“Steel Valley Thunder” returns Saturday featuring DIRTcar Mods, FASTRAK Late Models, E-Mods & more!
By Mike Leone
April 11, 2012
(Hartford, OH)…After a very successful kickoff to the 83rd anniversary racing season at Sharon Speedway last Saturday night that saw 117 cars compete in front of a great crowd, Sharon will return to action this Saturday night (April 14) for week two of “Steel Valley Thunder”. On tap will be the Governor Insurance Agency DIRTcar 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 Auto Parts Mini Stocks. Race time is 7 p.m.
Kevin Bolland took advantage of his pole position starting spot and held off Jeremiah Shingledecker and Dave Murdick to win the season opening event in the region for the DIRTcar Big-Block Modifieds. The veteran Bolland, who now owns 19 career wins at Sharon, has the early point lead in search of his first track championship. Shingledecker and Murdick are two of the racers that are expected to be weekly contenders with the move to sanction under DIRTcar. Several other top runners are expected to be out soon.
Last year, Sharon led the nation for average car count for the FASTRAK Late Models, Saturday night another a strong turnout of 23 cars was on hand for the opener. George Kowatic is quickly becoming a top contender in FASTRAK. Last August, Kowatic topped a Sharon record 48-car field to win his first career FASTRAK race and on Saturday won for the second time in the last seven races at Sharon holding off Will Thomas III, who is looking for his first career FASTRAK checkered after making the move to dirt late last season after a successful asphalt career.
Defending Sharon FASTRAK champion Josh Double along with top runners Bill Cunningham, Rocky Kugel, and Tommy Snyder are expected to return to action very soon.
The E-Mods averaged some 27 cars per night in 2011 and got off to a strong start last Saturday with a stout field of 31 cars in the pits. The top 10 finishers were some of the top racers in western Pa., eastern Ohio, and western New York that could win anywhere they go. In fact, probably 25 of the 31 could have been considers contenders for the win Saturday. With the full field plus, the division raced for the higher purse structure as all starting cars received a minimum of $100 plus all non-qualifiers received a pit pass in addition to their $50 tow money.
Brent Rhebergen, who can seemingly win in just about any car he jumps in, put on a great drive to pass Scott Stiffler and John Boardman in the closing laps of the event to capture what was probably the best race of the night to take the early point lead.
Like last year, the Stock Car count is expected to grow as the season progresses as numerous pre-entered drivers weren’t in competition Saturday. Even though just 14 cars were on hand, 10 of those racers were right there battling for the win on Saturday despite Paul Davis pulling away late. Davis tied Alan Dellinger at four for the most wins in the division in 2011. With Dellinger not competing in the division and after his performance Saturday, he could be the driver to beat in 2012.
The Econo Mods are entering their third year of competition at Sharon. After racing bi-weekly in 2010 and for most of 2011, the two-barrel division quickly grew last year hitting 17 cars on two occasions. Last Saturday night, those numbers were blown away with a record 22 cars on hand and several more still due out! The Blackshear brothers led the way sweeping the top two positions with Brad topping older brother Brandon.
With the 31 E-Mods and 22 Econo Mods, a total of 53 Economy Modified-type cars were on hand!
Bill Fuchs and Scott Gilliland appeared to be the class of the Mini Stock field last Saturday night, but mechanical woes sent them pit side and watched like everyone else did as Jim Haefke, Jr. captured his career first win and sits on top of the standings.
“We were very pleased with the way opening night went,” expressed third year GM Dave Willoughby. “The car counts for three of the divisions were very good and the other three divisions will grow as the season progresses. Despite afternoon temps in just the mid 50s and being Easter weekend, it was a great turnout of fans as well. The new surface had some bumps that will get corrected, but otherwise it was racey and it was good to see guys making the inside work.”
Registration forms, payoffs, divisional and track rules, and more are all available under the Driver tab on the website at SharonSpeedway.com. Pits open at 4 p.m. on Saturday with the grandstands at 5 and racing at 7 p.m. Adult admission is $13, while children 13 and under are free. Pit passes are $25.
Coming up a week from Saturday is the first special event of the season as the United Late Model Series comes to town for a big $3,000 to-win payoff. It’s also the annual early season Open Stock Car special with $1,500 on the line along with Econo Mods and Mini Stocks. Following that on Wednesday, April 25 will be the second open practice of the season.
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.