Martin wins emotional FASTRAK NE L.M. TOUR “Gary Knollinger Memorial”; Season’s 1st for Murdick in Mods; Career 1st Econo Mod win for Burns; Davis & Haefke keep on winning in Stocks & Minis
By Mike Leone
June 23, 2012
(Hartford, OH)…Sharon Speedway hosted the second annual “Gary Knollinger Memorial” for the Sweeney Chevrolet Buick GMC FASTRAK Northeast Late Model Touring Series on Saturday night. Celebrating in the Hovis Auto & Truck Supply victory lane were Joe Martin-Barris Supply FASTRAK Late Models, Dave Murdick-Governor Insurance Agency DIRTcar Big-Block Modifieds, Paul Davis-Gibson Insurance Agency Stock Cars, Steve Burns, Jr.-HTMA/Precise Racing Products Econo Mods, and Jim Haefke, Jr.-Deforest Used Parts Mini Stocks.
On a night that remembered Gary Knollinger, the FASTRAK 2010 Mid-Ohio Valley Touring Champion and Northeast third place finisher, it appeared Knollinger may have just had a hand in the night’s outcome with Joe Martin winning the feature and Joel Prosser capturing the non-qualifier. Knollinger considered Sharon to be one of, if not, his favorite speedways and in fact was the site of Knollinger’s only career Touring Series victory on July 29, 2010. For those reasons, the Knollingers decided Sharon would be the site of their son’s memorials. Gary’s parents Gary, Sr. and Bev were on hand as well as longtime crew friend and crew chief John Seyler.
At last year’s awards banquet, Joe Martin was the recipient of the Series’ inaugural Gary Knollinger Memorial “Golden Award” for his sponsorship and professionalism that he emulated at all times on and off the speedway. Martin stated the award meant more to him than any other honor that he had ever received.
Martin entered Saturday night down on luck and needing a boast. Martin was coming off of a hard crash last Saturday night at McKean County Raceway and had only recorded one top five finish in seven events this season with five finishes of 13th or worse. So it was only fitting that Martin performed nearly a perfect night winning his heat, a runner-up in the K&N Dash, and an impressive wire-to-wire performance in the 30-lap feature.
The $2,000 win was the biggest of the fourth year racer’s career and he also earned the $100 Genesis Shocks “Top Dog of the Night” and the K&N $100 certificate for his runner-up dash finish along with the beautiful memorial racer statue trophy. Martin became the Series’ fourth different winner of the season with his third career Tour win, but first ever away from Dog Hollow Speedway.
“It’s an honor to win this race,” stated the 27-year-old Mayport, Pa. resident. “I think Gary (Knollinger) and I have something going on here and he’s looking down on me. We won the award this winter and this is a special night to be in victory lane. I’m glad the Knollinger Family is here for Gary. Our right front strap broke that supports the nose piece. It got under my tire in that dash. I was nervous; I thought we were going to have a junk race car instead of a winning one.”
“We are learning every time we get in this car,” explained Martin about his new Wylie Race Car. “We take our hats off to Gary and Andrew Wylie. I have to thank the good Lord above for watching over us. We’re strapped for cash. This is going to go a long way. We actually blew two trailer tires on the way here. I wasn’t sure if we were going to get home. I have to thank all of my sponsors, Mike Ingram, all of the many people that come to the track and support me. We put so many hours into this thing. I also have to thank Mike (Leone) and Vicki (Emig). They pay attention and take care of us along with Brad Hibbard.”
Martin took off from the outside pole into the lead past Andrew Satterlee with John Over, Shane Weaver, and sixth starting Chad Ruhlman moving into the top five after one lap. The top five remained unchanged as the laps ticked off caution-free. Martin had a half-straightaway lead when he caught lapped traffic on lap seven; meanwhile Ruhlman put the pressure on Weaver on lap eight before making the pass for fourth one lap later.
Satterlee quickly caught up to Martin on lap 10 and actually got alongside the leader coming off turn four. Martin carried the momentum off the top side of the speedway as he held the lead, while 11th starting Mike Pegher, Jr. was on the move driving around both Dennis Lunger, Jr. and Weaver for fifth. Satterlee continued to pressure Martin on laps 11 and 12 looking to somehow get by until the first caution of the event was displayed when two cars slowed with 12 laps completed.
On the ensuing restart, a seven-car melee took place when racers got bunched up. It was unfortunate end for runner-up point man Butch Lambert, who would suffer his first DNF of the season. For that Lambert, received for The Brake Man “Tough Brake of the Night”. When racing resumed, Pegher advanced past Ruhlman for fourth on lap 13. A pair of cautions on laps 13 and 14 for Bobby Rohrer and Ricky Meglaye were the final cautions of the night as the last 16 went green-to-checkered.
Defending track champion Josh Double, who had worked his way from 10th to fifth, slowed when racing resumed moving Ruhlman back into the top five. With each progressive lap, Martin stretched his lead on Satterlee as Satterlee had his hands full with John Over and Pegher. On lap 17, Pegher ducked under and past Over in turn four to take third. Lunger used the outside to get by Ruhlman for fifth on lap 18.
With 10 laps to go, Martin increased his lead to a straightaway margin. Martin caught lapped traffic on lap 24, but he was able to negotiate them without any trouble over the final six laps. Martin took the checkered flag first by 1.947 seconds for his fifth career Sharon win matching Pegher as the track’s all-time leader. Martin’s popular victory came in the Allegheny Crane Rental/Neese Trucking/Martin Farms/Spartan Thru Tubing/Zero Wraps/JNJ Motorsports Media-sponsored, Wylie Race Car & Ingram Engines #55.
Satterlee was a Touring best second over Pegher and Over, who also recorded his best ever Tour finish. Lunger was fifth in his first Touring start of the season. Completing the top 10 were Ruhlman, point leader Will Thomas III, Dan Angelicchio, Touring point leader Max Blair, and Bill Cunningham.
One week ago, Joel Prosser came to Sharon to get ready for Saturday’s “Gary Knollinger Memorial”. The longtime friend of Knollinger suffered a hard crash that to many figured would end his chances of being able to compete Saturday night. But with the help of former Knollinger crew chief, John Seyler, and others, the #77 was back at the track Saturday night with an amazing tribute body panel to Knollinger’s #38K.
The New Martinsville, WV driver unfortunately missed his heat race then came within one spot of transferring to the feature through his B main. Prosser paced the four-wide salute and tribute to Knollinger before the 30-lap feature. With his third place B main finish, Prosser earned the pole for the night’s non-qualifier event. And though it wasn’t the race he wanted to be in, Prosser fittingly led all six laps of the race for victory, which came in his Dutch Pantry Restaurant/Amsoil Specialty Lubes-sponsored #77. New York teammate racers Tim Sears, Jr. and A.J. Kingsley finished a close second and third. Garrett Mott, Paul Phillips, and Tom Bateman completed the starting field.
Heat race winners over the season-high 35 cars were Rohrer, Satterlee, Weaver, and Martin. Satterlee won the $100 K&N Dash. The B mains were won by Ryan Montgomery and Andrew Wylie.
For the first four DIRTcar Big-Block Modified events of the season it was Rex King and Kevin Bolland each winning two. Now for third consecutive week, a new winner has found victory lane. It started with Brian Swartzlander winning in his first appearance on June 9 followed by Jeremiah Shingledecker capturing his first career Sharon win last week, and then on Saturday night Dave Murdick stormed to his season’s first 20-lap Governor Insurance Agency feature win.
“At least we got this win out of the way,” stated the 49-year-old Butler, Pa. racer. “We still have a lot of business to do to win the championship, but we’re hanging right in there. The best we can do is to keep the pressure on. This is a brand new car- the first night out for it. I think right now Troyer has the car to beat. I have to thank my sponsors and my crew. Without them it wouldn’t be possible. We worked our tails off getting this car done.”
Jim Weller, Jr. flew to the early lead with Rex King, Jr. & Sr., Shingledecker, and Murdick in tow. Murdick raced past Shingledecker for fourth on lap two. On lap four, Weller went to the outside of newcomer Troy Willoughby to try to lap him, but got moved high out of the racing groove allowing King, Jr. to get by. Weller tried to dive back under King, Jr., but caught the berm in turns one and two busting his front end and bringing out the caution.
When racing resumed, Murdick and King went at it for second racing side-by-side from laps four through eight. On lap seven, it was actually three-wide for the lead with King, Jr. holding on. Coming down for the eighth lap, King, Jr. went up in smoke ending his shot at his season’s first win, while Murdick edged ahead of the elder King just before the caution was displayed.
That pass was a big one as Murdick inherited the lead on the restart and led the final 12 non-stop laps for his fourth career Sharon win in his Steve’s Auto Body-sponsored #61. King was 2.011 seconds back in second. Kevin Bolland came from 11th to place third after getting by Shingledecker on lap 10. The tight point race sees King ahead of Murdick by just one point and only three ahead of Bolland. Shingledecker dropped to fourth over Del Rougeux, Jr. Sixth through 10th were Jim Rasey, Skip Moore, Mark Frankhouser, Tom Mattocks, and Chris Haines. The two Kings won the heat races over the 18-car field.
In what was probably the best race of the season, Paul Davis came out on a top of the 15-lap Stock Car thriller over Rod Laskey and Steve D’Apolito that saw the trio race hard and clean side-by-side for much of the event. The win was Davis’ division-leading third of the season as he continues to be the only multiple winner.
“That’s what it’s all about,” expressed the 51-year-old Fowler, Ohio veteran. “You’re having a little fun out there and you have to earn it- that’s the way I like to do it! I couldn’t go anywhere, but follow the guys. Steve (D’Apolito) moved down there a little to block the 44 (Laskey) on the bottom and left the top open for me and I’ll take it. That’s where it worked for me. I tried the bottom, but it wasn’t working too well for me tonight.”
D’Apolito took off in the lead from the pole over Mike Clark and Paul Davis. Two cautions slowed action on laps one and two. Those two cautions were the only stoppages of the event as the final 13 fast-paced laps went green-to-checkered.
Davis got around Clark for second when racing resumed. Eighth starting Laskey was on the move passing Clark for third on lap three. Davis and Laskey ran down D’Apolito and was on the leader on lap five. Davis slipped high in turn four on lap seven allowing Laskey to move by for second. Laskey pulled even with D’Apolito on lap 10 as they passed the lapped car of Jamie Gibbs.
Once again, Laskey pulled even with D’Apolito on laps 11 and 12, but on the 12th circuit Laskey had just enough to nose ahead for the lead. Davis rebounded to regain second on lap 13 driving around D’Apolito. Davis then caught Laskey and made the winning move in turn four on lap 14 to nip Laskey for the lead at the start-finish line.
Davis would hold off Laskey by 0.464 seconds for his seventh career Stock Car win and 10th overall at Sharon in his Top Notch Diner/Hover Racing/Integra Fab-sponsored #3. D’Apolito was third over Clark and last week’s winner Shaun Hooks. Davis and Clark were the heat race winners.
Former Stock Car racer Steve Burns., Jr. survived five cautions and challenges from the Blackshear brothers to capture his first career Econo Mod feature win in the 15-lap $350 to-win HTMA/Precise Racing Products feature.
“We blew a motor up last week,” acknowledged the 22-year-old Masury, Ohio driver. “We gathered up some parts out of the garage, threw a cheap one together, and it worked out! I saw Brandon go around me, but I knew I could get back around him. Our car was working real well. The track was a little slick, but it was alright. It took a few weeks to get the hang of this car, but I think I have it now.
Burns took off in the lead while Brandon and Brad were making their way forward. Brandon started 11th, while Brad started 14th. The duo were up to second and third after three laps scored and swapped the runner-up position back and forth several times. On lap seven, Burns slipped high in turn four allowing Brandon to take the lead.
Burns didn’t give up as he got under and past Brandon in turns one and two for the lead on lap 10. Point leader Brandon suffered a flat tire on lap 11 as Brad inherited second. With his fender rubbing on his right rear tire, Brad was unable to challenge Burns as Burns went on for his third career win at Sharon in the Steve Burns, Sr.-owned, Penn Ohio Electric/T&D Landscaping/Rien Construction/Country Convenience/Laddies Sky Club/Warehouse Sales/Tight Seal Glass Block/Dr. Caquadi-sponsored #70B. Third through fifth were veterans Larry Root, Junior Mechling, and Bob Williams. Brian Hathaway and Brandon Blackshear won the heat races.
Jim Haefke, Jr’s career best season continued on Saturday night as he recorded his division-leading fourth victory in the 12-lap Deforest Used Parts Mini Stock feature.
“I thought I was going to lose it four or five times, but that Jerry is a hell of a racer,” explained the 30-year-old Austintown, Ohio driver. “I don’t know how I saved it a couple times- it’s running like a two-barrel. We’re all pretty much the same power; one slip up and you’re pretty much done. I have to thank all of my sponsors, my wife, and Sharon Speedway.”
Haefke passed Steve Walker II and Ray Kennedy for the lead on lap one. Jerry Batcher started fifth and passed Jamie Wrightsman and Walker for second on lap two. Batcher overtook Haefke for the lead on lap three and led through lap nine. Haefke was able to get back by Batcher on lap 10 and went on for the win. Batcher’s night ended with a mechanical failure as Wrightsman crossed the finish line in second over point leader Bill Fuchs, Walker, and Jim Wrightsman. Fuchs won the heat race.
Sweeney Chevrolet Buick GMC Pace Performance FASTRAK Northeast Late Model Touring Series (30 laps, $2,000 to-win): 1. JOE MARTIN (55) 2. Andrew Satterlee (2) 3. Mike Pegher, Jr. (Geisler 1c) 4. John Over (K2) 5. Dennis Lunger, Jr. (Schwartz 71L) 6. Chad Ruhlman (Suppa 4s) 7. Will Thomas III (9) 8. Dan Angelicchio (14) 9. Max Blair (111) 10. Bill Cunningham (59) 11. Matt Latta (Bidwell B1D) 12. Ryan Montgomery (12) 13. Josh Holtgraver (00) 14. Shane Weaver (Ruffner 325x) 15. Ricky Meglaye (5) 16. Ben Black (27B) 17. Lauren Longbrake (27) 18. Eric Wilson (27W) 19. Bobby Rohrer (11) 20. Bobby Whitling (7W) 21. Randy Wyant (11T) 22. Josh Double (38) 23. Butch Lambert (27) 24. Brad Kling (Powell 100) 25. Brian Booher (Hoover 00H) 26. Andrew Wylie (84).
FASTRAK Late Model Non-Qualifier Event: 1. Joel Prosser (77/38K) 2. Tim Sears, Jr. (Kingsley 3T) 3. A.J. Kingsley (3K) 4. Garrett Mott (43x) 5. Paul Phillips (Longwell 114) 6. Tom Bateman (B8) 7. Clay Ruffo (14R)-DNS 8. Chad Wright (6)-DNS 9. Michael Mitchell (19)-DNS.
Governor Insurance Agency DIRTcar Big-Block Modifieds (20 laps): 1. DAVE MURDICK (61) 2. Rex King (65) 3. Kevin Bolland (777) 4. Jeremiah Shingledecker (37MD) 5. Del Rougeux, Jr. (20D) 6. Jim Rasey (32) 7. Skip Moore (17M) 8. Mark Frankhouser (03) 9. Tom Mattocks (69) 10. Chris Haines (35H) 11. Carl Murdick (6) 12. Jeff Monoskey (22) 13. Rick Ryder (Snider 189) 14. Troy Willoughby (83W) 15. Rex King, Jr. (165) 16. Jim Weller, Jr. (31) 17. Bob Warren (96B) 18. Dean Pearson (8J)-DNS.
Gibson Insurance Agency Stock Cars (15 laps): 1. PAUL DAVIS (3) 2. Rod Laskey (Sloss 44s) 3. Steve D’Apolito (84) 4. Mike Clark (7) 5. Shaun Hooks (Janovick 65) 6. Tim Burns (66) 7. Jamie Duncan (67J) 8. Jamie Scharba (00S) 9. Jesse Brock (22B) 10. Jamie Gibbs (98) 11. Brian Carothers (02c) 12. Gary McGregor (79) 13. Steve Burns, Jr. (70B) 14. Dan McEwen (44M)-DNS.
HTMA/Precise Racing Products Econo Mods (15 laps, $350 to-win): 1. STEVE BURNS, JR. (70B) 2. Brad Blackshear (19) 3. Larry Root (22x) 4. Junior Mechling (89) 5. Bob Williams (8) 6. Jeff Mundell (11) 7. Brian Hathaway (93) 8. Jim Dellinger (Turley 17) 9. Mike Smith (81) 10. Kevin Robinson (24R) 11. Brandon Blackshear (10) 12. Keith Felicetty (Mechling 98) 13. Amanda Stiffler (14) 14. Jeremy Double (83) 15. George Vestal IV (4)-DNS 16. Ed Cornell (55)-DNS 17. Dennis Dellinger, Jr. (Turley 1)-DNS.
Deforest Used Parts Mini Stocks (12 laps): 1. JIM HAEFKE, JR. (421) 2. Jamie Wrightsman (21J) 3. Bill Fuchs (10) 4. Steve Walker II (4M) 5. Jim Wrightsman (12J) 6. Ray Kennedy (18) 7. Gina Thompson (25) 8. Jerry Batcher (7) 9. Martha Doyle 10. Rick Wilson, Jr. (77)-DNS.
Sharon Speedway will be in action this Tuesday night (June 26) for the All Star Sprint Ohio Speedweek paying $5,000 to-win along with the HTMA/Precise Racing Products for $350 to-win and the Deforest Used Parts Mini Stocks for $200 to-win.
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.