EXCITEMENT BUILDS FOR LOU BLANEY MEMORIAL ON TUESDAY, JULY 12 FEATURING NASCAR’S TONY STEWART, KASEY KAHNE & DAVE BLANEY IN SPRINT CARS; BIG-BLOCK MODS ALSO IN ACTION
By Mike Leone
June 30, 2011
(Hartford, OH)…Annually one of the season’s biggest races at Sharon Speedway is the Lou Blaney Memorial. This third annual event is quickly approaching and will take place at the Hartford, Ohio oval on Tuesday, July 12. The NASCAR Night will again feature Sprint Cup drivers Tony Stewart, Kasey Kahne, and Dave Blaney driving Sprint Cars.
The 410 Sprint Cars and the Governor Insurance Agency Big-Block Modifieds will again be on the card for this two-division headlining program. The Sprint Cars will be under the Midwest All Star banner running for $3,000 to-win, $300 to-start, while Sharon’s ground-pounding big blocks will be running for one of their season’s biggest purses with $2,000 to-win, $200-start.
Friends of Lou Blaney will again attend the race to help celebrate the life and accomplishments of the Hall of Fame driver, who won more than 600 feature victories during a five-decade career. The legend has at least 121 Modified wins and another 11 documented in a Sprint Car at Sharon alone. Blaney passed away in 2009.
The inaugural Lou Blaney Memorial event back in 2009 drew a record crowd as Tony Stewart made history by capturing his career first “410” win in a winged Sprint Car. The Indiana native is one of the most versatile race car drivers in the world. Stewart has won in just about every form of car he’s competed in; however, winged “410” racing was something Stewart only dabbled in hit and miss despite owning top World of Outlaw teams over the years.
“I’m not worried about (NASCAR issues) tonight, I’m worried about running a sprint car,” Stewart told a reporter at last year’s event. “The first thing is to go out and support the Blaney family. That’s what we’re here for tonight. Tonight’s an awesome night to come out, see the fans and hang out and do something good for the people that we race with.”
Last year, Mike Lutz of nearby Mercer, Pa. captured one of his biggest career wins holding off All Star champion Tim Shaffer, Brian Ellenberger, Ed Lynch, Jr., and Stewart.
Kahne, who finished seventh in last year’s event and competed in the June 22 All Star event at Sharon, made a name for himself in racing driving winged “410” Sprints; however, Kahne has yet to find victory lane at Sharon and would love to end that skein on the 12th. Kahne was also quick to speak on how much he enjoys a yearly trip to Sharon to support the track that Blaney’s have helped to keep running strong since taking over the facilities.
“It’s nice to be back,” said the Enumclaw, Washington native. “Last year, I had a lot of fun and enjoyed the race and the crowd and just being here for the Blaney’s. It’s a good opportunity for everybody to go out and have fun.”
Certainly the Blaney boys would enjoy nothing better than parking their Sprint Cars in victory lane for a race in memory of their father Lou, who made their racing careers possible. Dave, a former World of Outlaw champion, has 27 career Sprint Car wins at Sharon and two others in a Big-Block Modified; meanwhile, brother Dale owns 13 career Sprint car victories at the Hartford, Ohio oval including his recent $5,000 All Star win on June 22.
On Saturday, July 9, the O’Reilly Auto Parts Midwest All Stars will compete at West Virginia Motor Speedway prior to their first ever appearance at Sharon as part of the Lou Blaney Memorial. With two events having been run in 2011, veteran Danny Smith leads the point standings by just 14 markers over Rob Chaney with Jac Haudenschild, Greg Wilson and Jared Ridge rounding out the top five.
“We are deeply honored as an organization to be chosen to sanction a race that honors such a legendary driver and family,” said All Star President Guy Webb. “The Blaney family is one of the most respected and well-liked families in racing and we couldn’t be more proud to be associated with this event.”
In 2009, legendary “Jumpin” Jack Johnson topped the Big-Block Modified portion of the Lou Blaney Memorial, while last season local Jim Rasey of nearby Southington picked up the win. This season in Modified competition, Rex King leads the way with three victories and the point lead. Rasey is the only other driver to repeat, while Dave Murdick, Rob Kristyak, Rex King, Jr. have won the other races. A strong field of the region’s best Modifieds are expected.
Advance tickets are on sale, which will admit ticket holders into the grandstands one hour earlier before tickets go on sale and the gates opening at 4 p.m. Pits open at 3 p.m. An order form is available by going to Sharonspeedway.com and clicking on the Fans link and then the Tickets link or by going directly to http://www.sharonspeedway.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/06/Lou-Blaney-Memorial-Ticket-Order-Form-2011.pdf. Adult admission is $20. Students 9-13 are $8. Children eight and under are free. Pit passes are $35.
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.