TIM GILLETTE TOPS “SPRINGDURO 150” ENDURO FOR THE 2ND STRAIGHT YEAR; RECORD 66 CARS TURN OUT FOR PRACTICE
By Mike Leone
March 25, 2012
(Hartford, OH)…After the “Circle Track Showdown II” snowmobile races two months ago, Sharon Speedway resumed the 83rd anniversary season on Sunday afternoon. Rain showers on Saturday forced the postponement of the “Springduro 150” Enduro and open practice by one day. After some morning showers, Sunday was an overcast day with the temperature around 60, but some 30 degrees warmer than last year’s event!
This year’s event also saw much higher car counts as 43 Enduro cars were present compared to just 28 last year and the open practice brought out a record 66 competitors nearly doubling last year’s total of 38!
Veteran Enduro competitor, Tim Gillette, added yet another victory to his impressive resume as he captured the third annual “Springduro 150”. Gillette, who has numerous Enduro wins at regional speedways including five at nearby Mercer Raceway Park, captured his second straight victory at Sharon. Gillette passed Eric McCray on a lap 133 restart and held off a late, last lap charge by inaugural 2010 “Springduro 150” winner, Andy Sweetland, for the $1,000 victory.
“These guys do a very good job- I didn’t win by much,” acknowledged the soon to be 50-year-old Linesville, Pa. driver, who was congratulated by Sweetland in victory lane. “Andy is very hard to beat. This is a different car than I won with last year; I retired it. I really like the Enduros. They are a whole lot more laps than normal racing and you have to figure out what to do. Being patient is part of it- it’s a chess game. Thank you Sharon Speedway for having this race.”
Brian Rydbom charged to early lead from the fourth position. Gillette started third and caught the leader on lap 16. The two ran side-by-side, but Rydbom was able to pull away in lapped traffic. Dustin Scott was on the move from his 24th starting position. Scott worked his way by Gillette on lap 18 for second.
The race had to be halted with 20 laps completed for a fire in the pit area. On the restart, Scott took off in the lead past Rydbom, but slowed and exited the event on lap 25. Rydbom inherited the lead back, but it would only last one lap as 20th starting Jim Frank made his way to the lead on lap 27. It was quite a race for second, third, and fourth as Aaron Hill made his way forward passing both Gillette then Rydbom for second on lap 35. Gillette made the move for third on Rydbom on lap 37.
Frank’s run up front ended on lap 39 when he slowed giving the lead to Hill. Rydbom and Gillette continued their battle as Rydbom made his way back to second on lap 45. Rydbom then gave up second to Gillette on lap 47 when he exited the event.
Hill, who for much of the day had the fastest car, suffered his first of two flat tires on lap 68. That would be the last lap he’d lead as Gillette took over on lap 69. The attrition played into 42nd starting Eric McCray’s hands as he now found himself in second, albeit one-half lap behind. McCray slowly cut into Gillette’s lead and began to close in on lap 95.
At the 2/3rd mark, Gillette had just a half-straightaway advantage, but by lap 103 McCray was right on Gillette. The leaders encountered heavy lapped traffic over the next few laps. McCray was all over Gillette on lap 105. Four laps later, McCray made contact in the rear of Gillette’s Toyota Celica, but Gillette continued to lead. Finally on lap 111, McCray pulled even, but it wasn’t until lap 114 until he made the pass for the lead.
Andy Sweetland, who started deep in the pack in the 41st starting spot, all of sudden became a factor. Sweetland ran down Gillette and McCray as they battled in lapped traffic and made it a three-car race for the lead on lap 123. McCray though began to open up some ground as he pulled to somewhat of a comfortable lead on lap 130; however, a red for a fire in the fourth place car of B.B. Simmons was a game changer with 132 laps scored.
When green replaced red, McCray’s car was slow to get up to power as he crept from the backstretch to turn four, but by this time both Gillette and Sweetland blew by for first and second on lap 133 as McCray found himself nearly a lap behind when he finally got up to speed.
It was now left up to the last two years’ winners to duke it out. Gillette really wasn’t challenged for 17 of the final 18 laps as he kept a fairly comfortable lead; however, on the final lap, Gillette caught a pack of lapped cars going down the backstretch slowing his pace. Gillette really had to get on the binders on the outside of turns three and four as he made slight contact with one of the lapped cars.
This allowed Sweetland, who was a straightaway back, to really close in. Sweetland dove hard into turn four, but Gillette had just enough momentum coming off turn four to win by a few car lengths in his Gillette Import Autowerks-sponsored #3. Sweetland earned $500 for second. McCray, who came from the back to finish second in last year’s event, had another fine finish in third to earn $400, though it had to be disappointing.
Dakota Papsun, who started 40th, was a quiet fourth six laps behind and earned $300 over 22nd starting Bob Rouche, who was eight laps down, and earned $200 for fifth.
Notes…Twelve cars were left at the finish of the event, which took one hour, nine minutes, and 17 seconds to complete despite the two red flag stoppages. This was four minutes faster than last year’s event. For the second straight year, the top eight positions were swept by Pennsylvania racers as Cortland’s B.B. Simmons was the highest finishing Ohio driver. Father-son duo of Jim and Derek Frank were the only New York drivers in the field as they finished 14th and 13th respectively. Oddly enough Sweetland, McCray and Papsun all entered on Sunday and had to start in positions 41, 42, and 40th respectively.
Some 11 different divisions were represented and were combined into seven classes for practice including a combination of 25 E-Mod and Econo Mods, 14 Late Models, 12 Stock Cars, 6 Mini Stocks, 4 Sprint Cars, 3 Modifieds, and 2 Mod Lites. The new surface held up great for the first time with cars on it. Transponder readings from those that had transponders on for practice can be viewed at http://www.mylaps.com/results/showevent.jsp?id=755810
“Springduro 150” Enduro (150 laps, $1,000 to-win): 1. TIM GILLETTE (3) 2. Andy Sweetland (41) 3. Eric McCray (42) 4. Dakota Papsun (40) 5. Bob Rouche (22) 6. T.J. Meanor (15) 7. Ed Schaffer (23) 8. Nick Steiger (29) 9. B.B. Simmons (33) 10. William Hurrellbrink (2) 11. Matt Hill (8) 12. Aaron Hill (7) 13. Dereck Frank (6) 14. Jim Frank (20) 15. Luke Rutsky (30) 16. Don Vernier (31) 17. Joe Petyak (5) 18. Brian Sprague (18) 19. Jason Easler (32) 20. Dave Morrow (14) 21. Jake Keney (34) 22. Dan Zimmerman (16) 23. Troy Lehnortt (21) 24. Tessa Bass (39) 25. Wally Naletko (9) 26. John Confer (17) 27. Donald Peebles (37) 28. Ben Kuntz (27) 29. Brian Rydbom (4) 30. Tim Callahan (19) 31. Harry Wolf (25) 32. James Gatto (10) 33. Carlos Aponte (38) 34. Logan Keney (35) 35. Doug McMillen (26) 36. Danny Morrow (13) 37. Mike Carson (11) 38. Brent Johnson (1)-DSQ (no scorecard) 39. Dustin Scott (24)-DSQ (no scorecard) 40. Ray Gregory (28)-DSQ (no scorecard) 41. Steve Morse (36)-DSQ (no scorecard) 42. Justin Gelston (12)-DNS 43. Jason Carman (43)-DSQ (not legal).
Sharon will be dark this coming weekend then resume action on Saturday, April 7 with the “Steel Valley Thunder” kickoff featuring the Governor Insurance Agency Big-Block Modifieds, Barris Supply FASTRAK Late Models, Summit Racing Equipment E-Mods, Gibson Insurance Agency Stock Cars, HTMA/Precise Racing Products Econo Mods, and the DeForest Used Parts Mini Stocks. Gates open at 5 p.m. with 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.