SHARON SEEKS TO COMPLETE 1ST DOUBLEHEADER WEEKEND OF THE YEAR FRIDAY & SATURDAY; 2 COMPLETE PROGRAMS SET TO HIT THE TRACK
By Mike Leone
May 4, 2011
(Hartford, OH)…After a horrendous month of weather in April, Sharon Speedway is hoping the first weekend of May will finally provide the ability to complete the first doubleheader weekend of action. Sharon Speedway is anxiously looking forward to “Friday Night Thunder” at 7:30 p.m. and “Steel Valley Thunder” on Saturday night at 7 p.m. Saturday’s rain date is Sunday at 5:30.
Wet conditions have hampered Friday nights even worse than Saturdays as four of the first five scheduled Friday nights have been lost to weather. The only “Friday Night Thunder” program completed thus far was back on April 15 when the show was finished up before rain hit after midnight.
Friday’s program will the feature the Ti22 Performance Outlaw Sprint Warriors, Summit Racing Equipment Econo Mods, Joe’s Radiator & Uni-Tech Frame Straightening Mod Lites, Micro Sprints, Uni-Tech Frame Straightening & Joe’s Radiator Sportsman Dwarf Cars, and Mini Late Models.
Guy Griffin and Jeff Teeters are two drivers off to fast starts in 2011. Griffin is unbeaten in the new Outlaw Sprint Warrior division with a victory at Sharon and two wins at Mercer Raceway Park. Teeters meanwhile has opening night wins at both Sharon and Mercer, but didn’t have as good of luck last Saturday at Deerfield Raceway’s opener.
The Outlaw Sprint Warrior division is expected to grow in the coming weeks, while the Mod Lites car counts have been solid everywhere they have competed to date in 2011. The Mod Lites led all divisions on the opener with 21 cars. Other April 15 opening night winners included Alan Dellinger (Econo Mod), Todd Reusser (Micro Sprints) Joe Grzelak, Jr. (Sportsman Dwarfs), and Rick Ament, who won the very first race ever held for the new Mini Late Model division- a three-quarter scale of their big brothers.
Gates open at 5:30 p.m. on Friday and race time is set for 7:30 this year to allow for more time for fans racers to travel to Sharon Speedway. Adults are $10, students 9-13 are $5, and children eight and under are free. Pit passes are $25.
Though the weather hasn’t been wonderful on Saturday nights, Sharon has lucked out completing five of the first scheduled six events. Saturday’s racing card will include 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. Saturday night will be Trumbull County School Night.
Drier and warmer weather last Saturday saw the largest turnout of fans and racers to date. One hundred twenty-five cars filled the pit area for the five-division program as numerous racers made their season debuts.
After struggling the first two weeks with car count, the Big-Block Modifieds filled the pit area with 23 competitors even with second place point man Brad Rapp MIA due to an illness. Newcomer Dave Murdick became the division’s third different winner in as many nights. As hard as it is to believe, the victory was just the second win of the Slippery Rock, Pa. driver’s career at Sharon.
Defending champion, Rex King, holds down a 14-point lead over Kevin Bolland. Fifty-nine year-old Dean Pearson is knocking on the door in third in points just two points behind Bolland.
The FASTRAK Late Models continue to be impressive as for the third straight night to open up their maiden voyage of weekly competition at Sharon, 30+ cars were pit side. This time 32 cars were in attendance including several new racers despite the fact that many of the top runners were competing in the Northeast Touring Series opener at Roaring Knob Motorsports Complex. Already 52 different drivers have competed with an average of 33 cars after three nights!
While his son was beginning his quest for his third Northeast Touring Series championship in four years at Roaring Knob last Saturday night, Rob Blair made his 2011 FASTRAK debut a successful one capturing the $700 victory at Sharon. The elder Blair became the eighth different FASTRAK winner in the 11 races run all-time at the Hartford, Ohio oval. Incidentally none of the winners have included a driver from the Buckeye State.
The driver leading the points is another Pennsylvania driver that would like to add his name to the win list. Mike Blose, a former Super Late Model standout, is in the twilight of his career and currently has a nine-point lead over Ohio teen Josh Double. Sitting third is New York racer John Volpe, who will likely be in victory lane soon in the Scott Bidwell-owned #B1D.
After a purse increase in 2010, the E-Mod class at Sharon became one the toughest anywhere around. That trend has continued in 2011 as the quantity of cars and quality of racing has been spectacular. Three of the region’s toughest racers in Joel Watson, Rich Michael, Jr., and Alan Dellinger have all captured exciting victories. Car counts of 23, 29, and 33 with 45 different competitors overall have been impressive.
Joel Watson of Conneaut, Ohio is just four points shy of a perfect score after three nights. Watson leads the way with a victory and two runner-ups finishes as well as three heat race wins as he currently leads Michael by 13 points.
It hasn’t been the greatest start to Alan Dellinger’s season, but last Saturday he was able to sweep both the E-Mod and Stock Car features in addition to his opening night Econo Mod win. The Stock Cars have produced four different winners in as many races including Tim Burns, Bruce Redman, Steve Burns, Jr., and Dellinger. Tied for point lead is none of those drivers as the consistent Jamie Duncan and Mike Clark lead the way by just three over multi-time track champion, Steve D’Apolito, who is back after a three-year hiatus from Sharon.
All-time Mini Stock winner, Mike Scharba, became the division’s first repeat winner in 2011 with his second straight victory. Scharba now has 10 victories to his credit. Atop the points is opening night winner Bill Fuchs of Greenville, Pa. by 13 over week two winner Randy Sprouse. Despite his two wins, Scharba is mired in ninth in points due to missing the first night of points.
Beginning their second full season of competition, the Mini Stocks have produced competitive, wheel-to-wheel racing with very few cautions. Two weeks ago, the division hit 20 cars for the first time and already this year 24 different racers have participated.
“Other than the weather, I couldn’t be happier to the start of the season,” expressed second year GM Dave Willoughby. “We’ve had some great racing with excellent car counts and our fans have supported us well so far. It sure would be nice to get a sunny and dry weekend for once for everyone’s sake! I feel bad for our Friday night racers as the weather hasn’t even really given us a chance to even to attempt to get shows in for them. We’re trying to grow this program, but Mother Nature just won’t cooperate.”
On Saturday, pits open at 4 p.m. with the grandstands at 5 and racing at 7. Adult admission is $13. Students 9-13 are $5. Kids eight and under are free. The family pass is $32 for mom, dad, and four kids 13 and under. Pit passes are $25. The rain date is Sunday with racing at 5:30 p.m.
Remember, if you bring your rain stub from Friday night to Saturday’s race, you’ll receive a $3 discount on Saturday’s admission!
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.