King & Thomas repeat in Big-Block Mods & RUSH L.M.; Kinney becomes 7th different Mod winner; #2 for Clark in Stocks; Fraley wins 3rd in Econos; Haefke finally wins in Minis
By Mike Leone
June 8, 2013
(Hartford, OH)…Sharon Speedway was able to complete the ninth straight race event on Saturday night. Another cool and overcast day following rainy weather led to fast track conditions. A season high 108 race cars filled the pit area on Lincoln Electric Night.
Celebrating in the Hovis Auto & Truck Supply victory lane were Rex King.-Governor Insurance DIRTcar Big-Block Modifieds, Will Thomas III-Barris Supply RUSH Late Models, Mike Kinney-Summit Racing Equipment Modifieds, Mike Clark-Gibson Insurance Agency Stock Cars, Ryan Fraley-HTMA/Precise Racing Products Econo Mods, and Jim Haefke, Jr.-Deforest Used Parts Mini Stocks.
Rex King matched his son “Cooter” and point leader Jim Weller, Jr. with his second victory for tops in the DIRTcar Big-Block Modifieds. The elder King led all 20 laps of the Governor Insurance Agency feature holding off a valiant charge by Jeremiah Shingledecker.
“Finally,” stated the veteran standout from Bristolville, Ohio. “I haven’t liked my race car the last few weeks. It looked like you had to enter high and drive down and diamond across the bottom. That’s where it worked. You have (Jeremiah) Shingledecker, (Jim) Weller, (Dave) Murdick, Cooter- there’s a lot of good guys here so it’s no walk in the park by any means. I have a lot of great sponsors I have to thank them and the fans at Sharon Speedway.”
King out-motored the “358” small-block of Eric Gabany to blast into the lead. Gabany, Shingledecker, Jimmy Weller III and Dave Murdick filled the remainder of the top five after the conclusion of lap one. Sixth starting Weller, Jr. went around both Murdick and his son for fourth on lap three with Murdick following in fifth. Shingledecker caught Gabany on lap three making it a three-car race for the lead. Three laps later, Weller, Jr. caught the front-pack as it was now a four-car battle for the lead!
Shingledecker finally made the move for second on lap eight driving under and past Gabany in turns one and two. Shingledecker then closed in on King at the halfway point as he was running faster laps than the leader. In the end, a caution probably wasn’t what Shingledecker wanted as the pace was slowed with 11 laps completed due to a spin by Bob Warren.
Back and under green, the last nine laps would go green-to-checkered. Shingledecker tried every move possible, but King ran the preferred line and would hold on by just 0.830 of a second in the KMB Inc.-owned, GS Engine Power/Midway Garage Door/University Hospital-sponsored #65. It was King’s first win since the second night of racing back on April 27, but 44th of his career at the Speedway!
Shingledecker’s runner-up matched his season best effort. Weller’s third allowed him to continue to maintain a fairly comfortable point lead of 18 over King. Murdick was fourth over Gabany, who turned in his second straight fifth place finish. Sixth through 10th were Weller III, Chris Haines, King, Jr., Ricky Richner, and Tom Glenn. Weller, Jr. and Shingledecker won the heat races. In Weller’s heat race, he broke the track record for the first four consecutive laps and established a new track record of 15.443! Weller totally shattered the previous record of 15.859 set by Kevin Bolland last season!
After somewhat of a slow start, defending champion Will Thomas III has become the driver to beat in the RUSH Late Models in recent weeks. Thomas now has two victories and a runner-up in the last three regular events, and despite missing opening night has soared to runner-up in points! Thomas’ victory came in the 20-lap Barris Supply feature.
“It was a real neat race track,” said the 37-year-old Sharpsville, Pa. racer. “A lot of times when you get to weather this time of the year it’s different like it was last year being hot. I usually like it when it’s slick as it takes more of a driver, but it was cool tonight. Dennis (Lunger) is a good racer. He’s an old guy like me. We’ve been around awhile. We race well together and he’s a hard racer. I like coming to Sharon. There are a lot of fans here. It’s good to see people support their local race tracks.”
Dennis Lunger, Jr., who shot out of the gates winning two of the season’s first three features in addition to the last race of 2012, raced to the early lead over Brian Booher. Thomas started fifth and passed teenagers Jorden Peters and Clay Ruffo on the first lap for third. Seventh starting Josh Double was able to advance three positions after the first lap for fourth.
Thomas caught Booher and the two ran side-by-side on laps two and three. Thomas made the pass stick coming off the bottom of turn four on lap three for second. Thomas quickly closed on Lunger on lap four and one lap later was right on the #71L. In fact, coming down for lap five they were side-by-side off turn four. Thomas was on the bottom and Lunger up one groove on the top. The two put on a nice race running side-by-side for the next two laps. Finally on lap seven, Thomas got enough grip off the bottom to make the pass stick.
While Thomas and Lunger distanced themselves from the field, Double caught Booher in the battle for third. As the laps ticked off caution-free, Lunger began to close in on Thomas as he was running faster laps; however, that was short lived as his car went up in smoke and briefly caught fire necessitating the red with 15 laps scored.
When racing resumed, Double passed Booher for runner-up. Double though wouldn’t have anything for Thomas, who raced on to win by 1.738 seconds in his Colonial Metal Products/Barris Supply/All Star Motorstate/Sweet Mfg. Quarter Master/King Sanitary-sponsored #9. The victory was Thomas’ sixth of his career and moves him into second on the division’s all-time win list.
Booher’s third place was easily his best performance since a runner-up in last year’s season finale. In fact, Booher’s best finish of the season was ninth last week. Ruffo edged out 10th starting Eric Wilson and Butch Lambert in a good battle for the fourth position. Until last week’s season best fifth, Ruffo’s prior season best was a ninth and now bettered that with a fourth place finish. Ben Black, Rocky Kugel, Bobby Pifer III and Matt Latta completed the top 10. Jamie Wrightsman won his first career Late Model heat, while Ruffo captured the other.
As part of Lincoln Electric Night and being a Major Contingency Sponsor of the Sweeney Chevrolet Buick GMC RUSH Dirt Late Model Series, a Lincoln Electric Power Mig 140C Machine and Utility Cart valued at $750 was given away. By the luck of the draw, Canadian Jorden Peters was the lucky recipient.
In a great race, Mike Kinney withstood the heavy challenges by Steve Dixon to win his first of the season in the 15-lap Summit Racing Equipment Modified feature. Kinney became the season’s seventh different winner in nine races! It was also a big night for Kinney, who overtook Alan Dellinger for the point lead!
“I’m very tired,” revealed the soon to be 39-year-old Ashtabula, Ohio resident. “There were a lot of cautions and a lot of pressure there. My RACEceiver went out halfway and I couldn’t hear anyone talking so I was hoping I wasn’t messing up. I seen Steve (Dixon) down there and I was just waiting for him to push up, but I knew he’d hold his line. He’s a great driver. I have a lot of respect for him- that was fun and an awesome race! I have to thank all of my crew. They help me so much and I just can’t thank them enough.”
Kinney took off in the lead, while good friend Joel Watson passed Dixon, Scott Stiffler, and Jeff Hassay all on the opening lap for second. Stiffler regained third when he passed Hassay on lap two. Watson’s run would come to an end on lap three when he uncharacteristically spun on his own in turn two and collected three other racers.
Dixon had a great restart when racing resumed as he passed both Hassay and Stiffler for runner-up. Seventh starting Jeff Johnson was on the move as he raced by Stiffler for third on lap five. Though several cautions slowed action, the battle for the lead was intense. Dixon was alongside Kinney on just about every lap, but just couldn’t quite make the pass.
Dixon got a great run off turn four on the final lap, but came up just 0.156 of a second shy as Kinney’s Racecar Fabricating/TJ Racing Transmission/Close Racing Supply/Arp’s Automotive/Flinbiu Graphics/Hoosier Tire-sponsored #3 held on for his third career win. Dixon was making just his second start of the season and first since the April 20 UEMS event.
Johnson and Stiffler traded the third spot several times with Johnson getting the nod. Shawn Shingledecker was fifth after starting 10th. Rounding out the top 10 were newcomer D.J. Cline, Andy Buckley, Howard Fraley, Brock Moskey, and Hassay. Heat victories went to Watson, Dixon, and Stiffler. The 25-car field matched a season high from the UEMS event.
It’s hard to believe that two years ago Mike Clark had never won a feature after 15 years of racing. Clark got that first career win on June 11, 2011. Since then Clark has added five victories in the Stock Car division and Saturday night’s latest victory kept him atop the Gibson Insurance Agency standings as he seeks his first career track championship.
“I loved the race track- that’s my kind of track,” acknowledged the 47-year-old Bristolville, Ohio racer. “It was good to start up front and it was hammer down. I wasn’t worried about the restart being able to start on the outside. I’d like to thank the Lord, the class sponsor, my son, dad, Pat Adams for helping me, all the fans, and of course Sharon Speedway for having us.”
After two false starts by pole-sitter Brian Carothers, Bob McCann was moved to the pole position for try #3. Clark used the outside to power into the lead. McCann, Carothers, Brent Coleman, and Dan McEwen were second through fifth after the first lap. McEwen lost the handle in turns one and two on lap and collected Jamie Scharba.
The next seven laps ran off caution-free as the only change up front was seventh starting Bryan Wagner passing Coleman for fourth on lap six. Third place Carothers and Jamie Duncan slowed simultaneously bringing out the event’s final caution with eight laps scored. Wagner and eighth starting Tim Burns found themselves up to third and fourth for the restart. When green replaced yellow, Burns passed Wagner for the third spot.
Up front, McCann was no challenge for Clark, who won by two seconds flat in his Sons of Italy/King’s Sanitary Service/NAPA Auto Parts Champion Heights/Martuccio Eye Care-sponsored #7. Burns edged out Wagner in a good battle for the third position. Coleman was a season best fifth. Heat winners were Carothers and Clark over the 16-car field, which was the highest for a regular show this season.
Ryan Fraley came out on top of a record 25-car field in the Econo Mods for his third win of the season tying Jeremy Double for tops in the HTMA/Precise Racing Products-sponsored division. The victory coupled with troubles for Double and Jacob Eucker propelled him into the point lead. “I thought I was running out of gas as it started sputtering there, but it held out,” expressed the 24-year-old Wheatland, Pa. racer. “We only put in enough and I think we went a little low. I have to thank all of my sponsors. We’re going to go after the title!”
Fraley started third and passed Butch Lambert on lap one for second. After trailing the fellow #12 of rookie Ty Rhoades for less than a lap, Fraley made the winning move racing off of turn four on lap two. Fifth starting Brian Hathaway took over third from Steve Burns, Jr. on lap four. After several cautions kept the field close including the final one for a spin by Casey Bowers with 13 laps scored, Hathaway was able to get by Rhoades on the restart for second.
Hathaway would run out of time to mount any challenge as Fraley took the win by 1.565 seconds in his Sunset Lanes/Eagle Soft Tees/Tri-State Trailer Sales/Blackshear Racing Engines-sponsored #12. Hathaway’s runner-up matched his season best finish since April 27. Rhoades has been impressive all season and especially in recent weeks as he now has a pair of thirds and a fourth in his last three races. Lambert debuted the Mike Hendrickson-owned #19 and was fourth over Jace Ferringer. Topping the heat races were Burns, Hathaway, and Bowers. The prior car count record was 23, which was set both nights at last year’s “Apple Festival Nationals” held in September.
After dominating Mini Stock action for much of 2012 winning the first eight features of his career in the season’s first 15 races, Jim Haefke, Jr. hit a major slump. Haefke could only muster a fourth in the season’s final five races, but held on to win the championship. Though he had three runner-up finishes early in the season, Haefke had struggled to find speed, but that all ended Saturday night as he led all 12 laps of the Deforest Used Parts feature holding off hard charging Travis Creech.
“After coming from track champion last year this has been a hell of a year so far,” acknowledged the 31-year-old Austintown, Ohio driver. “We’ve got a lot of good drivers and cars out there. It’s good to be here again. I came today with a different offset and setup. Starting up front just gave me the advantage. It was a good track tonight. I have to thank my wife, my dad, my crew, and all of my sponsors. If it wasn’t for them I wouldn’t be here.”
Haefke passed newcomer Greg Schmied on the start and took off opening up a big lead while the fast cars were starting mid-pack. Creech and Bill Fuchs passed Jim Clay, Jr. for third and fourth respectively on lap two. The battle was hot and heavy for second on lap four as Tim McAninch was trying to fend off Creech and Fuchs. Creech made the pass for driving around McAninch off turn four on lap four.
Haefke had a half-straightaway lead by the time Creech got to second. As the laps were ticking off caution-free, Creech began to close in on lap eight just before the race’s only caution was displayed when point leader and the Speedway’s top winner Scott Gilliland got into the fence. Back under green, Fuchs made the pass of McAninch for third. Creech pulled even with Haefke on lap 11 and they race side-by-side. Creech threw everything at Haefke and even though it appeared he had the fastest car, Haefke was able to hold on for the victory.
Haefke’s ninth career win came in his Diver Steel City Auto Crushing/AAMCO Transmission/Killer Racing Decals-sponsored #421 and moved him into a tie with Gilliland for third spot on the division’s all-time win list. Fuchs and McAninch were third and fourth respectively. Pat Drennan came from 11th to finish fifth. Gilliland and Ray Gregory won the heat races.
Governor Insurance Agency DIRTcar Big-Block Modifieds (20 laps): 1. REX KING (65) 2. Jeremiah Shingledecker (37MD) 3. Jim Weller, Jr. (31) 4. Dave Murdick (61) 5. Eric Gabany (3E) 6. Jimmy Weller III (23) 7. Chris Haines (35H) 8. Rex King, Jr. (165) 9. Ricky Richner (26) 10. Tom Glenn (83T) 11. Rob Kristyak (00) 12. Kevin Green (74) 13. Bob Warren (96B) 14. Don Brown (71B).
Barris Supply RUSH Late Models (20 laps): 1. WILL THOMAS III (9) 2. Josh Double (38) 3. Brian Booher (Hoover 00H) 4. Clay Ruffo (14R) 5. Eric Wilson (27W) 6. Butch Lambert (27) 7. Ben Black (27B) 8. Rocky Kugel (21KRT) 9. Bobby Pifer III (6P) 10. Matt Latta (21) 11. Dennis Lunger, Jr. (Schwartz 71L) 12. Jorden Peters (11P) 13. Lon Emerick (3) 14. Jamie Wrightsman (21J).
Summit Racing Equipment (E) Modifieds (15 laps): 1. Mike Kinney (3) 2. Steve Dixon (Engles 68) 3. Jeff Johnson (27) 4. Scott Stiffler (14) 5. Shawn Shingledecker (54s) 6. D.J. Cline (4) 7. Andy Buckley (965) 8. Howard Fraley (217) 9. Brock Moskey (3M) 10. Jeff Hassay (10) 11. Joe Gabrielson (58) 12. Eric Singhaus (45) 13. Trevor Herr (32) 14. Amanda Stiffler (14) 15. Alan Dellinger (White 53) 16. Larry Kugel (Petsko 00) 17. Bob Williamson (93) 18. Wayne Brugmann (79) 19. Chuck Recker, Jr. (17R) 20. Hilton Eppley (51o) 21. Joel Watson (92) 22. Brian Douglas (214) 23. Mike Monreal (71M) 24. Gary Sullivan (47s) 25. Steve Haefke (41)-DNS.
Gibson Insurance Agency Stock Cars (15 laps): 1. MIKE CLARK (7) 2. Bob McCann (Fornataro USA1) 3. Tim Burns (66) 4. Bryan Wagner (56) 5. Brent Coleman (01) 6. Charlie Jasinski (5J) 7. Ron Yarab, Jr. (Burns 70B) 8. Jesse Brock (22B) 9. Bob Pollock (70X) 10. Paul Davis (3) 11. Jeff Buccella (Davis 915) 12. Brian Carothers (02c) 13. Jamie Duncan (67J) 14. Dan McEwen (95) 15. Jamie Scharba (00s) 16. Mike Lesky (5L).
HTMA/Precise Racing Products Econo Mods (15 laps): 1. RYAN FRALEY (12) 2. Brian Hathaway (93) 3. Ty Rhoades (12R) 4. Butch Lambert (Hendrickson 19) 5. Jace Ferringer (02) 6. Steve Burns, Jr. (70B) 7. Bob Williams (8) 8. Alan Atkinson (30Too) 9. Mike Hillman (29) 10. Junior Mechling (89) 11. Brian Foley, Jr. (16JSR) 12. Larry Root (22x) 13. Casey Bowers (20) 14. Keith Felicetty (98) 15. Jeremy Double (83) 16. Kevin Sergeff (17) 17. Jason Stanke (44) 18. George Vestal IV (4) 19. Josh Ferry (33) 20. Jacob Eucker (64) 21. Jodi Woodworth, Jr. (07) 22. Jodi Woodworth, Sr. (6) 23. Kevin Robinson (24R) 24. Brad Westover (13) 25. Gina Thompson (Webber 25).
Deforest Used Parts Mini Stocks (12 laps): 1. JIM HAEFKE, JR. (421) 2. Travis Creech (75T) 3. Bill Fuchs (10) 4. Tim McAninch (43) 5. Pat Drennan (24) 6. Jim Clay, Jr. (84J) 7. Christi Brugmann (19) 8. Scott Gilliland (27) 9. Greg Schmied (97) 10. Steve Walker II (4M) 11. Ray Gregory (82R) 12. Brian Shay (3J) 13. Geof Pinch (36) 14. Jacob Monreal (32M)-DNS.
Coming up this Wednesday, June 12 is the Pay It Forward Foundation “Summer Bash” featuring NDRL’s ULMS Super Late Models ($3,000 to-win), UEMS Mods ($2,000 to-win), and the HTMA/Precise Racing Products Econo Mods ($350 to-win). Racing begins at 7 p.m.
Then next Saturday, June 15 is another “Steel Valley Thunder” program featuring the DIRTcar Big-Block Modifieds, RUSH Late Models, Modifieds, Stock Cars, Econo Mods, and Mini Stocks. Race time is 7 p.m.
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.