WATSON CHARGES FROM 17TH TO WIN E-MODS IN APPLE FESTIVAL NAT’S OPENER; #4 FOR PEGHER IN FASTRAK; HOOKS WINS 1ST IN STOCKS; BLACKSHEAR KEEPS ON WINNING IN ECONO MODS; SCHENKER WINS IN DEBUT IN MINIS
By Mike Leone
September 16, 2011
(Hartford, OH)…After a week off and a rain out, Sharon Speedway was back in action on Friday night to kickoff the annual “Apple Festival Nationals” as fall-like conditions with mainly overcast skies and temps in the 50s greeted race fans and the 145 cars on hand. The conditions produced a fast track, which saw track records shattered.
Celebrating with wins in the Hovis Auto & Truck Supply victory lane were Joel Watson-Ainsley 500 Heating & Cooling E-Mods, Mike Pegher, Jr.-FASTRAK Late Models, Shaun Hooks-Gibson Insurance Agency Stock Cars, Brandon Blackshear-Summit Racing Equipment Econo Mods, and John Schenker, Jr.-Presidential Lawn Care Mini Stocks.
When Joel Watson’s on, he’s nearly unbeatable. Watson proved that on Friday night as he charged from the 17th starting spot to win the 25-lap $1,000 to-win E-Mod feature with the help of only two cautions! It was Watson’s fifth win of the year at Sharon in a spectacular career best season of 15 wins overall and four championships!
“The car was so fast,” described the Conneaut, Ohio ace. “I didn’t think I was that far ahead I was so deep in cars I didn’t know who was leading. I was just passing whoever was in front of me! I always like a caution when you’re coming up through the field like that to know where you are, but 19 laps here with no cautions has got to be a record.”
Jeff Johnson raced past E-Mod rookie Anthony Gillespie for the lead at the start with Gillespie and Chad Carlson trailing. Not much changed up front as the laps ticked off, but all eyes began to shift to Watson, who was picking off cars left and right. Watson moved into the top five of a stellar field of cars on lap 13 without a caution passing veteran Larry Kugel. Watson then disposed of standouts Jack Young and Carlson on laps 17 and 19 respectively for third before the first caution was displayed with 19 laps completed.
On the ensuing restart, Watson made the move on Gillespie for second as Johnson continued to lead. Ironically, Johnson’s only other win this season came in the $1,000 special back on May 28 and was looking to repeat the feat. The event’s second and final caution slowed action for Shawn Shingledecker and it sure wasn’t what Johnson wanted.
Back under green flag conditions, Johnson would lead lap 22, but on the 23rd circuit, Watson drove hard in turn three and made the pass stick in turn four for the winning move. Watson then pulled away to win by 1.279 seconds for his sixth career win at Sharon in his #92. Jack Young, who started seventh, passed Gillespie for third on lap 22 then got around Johnson on lap 24 for a solid runner-up. Johnson dropped to third after leading the first 22 laps. Carlson was fourth as Kugel held fifth.
Rounding out the top 10 were Brent Rhebergen in his debut in the Tim Rater #RD-1, 21st starting Clayton Kennedy, 16th starting Scott Stiffler, Dwayne Clay, and Gillespie. Heat winners over the season high 43-car field were Arlan Coy, Rhebergen, Carlson, and Shingledecker. The B mains were won by Joe Gabrielson and Big-Block Modified veteran Joe Crawford, who made his first E-Mod start in his brother’s #3c.
Making just his ninth start of the season, Mike Pegher, Jr. captured his season’s fourth FASTRAK Late Model feature to become not only the division’s top winner of the season, but also the all-time leading feature winner of the class. After timing only 26th fastest out of the 36 cars on hand, Pegher earned his win passing five cars in his heat to finish second then came from 11th to win the Barris Supply feature after a heartbreaker for Will Thomas, who led the first 15 laps before hitting the wall.
“We started a little bit slow tonight, but it ended up good,” stated the 25-year-old Wexford, Pa. driver. “I was trying different lines when he (Thomas) was leading. I honestly don’t think I would have been able to get around him. I seen the lapped cars coming and was hoping for no cautions, but I didn’t want to see it end up like that for him. Tomorrow pays a little more money so hopefully we can win that.”
Doug Horton, who was second fast qualifier and won the $100 to-win dash presented by Race 1, Robinson Automotive, and Wedge Motorsports, started on the pole, but it was fast qualifier Thomas taking the early advantage with Horton, Ryan Montgomery, Matt Latta, and Bill Cunningham trailing.
Montgomery, the 14-year-old “Futures Cup” point leader, passed his mentor Horton for second on lap two, while Pegher had moved into the top five already. Pegher then advanced three spots on lap six when he passed Latta, Horton, and Montgomery for second. After a caution for Brian Booher with six laps completed, the next 10 would go non-stop. Thomas, who just moved into FASTRAK last month after a great career on the asphalt, was looking like he might pull off the upset.
Lapped traffic came into play on lap 14 as Thomas continued to lead. Trouble struck for Thomas on lap 16 when he slipped high in turn three trying to lap cars and slammed the fence. Thomas’ car would slow to bring out the final caution and gave the lead to Pegher. The last four laps saw Pegher pull away to win by 2.103 seconds for his fifth career FASTRAK win and sixth career overall win at Sharon in the Lynn Geisler-owned, #1 Cochran Automotive/Triple-S Auto Sales/Zero Wraps-sponsored #1c. Pegher has now won the last three times he’s been to Sharon as he sits second in the National Weekly Series standings.
Horton passed Montgomery on lap 17 to finish second for his best finish of the season in three starts at Sharon. Montgomery was a career best Sharon third and increased his “Futures Cup” point lead. Point champion Josh Double came from 12th to finish fourth over Latta. Sixth through 10th were Max Blair, Cunningham, Josh Holtgraver, Damian Bidwell, and Butch Lambert. Heat winners were newcomer and “Futures Cup” racer Joe Petyak, Lambert, and Blair. West Virginia’s Derek Rogers and Chad Wright captured the B mains. The track record was broke three times during the heat races; first by Pegher, then by Blair, and finally by Double, who established the new standard at 16.488.
Making his first appearance of the season, Shaun Hooks picked up the open Stock Car feature victory. It’s been a tough season for the Mercer Raceway Park regular, who is a champion and “Little Guy Nationals” winner at the track, but on Friday night, Hooks passed his cousin and Mercer dominator Rusty Moore for his first win at Sharon in over three years. The $500 win came in the 20-lap Gibson Insurance Agency feature as Hooks became the ninth different winner of the season!
“Practice really helped,” explained the 41-year-old New Castle, Pa. racer, who turned laps on Wednesday at the open practice. “Give me what they got and I can run with them. I think Rusty (Moore) may have made the wrong tire choice. My Hoosier tires are still good and were coming on strong at the end. I have to thank Brad Hibbard, Vicki Emig, Sharon Speedway, my family, and everybody that works on the car.”
New Castle, Pa. drivers Moore and Gary Miller, Jr. took off in the top two spots, while Sharon Speedway runner-up in points Mike Clark, Hooks, and Rod Laskey were the top five after one lap. Laskey and Chris Schneider were on the move as they were right in the mix for the lead as the positions changed hands. On lap seven, Hooks got around Miller for third before a nine-car accident occurred after Steve Burns, Jr. spun with eighth completed.
When green replaced yellow, Hooks passed Laskey for second. Then on lap 13, Moore’s bid for the win ended when he slipped high in turn three allowing Hooks and Laskey by. Two more cautions slowed action with 16 laps completed. The final four circuits saw Hooks hold off Laskey and Moore for his fourth career win at the track in the Richard Janovick-owned #65.
Laskey was a season best second and it was Moore’s first start as well. Tim Burns, who won the season opening open Stock Car race, came from 14th to finish fourth as Schneider was fifth in his first start. Terry Wheeler, Hooks, Moore, and Colton Gearhart won the heat races over the season high 38-car field. Mike Aley and Paul Davis won the B mains. Moore set a new track record in his heat race with a lap of 18.063.
Brandon Blackshear won for the second straight race after passing race-long leader Jim Dellinger with two laps to go to keep his record perfect driving for Tubby Tessean in the Econo Mods. Blackshear’s fourth win of the season came in the 15-lap Summit Racing Equipment feature as he also owns two wins driving for Jamie Scharba.
“He (Dellinger) was holding his line pretty good,” explained the 21-year-old Brookfield, Ohio driver. “He didn’t do anything wrong, but I decided to fall back a little bit and get a good run at him and I was lucky enough to get around him. I just needed a little momentum, the motor under the hood did its job, and here we are standing here.” I can’t thank Tubby and Wayne Tessean enough. This is an older car and it just flies! I’m trying to learn as much as I can off Tubby. He’s such a smart old guy and this is best experience I’ve had racing.”
Point champion Junior Mechling started from the pole, but it was Dellinger and Blackshear taking the top two spots after one lap. Derek Dellinger started sixth and moved up to fourth after two laps passing Corey Skully. Blackshear began to pressure Dellinger for the lead on lap four, while the battle for third heated up. Blackshear got under Dellinger on laps seven and eight, but just couldn’t make the pass stick; meanwhile, Derek Dellinger moved to third on lap eight past Mechling before a caution for a spin by rookie Chad Felicetty.
The final seven laps went non-stop to the checkered. Blackshear continued to try every move to get around Dellinger. On lap 12, Blackshear went high in turn four and got a great run down the frontstretch. Blackshear dove low and made the slider work in turns one and two to lead the 13th circuit. Blackshear’s #10 went on for the $200 victory, while Dellinger was a season best second holding off his nephew Derek. Mechling dropped to fourth, but has still yet to finish worse than fourth all season long. Jim Turley was fifth after starting 11th. Todd Canter and Kevin Robinson were heat winners over the 15-car field.
Making his first ever start, the six-cylinder of John Schenker, Jr. picked up the 12-lap Presidential Lawn Care Mini Stock feature. After three cautions before a lap was completed, the 12 laps would then go non-stop with Schenker leading all the way for the $200 win, and became the division’s eighth different winner of the season.
The 45-year-old Erie, Pa. driver passed another newcomer in Mitch Stokes on the opening lap and was never challenged in his #25. After spinning on the first lap, champion Bill Fuchs came from the back and finished second. Fuchs passed newcomer Ed Huge on lap nine and began to cut into Schenker’s lead in the closing laps, but ran out of time. Huge was third. Ken Koby II was a season best fourth and it was his first top five since opening night back on April 2. Stokes crossed the finish in fifth, but was docked two spots for spinning John Shannon. Troy Lehnortt was credited with fifth in his first ever visit to the track. Fuchs and Schenker won the heat races.
Ainsley 500 Heating & Cooling E-Mods (25 laps, $1,000 to-win): 1. JOEL WATSON (92) 2. Jack Young (Hamilton 67) 3. Jeff Johnson (27) 4. Chad Carlson (1) 5. Larry Kugel (Conley 27c) 6. Brent Rhebergen (RD1) 7. Clayton Kennedy (9) 8. Scott Stiffler (14) 9. Dwayne Clay (31) 10. Anthony Gillespie (Williams 0) 11. John Boyd (1) 12. Scott Jones (71J) 13. Vic Vena (01) 14. Brian Douglas (214) 15. Joe Crawford (3c) 16. John Boardman (79.2) 17. Arlan Coy (56) 18. Joe Gabrielson (58) 19. Shawn Shingledecker (54s) 20. Kyle Bedell (44) 21. Andy Buckley (965) 22. Howard Fraley (217) 23. Tim Deutsch (White 53) 24. Mike Kinney (3)-DNS 25. Russ Dunn (Clinger 222)-DNS DNQ: Chris Peterson (25), Jeff Hassay (10), Gary Sullivan (47s), Ed Wilson (33), Jim Turley (117), Ronnie Kahler (7R), Bob Diver (23), Wayne Brugmann (79), Bill Johnson (58), Dale Monreal (711), Rob Mellinger (55), Vince Crisanti (221), Bob Williamson (93), Jason Longwell (24), Mike Monreal (071), Paul Davis (Foley 7JSR), Nathan Loney (10), Paul Phillips (11SS)
Barris Supply FASTRAK Late Models (20 laps, $700 to-win): 1. MIKE PEGHER, JR. (Geisler 1c) 2. Doug Horton (15c) 3. Ryan Montgomery (12) 4. Josh Double (38) 5. Matt Latta (21) 6. Max Blair (111) 7. Bill Cunningham (59) 8. Josh Holtgraver (00) 9. Damian Bidwell (17) 10. Butch Lambert (27) 11. Clay Ruffo (14R) 12. Brian Booher (Hoover 00H) 13. Joe Martin (55) 14. George Kowatic (5) 15. Eric Wilson (27) 16. Wendell Pinckney (11) 17. Rod Laskey (1R) 18. Chad Wright (6) 19. Joe Petyak (44) 20. Will Thomas III (9) 21. Brian Lessley (Powell 100) 22. Derek Rogers (23) 23. Nico Dabecco (Karalagas 1Freek) 24. Dave Airgood (42) DNQ: Stan Woomer (2), John Volpe (Bidwell BID), Marv Wilkinson (Cole 9T), Shane Weaver (Ruffner 325x), Justin Kreider (29), Jason Stanke (44), Scott Fitch (51), Rusty Cade (47), Patrick Willar (39), Bob Diver (23), Russ Dunn (47), Tyler Barris (32B).
Gibson Insurance Agency Stock Cars (20 laps, $500 to-win): 1. SHAUN HOOKS (Janovick 65) 2. Rod Laskey (Sloss 44s) 3. Rusty Moore (17M) 4. Tim Burns (66) 5. Chris Schneider (55) 6. Mike Duritsky (90) 7. Paul Davis (3) 8. Mike Clark (7) 9. Tommy Fox (80) 10. Rich Howell (44) 11. Steve Burns, Jr. (70B) 12. Brian Carothers (02c) 13. Pat Adams (93) 14. Andy Thompson (7) 15. Ed Bolyard II (Patrick 05) 16. Terry Wheeler (2W) 17. Gary Miller, Jr. (1M) 18. Dan Lewis (64) 19. Colton Gearhart (Scott T3) 20. Curtis J. Bish (Tarr 29T) 21. Jamie Scharba (00s) 22. Willie Aley (9) 23. Mike Aley (99) 24. Bruce Redman (27) 25. Bob McCann (Fornataro 33)-DNS DNQ: Joel Watson (Burns 43B), Bob Schwartzmiller (28s), Eric Williams (4w), Jamie Gibbs (98), Ed Cornell (55), Steve Hall (93H), Randy Wyant (11T), Bucky Buchanan, Jr. (93B), Jason Robinson (44R), Michael Hudzik (31H), Bob Sloss (4s), Mike Desch (59), Kevin DeZarn (21D).
Summit Racing Equipment Econo Mods (15 laps, $200 to-win): 1. BRANDON BLACKSHEAR (Tessean 10) 2. Jim Dellinger (1) 3. Derek Dellinger (119) 4. Junior Mechling (89) 5. Jim Turley (117) 6. Larry Root (22x) 7. Todd Canter (88) 8. Jeff Haefke (Berry 91) 9. Kevin Robinson (24R) 10. David Kovatch (415) 11. Mike Smith (81) 12. Chad Felicetty (Mechling 89M) 13. Corey Skully (Haefke 21) 14. Brian Hathaway (22) 15. Brad Blackshear (19).
Presidential Lawn Care Mini Stocks (12 laps, $200 to-win): 1. JOHN SCHENKER, JR. (25) 2. Bill Fuchs (10) 3. Ed Huge (72) 4. Ken Koby II (22) 5. Troy Lehnortt (46) 6. John Shannon (14) 7. Mitch Stokes (6M) 8. Duane Westfall (Spencer 0) 9. Jason Easler (02) 10. Maria Nevin (9) 11. Jamie Wrightsman (21J) 12. Steve Walker II (4M) 13. Jake Monreal (32).
Sharon Speedway will closes out the 2011 racing season tonight (Saturday) with Night 2 of the “Apple Festival Nationals” featuring the BRP Modified Tour, FASTRAK Northeast Late Model Touring Series, open Stock Cars, Econo Mods, and Mini Stocks. Pits open at 4 with grandstands at 5, qualifying for the Modifieds at 6:30 at racing at 7.
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.