Final “Steel Valley Thunder” Championship Event Saturday
By Mike Leone
September 25, 2012
(Hartford, OH)…Mother Nature certainly hasn’t been kind to Sharon Speedway during the month of September. Five shows have been scheduled to date with two falling victim to rain and two others were delayed and easily could have been rained out. Sharon will hope for better weather this Saturday (September 29) for the “Steel Valley Thunder” finale featuring 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 Parts Mini Stocks. Race time is 7 p.m.
The DIRTcar Big-Block Modifieds have only competed once this month back on September 1 when Steve Feder became the season’s eighth different winner with his $2,000 Russ King Memorial victory. Saturday will be the weekend’s only Modified race in the region as the ground-pounders will be hungry to hit the dirt again!
Dave Murdick of Butler, Pa. has just a slim six-point advantage on four-time champion Rex King. The youngest member of the King Family, Rex King, Jr., sits third, but trails by 84 points. Veterans Dean Pearson and Carl Murdick are fourth and fifth.
The FASTRAK Late Models had a big weekend for the “Apple Festival Nationals” two weeks ago in which Will Thomas III added his division-leading fourth win of the season on Friday, then on Saturday Chad Wright became the amazing 11th different winner of the season with his first career Northeast Touring Series victory.
FASTRAK is in their second full year of competition and a new champion will be crowned as defending champion Josh Double has missed a couple nights and is mired in sixth in points. Thomas of Sharpsville, Pa. leads Matt Latta by 22 points. Thomas is in his first full year of dirt racing after a stellar asphalt career, while Latta is in just his second year of racing. Fifteen-year-old Eric Wilson, who owns two career Sharon wins, is in third over former western Pennsylvania Stock Car standouts Brian Booher and Bobby Whitling.
The “Apple Festival Nationals” brought in the United E-Mod Series, but it was defending track champion Carl McKinney and current runner-up point man Joel Watson garnering the $1,000 wins over the big fields of 33 and 41 respectively. Jack Young of Thompson, Ohio leads Watson by only four points. Joe Gabrielson is a distant 60 points behind and is eliminated from championship hopes with Shawn Shingledecker and Clayton Kennedy completing the top five. A strong field of E-Mods is expected Saturday with no other regional events scheduled.
The third year Econo Mod division in its first full season of weekly Saturday competition continues to produce new racers and new winners. Newcomer and Raceway 7 regular Casey Bowers invaded and swept the $700 “Apple Festival Nationals” weekend. The Cranesville, Pa. teen became the youngster driver to win a feature at just a little over 14 years of age.
Tim Burns is trying to deny Steve D’Apolito of his fifth track championship while in the meantime trying to secure his first ever at any speedway. The Greenville, Pa. driver leads the Boardman, Ohio ace by 16 points and can clinch the title by finishing sixth or better in the feature no what D’Apolito does. Rod Laskey and Shaun Hooks are currently third and fourth in points and are basically eliminated from title competition when Burns attempts to compete Saturday. Paul Davis is fifth in points and still has an outside chance at advancing to third.
A total of 39 different drivers have competed over the course of the season and now nine different racers have been victorious. Brandon Blackshear is trying to become the third different champion in as many years. The Brookfield, Ohio youngster has a 29-point lead over rookie Econo Mod racer Jeremy Double, who is the only other driver that has a mathematical shot at the championship. Jim Dellinger, Steve Burns, Jr., and last year’s champion Junior Mechling are third through fifth.
It was a dismal “Apple Festival Nationals” for Mini Stock point leader Jim Haefke, Jr. as he could only muster a fourth on Friday night and then got caught up in a big accident that heavily damaged his car. Haefke could only watch as Jamie Wrightsman swept the $400 weekend for his third straight win.
Haefke, 30 of Austintown, Ohio, has a 30-point lead on last year’s champion Bill Fuchs and only has to finish 20th or better to claim the crown no matter what Fuchs does. Jamie Wrightsman, Steve Walker II, and Jim Wrightsman fill out positions three through five in the points race.
Pits open at 4 p.m. on Saturday with grandstands at 5. The first heat race will hit the speedway at 7 p.m. Grandstand admission is $13, while kids 13 and under are always free. Pit passes are $25.
The final event of the 2012 racing season will be the April 21 postponed show to be held on Saturday, October 6 featuring the ULMS Late Models for $3,000 to-win, the Open Stock Cars for $1,500 to-win, Econo Mods, and Mini Stocks. The Stock Cars will qualify.
The date of the 2012 Awards Banquet & Dinner has been set for Saturday, February 2 at the Yankee Lake Ballroom just north of Brookfield, Ohio on Route 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.