HOMETOWN HERO DALE BLANEY CAPTURES $5,000 OHIO SPEEDWEEK VICTORY FOR 80TH CAREER ALL STAR SPRINT WIN; NASCAR’S KASEY KAHNE FINISHES 17TH; FUCHS WINS FOR 7TH TIME IN MINIS
By Mike Leone
June 22, 2011
(Hartford, OH)…After three consecutive rainouts during the 29th annual Ohio Speedweek for the O’Reilly Auto Parts All Star Circuit of Champions Sprint Cars, Mother Nature finally gave race teams and fans a reprieve as sunshine and dry weather prevailed throughout Wednesday at Sharon Speedway to allow the third night to be completed. Forty-five drivers from all across the country including NASCAR Sprint Cup driver Kasey Kahne were on hand for the first Sprint Car race of 2011 at the immaculate Hartford, Ohio facility.
Hometown hero Dale Blaney passed Tim Shaffer on lap 14 and held off a hard-charging Sam Hafertepe, Jr. to capture the 30-lap $5,000 prize in front of a large, partisan crowd. The victory was Blaney’s second straight in Speedweek action after dominating Saturday’s event at K-C Raceway, and more impressively was the Hartford, Ohio driver’s milestone 80th career All Star win!
“It was really hard to pass lapped cars,” explained the 47-year-old winner. “You got to their dust and spun a little bit. Tim (Shaffer) and I talked before the race and I don’t think he wanted to lead, and I didn’t want to lead. It was a good race, but it kind of slipped our way. I started running the bottom where he wasn’t and it worked out. To pass him you have to be awfully good.”
Blaney started on the pole, but it was opening night Attica Raceway Park Speedweek winner and last year’s Sharon Speedweek victory Tim Shaffer, grabbing the early lead from the outside. Brad Bowman was able to pass Greg Wilson for third, while Daryn Pittman slipped past Tyler Walker for fifth on the first lap.
While Shaffer, Blaney, and Bowman separated themselves in the early laps, Wilson was trying to fend off Pittman, and ninth starting Hafertepe on lap four. Pittman raced hard with Wilson going side-by-side on lap six, but Wilson continued to maintain the advantage. Back up front, Blaney began to reel Shaffer in on lap seven just before Shaffer caught traffic on lap eight. Meanwhile, Wilson and Pittman caught Bowman and it was three-wide for the position with Pittman taking fourth one lap later.
Shaffer continued to try to fend off Blaney, while attempting to lap the likes of Ed Lynch, Jr., Kyle Sauder, and Rob Chaney on lap 11. Hafertepe finally worked his way past Wilson to crack the top five on lap 11 then three laps later nipped Pittman at the line for fourth. Back up front, Blaney made the winning move on the 14th circuit when he got a great run in turn one and made the pass stick coming off the bottom of turn two just before the event’s first caution was displayed when David Gravel did a 360-spin in turn two.
When racing resumed, Hafertepe pressured Bowman hard for third, but wasn’t able to make the pass before the second and final caution came out when Jared Ridge slammed the turn four fence with 17 laps scored. This time when green replaced yellow, Hafertepe made a bold move to grab the third position using the bottom of turns one and two- similar to the pass Blaney made of Shaffer.
All eyes were on Hafertepe as he quickly ran down Shaffer with 10 laps to go and appeared like he may contend for the victory. Hafertepe ran hard into and through the turns on the bottom of each side of the 3/8-mile oval as he was all over the defending All Star champion on lap 22. The two raced side-by-side for runner-up on lap 23, but Shaffer continued to hold off his challenges.
Blaney opened up a little breathing room while Shaffer and Hafertepe went at it, and at the same time Bowman closed back in making it a three-car race for second with five laps to go. Blaney was back in lapped traffic on lap 27 allowing Shaffer, Hafertepe, and Bowman to close up the gap making it a four-car race for the win!
Finally on lap 28, Hafertepe made the pass stick on Shaffer in turns one and two, but Blaney was able to once again gain some ground on his competitors. Hafertepe had less than two laps to run Blaney down, and just ran out of time as Blaney’s Ti22 Performance/George Fisher Racing Engines #2 took the checkered flag first for his 13th career Sharon Speedway victory.
“I saw the 15 on the board and I was trying to think what other 15 was in the field other than Sam because I knew he started way in the back and thought boy he’s coming really good,” revealed Blaney. “I saw lap 28 and came to the white flag and figured I better keep it down one more lap if I could. The guys have had the car really, really good the last two nights and we have a little confidence now so hopefully we can keep on rolling.”
“It’s always fun to come here,” continued Blaney. “I’ve had a lot of good memories here. This is the first race I’ve won here in awhile, but hopefully we can win another one in a couple weeks (Lou Blaney Memorial on July 12)- that would be real special.”
Hafertepe had an excellent run to take home an impressive second. “We kind of knew what it was going to be when we got here,” stated the Texas. “It looked pretty hard and slick. We just kept tuning on it all night. All I can say is my one guy I’ve got is just awesome. He prepares this car pretty much by himself every night. I’ve been kind of under the weather and it’s been putting some extra pressure on him lately. I’ll be ready for a break here at the end of the week so I can get a little bit better, but I have to give it to my guy. He’s the most dedicated guy out here and works harder than anyone else. To pull this off coming up through there when there wasn’t a lot of passing is a good run for us.”
Shaffer continued his Ohio Speedweek point lead with his third place finish. “It really was a good run,” said the Aliquippa, Pa. racer, who was a Sharon runner back in the 1980s and 1990s. “It actually was a little too good too early, but hats off to Dale (Blaney) and George (Fisher) their team did a great job. Sometimes running second is better. Dale and I were teasing each other earlier who was going to get the lead first. We’re happy to run third, but just didn’t quite have enough. Sometimes you try a little too hard when you run at home because you want to do well, but that’s just part of racing.”
Bowman was a strong fourth for his best career Sharon finish. Pittman rode home in fifth. Wilson dropped to sixth over Walker, Phil Gressman, 18th starting Jason Johnson, and local Danny Holtgraver. Danny Smith was the event’s hard charger racing from the 24th starting spot to finish 13th. NASCAR’s Kasey Kahne was 17th and will return to Sharon to compete on July 12 for the Lou Blaney Memorial.
Heat winners were Shaffer, Byron Reed, Gravel, and Johnson. Blaney won the six-lap Rubbn’ Repair dash to earn the pole position and also set fast time with a lap of 14.120. Jody Keegan and Ridge won the C and B mains respectively.
Bill Fuchs just continued his dominance of the Presidential Lawn Care Mini Stocks by scoring his sixth win in the past seven races and seventh of the season. The 12-lap non-stop victory was worth $300 and was the second time Fuchs has won the season-high to-win amount after winning the season opening special.
“This is such a great feeling,” expressed the 35-year-old Greenville, Pa. driver. “I’ll you what, we had a few minutes there before intermission and my wingman and I had to switch a tire combination on the front and that seemed to really hook it up. The track doesn’t have too much bite, but it’s racey and good to go. It’s a pleasure to race here. Thanks to Dave Willoughby for putting on a great show. It’s fun to be here with the Blaneys and right across from me is Kasey Kahne- it’s what you dream of!”
Steve Walker II raced to the initial lead with Jeremy Double trailing. The duo raced side-by-side for the lead on laps two and three before Double took over on the third circuit. Fuchs meanwhile started ninth, but was already up to third on lap three. One lap later, Fuchs passed Walker going down the backstretch for runner-up.
Fuchs and Double then batted side-by-side for the lead on lap five with Fuchs taking over and Walker following in second. Tenth starting Pete Blazczak worked his way forward taking over third from Double on lap six. Fuchs though went unchallenged for his 10th career win in his RTW Industrial Contracting/Hittles Auto Supply/Kreider Tire-sponsored #10.
Walker was second over Blazczak. Newcomer Derek Weisent passed Double on lap eight to finish fourth. Double dropped to fifth. Blazczak won the heat race.
All Star Circuit of Champions
Qualifying – Kistler Engines
1. 2-Dale Blaney, 14.120; 2. 53-Phil Gressman, 14.290; 3. 12-Jared Ridge, 14.378; 4. 97-Dean Jacobs, 14.382; 5. 83-Tim Shaffer, 14.388; 6. 22-Cole Duncan, 14.457; 7. 17-Tyler Walker, 14.466; 8. W20-Greg Wilson, 14.514; 9. 51-Brad Bowman, 14.561; 10. 27-Pittman Daryn, 14.566; 11. D4-Danny Holtgraver, 14.575; 12. O-Chris Andrews, 14.578; 13. 97S-Aaron Shaffer, 14.584; 14. 15H-Sam Hafertepe Jr., 14.594; 15. 89G-David Gravel, 14.597; 16. 4-Kasey Kahne, 14.636; 17. 22-Brian Ellenberger, 14.648; 18. 5-Byron Reed, 14.712; 19. 71-Damion Gardner, 14.716; 20. 41-Jason Johnson, 14.750; 21. 7K-Kyle Sauder, 14.790; 22. 49-Brad Sweet, 14.794; 23. 45-Rob Chaney, 14.859; 24. 2L-Ed Lynch Jr., 14.874; 25. 3J-Kevin Lee, 14.920; 26. 1-Stevie Smith, 14.931; 27. 3-Pete Miller III, 14.978; 28. 7X-A.J. Albrecht, 14.988; 29. 23JR-Jack Sodeman Jr., 15.003; 30. 8-Mike Lutz, 15.027; 31. 4-Danny Smith, 15.094; 32. 16-Danny Mumaw, 15.114; 33. 5K-Adam Kekich, 15.136; 34. 13-Brandon Matus, 15.197; 35. O9-Craig Mintz, 15.227; 36. O4-Cap Henry, 15.239; 37. 1Z-Jessica Zemken, 15.312; 38. 24S-Brian Steinman, 15.370; 39. 60-Jody Keegan, 15.381; 40. 33-Brent Matus, 15.587; 41. 35-Wes McGlumphy, 15.741; 42. 34-Luke Hall, 15.810; 43. 5B-Adam Anderson, 16.165; 44. 96-Lindsey Enscoe, 16.499; 45. 5T-Travis Philo, NT.
Heat 1 – Kears Speed Shop (8 Laps – Top 5 Transfer)
1. 83-Tim Shaffer; 2. 7K-Kyle Sauder; 3. 51-Brad Bowman; 4. 2-Dale Blaney; 5. 22-Brian Ellenberger; 6. 23JR-Jack Sodeman Jr.; 7. 97S-Aaron Shaffer; 8. 3J-Kevin Lee; 9. 1Z-Jessica Zemken; 10. 5K-Adam Kekich; 11. 35-Wes McGlumphy; 12. 5T-Travis Philo-DNS.
Heat 2 – All Pro Heads (8 Laps – Top 5 Transfer)
1. 5-Byron Reed; 2. 49-Brad Sweet; 3. 27-Pittman Daryn; 4. 15H-Sam Hafertepe Jr.; 5. 1-Stevie Smith; 6. 53-Phil Gressman; 7. 22-Cole Duncan; 8. 8-Mike Lutz; 9. 13-Brandon Matus; 10. 24S-Brian Steinman; 11. 34-Luke Hall
Heat 3 – MSD Ignition (8 Laps – Top 5 Transfer)
1. 89G-David Gravel; 2. 45-Rob Chaney; 3. D4-Danny Holtgraver; 4. 4-Danny Smith; 5. 17-Tyler Walker; 6. 12-Jared Ridge; 7. 71-Damion Gardner; 8. 60-Jody Keegan; 9. O9-Craig Mintz; 10. 3-Pete Miller III; 11. 5B-Adam Anderson
Heat 4 – Kinsler Fuel Injection (8 Laps – Top 5 Transfer)
1. 41-Jason Johnson; 2. 2L-Ed Lynch Jr.; 3. W20-Greg Wilson; 4. 4-Kasey Kahne; 5. O-Chris Andrews; 6. 16-Danny Mumaw; 7. 97-Dean Jacobs; 8. O4-Cap Henry; 9. 7X-A.J. Albrecht; 10. 96-Lindsey Enscoe; 11. 33-Brent Matus
Dash – Rubbn’ Repair (6 Laps)
1. 2-Dale Blaney; 2. 83-Tim Shaffer; 3. W20-Greg Wilson; 4. 51-Brad Bowman; 5. 17-Tyler Walker; 6. 27-Daryn Pittman
C-Main – (10 Laps – Top 2 Transfer)
1. 60-Jody Keegan; 2. 35-Wes McGlumphy; 3. 5B-Adam Anderson; 4. 96-Lindsey Enscoe; 5. 33-Brent Matus; 6. 34-Luke Hall; 7. 5T-Travis Philo-DNS.
University of Northwestern Ohio (12 Laps – Top 4 Transfer)
1. 12-Jared Ridge; 2. 22-Cole Duncan; 3. 97-Dean Jacobs; 4. 53-Phil Gressman; 5. 23JR-Jack Sodeman Jr.; 6. 97S-Aaron Shaffer; 7. 3J-Kevin Lee; 8. O4-Cap Henry; 9. 1Z-Jessica Zemken; 10. 71-Damion Gardner; 11. 16-Danny Mumaw; 12. 3-Pete Miller III; 13. O9-Craig Mintz; 14. 13-Brandon Matus; 15. 5K-Adam Kekich; 16. 24S-Brian Steinman; 17. 60-Jody Keegan; 18. 35-Wes McGlumphy; 19. 8-Mike Lutz; 20. 7X-A.J. Albrecht
A-Main – O’Reilly Auto Parts (30 Laps, $5,000 to-win) [#]-Starting Position
1. 2-Dale Blaney ; 2. 15H-Sam Hafertepe Jr. ; 3. 83-Tim Shaffer ; 4. 51-Brad Bowman ; 5. 27-Pittman Daryn ; 6. W20-Greg Wilson ; 7. 17-Tyler Walker ; 8. 53-Phil Gressman ; 9. 41-Jason Johnson ; 10. D4-Danny Holtgraver ; 11. 49-Brad Sweet ; 12. 22-Cole Duncan ; 13. 4-Danny Smith ; 14. 5-Byron Reed ; 15. 1-Stevie Smith ; 16. 97-Dean Jacobs ; 17. 4-Kasey Kahne ; 18. 89G-David Gravel ; 19. 22-Brian Ellenberger ; 20. O-Chris Andrews ; 21. 7K-Kyle Sauder ; 22. 2L-Ed Lynch Jr. ; 23. 45-Rob Chaney ; 24. 12-Jared Ridge 
Presidential Lawn Care Mini Stocks (12 laps, $300 to-win): 1. BILL FUCHS (10) 2. Steve Walker II (4M) 3. Pete Blazczak (77) 4. Derek Weisent (47) 5. Jeremy Double (83) 6. Jamie Wrightsman (21J) 7. Chris Roberts (93) 8. Dan McEwen (44M) 9. Jim Haefke, Jr. (421) 10. Rob McElhaney (7) 11. Ken Koby II (22)-DNS.
Sharon will return to action this Friday and Saturday with a doubleheader weekend. On Friday night (June 24), 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 at 7:30 p.m.
Then on Saturday (June 25) it’s the inaugural Gary Knollinger Memorial for the FASTRAK Northeast Late Model Touring Series paying $2,000 to-win! The Ainsley 500 Heating & Cooling E-Mods ($750), Gibson Insurance Agency Stock Cars ($500), and Presidential Lawn Care Mini Stocks ($200) will also be on the card racing for increased purses. Race time is 7 p.m. The rain date is Sunday, June 26 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.