Hoping for good weather Saturday as “Steel Valley Thunder” returns for the 1st time since 6/22; Bill Kirila Memorial & Armed Forces Night
By Mike Leone
July 31, 2013
(Hartford, OH)…After yet another rainout last weekend, Sharon Speedway looks to get back in the swing of things this Saturday, August 3 with the return of “Steel Valley Thunder”. The last time the weekly six-division program was completed was back on June 22 due to several rainouts, an off night, and the July 20 special event. Saturday’s annual Bill Kirila Memorial will feature the Governor Insurance DIRTcar Big-Block Modifieds, Barris Supply RUSH Late Models, Summit Racing Equipment Modifieds, Gibson Insurance Agency Stock Cars, HTMA/Precise Racing Products Econo Mods, and the Deforest Used Parts Mini Stocks. Race time is set for 7 p.m.
Saturday’s promotion is the twice rescheduled Armed Forces Night with free admission for those active duty members in uniform. Once again Saturday night, one lucky boy and girl under the age of 14 will win a bicycle or scooter thanks to King Bros. and Sharon Speedway. This promotion will continue throughout the 2013 season. Saturday’s kitchen special is stuffed cabbage and mashed potatoes.
Come Saturday, it’ll be six weeks since the ground-pounding DIRTcar Big-Block Modifieds last hit the dirt at Sharon. On that June 22 night, Jim Weller, Jr. captured the third victory of the season and extended his point lead to 21 over Rex King, who also has three wins. Rex King, Jr., who has a pair of victories, is only another nine points back.
Defending champion, Dave Murdick, sits fourth in the Governor Insurance Agency standings over newcomers to the speedway, Eric Gabany and New York racer Ricky Richner. Since Sharon last ran, Richner beat the big blocks with his “358” small-block in a BRP Tour event at Eriez Speedway on July 7.
The RUSH Late Models are coming off of a big night the last they ran on Saturday, July 20 when Max Blair picked up his season’s first win in the Sweeney Touring event, while track regular, Bobby Whitling, was the lucky recipient of the GM 604 engine giveaway presented by Sweeney and Pace Performance!
Dennis Lunger, Jr. continues his quest for his first track championship. The Albion, Pa. racer had never won a Sharon feature before the 2012 season finale and has added three victories this season, but his point lead has shrunk to 39 over defending champion, Will Thomas III. Matt Latta, Josh Double, and 2011 champion Josh Double are still in the hunt for the title. Barris Supply RUSH Late Model rookie, Jamie Wrightsman, is sixth in points.
It’s talked about every week, but the quality and competitiveness of the Summit Racing Equipment Modifieds is pretty unbelievable. On July 20, Steve Dixon won the first of his career at the speedway as he became the amazing 10th different winner in the division already this season!
Atop the standings is Mike Kinney as the Ashtabula, Ohio driver also looks for his first ever track championship. Kinney leads Joe Gabrielson by 18 as Jeff Johnson, Alan Dellinger, and Jeff Hassay complete the top five. A total of 63 different drivers have competed in the division to date!
Jamie Duncan was one of five racers on July 20 that picked up their first win of the season, but Duncan’s was more than that as he hadn’t ever won at Sharon in 10 years of trying! Mike Clark, who two years ago won his first feature after 15 years of trying, is having his career best season as he’s the driver to beat for his first championship as well. Clark has a pretty commanding 35-point lead on defending champion, Tim Burns, who is still winless this season. Paul Davis, Brian Carothers, and Jamie Scharba are a distant third through fifth in points. A regular season-high 19 cars turned out on July 20 despite several of the regulars missing in action.
Like the Big-Block Mods, the Econo Mods haven’t competed at Sharon in six weeks. The HTMA/Precise Racing Product division has had strong car counts night in and night out as the relatively new division continues to gain cars. Thirty-nine different drivers have participated this year, but it’s Ryan Fraley atop the standings by only three over Jeremy Double. Twelve-year-old Jacob Eucker is 31 points back of the top spot in third as rookie Ty Rhoades and Steve Burns, Jr. round out the top five.
Scott Gilliland, who opened the Mini Stock season on fire, has watched his Deforest Used Parts point lead slowly reduce as rookie Travis Creech has become the driver to beat of late. After winning five of the first nine features, Gilliland has been only able to muster a pair of thirds, a seventh, and an eighth as his lead is down to 33 over Creech, who was recently featured in “Open Throttle 360,” a Pittsburgh-based television show on PCNC. Like Lunger, Kinney, and Clark, Gilliland has never won a championship as well.
Pits open at 4 p.m. Saturday with grandstands at 5. Racing begins at 7. Grandstand admission for those 14 and over is $13, while children under 14 are always free. Pit passes are $25. Parking and camping is always free.
Don’t forget, coming up on Wednesday, August 14 will be the “Charlie Daniels Band” performing at the speedway along with the Huckin Fillybillys. Advance tickets are $33 or $37 at the gate. Advance tickets can be purchased online, at the speedway office, or at Yankee Lake Carryout.
The Lou Blaney Memorial Alzheimer’s Association Benefit Event is nearing on Tuesday, August 20 featuring the “410” Sprint Cars for $5,000 to-win plus the BRP Big-Block Modifieds Tour for $2,000 to-win. It’s NASCAR Night with Tony Stewart, Kyle Larson and Dave Blaney competing in Sprint Cars; however, unfortunately, Kasey Kahne will be unable to participate due to the fact that Sprint Car racing has all been eliminated from his racing plans. Sharon Speedway thanks Kasey for his great support of this event over the years.
For more information on these events and to buy advance tickets, go to www.sharonspeedway.com.
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 @SharonSpdwy.