DOUBLEHEADER THIS WEEKEND WITH “FRIDAY NIGHT THUNDER” & GARY KNOLLINGER MEMORIAL; FASTRAK NE LATE MODEL TOURING SERIES PLUS EXTRA $$$ FOR E-MODS, STOCKS & MINIS SATURDAY!
By Mike Leone
June 22, 2011
(Hartford, OH)…With the midpoint of the season upon us, Sharon Speedway is in the middle of a busy week with three nights of racing action in four days. After Wednesday’s Ohio All Star Sprint Speedweek event, another doubleheader weekend is on tap featuring “Friday Night Thunder” (June 24) and the Gary Knollinger Memorial event on Saturday (June 25).
Saturday event will be highlighted by the FASTRAK Northeast Late Model Touring Series ($2,000 to-win) along with the Ainsley 500 Heating & Cooling E-Mods ($750 to-win), Gibson Insurance Agency Stock Cars ($500 to-win), and the Presidential Lawn Care Mini Stocks ($200 to-win) all racing for increased purses! Sharon has waived the $50 registration fee for the remainder of the season as well. Racing begins at 7:30 p.m. on Friday and 7 on Saturday.
Fridays have been a continual fight with Mother Nature, but Sharon has been able to complete the last two shows as well as finishing up the make-up features from May 6. Friday’s racing program will 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 the Mini Late Models.
Last Friday night, Guy Griffin became the first driver to repeat this season in the Sprints, which propelled the Greenville, Pa. resident into the point lead by five over Adam Anderson. The Econo Mods turned out with a record car count of 16 last week for the second year division as Jamie Scharba became the newest winner; however, Warren, Ohio’s Junior Mechling continues to lead the points despite not being able to win yet in 2011.
Alan Knepper picked up his third win of the season in the Mod Lites and was able to extend his point lead to 15 over one-time winner Jeff Teeters. Despite breaking while leading and in search of his fourth feature win, Todd Reusser continues to lead the Micro Sprint points by 10 over D.J. Furney, who has been shutout of victory lane this season.
Even though their car counts haven’t been real high, the Sportsman Dwarf Cars have been putting on some of the most competitive racing amongst all of the Friday night classes. Matt Berger, who has scored his only two wins of his career this year, leads the points by 19 over teammate Steve Mix, Jr. In the Mini Late Models, two-time winner Rick Ament leads Max Wilkinson, who his first race last Saturday night, by 15 points.
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.
On Saturday, the Sweeney Chevrolet Buick GMC FASTRAK Northeast Late Model Touring Series will return for their second of four appearances in 2011 in the 30-lap Gary Knollinger Memorial paying $2,000 to-win!
Last month, Josh Holtgraver topped a track record 41-car field to win the $1,500 Bill Emig Memorial. Six Northeast Touring Series events have been held all-time at Sharon with five different winners. Besides Holtgraver’s two wins, other drivers capturing Touring Series wins at Sharon include Mike Pegher, Jr., Joe Martin, Max Blair, and the late Gary Knollinger.
Sharon is in its first season of running FASTRAK weekly and has drawn some of the highest car counts in the nation along with some stellar competition. In nine races this season, there have been seven different winners! Only Martin has been able to repeat with three victories! Other 2011 Sharon winners include Robbie Blair, Pegher, Holtgraver, point leader John Volpe, Chad Wright, and most recently Tom Snyder, Jr.
Saturday’s event will pay homage to a racer that left his mark on FASTRAK in just two seasons. The Wheeling, West Virginia racer won his first ever Touring Series race last season at Sharon, finished fourth in points, and also won the inaugural Mid-Ohio Valley Touring Series title. In those two seasons, Knollinger only missed two races counting all Northeast and MOV Touring shows, National Events, and Grand National shows- and both of them came in 2010!
Sharon was one of Gary’s favorite tracks and the site of his popular victory last season thus the Knollinger Family decided Sharon was where they wanted to hold this event. Gary’s family and friends have also raised additional dollars, which will be given away randomly to drivers that qualified for the feature.
Knollinger was stuck by a vehicle on December 18 in Triadelphia, W.V. near the Middle Creek Garage located along a busy stretch of U.S. 40. Knollinger was working for the garage when the accident occurred. Knollinger was 39 and piloted the familiar #38K sponsored by Gumby’s Grab & Go and H.P. Excavating.
Heading into Saturday’s race, two-time champion Max Blair holds an eight-point lead on nemesis Mike Pegher, Jr. Pegher is fresh off his second Touring Series win of the season, which came last Saturday night at McKean County Raceway. Blair has two Touring Series victories this season as well, but has yet to find victory lane at Sharon Speedway this year and only has one win to his credit at the track.
Martin has been the fastest car on a consistent basis at Sharon over the past two seasons as he leads the win list at four. Martin sits a career high third in Touring points, but is up only two points on Steve Dixon, who is coming off his second runner-up of the season. Dixon will be in search of his season’s first Touring win and first ever at Sharon. In fifth is Josh Holtgraver, who trails Dixon by only four and Martin by just six points.
One interesting statistic is the fact in 17 FASTRAK-sanctioned events held all-time at the Ohio oval, there has yet to be a driver from the Buckeye State to capture a victory! Five of Sharon’s top 10 drivers in the Barris Supply points reside from Ohio and would love to end that skein including Josh Double (second), Rocky Kugel (third), Billy Cunningham (fourth), Ben Black (eighth), and Bill Cunningham (ninth).
In addition to the big purse and the additional dollars raised by the friends and family of Gary Knollinger, the last car on the lead lap will receive a free Hoosier Tire, two random finishes will receive the $1,000 Contingency Connection packages, and the highest finishing West Virginia resident will receive a $100 Sweeney Chevrolet gift card!
The E-Mods have drawn solid car counts all season long. In fact, only one time has the car count been under 23 as it’s been between the 23 through 33-mark every night! Saturday’s purse has been upped with $750 going to the feature winner! Alan Dellinger of Hermitage, Pa. captured his third win in the division last Saturday night and extended his point lead to 27 over the consistent Carl McKinney.
Speaking of consistent, Steve D’Apolito has done that all season long in the Stock Cars. The Boardman, Ohio driver has yet to finish worse than sixth in any heat or feature this season as the three-time champion leads Mike Clark by 16 points. Both racers have one victory this season with Clark’s being the first of his career. Saturday’s feature will pay $500 to-win!
Rounding out Saturday’s card will be the Mini Stocks, and their ante has also been upped with $200 on the line. Can anyone stop Bill Fuchs? The Greenville, Pa. driver has won four of the last five features and five overall to double his career win total to 10. Fuchs has a commanding 74-point lead over one-time winner Randy Sprouse.
“We’re honored to be able to host the Gary Knollinger Memorial,” stated second-year GM Dave Willoughby. “Gary was a tremendous racer and certainly loved Sharon Speedway. The weather is looking great for Saturday, and we hope the racers and fans really show their support for Gary! Our FASTRAK Northeast Touring events are always such great racing and successful shows plus we’ve increased all of the purses for the E-Mods, Stocks, and Mini Stocks!”
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 $30, and once again there will be no registration fee for new cars for the remainder of the season. Complete payoffs for all divisions are posted on the website under Driver Info and Purse.
Remember, if you bring your rain stub from Friday night to Saturday’s race, you’ll receive a $3 grandstand discount on Saturday’s admission or $10 off for those that had pit passes!
There will be no racing over the Fourth of July weekend; however, Sharon will return to action on Friday and Saturday, July 8 and 9 with another doubleheader weekend of all of the regular divisions. The 358 Modifieds will get a shot at competing on Friday, July 8 for the first time!
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.