson. Johnson slowed on the final lap losing fourth to Kinney, but was still able to cross in fifth. Sixth through tenth were Michael, Carl McKinney, Dwayne Clay, Andy Buckley, and Jeff Johnson in the second Dwayne Clay entry. Heat victories over the 23-car field went to Michael, Watson, and McKinney.

After losing a heartbreaker while tangling with Alan Dellinger in last week’s $1,500 to-win Open Stock Car Shootout, Bruce Redman got a little redemption back with a dominating victory in the 15-lap Gibson Agency Stock Car feature. “The race track is as nice as I’ve ever seen it, but that’s because I won,” quipped the 42-year-old Cortland, Ohio racer. “It was a big advantage starting up front. I have to thank everyone that takes care of the track, my sponsors, my mom, dad, sister, kids, and everyone that helps out.”

Redman bolted into the lead past pole-sitter Mike Clark at the start of the event. Redman caught lapped traffic on lap eight, but that was about all that would slow his Pet Parlor-sponsored #27 to the checkered flag in the non-stop event timed in 4.39.695. Jamie Scharba had a good run coming from fifth to place second after a three-lap battle with Clark. Third went to Clark over Jamie Duncan and Steve Burns, Jr. Topping the heats were Redman and Brian Carothers.

After nine years of racing various divisions, Randy Sprouse captured his first career win of any kind in the 12-lap Presidential Lawn Care Mini Stock feature. “It makes a big difference starting up front,” explained the 58-year-old Elkton, Ohio racer. “I didn’t know where anyone else was at and how big of a lead I had. The track was beautiful tonight. It’s in real nice shape. I have to thank my two boys for building this thing; Lucas finished fourth, and Sharon Speedway for putting this on.”

Ironically Randy started alongside his boy Lucas on the front row, but it was Lucas taking the lead and leading lap one. The event’s only caution was for Rob McElhaney, who hit the turn four fence with one lap completed. On the restart, Randy pulled ahead of Lucas and led the final 11 non-stop laps in his Millrock Auto Sales & Wrecking #23s without any challenges.

Michael McElhaney had a solid run coming from 11th to finish second. McElhaney passed Lucas Sprouse on lap seven, but had nothing for Randy Sprouse. Last week’s opening night winner, Bill Fuchs, came from 10th to finish third after getting by Lucas Sprouse on lap 10. Lucas Sprouse dropped to fourth over 10th starting rookie Jamie Wrightsman. Fuchs and Randy Sprouse won the heat races over the 17-car field.

Governor Insurance Agency Big-Block Modifieds (20 laps): 1. REX KING (65) 2. Rob Kristyak (00) 3. Kevin Bolland (777) 4. Dean Pearson (8J) 5. Brad Rapp (11R) 6. Rex King, Jr. (165) 7. Mike Turner (96) 8. Del Rougeux, Jr. (20D) 9. Rick Ryder (Snider 189) 10. Jim Rasey (32).

Barris Supply FASTRAK Late Models (20 laps): 1. JOE MARTIN (55) 2. Max Blair (111) 3. Mike Blose (5) 4. Bud Watson (Powell 100) 5. Newt Tackett (Schwartz 68) 6. Ben Black (27B) 7. Josh Holtgraver (00) 8. Rod Laskey (1R) 9. Josh Double (38) 10. Dave Airgood, Jr. (42JR) 11. Chad Wright (6) 12. Billy Henry, Jr. (McGee 21*) 13. Darren Peters (1P) 14. Damian Bidwell (17) 15. Rocky Kugel (21KRT) 16. Butch Lambert (27) 17. John Volpe (Bidwell B1D) 18. Brian Booher (Hoover 00H) 19. Jamie Brown (135) 20. Billy Cunningham (44c) 21. Bill Cunningham (59) 22. Matt Latta (21) 23. Mark Moats, Jr. (15) 24. Eric Wilson (27) DNQ: Tom Copeland (98), Bobby Pifer III (6), Tyler Barris (32B), Clay Ruffo (14R), T.J. Downs (03), Justin Kreider (29).

Ainsley 500 Heating & Cooling E-Mods (15 laps): 1. JOEL WATSON (92) 2. Alan Dellinger (Petsko 00) 3. Joe Gabrielson (58) 4. Mike Kinney (3) 5. Greg Johnson (05) 6. Rich Michael, Jr. (17x) 7. Carl McKinney (Hendrickson 6M) 8. Dwayne Clay (007) 9. Andy Buckley (965) 10. Jeff Johnson (Clay 007J) 11. Paul Phillips (11SS) 12. Jr. Mechling (89) 13. Jeff Hassay (10) 14. Ron Kahler (7R) 15. Larry Root (22x) 16. Chad Stevenson (21C) 17. Bruce Redman (White 53) 18. Tim Burns (2B) 19. Jim Turley (117) 20. Bob Williamson (93) 21. J.B. Dellinger (Cryster 25) 22. Scott Jones (44J) 23. Tom Pierce (3).

Gibson Agency Stock Cars (15 laps): 1. BRUCE REDMAN (27) 2. Jamie Scharba (00s) 3. Mike Clark (7) 4. Jamie Duncan (67J) 5. Steve Burns, Jr. (70B) 6. Steve D’Apolito (84) 7. Brian Carothers (02c) 8. Andy Thompson (7) 9. Jamie Gibbs (98) 10. Robert Pollock (70X) 11. Charlie McMillen (61M) 12. Eric Williams (4W) 13. Stan Woomer (2).

Presidential Lawn Care Mini Stocks (12 laps): 1. RANDY SPROUSE (23s) 2. Michael McElhaney (6) 3. Bill Fuchs (10) 4. Lucas Sprouse (24s) 5. Jamie Wrightsman (21J) 6. Steve Walker (4M) 7. Jeremy Double (83) 8. Chris Roberts (93) 9. Duane Westfall (Spencer 0) 10. Ken Koby II (22) 11. Rocky Nails (18) 12. Jim Haefke, Jr. (421) 13. Dennis Dellinger, Jr. (1JR) 14. Scott Gilliland (27) 15. Dillon Kineston (19) 16. Nick Lucanski (28L) 17. Rob McElhaney (7).

Sharon will return to action this Friday and Saturday with a doubleheader weekend. On Friday night (April 15), it’ll be the opener for the “Friday Night Thunder” for the Ti22 Performance Outlaw Sprint Warriors, Summit Racing Equipment Econo Mods, Uni-Tech Frame Straightening/Joe’s Radiator Mod Lites, Micro Sprints, Joe’s Radiator/Uni-Tech Frame Straightening Sportsman Dwarf Cars, and the Mini Late Models at 7:30 p.m. Then on Saturday (April 16) it’s the return of “Steel Valley Thunder” for the Governor Insurance Agency Big-Block Modifieds, Barris Supply FASTRAK Late Models, Ainsley 500 Heating & Cooling E-Mods, Gibson Agency Stock Cars, and the Presidential Lawn Care Mini Stocks. It’ll be Lawrence County School Night. 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 or call 330-772-5481. Become a fan of Sharon Speedway on Facebook at and follow us on Twitter at


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