Apple Festival Nat’s conclude Saturday with 151 cars; Career 1st FASTRAK NE LM Tour win for Wright; Watson & Laskey score $1,000 UEMS & Stock wins; 14-y.o. Bowers & Wrightsman sweep weekend in Econo Mods & Minis
By Mike Leone
September 15, 2012 FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
(Hartford, OH)…The “Apple Festival Nationals” concluded on Saturday with perfect weather conditions following Friday’s two and a half hour rain delay to complete night one of the annual event. Saturday’s car count topped Friday’s by one car- 151 to 150!
Celebrating in the Hovis Auto & Truck Supply victory lane were Chad Wright-Sweeney Chevrolet Buick GMC Pace Performance FASTRAK Late Models, Joel Watson-UEMS Summit Racing Equipment E-Mods, Rod Laskey-Gibson Insurance Agency Open Stock Cars, Casey Bowers-HTMA/Precise Racing Products Econo Mods, and Jamie Wrightsman-Deforest Used Parts Mini Stocks.
After a rough night at the Weekly Series event on Friday night at Sharon, Chad Wright was unsure if he was going to return for Saturday’s Tour event; however, the last minute decision provided fruitful as Wright put on the best performance of his career with a dominating effort for his first career Northeast Touring Series victory. Wright passed John Over early in the race and was never challenged for the $1,200 victory in the non-stop 25-lap Barris Supply event timed in 7:17.958. Wright became the 11th different Sharon FASTRAK winner.
“It feels pretty good- I’ve been waiting for this for a long time,” expressed the 18-year-old Springboro, Pa. third year FASTRAK driver. “I knew they were behind me. I just tried keeping a line and passed lapped traffic. It’s awesome- I got it done! I have to thank Rob and Max Blair. They help me with setup and everything I do. The body they put on this is awesome. I also have to thank my mom, dad, and all my sponsors. I couldn’t have done it without all of them!”
John Over drew the pole position and raced into the lead ahead of Bud Watson and Wright. Max Blair started fourth, but slipped high and faded to sixth. On lap two, Wright passed Watson for second, while Blair regained fourth past Andrew Wylie and Bryce Davis.
Wright quickly caught Over and the two raced side-by-side for the lead on lap three with Wright making the pass in turn four, while Blair passed Watson for third. Davis and Wylie were able to get by Watson in the next few laps for fourth and fifth respectively. By lap six, Wright began to pull away, while the battle was on for second.
Wright caught lapped traffic on lap 12 and was able to maintain his lead by a straightaway at the halfway mark. The battle continued to rage for second as Over was trying to hold off Blair, Davis, and Wylie. On lap 19, Blair was really hounding Over looking for a way by, and in the meantime the foursome was closing on Wright. Wright was mired in heavy lapped traffic, which allowed second through fifth to cut Wright’s lead in half.
In the next laps, Wright was able to clear traffic and quickly opened his lead back up. Wright had no scares over the final five laps as he crossed the finish line first by a margin of 4.593 in his Zimmer’s Service Center/Bonnell’s Collision, ECS Towing/Wright’s Garage/Everhart Asphalt/TBR/Hendren’s Racing-sponsored #6. Wright became the 10th different Tour winner of the season and 35th driver to win a Tour race in the 93 races contested all time.
Over recorded his career best Tour finish of second beating a previous best of two fourth place finishes. Tour Point leader Blair’s third place was his 16th top five finish in 20 races this season! After running only two of the first 16 events, Davis has joined the Tour for three of the last four events and has been impressive with a second, third, and now a fourth place finish! Wylie’s fifth place bested his prior season’s best effort of 10th. Completing the top 10 were Matt Latta, Josh Double, Shane Weaver, Watson, and Mike Pegher, Jr., who moved into second place in the standings. Heat victors over the 24-car field were Pegher, Weaver, and Latta, while Ryan Montgomery won the K&N Dash.
Joel Watson continued to show his muscle in the E-Mods. Watson led all 25 laps of the Summit Racing Equipment feature and held off a hard charge by 25th starting Andy Buckley to capture the UEMS-sanctioned event. Ironically at the last regular Sharon event it was Buckley holding off Watson for his first career E-Mod win. Watson’s fourth win of the season at Sharon was worth $1,000 and came over a star-studded field of 41 cars!
The problem when you’re leading races is you don’t know if someone is with you or running you down,” explained the Conneaut, Ohio ace. “You have to stay patient and not overrun yourself. I had in my head I was burning the tires clean off the car so I was really worried making it the last laps. Andy (Buckley) has really been coming together on his program. It’s going to be fun racing him in the future.”
Watson raced past pole-sitter Jonathan Taylor for the early lead. Taylor was running second, but suffered a flat tire from contact on a restart with Al Brewer. Sixth starting Clayton Kennedy and Buckley moved into second and third respectively past Brewer on lap 11. Watson pulled away from the field at the halfway point. Kennedy and Buckley meanwhile distanced themselves from the pack and really went at it for second. Buckley was able to make the pass on lap 19 following a restart.
Buckley ran down Watson, but a flat tire for Mike Kinney that necessitated the caution with 23 laps scored was the break Watson needed. On the ensuing restart, Watson took off and though Buckley again closed on the final lap, Watson was able to hold on by 0.613 seconds for his 10th career win in his Northwest Restoration/Zimmer’s Service Center/Racecar Fabrication/Hoosier Tire-sponsored #92.
Kennedy was third over Brewer and Evan Taylor. Brent Rhebergen came from 24th to finish sixth as Richard Michael, Jr., 21st starting Paul Phillips, who made his debut in the Jason Longwell-owned #7s, Ken Zimmer, and John Boyd rounded out the top 10. Heat winners were Kennedy, Vic Vena, Boyd, and Watson. Howard Fraley and Friday night’s winner Carl McKinney won the B mains.
Earlier this season Rod Laskey won his first career Sharon Speedway feature after years of trying. On Saturday night, Laskey ran the race of his life coming from 18th to win the $1,000 Open Stock Car 20-lap Gibson Insurance Agency feature. This was one night after another Sharon regular, Brian Carothers, charged from 19th to win the biggest race of his career. For the second straight night, a great field of 46 cars was on hand.
“Last night we had a great car and I just got too wound up,” acknowledged the 36-year-old Oil City, Pa. racer. “I still I am wound up now, but I tried to keep it clean. I have to thank Travis from Les Frickson for the power because that thing was on the rug- just awesome! I can’t thank Bob Sloss enough for everything he’s done for me and the opportunity. My pit crew has worked so hard. I can’t thank them enough- it really means a lot to me.”
Lernerville Speedway standout Corey McPherson looked like he was primed for his first career win at the speedway. After not even making the feature on Friday night, track conditions were more suitable for McPherson. Trouble though began brewing for McPherson on lap 12 as smoke began to appear, while Laskey entered the picture taking third from point leader Tim Burns.
Following a restart with 17 laps scored, Shaun Hooks slipped high allowing Laskey to grab second on lap 18 before Ryan Blood spun to bring out the caution. The stoppage proved crucial as it appeared McPherson lost power on the restart as Laskey charged to the lead. Laskey went on for the win in the Bob Sloss-owned, Joy Mining/R.K. Virgile Scrap Metals/Pennewell Sandblasting/Stan Hepler Roofing-sponsored #44s.
Tim Deutsch was able to place second after getting by McPherson on the final lap to record his best career finish, which was worth $600. McPherson dropped to a heartbreaking third as Burns and 22nd starting Greg Fenno rounded out the top five. Sixth through 10th were Hooks, Friday’s May 27 make-up winner Tommy Fox, Pat Fielding, Joe Rohrer, and John Phelps. Taking heat race wins were Jamie Scharba, Fox, Burns, and McPherson, while Paul Davis and Fenno split the B mains.
On July 13 at Raceway 7, Casey Bowers stopped Brandon Blackshear’s domination of the Econo Mods for his first career win. The 14-year-old racer decided to come to Sharon Speedway for the first time ever this weekend and may have just made a name for himself. After leading all 15 laps on Friday night to become the youngest winner in the 84-year history of the speedway, Bowers backed it up with a last lap pass on Saturday night for the clean sweep of the $700 “Apple Festival Nationals” HTMA/Precise Racing Products weekend!
“I didn’t think I was going to get him because the car wasn’t handling too well,” described the Cranesville, Pa. winner. “The last two laps though it really kicked in. I thought coming out of turn four ‘this is my only chance so I better make my move’. Racing cars just came natural to me I guess. My dad and uncle Jeff used to race Super Late Models.”
Steve Burns, Jr. took off in the lead from the pole position with Bowers passing Todd Canter on the opening lap. Larry Root then passed Canter for third on lap three. Bowers would slip high in turn four on lap six losing second and third to Root and Blackshear. Root’s fine run ended when he exited the event under caution with nine laps scored. Blackshear inherited second, but lost the spot to Bowers when racing resumed on lap 10.
A caution for a spin by Keith Felicetty slowed action with 11 laps completed. On the ensuing restart, Canter passed both Blackshear and Bowers to regain second. The final caution occurred when Bob Williams spun and collected Steve Haefke, Jr. This set up a one-lap shootout to the finish. Bowers was able to pass Canter for second when racing resumed then ducked under Burns coming off turn four to take the checkered flag in the Jody Bowers-owned, K&N Directional Boring-sponsored #20.
Burns got high and sideways in the “marbles” allowing Canter and 10th starting Jeremy Double to go by to finish second and third respectively. Burns tried to regain control on the frontstretch, but a pileup ensued. Burns still crossed the finish line in fourth over Blackshear. For the second straight night, a record 23 cars were on hand as Blackshear, Williams, and Root won the heat races.
After finishing second for five straight weeks and seven times in the season’s first 10 races, Jamie Wrightsman has appeared to replace Jim Haefke. Jr. as the driver to beat. Wrightsman made it a clean sweep of the $400 “Apple Festival Nationals” Mini Stock Weekend as he won for the third straight race and fourth time in the past seven races! The victories for the 22-yeart-old Cortland, Ohio driver have come in the 12-lap Deforest Used Parts features.
The race got off to a scary start when Mike Hillman took a nasty series of barrel rolls and collected six other racers. Everyone was okay. When the carnage was cleaned up, Scott Gilliland raced past pole-sitter Rob McElhaney for the early lead with Wrightsman up to third from his eighth starting spot. Wrightsman passed McElhaney in turn four with a slider for second on lap two. Wrightsman quickly ran down Gilliland on lap three and made the winning pass in turn four on lap four. After the early race accident, the 12 laps clicked off caution-free with Wrightsman bagging his sixth career win in his King Bros. Concrete/Russ King Racing/Primetime Plumbing & Heating/Cornwell Tools/M.S. Farms/GPMS/Quality Auto Body-sponsored #21J.
Gilliland held on to second in his return after a three-month hiatus. Bill Fuchs came from 12th to finish third. Ray Gregory continued his string of consistent runs with his fifth straight top four finish. McElhaney faded to fifth. Heat victors over the 17-car field were McElhaney and Gilliland.
Sweeney Chevrolet Buick GMC Pace Performance FASTRAK Northeast Late Model Touring Series: (25 laps, $1,200 to-win): 1. CHAD WRIGHT (6) 2. John Over (K2) 3. Max Blair (111) 4. Bryce Davis (94) 5. Andrew Wylie (84) 6. Matt Latta (Bidwell B1D) 7. Josh Double (38) 8. Shane Weaver (Ruffner 325x) 9. Bud Watson (Copeland 98) 10. Mike Pegher, Jr. (Geisler 1c) 11. Will Thomas III (9) 12. Ryan Montgomery (12) 13. Bobby Rohrer (11) 14. Brian Booher (Hoover 00H) 15. Butch Lambert (27) 16. Ben Black (27B) 17. Justin Tatlow (Kratts 81) 18. Paul Grigsby (24) 19. Wendell Pinckney (11) 20. Jamie Brown (135) 21. Randy Wyant (11T) 22. Kevin Decker (07) 23. Brad Blackshear (19) 24. Brad Kling (Powell 100)-DNS.
UEMS Summit Racing Equipment E-Mods (25 laps, $1,000 to-win): 1. JOEL WATSON (92) 2. Andy Buckley (965) 3. Clayton Kennedy (9) 4. Al Brewer (71) 5. Evan Taylor (7) 6. Brent Rhebergen (Rater RD1) 7. Richard Michael, Jr. (17x) 8. Paul Phillips (Longwell 7s) 9. Ken Zimmer (62) 10. John Boyd (1) 11. Shawn Shingledecker (54s) 12. Jack Young (Hamilton 67) 13. Mike Kinney (3) 14. Jonathan Taylor (5) 15. Carl McKinney (Hendrickson 6M) 16. John Boardman (79.2) 17. Steve Dixon (Engles 68) 18. Joe Gabrielson (58) 19. Howard Fraley (217) 20. Paul Davis (Jones 71J) 21. Jim Turley (117) 22. Randy Hall (10) 23. Joe Crawford (25) 24. Vic Vena (01) 25. Jeff Johnson (27) DNQ: Darren Tarabori (6), Mike Monreal (071), Alan Dellinger (Petsko 00), Bill Taylor (41), Mike McGee (11M), Jeff Hassay (10), Scott Stiffler (14), Bill Yohe (13), Vince Crisanti (221), Arlan Coy (56), Dale Monreal (7), Leonard Enos (27), Bob Williamson (93), T.J. Downs (0), Gary Sullivan (47s), Chris Myers (Beck357).
Gibson Insurance Agency Open Stock Cars (20 laps, $1,000 to-win): 1. ROD LASKEY (Sloss 44s) 2. Tim Deutsch (11D) 3. Corey McPherson (c33) 4. Tim Burns (66) 5. Greg Fenno (71) 6. Shaun Hooks (Janovick 65) 7. Tommy Fox (80) 8. Pat Fielding (23) 9. Joe Rohrer (RT8) 10. John Phelps (17P) 11. Leigh Wheeler (2W) 12. Curt J. Bish (Tarr 29) 13. Brian Carothers (02c) 14. Ron Yarab, Jr. (Burns 70B) 15. Chris Withers (21W) 16. Rusty Martz (16M) 17. Ryan Blood (Zimmer 24) 18. Rusty Wheeler (44) 19. Paul Davis (3) 20. Jamie Scharba (00S) 21. Jamie Duncan (67J) 22. Randy Wyant (11T) 23. Mike Clark (7) 24. Jason Johns (Sloss 4HS) DNQ: Bobby Heim (92), Ryan Newman (12), Jim Bendishaw (41), Gary Robinson (44R), Bobby Whitling (Smith 36), Matt Keith (15K), Mike Duritsky, Jr. (90J), Ryan Moyer (13x), Steve Webb (27W), Eric Reinwald (72II), Brandon Johnston (14J), Jesse Brock (22B), Mike Harmon (09JR), Greg Unrue (Johnston 15J), Bob Nelson (99), Bob McCann (Fornataro USA1), Colton Gearhart (Scott T3), Charlie Jasinski (5J), Rusty Moore (17M), Buck Buchanan, Jr. (93B), Shaun Fawcett (224), Bob Schwartzmiller (28s).
HTMA/Precise Racing Products Econo Mods (15 laps, $350 to-win): 1. CASEY BOWERS (20) 2. Todd Canter (Nastasi 99) 3. Jeremy Double (83) 4. Steve Burns, Jr. (70B) 5. Brandon Blackshear (10) 6. George Vestal IV (4) 7. Keith Felicetty (Mechling 98) 8. Clay Ruffo (14R) 9. Brian Foley, Jr. (16JSR) 10. Jeff Webber (25) 11. Steve Haefke, Jr. (19) 12. Kevin Robinson (24R) 13. Bryan Crouch (44c) 14. Bob Williams (8) 15. Larry Root (22x) 16. Corey Skully (21) 17. Jeff Christy (Berry 91) 18. Derek Dellinger (119) 19. Jackson Humanic (17)-DNS 20. Amanda Stiffler (14)-DNS 21. Dennis Dellinger (Turley 17)-DNS 22. Brian Hathaway (93)-DNS 23. Jim Dellinger (1)-DSQ.
Deforest Used Parts Mini Stocks (12 laps, $200 to-win): 1. JAMIE WRIGHTSMAN (21J) 2. Scott Gilliland (27) 3. Bill Fuchs (10) 4. Ray Gregory (Doyle 37) 5. Rob McElhaney (7R) 6. Ken Koby II (11) 7. Carlos Aponte (9) 8. Jimmy Davis (32) 9. Gina Thompson (Webber 25) 10. Christ Brugmann (19) 11. Jeff Little (42) 12. Jim Haefke, Jr. (421) 13. Mike Hillman (29) 14. Matt Pegher (09) 15. Jake Monreal (32) 16. Ray Kennedy (18)-DNS 17. Jim Wrightsman (12J)-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.