FRIDAY NIGHT THUNDER KICKS OFF AT SHARON WITH 6 WINNERS; VETERANS GRIFIN & DELLINGER COP SPRINT & ECONO MODS; TEETERS, REUSSER, GRZELAK & AMENT ALSO VICTORIOUS
By Mike Leone
April 15, 2011
(Hartford, OH)…Friday nights in April have seen a wide array of weather from snow on April 1 that wiped out the scheduled “Friday Night Thunder Kickoff” at Sharon Speedway to rain last week, but on Friday night sunshine returned with the temperature near 70 degrees; however, drivers had to face stiff winds throughout the racing program.
Celebrating in the Hovis Auto & Truck Supply victory lane were Guy Griffin-Ti22 Performance Outlaw Sprint Warriors, Alan Dellinger-Summit Racing Equipment Econo Mods, Jeff Teeters-Joe’s Radiator/Uni-Tech Frame Straightening Mod Lites, Jeff Reusser-Micro Sprints, Joe Grzelak, Jr.-Uni-Tech Frame Straightening/Joe’s Radiator Sportsman Dwarf Cars, and Rick Ament-Mini Late Models. A good crowd and 67 cars turned out for the kickoff of year two of the “Friday Night Thunder” program on Twin-State and Pittsburgh Circle Track Club Night.
Fresh off his opening night win last weekend at Mercer Raceway Park, Guy Griffin made it two-for-two in the debut of the new Outlaw Sprint Warrior division. The defending five-time Limited/Green Flag Sprint Sharon champion came from fifth to pass Rob Felix, Jr. on lap 10 and went on for the 15-lap Ti22 Performance feature win.
“If it wasn’t for this division I wouldn’t be racing- I’d be sitting in the grandstands watching,” explained the 55-year-old Greenville, Pa. driver. “There are over 20 cars that have their motors teched. I understand times are tough, but I can’t wait to get a full field. I have to thank my pit crew. Those guys don’t get enough attention- they’re diehards.”
Felix used the outside to bolt past Jimmy Morris III at the start. The event’s only caution was for Justin Whitesell, who slammed the turn three fence for the second time of the night, with two laps completed. Griffin was sitting third on the restart and overtook Adam Anderson for second when racing resumed. Felix continued to set the pace with a half-straightaway lead, but Griffin began to reel the leader in on lap six. Griffin was right on Felix’s tail tank on lap nine. The duo ran side-by-side on lap nine and ten with Griffin making the winning move around the outside of Felix in turn two.
Once in front, Griffin pulled away for the victory in his Osborne-Williams Funeral Home/Chatfield Drilling/Rob’s Horseshoeing/Sportees-sponsored #11. Felix rode home second over Anderson. Skip Dougherty was a distant fourth over the fading Morris. Felix won the heat race.
Alan Dellinger has won in just about every class he’s ever competed in from Super Late Models to Big-Block Modifieds, FASTRAK Late Models, E-Mods and Stock Cars to name a few. On Friday night, Dellinger hopped into what’s supposed to be his son Derek’s new ride and walked away with the 15-lap Summit Racing Equipment event adding the Econo Mod division to his resume.
“I told him to keep his grades up that I don’t want any ‘F’s’ on your report card,” explained the 47-year-old Niles, Ohio standout. “I said I would get you a race car. I want to help you. I want you to race and experience what I do, but if there’s an ‘F’ on there it ain’t going to happen. I got it stickered and put his name on the roof. Two days later I find out he got an ‘F’ on his report card. The name came off and the for sale sign went on it.”
Dellinger started from ninth, but quickly made his way forward working into the fourth spot on lap three. Two laps later, Dellinger moved to runner-up past Jeff Christy before the race’s first caution with five laps completed. Jr. Mechling had set the pace out in front for five laps, but when green replaced yellow, Dellinger stormed by into the lead.
Three more cautions were all that slowed Dellinger to victory in his own #119. Dellinger unofficially also owns 83 career regular E-Mods wins at Sharon alone. Mechling had a strong run in second over Jim Turley. Corey Skully came from seventh to finish fourth over 12th starting Craig Scherrbaum. Mechling won the heat race.
Like Griffin, another driver that was victorious last weekend at Mercer was Jeff Teeters and he was also able to make it two-for-two to start out the 2011 season on the right track after losing his garage and a lot of belongings to a fire this winter. Teeters led from the drop of the green to the wave of the checkered in the 15-lap Joe’s Radiator/ Uni-Tech Frame Straightening Mod Lite feature.
“Those restarts were killing me,” stated the 46-year-old Warren, Ohio racer. “There is no one tougher on restarts than Mark Marcucci. He’s one of the best. He made me earn that one! The top was good, but coming off turn two you had to be lower and if you weren’t coming off straight you weren’t going to win the race. I’m so happy Sharon is doing this. It’s awesome for us. This is the only place I want to come to be honest with you.”
Teeters started third and took the lead on lap two from pole-sitter Josh Walker. Teeters had to withstand seven caution periods and double file restarts with several hungry competitors all over him for the win in his Uni-Tech Frame Straightening/Meander Motors/Leader Chassis/Cizmar Racing-sponsored #23.
A big shake-up on the final lap saw sixth starting Alan Knepper pass Marcucci to finish runner-up, while 14th starting Doug Stanley grabbed fourth from Kenny Meadows. The Mod Lites drew 21 cars, which was a high for the night, as Teeters and Marcucci won the heat races.
Fourth starting Todd Reusser blasted from the fourth starting spot into the lead on the opening lap of the 15-lap Micro Sprint feature and never looked back. “The wind threw the car all over the place,” expressed the Minerva, Ohio. “It was crazy. Every once in awhile you’d get a gust of wind and it would throw the car somewhere else- it was wild! This was a last minute deal to come race tonight. The car isn’t even lettered yet.”
Three cautions halted action, which saw Ryan Fredericks, Mike Borawiec, Jr., D.J. Furney, and Dave Hawkins round out the top five finishing order. Furney grabbed the heat race win.
Making just his fifth career start, Joe Grzelak, Jr. captured the 15-lap Uni-Tech Frame Straightening/Joe’s Radiator Sportsman Dwarf Car feature event. “I’m nervous,” said the 22-year-old Hubbard, Ohio rookie. “I know dad is proud. He’s over there looking. I have to thank my sponsors and everyone that helps me on the car.”
Grzelak led all 15 circuits holding off fourth starting Steve Mix for the duration and surviving three cautions. Grzelak’s win came in his father’s #888 sponsored by Joe’s Radiator Service. The Grzelak’s are a big part of the Mod Lite and Dwarf Car scene as Joe Grzelak, Sr. co-sponsors both divisions and owns the cars driven by his son Joe, Jr. and daughter Angie. Kevin Sevacko started eighth and worked his way to third at the finish after passing Todd Lawrence on lap 11. Heat winner Todd Walker and Levi Walters were fourth and fifth respectively.
The Mini Late Models made their debut at Sharon Speedway and it was former Mod Lite driver Rick Ament taking the checkered flag in the 15-lap feature. The Mini Late Models are ¾-scale to their big brother counterpart. “These handle different than the Mod Lites,” explained the 37-year-old Vandergrift, Pa. driver. “They are actually bigger, and more forgiving for a driver. These are fun and a blast to drive. I just love to race! I’ll just keep playing with these cars as long as he lets me.”
Ament started second and led all 15 laps of the non-stop feature timed in 4 minutes and 34 seconds. Ament’s win in the Doug Peterman-owned #67 came by a half-lap over Chris Frank. Kenny Meadows had been running second, but pulled into the infield on the final lap. David Innes, another former Mod Lite racer, was third ahead of heat winner James Wilkinson. Meadows was still credited with fifth ahead of Michael Kirby, who was also one-lap down.
Ti22 Performance Outlaw Sprint Warriors (15 laps): 1. GUY GRIFFIN (11) 2. Rob Felix, Jr. (21) 3. Adam Anderson (5B) 4. Skip Dougherty (27) 5. Jimmy Morris III (16) 6. Justin Whitesell (17) 7. Mike Lutz (86)-DNS.
Summit Racing Equipment Econo Mods (15 laps): 1. ALAN DELLINGER (119) 2. Jr. Mechling (89) 3. Jim Turley (117) 4. Corey Skully (Haefke 21) 5. Craig Scherrbaum (07c) 6. Larry Root (22x) 7. Kevin Robinson (24R) 8. Brandon Blackshear (Scharba 1BS) 9. Ryan Fraley (12SS) 10. Jeff Christy (Berry 91) 11. Todd Canter (88) 12. Brian Hathaway (22).
Joe’s Radiator/Uni-Tech Frame Straightening Mod Lites (15 laps): 1. JEFF TEETERS (23) 2. Alan Knepper (20) 3. Mark Marcucci (8M) 4. Doug Stanley (Coen 1c) 5. Kenny Meadows (Teague 10T) 6. Todd Rhoads (23R) 7. Anthony Gillespie (Williams 20) 8. Matt Patterson (13M) 9. Chris Logan (21) 10. Breyton Santee (9) 11. Andy Feil (08) 12. Josh Walker (44) 13. Shane Pfeuffer (Lawson 717) 14. Rod Jones (Grzelak 57) 15. Brandon Fluharty (25) 16. Andrew Bruce (Lawson 70×7) 17. Brian Stuhldreher (17) 18. Chas Wolbert (777) 19. Kevin Nicolino (25) 20. Lynn Knepper (10) 21. Jeremy Adamik (7J)-DNS.
Micro Sprints (15 laps): 1. TODD REUSSER (70) 2. Ryan Fredericks (22R) 3. Mike Borawiec, Jr. (1) 4. D.J. Furney (Watson 12) 5. Dave Hawkins (27) 6. Dalton Daniels (23) 7. Scottie Hawkins (37) 8. Will Fleming III (79W) 9. Brandon Hawkins (27H)-DNS 10. Dave Fleming (79D)-DNS 11. Brett Brunkenhoeffer (47JR)-DNS.
Uni-Tech Frame Straightening/Joe’s Radiator Sportsman Dwarf Cars (15 laps): 1. JOE GRZELAK, JR. (888) 2. Steve Mix (85) 3. Kevin Sevacko (76) 4. Todd Walker (22) 5. Levi Walters (88) 6. Matt Berger (322) 7. Jason Myers (02) 8. Todd Lawrence (965) 9. Monte Lawrence, Jr. (96) 10. Shawn Loy (54).
Mini Late Models (15 laps): 1. RICK AMENT (Peterman 67) 2. Chris Frank (49) 3. David Innes (18) 4. James Wilkinson (21) 5. Kenny Meadows (11) 6. Michael Kirby (33).
Sharon will be back in action next Friday night, April 22 with another “Friday Night Thunder” program featuring these six same divisions with racing starting at 7:30 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.