WHITLING FINALLY WINS 1ST CAREER FASTRAK L.M. FEATURE AFTER 4+ YEARS; KING & FUCHS REPEAT IN MODS & MINIS; CAREER 1ST SHARON WIN FOR LASKEY IN STOCKS; GABRIELSON & DELLINGER FLY TO 1ST WINS IN E-MODS & ECONO MODS
By Mike Leone
May 19, 2012
(Hartford, OH)…After three straight cold, rainy Saturdays to end April, Sharon Speedway was blessed with its third straight sunny, warm Saturday as the beautiful May weather continued on Armed Forces Night. Celebrating in the Hovis Auto & Truck Supply victory lane were Bobby Whitling-Barris Supply FASTRAK Late Models, Rex King-Governor Insurance Agency DIRTcar Big-Block Modifieds, Joe Gabrielson-Summit Racing Equipment-E-Mods, Rod Laskey-Gibson Insurance Agency Stock Cars, Jim Dellinger-HTMA/Precise Racing Products Econo Mods, and Bill Fuchs-Deforest Used Parts Mini Stocks.
Bobby Whitling has won 82 Stock Car races in his career; however since making the move to the FASTRAK Late Models in 2008, the Stock Car standout has struggled. The 2012 season hadn’t started off much better for Whitling with three finishes outside of the top 10, but Saturday night, he looked like the old Bobby Whitling leading all 20 laps and denying Will Thomas III of three straight wins for the popular victory in the Barris Supply feature.
“This is just unbelievable,” expressed the 39-year-old Franklin, Pa. racer. “We’ve been working so hard for years trying to get these cars fast and it’s been so frustrating. This was by far the hardest race for me to win over my career. I never thought it would be this difficult. We were fast in the beginning and nearly won, but technology changes and it’s really hard to keep up with. You have to study and be on top of them.”
Whitling jumped into the lead past pole-sitter Bob Diver on the opening lap with Michael Mitchell, Tom Copeland, and Matt Latta trailing. After four laps of green flag racing, the caution was displayed for Stan Woomer and George Kowatic, who spun on opposite ends of the speedway.
Thomas started in 12th and was up to fifth for the restart. When green replaced yellow, positions two through five really changed as Mitchell overtook Diver for second, while Thomas advanced to third past both Latta and Diver. Latta was able to maintain fourth as he got around Diver.
Lapped traffic came into play on lap 12, but a caution for Alan Dellinger would give Whitling a clear track once again. Back under green, Thomas advanced to second with a pass of Mitchell. Thomas inched closer to Whitling by lap 15, but a caution for Jason Stanke with 16 laps completed would bunch up the field again.
When racing resumed, Latta drove under Mitchell in turn four for third. The last four laps went caution-free as Whitling was able to slow Thomas’ advances and take the checkered flag first by 0.540 seconds in his Weld Tech/Dulaney’s Garage/World of Wheels/Shaw Industries/R.K. Virgile Scrap Metals-sponsored #7W. It was the third career win overall at Sharon for the 2000 Stock Car champion.
“I just tried to get the car through the center of the corner and if he was going to pass me, he was going to pass me,” explained Whitling in victory lane. “I just tried to be smooth. I have to thank all of my sponsors and my brother, who is part owner and is with me all of the time. I want to dedicate this victory to Jim Heeter, one of my crew members who passed away from cancer over the winter. He was into FASTRAK so this one is for him!”
Thomas’ runner-up maintained his point lead. Latta was third for the second straight week as he’s finished in the top eight all four races. Mitchell was fourth in his season debut. Josh Double came from 15th to finish fifth. Completing the top 10 were Dave Airgood, Copeland, Brian Booher, Chad Wright, and Diver. Heat victors over the 19-car field were Wright and Airgood.
Rex King continued his dominance of the DIRTcar Big-Block Modified division over the past two seasons with another victory in the 20-lap Governor Insurance Agency feature. The five-time 2011 winner and defending four-time champion matched Kevin Bolland with his second victory of the 2012 campaign.
“The top was fast all night,” stated the Bristolville, Ohio veteran. “It had a cushion all of the way around it. Usually I’m a bottom feeder as I’m getting older and it’s shorter around and takes less effort, but there was nothing down there tonight so I had to move up to the top and just run it wide open. I have to thank my parents, my wife, all of my sponsors, friends, crew, and all of the fans at Sharon Speedway. It’s just a great night.”
In a race that featured little passing, King raced ahead of Jim Weller, Jr. on the start with Weller, Jeremiah Shingledecker, sixth starting Bolland, and Dave Murdick in tow. With caution-free action, King stretched his advantage to a straightaway by lap eight. Shingledecker was able to finally pull even with Weller for second on lap 15 before the race’s only caution for a spin by Rex King, Jr. with 15 laps scored.
When racing resumed, Shingledecker was able to make the pass for second, but caught the turn four cushion wrong pushing his car high as Weller, Bolland, and Murdick drove on by for positions two through four. While the battle was on for those positions, no one had anything for King as he cruised to his 41st career win by 3.229 seconds in the KMB, Inc-owned, GS Engine Power/Bristol Disposal/Midway Garage Doors/RD Banks Chevrolet/Longboyz Tavern/Hunyady Auction/Campbells Hydroponics-sponsored #65.
Weller edged point leader Bolland for his season’s best finish in second. Murdick was fourth as Shingledecker took fifth. Rounding out the top 10 were Dean Pearson, Tom Mattocks, Carl Murdick, Jeff Monoskey, and King, Jr. Bolland and Dave Murdick were heat victors.
After two finishes outside the top 10, last Saturday Joe Gabrielson was able to record his season’s best finish in seventh. On Saturday night, the third generation racer improved that by six positions as he came from the seventh starting spot to win his season’s first in the 15-lap Summit Racing Equipment feature. Gabrielson became the fourth different winner in as many nights.
“This thing was in pieces last night when we went to Raceway 7,” revealed the 24-year-old Bristolville, Ohio driver. “It made about five laps in the heat race until someone lost it in turn one. My dad and I were up until four in the morning getting this ready. It was awesome in the heat race, but I was worried about it getting loose so I put a little less stagger in the rear. This car was just amazing- I can’t believe it! I knew I had to go once I got to the inside and made it work. I have to thank my mom and dad for letting me do this since 2005.”
After a spin by pole-sitter Scott Jones, Shawn Shingledecker inherited the lead as fifth starting Jeff Johnson advanced up to second with Gabrielson third after one lap. Following a caution for a five-car melee with two laps completed, Alan Dellinger had already advanced from 19th to fourth. After losing fourth on lap four to Clayton Kennedy, Dellinger put a slider on both Kennedy and Johnson to take over third one lap later.
A seven-car accident, which included Dellinger, brought action to a halt with eight laps scored. On the ensuing restart, Gabrielson performed a perfect slide job of Shingledecker in turn two for the lead. It was a lead that Gabrielson would never relinquish as he pulled away over the second-half of the race for his third career victory in the Bill Gabrielson, Sr.-owned, Awesome Signs & Shirts/Reese Services/Husband 4 Hire Handyman/Integra Racing Shocks/Keyer’s Part City Racing-sponsored #58.
Shingledecker, who had finishes of sixth, eighth, and tenth was finally able to crack the top five with a season best runner-up as he took over the point lead. Kennedy was third in his season debut. Paul Phillips was the hard charger advancing from 21st to a season best fourth. Bruce Powell also had his season best finish in fifth after starting way back in 16th. Andy Buckley, Gabrielson, and Kennedy topped the heat races over the 24-car field.
Rod Laskey was finally able to celebrate in victory lane at Sharon Speedway as he led all 15 laps of the non-stop Gibson Insurance Agency Stock Car feature timed in 4:42.397. “This is just awesome,” expressed the 36-year-old Oil City, Pa. racer. “I can’t believe it. We’ve run second several times. We’re just really going for it this year. This is my 602 crate engine out of my FASTRAK Late Model. Finances have been a little tough. I have to really thank Bob Sloss. We’ve had some motor issues the last couple weeks. I said lets just take the motor out of the Late Model and try it. I had some carburetor trouble in the pits, but we got it straightened around.”
Laskey used the outside to take the lead from defending four-time champion Steve D’Apolito at the start as Mike Clark followed in third. Point leader Tim Burns had a good opening lap as he passed both Charlie Jasinski and Jamie Scharba for fourth as opening night winner Paul Davis moved into the top five.
Those top five positions would never change for the duration of the event as Laskey was never challenged maintaining an approximate 1-second lead for most of the event over D’Apolito in the Bob Sloss-owned, Joy Mining/R.K. Virgile Scrap Metals/Pennewell Sandblasting/Stan Hepler Roofing-sponsored #44s. D’Apolito’s second was his season’s best effort as he continued his streak of top six heat and feature finishes in every race over the past two seasons. Clark, Burns, and Davis were third through fifth. Heat winners were Shaun Hooks and Davis.
Jim Dellinger became the fourth different Econo Mod winner in as many nights as he held off his nephew Derek for his first ever win in the division. Dellinger led every lap of the HTMA/Precise Racing Products 15 lapper.
“I love that little kid,” expressed the 46-year-old Farmdale, Ohio driver. “He’s a great wheelman. That was fun! The car got really hot and started slowing down. I was supposed to win last week on Mother’s Day, but the bolt fell out of the A-frame. I have to thank Jim Turley. What a great guy- he’ll do anything for you. This car was put together with extra parts from him and me. We just don’t have anything in it; I think there’s like two grand in the whole racecar! We have a blast- this is a fun class!”
The elder Dellinger was able to miss the five-car opening lap accident that occurred when pole-sitter Kevin Robinson spun. Dellinger took off in the lead when action got underway, while Jace Ferringer, sixth starting Derek Dellinger, Jeff Christy, and Bob Williams were in hot pursuit. By lap four, the top three pulled away before a caution slowed action.
After getting involved in an early accident, last week’s winner Brian Hathaway was working his way back through the field. Hathaway passed Williams for fourth on lap seven just before Williams slowed to bring out the caution. When racing resumed, Hathaway got past Derek for third then flew by Ferringer, who slipped high on lap nine as Derek followed in third.
Hathaway and Derek battled hard for second with Derek getting back by on lap 12. Derek ran down his uncle Jim in the closing laps. On the finally lap, the duo were side-by-side on the backstretch as they lapped Dennis Dellinger, Jr., the 14-year-old son of Jim. Derek had the advantage on the inside coming off turn four to the checkered flag, but Jim carried the momentum off the outside to barely edge his nephew for his second career Sharon win in the Jim Turley-owned #1.
Hathaway’s third allowed him to take over the point lead for the first time in his career. Jeff Christy easily beat his season best finish off 11th with a solid fourth as Ferringer dropped to fifth. Brandon Blackshear and Hathaway secured the heat race wins over the 19-car field. Two new cars brought the total up to 26 different ones already for the third year division, which is competing weekly for the first time ever.
Defending champion Bill Fuchs came from the fifth starting position to win his second of the season in the 12-lap Deforest Used Parts Mini Stock feature. “There’s a lot of great drivers in the division this year- it’s come a long way,” said the 36-year-old Greenville, Pa. resident. “Jamie Wrightsman, Jim Haefke, and Scott Gilliland have really stepped up their program 100%. It makes it that much more fun to come to the track each week because there’s so much competition and that’s what it’s all about. We love to put on a great show for the fans.”
Steve Walker II passed Stacy Neubecker, Jeff Webber, and Ken Koby II all on the first lap for the early lead. Scott Gilliland had advanced from eighth to third after a lap with Fuchs up to fourth. Fuchs grabbed third from Gilliland on lap two then one lap later drove under Koby for second in turn four.
Fuchs began to close on Walker on lap five. The event’s only cautions took place with three consecutive ones with six laps scored. The final six would go green-to-checkered. Back under green flag racing, it was three-wide down the frontstretch for the lead as Fuchs and 13th starting Jamie Wrightsman powered into the top two positions.
Fuchs was unable to pull away from Wrightsman as he maintained a slight advantage over the final six laps for his division leading 15th career victory in his RTW Industrial Contracting/Hittles Auto Supply/Chatfield Well Drilling/Kreider Tire/McCray & Haag Automotive/Headliners & Stilettos Gentlemen’s Club/Veados Mini Mart-sponsored #10.
Wrightsman was runner-up for the second time this season as he recorded his third top five in four outings. Gilliland was third as he trails Fuchs by three points in the standings. Walker dropped to fourth at the finish over opening night winner and 10th starter Jim Haefke, Jr. Heat winners were Haefke and Jim Wrightsman over the season-high 16-car field.
Barris Supply FASTRAK Late Models (20 laps): 1. BOBBY WHITLING (7W) 2. Will Thomas III (9) 3. Matt Latta (21) 4. Michael Mitchell (19) 5. Josh Double (38) 6. Dave Airgood (42) 7. Tom Copeland (98) 8. Brian Booher (Hoover 00H) 9. Chad Wright (6) 10. Bob Diver (23) 11. Eric Wilson (27) 12. Justin Kreider (29) 13. Bobby Rohrer (11) 14. Jason Stanke (44) 15. Stan Woomer (2) 16. Alan Dellinger (Longwell 114) 17. George Kowatic (5) 18. Randy Wyant (11T)-DNS 19. Ben Black (27B)-DNS.
Governor Insurance Agency DIRTcar Big-Block Modifieds (20 laps): 1. REX KING (65) 2. Jim Weller, Jr. (31) 3. Kevin Bolland (777) 4. Dave Murdick (61) 5. Jeremiah Shingledecker (37MD) 6. Dean Pearson (8J) 7. Tom Mattocks (69) 8. Carl Murdick (6) 9. Jeff Monoskey (22) 10. Rex King, Jr. (165) 11. Rick Ryder (Snider 189) 12. Rob Kristyak (00)-DNS.
Summit Racing Equipment E-Mods (15 laps): 1. JOE GABRIELSON (58) 2. Shawn Shingledecker (54s) 3. Clayton Kennedy (9) 4. Paul Phillips (11SS) 5. Bruce Powell (35) 6. Jeff Hassay (10) 7. Bud Watson (White 53) 8. Ronnie Kahler (7R) 9. Andy Buckley (965) 10. Vince Crisanti (221) 11. Rob Mellinger (55) 12. Mike Monreal (071) 13. Bob Williamson (93) 14. Alan Dellinger (Petsko 00) 15. Jeff Johnson (27) 16. Trevor Herr (32) 17. Scott Jones (71J) 18. Chris Myers (Beck 357) 19. Kevin Miller III (4M) 20. Jim Nicely (72) 21. Jim Turley (117) 22. Jack Young (67)-DNS 23. Wayne Brugmann (79)-DNS 24. Dale Monreal (7)-DNS.
Gibson Insurance Agency Stock Cars (15 laps): 1. ROD LASKEY (Sloss 44s) 2. Steve D’Apolito (84) 3. Mike Clark (7) 4. Tim Burns (66) 5. Paul Davis (3) 6. Charlie Jasinski (5) 7. Shaun Hooks (Janovick 65) 8. Brian Carothers (02c) 9. Rusty Wheeler (Burns 70B) 10. Pat Adams (93) 11. Jesse Brock (22B) 12. Jamie Scharba (00S).
HTMA/Precise Racing Products Econo Mods (15 laps): 1. JIM DELLINGER (Turley 1) 2. Derek Dellinger (119) 3. Brian Hathaway (93) 4. Jeff Christy (Berry 91) 5. Jace Ferringer (02) 6. Jeremy Double (83) 7. Steve Burns, Jr. (70B) 8. Calvin Clay (12c) 9. Junior Mechling (89) 10. Mike Smith (81) 11. Keith Felicetty (Mechling 98) 12. Dennis Dellinger, Jr. (Turley 17) 13. Bob Williams (8) 14. Amanda Stiffler (14) 15. George Vestal IV (4) 16. Ryan Fraley (12SS) 17. Kevin Robinson (24R) 18. Brandon Blackshear (10) 19. Kevin Sevacko (76)-DNS.
Deforest Used Parts Mini Stocks (12 laps): 1. BILL FUCHS (10) 2. Jamie Wrightsman (21J) 3. Scott Gilliland (27) 4. Steve Walker II (4M) 5. Jim Haefke, Jr. (421) 6. Stacy Neubecker (5) 7. Jeff Webber (25) 8. Jim Wrightsman (12J) 9. Martha Doyle (37) 10. Jake Monreal (32) 11. Ken Koby II (22) 12. Jim Siwula (711) 13. Jon Parsons (Neubecker 5x) 14. Jeff Little (42)-DNS 15. Dale Monreal (77)-DNS 16. Tommy Davis (32)-DNS.
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.