CHAMPIONS TO BE DETERMINED IN “STEEL VALLEY THUNDER” FINALE SATURDAY
By Mike Leone
September 7, 2011
(Hartford, OH)…After a one-week hiatus, Sharon Speedway will return to action this Saturday night, September 10 with the “Steel Valley Thunder” finale presented by Froggy 95 featuring the Governor Insurance Agency Big-Block Modifieds, Barris Supply FASTRAK Late Models, Ainsley 500 Heating & Cooling E-Mods, Gibson Insurance Agency Stock Cars, Summit Racing Equipment Econo Mods, and the Presidential Lawn Care Mini Stocks. Racing begins at 7 p.m. The season will then conclude on Friday and Saturday, September 16-17 for the “Apple Festival” Nationals.
The Big-Block Modifieds will be featured in their final tune-up before next Saturday’s Russ King Memorial BRP Tour event. The Modified car counts have been up the second-half of the season and over 20 cars have been present for the last two shows. Saturday will be the region’s only big-block race of the weekend.
Rex King is looking to win his fourth track championship. King leads the way with four victories and needs one more to tie Bob Kraus at 39 for second on the division’s all-time win list. King has a comfortable 42-point lead and simply has to attempt to compete to win his second consecutive title. The race is on for second in points as Kevin Bolland leads Jim Rasey by just 11 points and Rex King, Jr. by 12. Dean Pearson is fifth in points and still has a mathematical shot at second place, but also has just a 14-point edge on Rob Kristyak.
The inaugural FASTRAK Late Model season is winding down with just three more shows. On Saturday night, the first champion will be decided. The point race has been a see-saw battle for most of the season between Josh Double and John Volpe. Both drivers have two victories; however, the combination of Double’s win on August 27 and Volpe’s DNF has allowed Double to open up his biggest point lead of the season. A 10th place or better finish for Double will earn the Bristolville, Ohio teen the prestigious championship honor. FASTRAK car counts have been impressive averaging in the upper 20s as a total of 87 different drivers have competed.
The closest point race is the E-Mods where just 15 points separate point leader Carl McKinney from Mike Kinney. Like FASTRAK, the point race has been a swapped back and forth numerous times this season. The duo hasn’t been big winners this season; in fact, each driver only has one feature win, but both racers have been very consistent to stay in the championship hunt.
McKinney of Cranberry Twp., Pa. won his first feature on August 20 since his last championship season back in 2004. McKinney won three consecutive championships between 2002 and 2004 and like King will look to seal his fourth championship. The E-Mods have produced impressive car counts all season long and have only dipped under 22 on one occasion this year! A total of 83 different drivers have competed.
The third point leader looking for his fourth track championship is Steve D’Apolito. The Boardman, Ohio racer is back at Sharon after competing three seasons at Mercer in the FASTRAK Late Models and most recently dominated two seasons of Stock Car competition and won the 2010 championship. D’Apolito won Sharon titles in 2004, 2005, and 2007 and is looking to become the division’s first ever four-time champion. D’Apolito’s three wins have moved him into third on the division’s all-time win list at 31.
Like Double, D’Apolito leads his nearest competitor (Mike Clark) by 20 points and will simply have to finish 10th or better to win the honors. D’Apolito has yet to finish worse than sixth in any feature or heat race this season. While D’Apolito and Clark have the top two spots sewed up, positions three through six are wide open between Paul Davis, Jamie Scharba, Alan Dellinger, and Brian Carothers. The Stock Cars have been very competitive in 2011 with eight different winners.
Despite missing the August 20 program, which saw his point lead shrink more than half, Junior Mechling returned on August 27 and built his lead right back up to 40 in the Econo Mods. Mechling hasn’t finished worse than fourth all season long and that worst finish of the season came clear back on April 15. After six straight third place finishes, Mechling recorded his fourth runner-up of 2011, but would love to win his season’s first and first ever title on Saturday night.
The Warren, Ohio veteran can really go at in the feature as he’ll have his championship sewed up by then. Jim Turley is second, but has just a three-point lead on Todd Canter and Larry Root sits only 13 more points back in fourth.
After five years of trying, Bill Fuchs clinched his first ever track championship on August 27 in the Mini Stocks. The Greenville, Pa. racer could hit the double-figure mark with 10 wins on Saturday, but he’s found the goings a little tougher as he has just one win in the past six weeks after knocking down eight of the first 13.
While Fuchs has a huge 103-point advantage, the battle for second is still up for grabs. Lucas Sprouse currently occupies that spot after his first ever Sharon win last time out. Sprouse leads rookie Jamie Wrightsman by 13 points and his father Randy by 14 as both drivers also have collected their first career wins this season.
The new boy’s and girl’s bike giveaway program presented by King Bros. Feed Supply & Redi Mix will continue. Kids 4-14 can sign up until intermission. If either Rex King, Sr. or Jr. wins the feature, a new bike will be presented to a lucky boy and girl the following Saturday.
Pits open at 4 p.m. with the grandstands at 5 and racing at 7. Adult admission is $13 and family passes are $32. Students 9-13 are $5 and children 8 and under are free. Pit passes are $25. There are no driver registration fees for the remainder of the season.
An open practice will be on tap on Wednesday, September 14 from 4 p.m. until dark. Pits open at 3:30 p.m. Pit passes are $20 and grandstand admission is free.
This season will conclude on Friday and Saturday, September 16-17 with the annual “Apple Festival” Nationals” featuring two complete shows at 7 p.m. both nights. The FASTRAK Late Models, open Stock Cars, Econo Mods, and Mini Stocks will compete both days, while the E-Mods will run for a $1,000 on Friday night and the BRP Modifieds will highlight Saturday’s program.
FASTRAK will run a Weekly Series event on Friday night for $700 to-win with time trials and a paying dash for the fastest six cars then on Saturday, the Northeast Touring Series returns for the fourth and final time with $1,200 up for grabs. There will also be a special “Futures Cup” Australian Pursuit.
The Stock Cars will run in the popular “open rules” format with $500 to-win on Friday night and the ante will be doubled on Saturday with $1,000 to-win! The Econo Mods will run for a regular purse on Friday night then finish the year off with $350 to-win on Saturday night. The Mini Stocks will run for $200 to-win on Friday night and double features on Saturday for $200 to-win each! Six-cylinders will also be permitted. There will also be a Powder Puff for E-Mods on Friday night.
Regular grandstand admission prices will be in effect both nights, but there will be a two-day $20 adult, $50 family, and $50 pit pass offered. Pit passes will be $30 each night. FREE camping will be available all weekend.
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.