SCHARBA TOPS RECORD FIELD OF ECONO MODS FOR 1ST WIN; GRIFFIN & HAEFKE REPEAT IN SPRINTS & MICROS; #3 FOR KNEPPER IN MOD LITES; WALKER RETURNS TO DWARFS & WINS IN SEASON DEBUT
By Mike Leone
June 17, 2011
(Hartford, OH)…Finally sunny skies graced Sharon Speedway on Friday night to allow the second straight “Friday Night Thunder” program to be completed. Friday’s show was actually a make-up from the rained out May 27 program and was just the fifth of the season to be completed.
Celebrating in the Hovis Auto & Truck Supply victory lane were Jamie Scharba-Summit Racing Equipment Econo Mods, Guy Griffin-Ti22 Performance Outlaw Sprint Warriors, Alan Knepper -Joe’s Radiator & Uni-Tech Frame Straightening Mod Lites, Jeff Haefke, Jr.-Micro Sprints, and Josh Walker-Uni-Tech Frame Straightening & Joe’s Radiator Sportsman Dwarf Cars.
An all-time high 16 Econo Mods started the 15-lap Summit Racing Equipment feature, and for the second straight week it was the #1BS in victory lane; however, this week it was Jamie Scharba at the control capturing his first ever win in the division. “This is a lot different than the Stock Car,” stated the 45-year-old Masury, Ohio driver. “It has a lot less power and reacts different when you stand on the gas. I was a lot better on top.”
Todd Canter, who won last week’s May 6 make-up feature, grabbed the lead from the start with Jeff Christy in tow. Christy overtook Canter following a restart with four laps completed, but his lead would only last lap as Canter regained the top spot on lap five. Eighth starting Scharba got a great restart on lap six to take over second. Scharba then made the winning move on lap seven passing Canter.
Canter stayed right with Scharba as the duo ran side-by-side on laps 9, 12, 13, and 14, but Scharba was too strong in his own Hilltop Pizza/Blackshear Racing Engines-sponsored #1BS. Canter was a close second. Point leader Junior Mechling came from the back after an early pit stop to pass Jim Dellinger on lap 11 to finish third as he’s yet to finish worse than fourth this season. Dellinger was fourth with 13th starting Larry Root completing the top five. Heat winners were Ryan Fraley and Brad Blackshear.
For the first time in five races there was a repeat winner in the Outlaw Sprint Warriors and it was no surprise it was Guy Griffin taking the honors in the 15-lap Ti22 Performance feature. Griffin started on the pole and led every lap in his Osborne-Williams Funeral Home/Chatfield Drilling/Rob’s Horseshoeing/Sportees-sponsored #11.
“We’ve struggled for the past five weeks,” explained the 55-year-old Greenville, Pa. driver. “We changed everything on the car and we think it’s one of two things; it’s either a $12 cooling sensor and we unplugged the tach- we thought maybe it was shorting through that. It was working ok tonight. Every one of these guys can win- they’re that good now. I have to thank my pit crew for sticking with me. I probably wasn’t the most pleasant guy to be around the last month or so.”
Griffin had an early challenge from Justin Whitesell, who dropped from the event under caution while running second with 13 laps completed. Last week’s winner Rob Felix, Jr. came from sixth to finish second. Adam Anderson held off Jimmy Morris III for third, while newcomer Joel Trent completed the top five. Whitesell won the heat race.
Though down on car count on Friday night, the Mod Lites put on the most competitive race of the night with Alan Knepper capturing his third win of the season in the non-stop 15-lap Joe’s Radiator & Uni-Tech Frame Straightening feature. Knepper, who leads the points, was last Friday’s May 6 make-up feature winner.
“Ever since we’ve been racing here, you’ve been doing a nice job with the track,” stated the 18-year-old Somerset, Pa. victor. “We’ve had everything dialed in here so thanks to Sharon Speedway and everyone that helps out. I have to thank my mom and dad, Mikey Hay of Evolution Race Cars who sets it up, the Lord, and all of the fans for coming out tonight.”
Todd Rhoads took charge of the event, while Lynn Knepper passed Kenny Meadows, his son Alan, and Tyler Riggs all on the first lap for second. Lynn then powered past Rhoads down the backstretch to lead lap three; meanwhile, Alan drove around Rhoads for second off turn two on lap five. Alan caught his father and made the winning move on lap six going down the backstretch.
Rhoads and seventh starting newcomer Matt Hay passed Lynn on laps seven and eight respectively for second and third. Alan Knepper though was too much as he pulled away to win by a near straightaway in his Kneppers Repair/TSM Enhanced Shocks/EMD Wraps/Bilstein Shocks/Evolution Race Cars-sponsored #20. Rhoads turned in a season best second. Lynn Knepper and Hay continued their battle for third swapping the position back and forth numerous times with Hay getting by for good on lap 14. Lynn Knepper dropped to fourth over Jeff Teeters, who was the heat race winner.
Just when it looked like Todd Reusser was on his way to his fourth win of the season, his mount came to a rest with 13 laps completed, while allowed his teammate Jeff Haefke, Jr. to capture his second win in the Micro Sprints.
“I don’t know what it is about this track, but everything just comes together for us,” explained the 16-year-old Austintown, Ohio third generation racer. “We don’t do anything different here than the others. This track though is by far the funnest to race. On the last restart I tried to stick it under him (Reusser), but just couldn’t get it. I guess he blew up and I just got lucky.”
Mike Borawiec, Jr. raced past Brandon Hawkins for the early lead, while Reusser passed Haefke, Ryan Fredericks, D.J. Furney, and Hawkins all on lap one to move to second. Reusser zeroed in on Borawiec on lap four then drove under the lead in turn four to lead lap five. Borawiec’s best run of the season ended on lap 10 when he slowed, which propelled Furney and Haefke into positions two and three.
Reusser had a straightaway lead when Hawkins brought out the first caution of the race with 12 laps completed. When racing resumed, Haefke and Dave Hawkins passed Furney for positions two and three. Point leader Reusser, who appeared to be on cruise control, had a heartbreaking end when he slowed in the lead on lap 14. Following the second caution of the event, eighth starting Tim Eakin, Sr. passed Dave Hawkins for second.
Haefke though had a clear path to victory in his J&M Machine #29. Eakin improved on last week’s season best third with a strong second place effort. Dave Hawkins held on for third, which was his best finish of the season. Furney dropped to fourth over 14-year-old Dalton Daniels, who was fifth for the second straight week. Haefke and Daniels won the heat races.
Defending track champion and six-time winner Josh Walker made his return to the Sportsman Dwarf Car division on Friday night and his debut was a successful one as he captured the 15-lap Uni-Tech Frame Straightening & Joe’s Radiator event to become the fourth different winner in five races.
“I just came out tonight to have fun,” explained the 26-year-old Warren, Ohio winner. “It’s always fun to go back and race against my dad. We had some problems in the heat race and got it put together and ran alright. My buddy has been racing the car at Deerfield and it’s just been sitting there. It’s hard to resist so I decided to come back and race a little bit. These are a lot of fun to drive.”
Todd Walker passed Steve Mix, Jr. to lead the first lap, while sixth starting Matt Berger moved all the way to second after one lap. Following a caution with four laps completed for Mix and opening night winner Joe Grzelak, Jr., ninth starting Josh Walker passed Bill Johnson for third.
A wild lap nine saw Berger make the pass of Todd Walker in turn two for the lead only to spin in turn four, and while this happened, Josh Walker passed his dad and the spinning car of Berger to lead the lap before the caution was displayed. Once action resumed, Josh pulled away for his seventh career win in his Underwood’s Towing-sponsored #11. Todd Walker was a second best third. Point leader Berger came back to finish third after passing Tiffany Williams on lap 13. Williams was fourth with Grzelak completing the top five. Berger won the heat race.
Summit Racing Equipment Econo Mods (15 laps): 1. JAMIE SCHARBA (1BS) 2. Todd Canter (88) 3. Junior Mechling (89) 4. Jim Dellinger (1) 5. Larry Root (22x) 6. Craig Scherrbaum (Welch 07c) 7. Charles Campbell (99) 8. Amanda Stiffler (14) 9. Brad Blackshear (19) 10. Jeff Christy (Berry 91) 11. Kevin Robinson (24R) 12. Jim Turley (117) 13. Corey Skully (21) 14. Ryan Fraley (12SS) 15. Derek Dellinger (119) 16. Brian Hathaway (22).
Ti22 Performance Outlaw Sprint Warriors (15 laps): 1. GUY GRIFFIN (11) 2. Rob Felix, Jr. (21) 3. Adam Anderson (5B) 4. Jimmy Morris III (16) 5. Joel Trent (10T) 6. Justin Whitesell (17).
Joe’s Radiator/Uni-Tech Frame Straightening Mod Lites (15 laps): 1. ALAN KNEPPER (20) 2. Todd Rhoads (23R) 3. Matt Hay (Knepper 27) 4. Lynn Knepper (10) 5. Jeff Teeters (23) 6. Kenny Meadows (Teague 10T) 7. Andy Feil (08) 8. Anthony Gillespie (Williams 00) 9. Tyler Riggs (99T) 10. Angie Grzelak (57)-DNS 11. Breyton Santee (9)-DNS.
Micro Sprints (15 laps): 1. JEFF HAEFKE, JR. (29) 2. Tim Eakin, Sr. (3) 3. Dave Hawkins (27) 4. D.J. Furney (Watson 12) 5. Dalton Daniels (23) 6. Ryan Fredericks (22R) 7. Dave Fleming (79D) 8. Will Fleming III (79W) 9. Todd Reusser (Haefke 70) 10. Brandon Hawkins (27H) 11. Mike Borawiec, Jr. (1) 12. Tim Smith (Hawkins 37) 13. Brett Brunkenhoefer (47JR) 14. Tom Willis (22)-DNS.
Uni-Tech Frame Straightening/Joe’s Radiator Sportsman Dwarf Cars (15 laps): 1. JOSH WALKER (11) 2. Todd Walker (22) 3. Matt Berger (322) 4. Tiffany Williams (Smith 58) 5. Joe Grzelak, Jr. (888) 6. Bill Johnson (7) 7. Kevin Sevacko (76) 8. Levi Walters (88) 9. Brian Webber (777) 10. Steve Mix, Jr. (85).
Sharon will be back in action tonight (June 18) for Twin-State Auto Racing Club Night with 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 with racing at 7 p.m. Then next Friday night, June 24 will be another “Friday Night Thunder” program featuring the 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.