VOLPE WINS 1ST EVER IN FASTRAK LM AT SHARON, WHILE TACKETT WINS FASTRAK FUTURES CUP; KING & FUCHS KEEP ON WINNING IN MODS & MINIS; WATSON POWERS TO 2ND E-MOD WIN; D’APOLITO GETS 1ST IN STOCKS
By Mike Leone
June 4, 2011
(Hartford, OH)…It was another typical Saturday night with scattered thunderstorms all around Sharon Speedway, but not a drop of rain fell as the “Steel Valley Thunder” program was able to spin off without a hitch. Celebrating in the Hovis Auto & Truck Supply victory lane were John Volpe-Barris Supply FASTRAK Late Models, Rex King-Governor Insurance Agency Big-Block Modifieds, Joel Watson-Ainsley 500 Heating & Cooling E-Mods, Steve D’Apolito-Gibson Insurance Agency Stock Cars, and Bill Fuchs-Presidential Lawn Care Mini Stocks. Newt Tackett won the special FASTRAK “Futures Cup” race.
John Volpe rocketed into the lead at the drop of the green and led every lap of the 20-lap Barris Supply FASTRAK Late Model feature for his first career Sharon Speedway win. The Lakewood, New York upped the streak of Buckeye racers shutout of victory lane in FASTRAK competition at Sharon at the Ohio oval to 15.
“This is my first year racing at this place,” explained the 20-year-old racer. “I love it! It’s fun; you can race on it. I knew what Rocky (Kugel) was trying to do on those restarts. He was trying to get into my head, but it doesn’t work. That actually just makes me more relaxed. Scott Bidwell gave me a shot to drive his race car for seven races last year and he asked me to drive it again this year so we’ll keep going.”
After a seven car melee on lap two, the race went uneventful the remainder of the way. Volpe took off when green flag racing got underway and began to pull away from Rocky Kugel and Max Blair. Eighth starting Billy Cunningham cracked the top five on lap five getting by Newt Tackett. Volpe had to deal with lapped traffic on lap 11 allowing Kugel to close in. Kugel at times appeared like he may have a shot to overtake Volpe, but his car pushed slightly coming off turn two allowing Volpe to open up some ground, while Blair stayed right with Kugel.
The second and final caution slowed action when 14-year-old Lauren Longbrake spun to bring out the caution with 16 laps scored. Volpe raced back ahead of Kugel following the double file restart, while Cunningham stole fourth from Matt Latta. Volpe was never challenged over the last four laps as he took the checkered flag by 1.499 seconds over Kugel for his second career win in FASTRAK competition. Volpe won for Scott Bidwell last August at Raceway 7 in the Fame RV Center/Maloney Tool/Rich Johnson Electric/Jay’s Auto Wrecking-sponsored #B1D.
Kugel, who continues to improve in FASTRAK Late Model competition, turned in his career best effort in second over Friday night Raceway 7 winner Max Blair. Cunningham matched his career best Sharon FASTRAK effort from back on April 30 of fourth with a solid run. “Futures Cup” rookie racer Matt Latta entered the night with a season best finish of 13th, but greatly improved on that with a fine fifth place. Rounding out the top 10 were Alan Dellinger, Dave Airgood, Butch Lambert, Ben Black, and 14-year-old Clay Ruffo. Heat winners over the 23-car field were Kugel, Airgood, and Dellinger.
The first of three regional FASTRAK “Futures Cup” races was held as 10 of the 17 eligible competitors were in action. Newt Tackett and Clay Ruffo put on quite a side-by-side battle for much of the 12-lap affair, but it was the elder and more experience 16-year old Tackett outdueling 14-year-old Clay Ruffo for the $200 victory.
“I wasn’t sure if I was going to get him for awhile,” stated the North East, Pa. driver. “That caution came out and it really helped me. We did pretty well. I owe all my success to my dad. He taught me everything I know. This is the funest sport. I’ve played football and basketball, but I’d rather race. I think this Futures Cup is great! I was really pumped coming into the season and now that I won this I’m even more excited!”
Shane Weaver and Ruffo led the field to green with Ruffo jumping into the lead over Weaver. Tackett, who started eighth, cut through the field to advance to third after one lap one. Tackett would pass Weaver for second on lap two and set his sights on Ruffo. Tackett pulled even with Ruffo on lap three and over the course of the next seven laps would race side-by-side, while Ryan Montgomery closed in on the duo.
It wasn’t until lap nine when Tackett edged ahead running the low line to nip Ruffo at the start-finish line right before the event’s only caution was displayed when Nico Dabecco and Lauren Longbrake tangled with nine laps completed. The caution was just what Tackett needed as he wasn’t seriously challenged in the last three laps. Tackett, who entered the night in the “Futures Cup” point lead, which is based off the National Weekly Series points plus the addition of the three stand-alone events, added to that lead with his victory in the Dave Tackett, Sr.-owned, Parmenter Well Drilling/North East Lanes-sponsored #68.
Fourteen-year-old Ryan Montgomery of West Virginia was able to sneak under Ruffo on the final lap to finish second. Ruffo dropped to third ahead of Weaver and Chad Wright. Completing the field were Longbrake, Dabecco, Damian Bidwell, Eric Wilson, and Latta. The “Futures Cup” racers participated in a special autograph session from 5:30-6:30 p.m. The next “Futures Cup” race will be on July 2 at Pittsburgh’s PA Motor Speedway.
Rex King came back from an early spin and made a last lap, turn four pass of Kevin Bolland to win the 20-lap Governor Insurance Agency Big-Block Modified thriller to the delight of his local, hometown fans. King’s victory also allowed two youngsters to win bikes with the weekly drawing when one of the Kings win.
“That was pretty good and a lot of fun,” expressed the veteran after climbing out of his mount. “We needed that caution. When I spun out and restarted, everyone was on the top and I had nowhere to go. We had to make something on the bottom and it worked out. I have a lot of great people that help out. I have to thank them and everyone at Sharon Speedway.”
Rex and Rex, Jr. along with Rob Kristyak tangled in turn one on the first lap bringing out the caution. When racing got underway, Dean Pearson took off in the lead with Kevin Bolland passing Skip Moore for second. The caution was displayed with six laps completed when Donny Minor’s car slowed in turn three.
On the ensuing restart, Bolland used the outside to drive around Pearson in turns one and two; meanwhile, King was on the charge taking fourth from Mark Flick on lap eight. A four-car battle for the lead ensued with Bolland trying to hold off Pearson, Jim Rasey, and King. Carl Murdick came to a rest to bring out the third and final caution with 13 laps in.
When green replaced yellow, King made a bonsai move into turn one to pass both Rasey and Pearson for second and got alongside Bolland, but Bolland had the momentum to hold the lead. King stayed right with Bolland pulling even again on lap 14. The two then would race side-by-side every successive lap right to the finish.
Coming down for the white flag, King tried a new line going to the top off four trying to get a run to the inside. It worked as he kept his momentum driving hard into turn one. The two battled side-by-side on the final lap. Bolland tried to dive low to block King’s run, but King had too much bite this time coming off turn four and out-dragged Bolland to win by 0.317 seconds. King’s third win of the season was his 37th of his career 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, Pearson, Rasey, and Moore in his first start of the season were second through fifth. Rounding out the top 10 were Flick, King, Jr., Jim Weller, Jr., Kristyak, and Minor. Heat victors were Rasey and Pearson.
Opening night winner, Joel Watson, returned to victory lane in the 15-lap Ainsley 500 Heating & Cooling E-Mods topping another big field of 26 cars and edging his best friend Mike Kinney for the victory. “I didn’t want to see that last restart,” expressed the Conneaut, Ohio racer. “That #3 is my good buddy Mike Kinney- we’re best friends! We race all winter long on the internet. He’s definitely my toughest competitor and now he’s starting to be my toughest competitor on the race track! I know what he’s capable of so I can’t give him a chance. I knew (Alan) Dellinger was there. I could see the scoreboard and you can’t count him out.”
Watson and Kinney passed Scott Jones on lap one for the first two positions. Dellinger, who started ninth, made his way forward taking third from Bill Thomas on lap two. Following a caution with three laps completed, Dellinger pressured Kinney driving up alongside on lap five, but was unable to make the pass. By the halfway point, Watson began to pull away, while Dellinger continued to hound Kinney. They were side-by-side again on lap 13 as the two raced through traffic.
After 11 non-stop laps, a spin by Jeff Hassay brought out the caution, which Watson sure didn’t want to see with one lap to go. Watson though wasn’t to be denied at he crossed the finish line first by 0.285 seconds for his third career Sharon win in his Northwest Restoration/Zimmer’s Service Center/Racecar Fabrication/Hoosier Tire-sponsored #92.
Kinney edged Dellinger for second for his fifth top five of the season. Last week’s winner Jeff Johnson raced from 10th to finish fourth over Dwayne Clay, who started 23rd. Sixth through 10th were Hassay, Carl McKinney, Scott Stiffler, Thomas, and Jones. Heat victors were Kinney, Watson, and Steve Haefke.
After a three-year hiatus from Sharon Speedway, three-time champion Steve D’Apolito is back. D’Apolito ended 2010 in victory lane and on Saturday night made a clean sweep winning both his heat race and feature to propel himself into the point lead of the Gibson Insurance Agency Stock Cars. D’Apolito’s success came with just his $3,000 GM 602 crate engine against higher-dollar open engines as he became the season’s sixth different winner in eight races. The 15-lap non-stop event was timed in 4:49.38
“If it wasn’t for lapped traffic, I don’t think I would have got him,” stated the 33-year-old Boardman, Ohio racer. “You make one mistake and you’re done. This is the crate motor and it does well when the track is like this.”
Though D’Apolito started on the pole, it was Steve Burns, Jr. using the outside to take the early advantage. Mike Clark and Paul Davis joined the fray on lap three making it a four-car race for the lead. Davis used the outside to pass Clark for third on lap five. D’Apolito closed on Burns and was all over the leader on lap seven. Lapped traffic came into play on lap eight as in turn four Burns drove too hard trying to get under Jamie Gibbs. Burns slid up the track making contact with Gibbs allowing D’Apolito to fly by. The traffic allowed Charlie Jasinski to catch the top four making it a five-car race at the halfway point.
D’Apolito wasn’t challenged the rest of the way as he pulled away to win by 1.425 seconds in his D’Apolito Christmas Tree Farm/Utsinger’s Towing/Race 1-sponsored #84. D’Apolito’s 29th career Sharon win broke his third place tie with Dwayne Clay on the all-time Stock Car win list. Burns’ bid for his second win went by the wayside, but still was able to record his fourth top five and seventh top 10 of the season in eight starts. Davis edged Clark for third as the two battled side-by-side for the last 11 laps. Jasinski was fifth. Heats were won by D’Apolito and Davis.
Even starting last didn’t deter Bill Fuchs from victory lane. Fuchs came from the 15th starting spot and passed race-long leader Dan McEwen with two laps to go for his fourth straight 12-lap Presidential Lawn Care Mini Stock victory. Fuchs has now won four races in a row!
“We love this track,” said the 35-year-old Greenville, Pa. racer. “We love coming here. The car hooks up great and you guys put on a fantastic show. We’ll back here again to start last next week. It’s a little warm out and the car doesn’t like that. It got up to 230. I was happy to see the white flag waving. I give a lot of credit to my wingman Bill Watson. We put 20-30 hours in this thing. Every nut and bolt gets checked. It’s a lot of hard work and dedication. It’s not just the car- we put a lot of work into it.”
Dan McEwen took off in the lead. Fourth starting Jim Haefke, Jr. and Michael McElhaney battled for second swapping the swap numerous times over the first five laps before McElhaney got by for good on lap five. Fuchs was up to fourth on lap five taking the position from Randy Sprouse then edged ahead of Haefke one lap later for third.
Fuchs ran down McElhaney and made the pass down the backstretch for second on lap eight right before McElhaney’s car spit out a puff a smoke and came to a rest with eight laps scored. Fuchs now lined up alongside McEwen for the restart, but McEwen continued to lead. Fuchs challenged McEwen pulling even with the leader on lap 10. Then in turn four, McEwen slipped high and that was all Fuchs needed as he took over.
Fuchs then pulled away for his season’s fifth win and eighth of his career in his RTW Industrial Contracting/Hittles Auto Supply/Kreider Tire-sponsored #10. McEwen held on to second subbing for Steve Walker II. Haefke was third for the third time in four weeks and it was his fourth straight top four finish. Sprouse was fourth with pole-sitter Rob McElhaney dropping to fifth.
Barris Supply FASTRAK Late Models (20 laps): 1. JOHN VOLPE (Bidwell B1D) 2. Rocky Kugel (21KRT) 3. Max Blair (111) 4. Billy Cunningham (44c) 5. Matt Latta (21) 6. Alan Dellinger (Williams 8) 7. Dave Airgood (42) 8. Butch Lambert (27) 9. Ben Black (27B0 10. Clay Ruffo (14R) 11. Shane Weaver (Ruffner 325x) 12. Damian Bidwell (17) 13. Bill Cunningham (59) 14. Chad Wright (6) 15. Tony Tatgenhorst (Aguredakes 63) 16. Lauren Longbrake (27) 17. Nick Miller (97) 18. Newt Tackett (68) 19. Eric Wilson (27) 20. Joe Martin (55) 21. Nico Dabecco (Karalagas 1Freek) 22. Josh Double (38) 23. Ryan Montgomery (12).
FASTRAK Late Model “Futures Cup” (12 laps, $200 to-win): 1. NEWT TACKETT (68) 2. Ryan Montgomery (12) 3. Clay Ruffo (14R) 4. Shane Weaver (Ruffner 325x) 5. Chad Wright (6) 6. Lauren Longbrake (27) 7. Nico Dabecco (Karalagas 1Freek) 8. Damian Bidwell (17) 9. Eric Wilson (27) 10. Matt Latta (21).
Governor Insurance Agency Big-Block Modifieds (20 laps): 1. REX KING (65) 2. Kevin Bolland (777) 3. Dean Pearson (8J) 4. Jim Rasey (32) 5. Skip Moore (17M) 6. Mark Flick (Baker 2) 7. Rex King, Jr. (165) 8. Jim Weller, Jr. (31) 9. Rob Kristyak (00) 10. Donny Minor (22M) 11. Carl Murdick (6) 12. Mike Turner (96)-DNS.
Ainsley 500 Heating & Cooling E-Mods (15 laps): 1. JOEL WATSON (92) 2. Mike Kinney (3) 3. Alan Dellinger (Petsko 00) 4. Jeff Johnson (27) 5. Dwayne Clay (31) 6. Jeff Hassay (10) 7. Carl McKinney (Hendrickson 6M) 8. Scott Stiffler (14) 9. Bill Thomas (White 53) 10. Scott Jones (44J) 11. Jonathan Taylor (5) 12. J.B. Dellinger (Cryster 25) 13. Vince Crisanti (221) 14. Jim Turley (117) 15. Steve Haefke (73) 16. Tim Burns (2B) 17. Ryan Ambrose (6) 18. Nick Cramer (18c) 19. Arlan Coy (56) 20. Ronnie Kahler (7R) 21. Scott Winslow (Beck 357) 22. Josh Cramer (38c) 23. Jim Clay (007J) 24. Dale McCandless (1MC)-DNS 25. Jim Weller, Jr. (007)-DNS 26. Bob Diver (23)-DNS.
Gibson Insurance Agency Stock Cars (15 laps): 1. STEVE D’APOLITO (84) 2. Steve Burns, Jr. (70B) 3. Paul Davis (Schaefers 3) 4. Mike Clark (7) 5. Charlie Jasinski (11A) 6. Brian Carothers (02c) 7. Gary Laurie (21) 8. Al Herman (11) 9. Mike Hudzik (31H) 10. Jamie Gibbs (98) 11. Troy DeZarn (21) 12. Dave Wagner (35) 13. Jamie Scharba (00s) 14. Tyler Nicely (72) 15. Alan Dellinger (Burns 43B).
Presidential Lawn Care Mini Stocks (12 laps): 1. BILL FUCHS (10) 2. Dan McEwen (Walker 4M) 3. Jim Haefke, Jr. (421) 4. Randy Sprouse (23s) 5. Rob McElhaney (7) 6. Mike Scharba (30M) 7. John Shannon (14) 8. Chris Roberts (93) 9. Lucas Sprouse (24s) 10. Jamie Wrightsman (21J) 11. Stacy Neubecker (5) 12. Ken Koby II (22) 13. Jeremy Double (83) 14. Dennis Dellinger, Jr. (1JR) 15. Michael McElhaney (6).
Sharon will return to action this Friday and Saturday with a doubleheader weekend. On Friday night (June 10), it’ll be “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 plus the three remaining make-up features from May 6 starting off the program at 7:30 p.m.
Then on Saturday (June 11) it’s the “Steel Valley Thunder” program with the Big-Block Modifieds, FASTRAK Late Models, E-Mods, Stocks, and Mini Stocks plus kids bike races. Race time is 7 p.m. The rain date is Sunday, June 12 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.