Young King shows dad fast way around Sharon to win DIRTcar Mod opener; Lunger wins RUSH L.M.; Johnson from 10th to-win Mods; Clark, Double & Fuchs capture Stocks, Econo & Mini victories
By Mike Leone
April 6, 2013
(Hartford, OH)…After five cancellations for the early season snowmobile and enduro/open practice events, Sharon Speedway was able to complete the regular season opener on a chilly, overcast Saturday evening.
Celebrating in the Hovis Auto & Truck Supply victory lane were Rex King, Jr.-Governor Insurance DIRTcar Big-Block Modifieds, Dennis Lunger, Jr.-Barris Supply RUSH Late Models, Jeff Johnson-Summit Racing Equipment Modifieds, Mike Clark-Gibson Insurance Agency Stock Cars, Jeremy Double-HTMA/Precise Racing Products Econo Mods, and Bill Fuchs.-Deforest Used Parts Mini Stocks. Three of the six winners reside from Bristolville, Ohio!
An invert four in the Governor Insurance Agency DIRTcar Big-Block Modifieds made it an all King front row, but it was the youngster Rex, Jr. getting the advantage on the start and “Cooter” went on to hold off his father for the 20-lap duration.
“The track went away a little up top, but we were good enough to stay up there,” explained the 22-year-old Bristolville, Ohio driver. “I’m real fortunate to have everyone behind me and all of the sponsors on the car . That was pretty cool! I like this a lot better when dad’s chasing me.”
Behind the Kings, Jim Weller, Jr. advanced past Dave Murdick, who was driving his father’s car after mechanical issues in his own ride during warm-ups, for the third position. Two laps later, Brian Swartzlander grabbed fourth from Murdick. It certainly wasn’t the night the defending champion had in mind as Murdick exited the event one lap later.
The event’s only caution was displayed with eight laps scored when Greg Unrue, Jr. slowed. When racing resumed, “Cooter” got away from his father, while Swartzlander slipped high out of the racing groove allowing Tom Mattocks and Ricky Richner to advance to fourth and fifth. Lap 10 saw Richner drive under and past Mattocks down the backstretch for fourth.
Rex, Sr. closed on “Cooter” on lap 13, while the battled heated up for third as Richner ran down Weller. The two veteran racers really went at it for the third position as Richner got under Weller several times, but couldn’t make the pass.
On lap 17, “Cooter” began to open up some ground and wasn’t challenged by his father in the closing laps to win by 1.031 seconds. “Cooter’s” $1,100 victory was the fourth of his career and came in the KMB, Inc.-owned, Jim Brown Seed Sales/Bristol Disposal/Cedar Steel/Professional Heating & Cooling/Reese Services/King Sanitary Service-sponsored #165.
Weller edged out the NY “358” small-block of Richner for the show position. Swartzlander regained fifth from Mattocks on lap 13. Mattocks dropped to sixth over Rob Kristyak, Eric Gabany, Tom Glenn, and Erik Martin. Heat victors were Murdick and Weller.
After only running periodically at the track in 2012, Dennis Lunger, Jr. ended the season in victory lane on September 29 for his first career Sharon win. Fast forward about six months and Lunger repeated his feat claiming the 20-lap Barris Supply RUSH Late Model victory. It was a good way to start the season for Lunger, who over the offseason decided to go after the track title.
“This car has been really good to me here,” stated the 45-year-old Albion, Pa. resident. “We ran this car at the end of year and won with it coming from 11th. We really like it down here. I said let’s take it back and run it again and it was fast. I don’t know what happened to Butch (Lambert) on the start. He got tangled up, I ran into the back of him, and finished him off. I hate that because Butch and I are real good friends.”
Eric Wilson, who won a feature event in each of his first two seasons of racing, quickly bolted to the lead with Michael Lake, sixth starting Lunger and Bill Cunningham in tow. A caution for Lon Emerick slowed action with six laps scored. On the ensuing restart, Lunger passed Lake for second. On lap eight, Cunningham dropped Lake back to fourth.
With eight laps scored, the race was slowed for the final time when Lake spun after contact between him and Rocky Kugel, while battling for fourth. Back under green, Wilson was able to keep the lead over Lunger on the restart. Lunger would make his winning move in turn four on lap 10 when he put a clean slider on the recently turned 16-year-old.
Once in front, Lunger pulled away and took the checkered flag by a 2.663-second margin in the Schwartz Construction-owned, Schwartz Trucking/Choices Restaurant/English Tire/State Farm Insurance Chris Brecht-sponsored #71L. Lunger’s victory came in the first ever RUSH-sanctioned event as he takes the early lead in the $5,000 to-win Sweeney Chevrolet Buick GMC Weekly Series Championship!
Wilson held on for second over Cunningham, Kugel, and 11th starting Ben Black. Completing the top 10 were Jamie Brown, Butch Lambert after coming the tail, Matt Latta, Nico Dabecco, and Lake. Lambert won the first heat race, while Lake, a “Futures Cup” racer in his first ever Sharon appearance, won the second heat.
After a tough 2012 season, Jeff Johnson was clearly the class of the Modified field on opening night 2013. Johnson started 10th and had the lead just past the halfway point and soared to the 15-lap Summit Racing Equipment feature win.
“We’re going to turn it around this year- it’s going to be a good year,” expressed the 36-year-old Mineral Ridge, Ohio racer. “We had some issues after the heat race with parts falling off the car, but we got it back together. We went a little softer on our tire compound tonight because I knew had to start 10th. That really worked in our favor with all of the cautions. I bonsai’ed it down in there (turn one for the lead) hoping it would stick and it did.”
Eighty-six-time winner, Alan Dellinger, looked to add to his division’s all-time leading total quickly flying into the lead from the pole position over Joe Gabrielson and Shawn Shingledecker. Clayton Kennedy started fifth, was up to fourth after one lap then took over third from Shingledecker on lap three following a restart for debris. Kennedy then overtook runner-up from Gabrielson on lap six.
Gabrielson continued to back-pedal losing third, fourth, and fifth to Shingledecker, Johnson, and Mike Kinney over the next couple laps. Johnson’s forward progression continued as he passed Shingledecker for third on lap eight. Kennedy’s fine run ended when he went up in smoke following a restart with nine laps completed, which ensued a four-car pileup in turn one.
Johnson inherited second then took over the lead once the race resumed on lap 10 when Dellinger got sideways in turn one. One more caution was all that slowed Johnson to his 16th career win in his Klaben Ford Lincoln/Warren Harley Davidson/Body Shop of Niles/Tom’s Sewer & Drain/ Close Racing Supply-sponsored #27 moving him into a tie with Scott Stiffler for second place on the all-time win list.
After running sixth on lap nine, when everything shook out on lap 10, John Boardman found himself in second and he’d hold on for the runner-up spot for his best career finish at the track. Shingledecker was third over Dellinger and Jeff Hassay. Sixth through 10th were Kinney, Gabrielson, Jim Dellinger, Jim Turley, and Kennedy. Heats were won by Boardman and Kinney.
After racing for 15 years in various divisions, Mike Clark scored his first career win at the track on June 11, 2011. Clark went on to win one more race that season and added two more victories in 2012. Saturday night Clark continued his success with his fifth career Stock Car victory over the past year and a half in the 15-lap Gibson Insurance Agency feature.
“I figured the outside was the best spot and that was where I wanted to go into that turn because I wanted the high side down here,” described the 47-year-old Bristolville, Ohio racer on choosing the outside lane on the restart. “I did everything I could. I have to thank all of my sponsors, the Sons of Italy, and the Lord Jesus Christ.”
Jamie Duncan took off in the early lead with Brian Carothers moving into second. Carothers grabbed the lead on lap three. Clark was on the move taking third from Jeff Buccella on lap two then under and past Duncan for second on the backstretch one lap later. Lapped traffic allowed Clark to close on Carothers on lap seven.
A caution for newcomer Jeff Broniszewski with eight laps completed slowed the event for the first time. When green replaced yellow, Clark overtook Carothers for the lead and one more caution was all that slowed him to the victory in his NAPA Auto Parts Champion Heights/Martuccio Eye Care-sponsored #7. Carothers was 2.192 seconds back in second place. Jamie Scharba, Bryan Wagner, and defending champion Tim Burns were third through fifth. Heat victors were Burns and Scharba.
With the Blackshear Brothers moving up into higher divisions, the Econo Mod division is wide up this year. On Saturday night it was two drivers with a combined age of 29 battling for the 15-lap HTMA/Precise Racing Products feature win! In the end, it was 17-year-old Jeremy Double out-dueling 12-year-old Jacob Eucker for his third career win.
“Jake’s really good,” said the Bristolville, Ohio teen. “He made some little mistakes here and there, but he’s going to be hard to deal with. I was in the garage every day after school and work. I have to thank my uncle Skip for getting us here tonight. My dad wasn’t here and the last time he wasn’t we broke.”
The caution-plagued event saw Eucker race to the lead from the pole position. Steve Burns, Jr. passed Keith Felicetty for second on the opening lap while Double followed one lap later in third. Under caution for a Larry Root spin with two laps scored, Burns exited the event with mechanical woes moving Double to second for the restart.
Double went after Eucker and the two battled side-by-side on laps three and four. Double put a slider on the leader in turn four on lap four for the winning move. After three more cautions between laps four and six, the last nine laps went green-to-checkered with Double pulling away to win by 4.19 seconds in his Cortland Auto Repair/Wedge Motorsports/Thomas Heating & Cooling/King Bros./Russ King Racing-sponsored #83.
Eucker, who dominated action at Deerfield Raceway and captured the championship last year at 11 years of age, was impressive in his first Sharon start to claim second. Ryan Fraley came from 12th to place third over Felicetty and Dennis Dellinger, Jr. Heat winners were Double and Casey Bowers. Bowers, who swept the Apple Festival Nationals last September in his first two Sharon starts and captured Walt Wimer’s prestigious Western PA Rookie-of-the-Year, dropped from the feature on lap two.
After a dominating 2011 season to win the Mini Stock Championship, Bill Fuchs had to share victories and lost the championship in 2012 to Jim Haefke, Jr. With Haefke failing to start the feature Saturday night, Fuchs had little competition as he picked up the opening night 2013 honors in the 12-lap Deforest Used Parts feature event.
“Hats off to my pit crew,” stated the 37-year-old Greenville, Pa. racer. “A big thanks to the Kreider Family. We lost Roger after the Lernerville race last year. It’s a tough loss. It’s tough to go in the garage every Thursday and get the car aligned without him being there. His son does it now. Without them, this car would never go like it does. You can have the biggest motor you want, but if it doesn’t turn it’s not going anywhere. I have to thank Dave Willoughby, Sharon Speedway, and all the fans for coming out. The track was in great shape tonight and you guys always put on a good show.”
Scott Gilliland passed Ray Gregory for the lead on the first lap, while Fuchs trailed in second. Pete Blazczak dropped Gregory back to fourth on lap two. Fuchs was all over Gilliland, while Blazczak closed in making it a three-car race for the lead on lap four. Fuchs’ winning move came in tour four on the fourth circuit driving under and past Gilliland.
Fuchs went on uncontested for his all-time division leading milestone 20th career victory in his RTW Industrial Contracting/Hittles Auto Supply/Chatfield Well Drilling/Kreider Tire-sponsored #10. Gilliland edged out Blazczak for second after a torrid battle over the last nine laps. Gregory edged out newcomer Tyler Fulton for fourth. Fulton and Blazczak won the heat races.
Governor Insurance Agency DIRTcar Big-Block Modifieds (20 laps): 1. REX KING, JR. (165) 2. Rex King (65) 3. Jim Weller, Jr. (31) 4. Ricky Richner (26) 5. Brian Swartzlander (83) 6. Tom Mattocks (69) 7. Rob Kristyak (00) 8. Eric Gabany (3E) 9. Tom Glenn (83T) 10. Erik Martin (29E) 11. Bob Warren (96B) 12. Kevin Green (74) 13. Greg Unrue, Jr. (5) 14. Chris Haines (35H) 15. Dave Murdick (61) 16. Eric Beggs (Edmondson 29*)-DNS 17. Ronnie Kahler (7R)-DNS 18. Skip Moore (17M)-DNS 19. Carl Murdick (6)-DNS.
Barris Supply RUSH Late Models (20 laps): 1. DENNIS LUNGER, JR. (Schwartz 71L) 2. Eric Wilson (27W) 3. Bill Cunningham (59) 4. Rocky Kugel (21KRT) 5. Ben Black (27B) 6. Jamie Brown (135) 7. Butch Lambert (27) 8. Matt Latta (21) 9. Nico Dabecco (Karalagas F1) 10. Michael Lake (27) 11. Joe Buccola, Jr. (5B) 12. Chuck Medved (2M) 13. Lon Emerick (3) 14. Jamie Wrightsman (21J) 15. Greg Beach (33x) 16. Clay Ruffo (14R).
Summit Racing Equipment (E) Modifieds (15 laps): 1. JEFF JOHNSON (27) 2. John Boardman (79.2) 3. Shawn Shingledecker (54s) 4. Alan Dellinger (White 53) 5. Jeff Hassay (10) 6. Mike Kinney (3) 7. Joe Gabrielson (58) 8. Jim Dellinger (Turley 1) 9. Jim Turley (117) 10. Clayton Kennedy (9) 11. Amanda Stiffler (14) 12. Gary Sullivan (47) 13. Scott Stiffler (14) 14. Russ Dunn (Clinger 0) 15. Trevor Herr (32) 16. Jake Eller (56)-DNS.
Gibson Insurance Agency Stock Cars (15 laps): 1. MIKE CLARK (7) 2. Brian Carothers (02c) 3. Jamie Scharba (00s) 4. Bryan Wagner (56) 5. Tim Burns (66) 6. Jeff Broniszewski (08) 7. Jamie Duncan (67J) 8. Tony Bruno (97) 9. Jeff Buccella (Davis 915) 10. Paul Davis (3) 11. Ron Yarab, Jr. (Burns 70B)-DNS.
HTMA/Precise Racing Products Econo Mods (15 laps): 1. JEREMY DOUBLE (83) 2. Jacob Eucker (64) 3. Ryan Fraley (12) 4. Keith Felicetty (98) 5. Dennis Dellinger, Jr. (17) 6. Mike Smith (81) 7. Ty Rhoades (12R) 8. Jeff Webber (25) 9. Steve Burns, Jr. (70B) 10. Jace Ferringer (02) 11. Casey Bowers (20) 12. Larry Root (22X) 13. Derek Dellinger (19)-DNS.
Deforest Used Parts Mini Stocks (12 laps): 1. BILL FUCHS (10) 2. Scott Gilliland (27) 3. Pete Blazczak (77) 4. Ray Gregory (82R) 5. Tyler Fulton (09) 6. Jim Clay (84J) 7. Tim McAninch (43) 8. Geof Pinch (36) 9. Jo Doyle (Gregory 82J) 10. Travis Creech (75T) 11. Jim Haefke, Jr. (421)-DNS 12. Todd Hanlon (7H)-DNS.
Sharon Speedway will be back in action this Saturday, April 14 with another “Steel Valley Thunder” program featuring the weekly six divisions. Pits open at 4 p.m. with grandstands at 5 and racing at 7. Grandstand admission is $13 for those 14 and up. Children 13 and under are always free. Pit passes are $25. Parking is always free.
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.