By Mike Leone

May 28, 2011

(Hartford, OH)…Despite no chance of rain, Sharon Speedway was able to complete the Bill Emig Memorial program right before the skies let loose once again on Saturday night as what’s been typical week in and week out during this unbelievably wet spring.

Celebrating in the Hovis Auto & Truck Supply victory lane were Josh Holtgraver-Barris Supply FASTRAK Late Models Sweeney Chevrolet Buick GMC Northeast Touring Series, Jeff Johnson-Ainsley 500 Heating & Cooling E-Mods, Alan Dellinger-Gibson Insurance Agency Stock Cars, and Bill Fuchs-Presidential Lawn Care Mini Stocks. Ninety-nine race cars were in the pit area for the four-division program.

Tori Martin put on the inaugural “Racing for the Cure” American Cancer Society Benefit Event as part of her senior project. Tori is the sister of FASTRAK Late Model driver Joe Martin and is a junior at Punxsutawney (PA) High School. Over $9,000 was raised for the A.C.S. on Saturday night!

One year ago at Sharon, Josh Holtgraver won his first career FASTRAK Northeast Touring Series event albeit not the way he wanted to as he was credited with the victory after David Scott failed post-race tech inspection. Fast forward to Memorial Day Weekend 2011, and Holtgraver left everyone an impression they won’t soon forget with a dominating performance over a star-studded field in the 25-lap Bill Emig Memorial feature for his second career Touring Series win. Holtgraver’s biggest career win was worth $1,500.

“This time around feels a lot better,” expressed the 22-year-old Pittsburgh, Pa. driver. “We really had a good race car tonight, but it helped us to start up front. I tried to change it up on those restarts starting at different points. I knew they were right on me and waiting on them to go by me. It’s great to race with Robbie Blair; we raced side-by-side last week at Tri-City, but I never got to race with Russ King before.”

Holtgraver used the outside to blast into the lead past 14-year-old pole-sitter Shane Weaver with Mike Blose, Billy Cunningham, and Robbie Blair in tow. Holtgraver quickly began to show his muscle pulling away from the field on lap two. Blair, who started sixth, passed Cunningham for fourth on lap two. A caution for a spin by Tommy Kronenwetter, Jr., who was making his first FASTRAK start in a couple seasons, slowed action with six laps scored.

When racing resumed, Robbie Blair passed Blose for third on the restart. One lap later, the Super Late Model great put a slider on Weaver in turn two for runner-up. Blair now had a straightaway deficit to Holtgraver. All eyes shifted to Russell King, who was making his FASTRAK debut. King started 11th and moved forward becoming a contender when he passed Blose for fourth on lap 10. Three laps later King caught Weaver, but it took him three laps to pass the youngster for third.

Meanwhile back up front, Holtgraver continued his straightaway advantage, but he was in heavy lapped traffic on lap 16. Weaver’s great run ended when he looped his car in turn four running in fourth to bring out the caution with 18 laps completed. When green replaced yellow, Blose fought back by King for third until the final caution of the event was displayed with 19 laps in when Weaver and Michael Mitchell tangled.

Back under green flag conditions, King used the outside to his advantage passing both Blose and Blair in turn one for second, while eighth starting Newt Tackett got a great restart to pass Blose for fourth. Holtgraver began to pull away again, while the battle raged for second. Blair was all over King as the two ran side-by-side on lap 22, but King was able to maintain the spot.

Back up front, Holtgraver was never challenged as he took the checkered flag with his fist in the air by a margin of 3.563 seconds in the D&T Auto Body/Weaver Auto Sales/Knobeloch Heating & Cooling/Weidner Heating & Air/Zarin Trucking Automotive/Flinner Signs & Decals/Racers for Tots/Simpson-sponsored #00 Rocket Chassis.

“We’ve had a lot of people helping us out this year- Russ King, John Flinner has helped me for years,” explained Holtgraver. “We have a new sponsor this year with Bob from Knobeloch Heating & Cooling. I couldn’t do this without my dad, and my sister is with me all of the time. I can’t thank those guys and all my sponsors enough and everything they do for me.”

It was a great debut for King, who passed nine cars to finish second over Blair. Tackett was the highest finishing “Futures Cup” driver placing a career Touring best fourth over Blose. Max Blair, who won last Sunday’s Northeast Touring event at Canada’s Humberstone Speedway, came from 15th to finish sixth to maintain his point lead. Opening 2011 Roaring Knob Touring Series winner, Mike Pegher, Jr., was seventh. Joe Martin, who had won three of his four starts this season at Sharon, came all of the way from 22nd to finish eighth. Rocky Kugel turned in his career best Touring finish in ninth over Josh Double.

Making just his second start in the John and Janet Powell #100 and first ever Touring start, Brian Lessley led all eight laps of the non-qualifier race as part of the “Wheelman” Bonus Event Challenge Series. The Orbisonia, Pa. racer took over from pole-sitter John Volpe on the opening lap and never looked back for the $150 victory. Volpe held on to second. Matt Latta passed Butch Lambert on lap seven to finish third. Lambert dropped to fourth. Former Mod Lite racer, Tony Tatgenhorst, made his FASTRAK debut and finished fifth.

The first ever FASTRAK King of the Hill took place pitting the top eight drivers from the 2010 points vs. the top eight finishers in the feature. Mike Pegher, Jr. came through the brackets as the 2011 champion defeating Russell King in the five-lap finale. The Wexford, Pa. driver of the Lynn Geisler-owned, Cochran Automotive #1C donated all $500 of his winnings back to the American Cancer Society!

With over 40 cars on hand, five heat races were run, which went to Holtgraver, Blose, Tackett, Double, and Pegher. The two B mains were won by Andrew Wylie and Bobby Whitling.

Making just his second start of the season in his own #27, defending champion Jeff Johnson led from green-to-checkered in the 25-lap Ainsley 500 Heating & Cooling feature for the E-Mods. Johnson held off Carl McKinney for the $1,000 victory. “Man I’ll tell you we needed this after last week,” stated the 34-year-old Youngstown, Ohio driver. “We tore quite a bit of stuff up last week, so we can use this now! I was pretty worried on those restarts. Carl is pretty good competition. I knew he would race me clean.”

From the pole-position, Johnson sped into the lead with McKinney passing Andy Buckley for second. Seventh starting Alan Dellinger had worked his way to third on lap five before getting high in turn three and dropping back to sixth. Dellinger made his way back forward taking third from Dwayne Clay on lap 16.

McKinney pressured Johnson and with eight cautions was able to line-up alongside Johnson each time, but Johnson was simply too strong in his Warren Harley Davidson/Klaben Ford Lincoln/Tom’s Sewer & Drain/Cizmar Racing-sponsored #27. Johnson’s victory was the 14th of his career at Sharon and moved him into second on the all-time win list.

McKinney, who has been consistent all season-long finishing in the top seven every race, picked a good night for his best finish in runner-up worth $600. Mike Kinney turned in his fourth top four finish of the season in third after getting by Dellinger in the closing laps. Point leader Dellinger was fourth over 10th starting Steve Haefke. Sixth through 10th were Bill Thomas, Joel Watson, Ronnie Kahler, Jeff Hassay, and Scott Jones. Heat winners were Clay, Watson, and Scott Stiffler over the 26-car field. Paul Phillips won the B main.

In the 20-lap Gibson Insurance Agency Stock Car feature, Alan Dellinger was in the right place at the right time as the cagey veteran swooped into the lead on lap 19 after race long leader Bruce Redman and runner-up Mike Clark made contact. The Hermitage, Pa. driver led the final two laps for the $500 victory- his third of the season in the division.

While Redman jumped into the lead at the start, Clark was making his way to the front. Clark passed Steve D’Apolito for third on lap nine then overtook last week’s winner Paul Davis for second on lap 14. Dellinger started seventh, but really wasn’t a factor for the majority of the event. Dellinger disposed of D’Apolito on lap 16 for third.

Clark challenged Redman and when the two made contact, Dellinger raced by while Clark was able to get by Redman. Dellinger went on for his seventh overall win of the season at Sharon and 64th of his career in Stock Car competition at Sharon, which came in the Steve Burns, Sr.-owned, Penn-Ohio Electric/Country Convenience Five Points BP/T&D Landscaping/Laddies Sky Club/Warehouse Sales/Rien Construction-sponsored #43B.

Clark edged Redman for second with D’Apolito fourth. Rod Laskey drove Bob Sloss’ #44s from ninth to a fifth place finish. Heat wins went to D’Apolito and Dellinger.

Bill Fuchs continued his domination of the Mini Stock division. Fuchs came from 10th to the lead in just three laps and went on for his third straight win in the Presidential Lawn Care-sponsored division. Fuch’s sixth career victory was worth $200 and was his second biggest after capturing the $300 opening night special.

“I’ll tell you what the 6-car (Michael McElhaney) gave me a heck of a battle on those restarts,” stated the 35-year-old Greenville, Pa. driver. “I wasn’t sure going into turn one if I was going to get him. This is three in a row so I’ll have to start last next time, but that’s okay. Wherever they start us, we’ll start. We love racing here at Sharon Speedway and we’ll be back.”

For the second straight week, Jim Haefke, Jr. led the first two laps, but on lap three, Fuchs passed Randy Sprouse, McElhaney, and Haefke all for the lead. Fuchs had to withstand three restarts with McElhaney alongside, but was able to do so and took his RTW Industrial Contracting/Hittles Auto Supply/Kreider Tire-sponsored #10 to victory lane for the fourth time this season in seven starts.

Mike Scharba started 11th and battled his way forward. Scharba passed Haefke for third on lap 10 and closed on McElhaney on the last lap. The two were side-by-side coming off turn four, but McElhaney won the drag race for runner-up. Haefke dropped to fourth. Rookie Jamie Wrightsman came from 13th to finish fifth for the fourth time this season. Topping the heat races over the 18-car field were Fuchs and Sprouse.

Barris Supply FASTRAK Late Models (25 laps, $1,500 to-win): 1. JOSH HOLTGRAVER (00) 2. Russell King (56) 3. Robbie Blair (W11) 4. Newt Tackett (68) 5. Mike Blose (5) 6. Max Blair (111) 7. Mike Pegher, Jr. (Geisler 1c) 8. Joe Martin (55) 9. Rocky Kugel (21KRT) 10. Josh Double (38) 11. Billy Cunningham (44c) 12. George Kowatic (5) 13. Bobby Whitling (7W) 14. Damian Bidwell (17) 15. Dan Angelicchio (14) 16. Andrew Wylie (84) 17. Chad Wright (6) 18. Tommy Kronenwetter, Jr. (4K) 19. Clay Ruffo (14R) 20. Shane Weaver (Ruffner 325X) 21. Michael Mitchell (19) 22. Rick Strickler (Lake 48) 23. Kyle Zimmerman (z17) 24. Tyler Barris (32B) 25. Mike Laughard (38L)-DNS.

FASTRAK Late Model Non-Qualifier Bonus Event (8 laps, $150 to-win): 1. Brian Lessley (Powell 100) 2. John Volpe (Bidwell B1D) 3. Matt Latta (21) 4. Butch Lambert (27) 5. Tony Tatgenhorst (63) 6. Jason Reagle (888) 7. Jamie Brown (135) 8. Lauren Longbrake (27) 9. Alan Dellinger (Williams 8)-DNS 10. Shane Hitt (2*)-DNS 11. Darren Peters (1P)-DNS 12. Bobby Pifer III (6)-DNS 13. Ryan Montgomery (12)-DNS 14. Bill Cunningham (59)-DNS 15. Steve Dixon (50)-DNS 16. Eric Wilson (27)-DNS.

Ainsley 500 Heating & Cooling E-Mods (25 laps, $1,000 to-win): 1. JEFF JOHNSON (27) 2. Carl McKinney (Hendrickson 6M) 3. Mike Kinney (3) 4. Alan Dellinger (Petsko 00) 5. Steve Haefke (73) 6. Bill Thomas (White 53) 7. Joel Watson (92) 8. Ronnie Kahler (7R) 9. Jeff Hassay (10) 10. Scott Jones (44J) 11. Jim Clay (007J) 12. Brian Douglas (214) 13. Andy Buckley (965) 14. Dwayne Clay (007) 15. Mike Monreal (071) 16. Paul Phillips (11SS) 17. Bob Diver (23) 18. Howard Fraley (217) 19. Tim Burns (2B) 20. Vince Crisanti (221) 21. Scott Stiffler (14) 22. Brandon Blackshear (Scharba 1BS) 23. Larry Root (22x) 24. John Upshire (97) DNQ: Jim Turley (117), Arlan Coy (56).

Gibson Insurance Agency Stock Cars (20 laps, $500 to-win): 1. ALAN DELLINGER (Burns 43B) 2. Mike Clark (7) 3. Bruce Redman (27) 4. Steve D’Apolito (84) 5. Rod Laskey (Sloss 44s) 6. Steve Burns, Jr. (70B) 7. Stan Woomer (2) 8. Al Herman (11) 9. Gary Laurie (21) 10. Mike Hudzik (31H) 11. Paul Davis (Schaefers 3) 12. Jamie Gibbs (98) 13. Tyler Nicely (72) 14. Jamie Scharba (00s).

Presidential Lawn Care Mini Stocks (12 laps, $200 to-win): 1. BILL FUCHS (10) 2. Michael McElhaney (6) 3. Mike Scharba (30M) 4. Jim Haefke, Jr. (421) 5. Jamie Wrightsman (21J) 6. Randy Sprouse (23s) 7. Ken Koby II (22) 8. Nick Lucanski (28L) 9. Rob McElhaney (7) 10. Stacy Neubecker (5) 11. Duane Westfall (0) 12. Jeremy Double (83) 13. Jeff Little (42) 14. Lucas Sprouse (24s) 15. Jake Monreal (32) 16. Dan McEwen (Walker 4M)-DNS 17. Dennis Dellinger (1JR)-DNS 18. Chris Roberts (93)-DNS.

Sharon will return to action this Saturday night with the “Steel Valley Thunder” program featuring the Governor Insurance Agency Big-Block Modifieds, Barris Supply FASTRAK Late Models, Ainsley 500 Heating & Cooling E-Mods, Gibson Insurance Agency Stock Cars, and the Presidential Lawn Care Mini Stocks. Gates open at 5 p.m. with racing at 7.

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.


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