Richner wins his 1st at Sharon in $3500 BRP Mod Tour; Blair steals $2K from Pegher in RUSH LM Tour thriller; Biggest career win for Johnson in $2K UEMS Mods & Clark in $1500 Stocks; 1st ever for Deutsch in Econos; Minis to Fuchs
By Mike Leone
September 13-14, 2013
(Hartford, OH)…Sharon Speedway hosted the annual “Apple Festival Nationals” on a chilly fall weekend. Friday featured preliminary events on a dreary night with drizzle falling throughout much of the late afternoon and evening, while Saturday brought clear and cool. A season-high 163 cars participated in the successful event.
Celebrating in the Hovis Auto & Truck Supply victory lane were Ricky Richner-DIRTcar Big-Block Modified BRP Tour, Max Blair-Sweeney Chevrolet Buick GMC RUSH Dirt Late Model Touring Series, Jeff Johnson-UEMS Modifieds, Mike Clark-Gibson Insurance Agency Open Stock Cars, Tim Deutsch-HTMA/Precise Racing Products Econo Mods, and Bill Fuchs-Deforest Used Parts.
Ricky Richner has been making the long drive down to Sharon Speedway every week this season from his home in Niagara Falls, New York. He’s been close to victory on several occasions this year including a few weeks ago when Rex King, Jr. stole one away from him in lapped traffic at the finish. On Saturday night, the DIRTcar “358” Modified standout picked a perfect night for his first career Sharon win capturing the 35-lap $3,500 to-win “Russ King Memorial” BRP Tour Governor Insurance Agency big-block win.
“I knew I had a good tire right from the start,” explained the 53-year-old veteran. “I knew Rex was getting slow at the end and we were getting faster on the outside. They started bumping and banging so I figured I’d let them settle their differences and then get after them. We usually run 35 laps at Ransomville (Speedway) so we’re used to that. It was a great race. We’ve been coming a long ways every Saturday and finally got one. I have to thank my entire crew and all of my sponsors.”
Even though Richner started from the pole, it was fellow “358” racer Eric Gabany leading the opening lap. Following a caution for Carl Murdick, King passed both Richner and Gabany for the lead on lap two as Jeremiah Shingledecker, Tom Glenn, and Dave Murdick were all able to get by Richner for third, fourth, and fifth respectively.
Shingledecker, who started sixth and won his first Sharon feature of the season last week, looked strong again as he passed Gabany for second on lap four, but following a restart on lap six lost second and third to Gabany and Murdick. Shingledecker would then spin in turn four on lap seven collecting four other racers and ended his night.
Back under green, Murdick passed Gabany for second. Richner got himself back in contention when he passed Gabany for third on lap nine. Murdick closed in on King on lap 10 and then by lap 17 Richner joined in making it a three-car race for the lead. Lapped traffic came into play on lap 19 as action really heated up. Richner was able to make the move on Murdick for second lap 20.
One more caution slowed the event with 25 laps scored setting up a 10-lap shootout to the finish. Richner hounded King every lap and eventually found a nice line on the top in turns one and two. Lap after lap Richner would get closer and closer and finally had enough momentum to make the pass stick racing off the outside of turn four on lap 33. Richner led the final three laps in his Jetport Restaurant/Lazy Lakes Camping Resort-sponsored #26 to hold off King by 0.928. Richner becomes the 15th different winner in the 28 “Russ King Memorial” events.
King missed out on his first win in the event as he had to settle for second. Gabany matched his best career Sharon finish from May 4 in third. BRP Tour point leader Chad Brachmann was fourth after starting 11th leading a trio of New York racers across the line as 17th starting Randy Chrysler was fifth and Justin Wright sixth. Rounding out the top 10 were Jim Weller, Jr., Kevin Hoffman, 26th starting Chris Haines, and 22nd starting Bob Warren. Richner, Weller, and Dave Murdick won the heat races over the 30-car field, while Carl Murdick won the B main. Wright set fast time on Friday with a 16.476.
After running around the fourth and fifth positions for much of the race, Max Blair stole the $2,000 Sweeney Chevrolet Buick GMC RUSH Dirt Late Model Tour win away from nemesis Mike Pegher, Jr. on a late race restart for his third Sweeney Tour win of the season. Blair was the final leader in a race that featured five lead changes amongst four drivers. Not only was it a valuable point night for Blair in the Tour standings, but became closer to clinching the $5,000 Sweeney Weekly Series Championship, which concludes at the end of the month.
“I don’t know what to say,” exclaimed the almost surprised 23-year Centerville, Pa. winner in victory lane. “This is awesome…I’m still shaking. Mike (Pegher) by far, hands down had the best race car. The last Tour race here I felt like we had the best car and Ryan Montgomery got by me on a late race restart in turn one so I guess this evens it up for me. I didn’t think I could get him. Josh (Double) turned down just early enough on the next-to-last restart that I could get by him then was just hoping the yellow would come out. It’s fun racing with Mike…that was a lot of fun!”
The race got off to a bad start when Russell King broke when the green flag was displayed and caught up six other competitors ending the night for Andrew Wylie, Russ Byler, and Jamie Wrightsman. Via his K&N Dash win, defending Sharon Speedway Champion Will Thomas III took the early lead when racing got underway. Thomas, who owns nine career wins at the speedway in a little over two years of racing, had never won a Sweeney Tour race at his home track.
Ryan Montgomery moved past Josh Double for second on the opening lap, but Double pulled back even on lap two to grab the spot; however, one lap later, Montgomery regained the runner-up position. The race was slowed when Jeremy Adamik spun with seven laps completed. Back under green, Montgomery used the outside on the restart to lead lap eight. The race was slowed again due to a four-car accident with nine laps scored.
Even though Montgomery had the advantage on the restart as the leader, Thomas recaptured the lead on the bottom to lead lap 10. The following lap it was three-wide for the lead with Thomas holding on over Montgomery, and seventh starting Pegher. In was a short-lived lead for Thomas as Montgomery powered to the outside once again to lead the 12th circuit. Pegher snuck past Thomas on lap 13 for second and in consecutive laps Thomas lost third to Double and fourth to Blair.
The complexity of the event really changed in the second 15 laps. Pegher seemed to come out of nowhere as he found his way battling the lead as he closed up Montgomery on lap 16 and made the pass off the bottom of turn four. The top three of Pegher, Montgomery, and Double began to pull away from the field. But as the laps ticked off, the leaders caught traffic on lap 23 and all of a sudden Blair closed on the front trio making it a four-car race for the lead with seven laps to go!
Jeremy Adamik brought out the caution with 24 laps scored. When green replaced yellow, Double passed Montgomery for second. A pair of cautions slowed action with 25 laps scored and was just what Blair needed. He used the outside to pass both Montgomery and Double for second and then got a much needed caution with 27 laps completed when Butch Lambert ran out of room and spun in turn two ruining what may have been his best run of the season.
Pegher chose the bottom and had the advantage off turn four down the frontstretch, but Blair found the perfect line through turn one as he powered off the top into the lead. Once in front, Blair pulled away to win by 1.094 seconds in his Specialty Products/Moody & Son Welding/Wescoat Excavating/Bobby Lake Motorsports/Genesis Shocks/VP Racing Fuels-sponsored #111 Rocket Chassis. It was Blair’s second $2,000 Sweeney Tour win of the season at Sharon and the seventh of his career at the Hartford, Ohio oval.
After dropping back to fifth with four laps to go, the much needed cautions allowed Thomas to rebound as he passed Montgomery for fourth on lap 27, then both Double and Pegher for second on lap 28. The runner-up was worth $1,000 for Thomas, who has two weeks remaining to try and catch Dennis Lunger, Jr. for the Sharon championship.
Pegher came home third to extend his Sweeney Tour point lead to 22 over Montgomery with seven events remaining. Montgomery, who looked poised early on to win his third Sweeney Tour race in five events this season at Sharon, dropped to fourth. Double crossed the line in fifth, but was disqualified for coming up light at the scales moving Chad Ruhlman into the top five.
Jeff Ferguson subbed for John Over, who is out with a broken wrist, and finished sixth after starting 10th in his first ever Sharon and Sweeney Tour start. Matt Latta came from 13th to finish seventh. It was a great RUSH debut for E-Mod standout Joel Watson, who received the $100 Precise Racing Products “Pedal Down” Hard Charger certificate after racing from 22nd to eighth. Lunger and Matt Glanden completed the top 10.
Double set fast time Friday night in Bobby Lake Motorsports “Shock the Clock” qualifying over the 27-car field with a lap of 16.665 to earn $100. Double then earned another $25 for winning the first of three Bobby Lake Motorsports heat races, while Thomas and Montgomery also picked up $25 heat race wins.
After not competing for nearly a month and a half, Clay Ruffo returned to Sharon on Friday night to capture the second of three “Futures Cup” Trifecta races. Ruffo passed Matt Glanden on the start of the 12-lap event and held on to-win a four-car race down to the finish to earn the $200. Canadian Jorden Peters, who won the first race at Pittsburgh, was not on hand.
“I’ve been stuck playing football the last couple weekends and haven’t raced in awhile,” explained the Mercer, Pa. racer, who turned 17 on Saturday. “I received some driving lessons in the time off by the crew and Russ King. They’ve been helping me a lot. I have to thank all of my sponsors and my crew and my mom.”
Fresh off his $2,000 Sweeney Tour win on Labor Day at Roaring Knob, Michael Lake threw it in hard in turn one on the opening lap trying to go for the lead and spun out. It was the event’s only caution as the next 12 laps went green-to-checkered.
Ruffo used the outside and his Sharon experience to power into the lead past pole-sitter Matt Glanden. Lake was able to move into fourth on lap two past Dawson. Eric Wilson, who has three career Sharon wins in his first three years of racing, started fourth and began pressuring Glanden for second on lap two. Wilson pulled alongside Glanden and the two raced side-by-side on laps three and four.
Ruffo had opened up a comfortable advantage, but Glanden began to close in at the halfway point. Ruffo then bobbled on the cushion in turn four on lap seven as Glanden was right on the leader. In the ensuing laps, Wilson and Lake also closed in as it was a four-car race right down to the finish.
Ruffo though had enough to hold on by 0.649 of a second in Corey Ruffo-owned, Ben Bissett Chevrolet/Barris Supply/Wedge Motorsports-sponsored #14R. Glanden, who recorded his best career Sweeney Tour finish on May 26 at Sharon, was second over “Futures Cup” point leader Wilson, Lake, and Dawson.
Jeff Johnson was the benefactor of a terrible misfortunate by Vic Vena to capture the biggest victory of his career in the $2,000 UEMS Modified feature. Vena totally dominated the first 28 laps of the event before crashing trying to get past the lapped car of Paul Drotar. The 30-lap win was Johnson’s third victory of the season.
“We needed this to recoup some of the money we’ve lost here- we’ve had a rough last month and a half,” stated the 37-year-old Mineral Ridge, Ohio resident. “I need to thank my dad and my wife, who puts up with this racing stuff. I definitely couldn’t do it without my sponsors. I also have to thank Jack Young; he lent me a carburetor for tonight and I think it definitely made a difference.”
Vena wasted little time taking the lead from pole-sitter Carl McKinney at the start, while Johnson settled into third. By lap five Vena had a straightaway lead on McKinney. Steve Dixon passed Johnson for third on lap seven then got around McKinney on a lap 10 restart. Johnson regained the third position on lap 11 dropping McKinney back another spot then took second from Dixon on lap 14.
Vena clearly had the race in control and looked primed for his first career Sharon win, but got tangled up with Drotar in turns one and two with less than two laps to go. Johnson was handed the lead and he held off Dixon in the final two-lap run to the finish by 0.887 of a second in his Klaben Ford Lincoln/Warren Harley Davidson/Body Shop of Niles/Tom’s Sewer & Drain/ Close Racing Supply-sponsored #27. It was Johnson’s 18th career Sharon win moving him into sole possession of second place on the track’s all-time win list!
Dixon, who has two wins this season, was second for third time in just seven starts. Alan Dellinger came from 20th to finish third getting by McKinney on the final lap. McKinney dropped to fourth over Joe Gabrielson. Sixth through 10th were point leader Mike Kinney, Joel Watson from 19th, Clint Keenan in his first ever appearance, Rick Robinson from 23rd, and Clayton Kennedy. Vena, Dixon, and Johnson won the heat races over the 24-car field. Watson set fast time on Friday night with a 17.287.
It’s been quite a season for Mike Clark. On Saturday night, the Gibson Insurance Agency Stock Car point leader won the biggest race of his career, which began in the mid-1990s, capturing the 25-lap $1,500 to-win “open rules” event. Clark’s fourth win of the season has now doubled his career total since winning his first race in 2011.
“I can’t believe it,” exclaimed the 47-year-old Bristolville, Ohio racer. “After the first restart I thought I was going backwards, but we held on the bottom and we rode. The first turn I pushed like a truck so I thought I better go to the bottom and pinch her in. I have to thank the Lord Jesus Christ, all of my sponsors, and family.”
Clark started fourth and passed Rusty Wheeler for third on lap eight. He ran side-by-side with Rusty Martz on lap nine before making the pass on the bottom of turn four for runner-up. Chris Schneider had been setting a fast pace up from leading from the drop of the green flag, but Clark began cutting into his lead at the halfway point. Clark quickly pulled even with Schneider on lap 14. After a two-lap side-by-side battle, Clark had the lead on lap 15.
Clark would survive two restarts including one on the final lap to win by 0.632 of a second in his Sons of Italy/King’s Sanitary Service/NAPA Auto Parts Champion Heights/Martuccio Eye Care-sponsored #7. Regional Stock Car standouts Schneider, Martz, Wheeler, and Rusty Moore finished second through fifth. Topping the heat races over the season high 36-car field were Wheeler, Randy Wyant, Bob McCann, and Moore, while Joey Zambotti and Pat Fielding won the B mains. Clark set fast time on Friday night with a 17.775.
Tim Deutsch also picked great night to win his first career feature at Sharon Speedway. The veteran Stock Car and Modified racer was making just his third start in the Econo Mod division after purchasing the car from Bob Williams. Deutsch came out on top of a caution-filled 20-lap HTMA/Precise Racing Products feature for the $500 win.
“It takes a lot to win one of these and I always wanted to win one at Sharon Speedway,” expressed the 45-year-old Cortland, Ohio driver. “I have to thank Dave and Ron Bass without them I couldn’t do this. My wife is going to be disappointed she missed this one.”
Jason Longwell started third, but took the lead on the opening lap from Butch Lambert. Seventh starting Steve Burns, Jr. was on the move and raced to the lead on lap two passing Longwell down the backstretch for the lead. After battling with Lambert for many laps swapping the third spot back and forth, fifth starting Deutsch finally made the pass stick on lap 12.
Following a spin for Casey Bowers with 15 laps scored, Burns dropped from the event relinquishing the lead back to Longwell with Deutsch and Lambert in second and third. Back under green, Deutsch worked on Longwell and made the winning pass with an inside move in turn one on the 17th lap. Deutsch took the May’s Towing #8 to victory lane by 1.270 seconds.
Longwell, Lambert, and Steve Haefke, three other new racers to the growing division, finished second, third, and fourth respectively for their best finishes. Brian Hathaway was fifth. Lambert, Burns, Jamie Scharba, and Alan Atkinson won the heat races. Deutsch set fast time in qualifying on Friday night with a lap of 18.305. The 27-car field matched the record high from earlier this season.
Bill Fuchs won one of the biggest races of his career holding off Mercer Raceway Park invader Alex Paden in the 15-lap $300 to-win Deforest Used Parts Mini Stock main. The victory was the third of the season for the 2011 track champion.
“This one makes it special,” said the 38-year-old Greenville, Pa. driver. “It’s been a heck of a season. Last week in a $1,000 to-win feature at Eriez Speedway, the fuel pump shuts off. It’s nice to come out on the Russ King Memorial and win. It gets harder and harder. If you don’t stay in the garage on top of your car you’re not going to be up front. This was a fast and great field of four and six-cylinders.”
Fuchs led wire-to-wire in a race that had only one caution, which occurred on lap 11. When racing resumed, fifth starting Paden passed Travis Creech for second. Paden ran down Fuchs and was all over him in the final two laps, but wasn’t able to make the move. It was Fuchs’ all-time division leading 22nd win of his career in his RTW Industrial Contracting/Hittles Auto Supply/Chatfield Well Drilling/Kreider Tire-sponsored #10. It was a great run for Paden, who made his first ever appearance. Creech was third over Dale Fraschetti and Jim Haefke, Jr. Paden and Fraschetti won the heat races over the season-high 19-car field.
DIRTcar Big-Block Modified BRP Tour Russ King Memorial (35 laps, $3,500 to-win): 1. RICKY RICHNER (26) 2. Rex King, Jr. (165) 3. Eric Gabany (3E) 4. Chad Brachmann (3) 5. Randy Chrysler (21K) 6. Justin Wright (19W) 7. Jim Weller, Jr. (31) 8. Kevin Hoffman (17H) 9. Chris Haines (35H) 10. Bob Warren (96B) 11. Joe Kubiniec (19) 12. Steve Barr (25B) 13. Mike Turner (96) 14. Rick Regalski (McBride R13) 15. Mark Frankhouser (03) 16. Dave Murdick (61) 17. Brad Rapp (11R) 18. Tom Glenn (83T) 19. Erik Martin (29E) 20. Don Brown (71B) 21. Rob Kristyak (00) 22. Rick Ryder (Snider 189) 23. Jeremiah Shingledecker (37MD) 24. Steve Feder (45) 25. Tom Mattocks (69) 26. Carl Murdick (6) 27. Roger Chrysler (T21)-DSQ (did not scale). DNQ: Dillion Barr (15B), Ralph McBride (Regalski 13), Rex King (65).
Sweeney Chevrolet Buick GMC RUSH Dirt Late Model Touring Series (30 laps, $2,000 to-win): 1. MAX BLAIR (111) 2. Will Thomas III (9) 3. Mike Pegher, Jr. (Geisler 1c) 4. Ryan Montgomery (12) 5. Chad Ruhlman (Suppa 4s) 6. Jeff Ferguson (Over K2) 7. Matt Latta (21) 8. Joel Watson (92) 9. Dennis Lunger, Jr. (Schwartz 71L) 10. Matt Glanden (01) 11. Butch Lambert (27) 12. Scott Tessman (19s) 13. Rocky Kugel (21KRT) 14. Bobby Pifer III (6) 15. Bobby Whitling (7w) 16. Eric Wilson (27W) 17. Clay Ruffo (14R) 18. Jeremy Adamik (7J) 19. Cody Rogers (22) 20. Cody Dawson (36) 21. Russell King (Diver 23) 22. Russ Byler (Hoover 00H) 23. Andrew Wylie (84) 24. Jamie Wrightsman (21J) 25. Josh Double (38)-DSQ (light) 26. Michael Lake (27)-DNS 27. Randy Wyant (11T)-DNS.
RUSH “Futures Cup” Trifecta Race #2 (12 laps, $200 to-win): 1. Clay Ruffo 2. Matt Glanden 3. Eric Wilson 4. Michael Lake 5. Cody Dawson.
UEMS (E) Modifieds (30 laps, $2,000 to-win): 1. JEFF JOHNSON (27) 2. Steve Dixon (Engles 68) 3. Alan Dellinger (White 53) 4. Carl McKinney (Hendrickson 19) 5. Joe Gabrielson (58) 6. Mike Kinney (3) 7. Joel Watson (92) 8. Clint Keenan (28) 9. Rick Robinson (34R) 10. Clayton Kennedy (9) 11. Jonathan Taylor (5) 12. Andy Buckley (965) 13. Bruce Powell (35) 14. Jeff Hassay (10) 15. Trevor Herr (32) 16. Vic Vena (01) 17. Paul Drotar (24/7) 18. Ken Zimmer (62) 19. Tom Hagberg (27H) 20. Larry Kugel (Reed R88) 21. Dwayne Clay (007) 22. Shane Crotty (4) 23. John Boardman (79.2) 24. Jack Young (67).
Gibson Insurance Agency Open Stock Cars (25 laps, $1,500 to-win): 1. MIKE CLARK (7) 2. Chris Schneider (55) 3. Rusty Martz (16M) 4. Rusty Wheeler (44W) 5. Rusty Moore (17M) 6. Shaun Fawcett (224) 7. Tim Bish (Covatch 415) 8. Brent Coleman (01) 9. Andy Thompson (5) 10. Ed Bolyard (Patrick 05) 11. Rod Laskey (1R) 12. Jamie Duncan (67J) 13. Chris Withers (21W) 14. Brian Carothers (02c) 15. Joey Zambotti (948) 16. Pat Fielding (23) 17. Brandon Johnston (14J) 18. Ron Yarab, Jr. (Burns 70B) 19. Bob Sloss (44s) 20. Curt Bish (Tarr 29) 21. Ryan Newman (12) 22. Buck Buchanan, Jr. (93B) 23. Jeff Buccella (Davis 915) 24. Randy Wyant (11T) 25. Bob McCann (Fornataro USA 1) DNQ: Tony Bruno (97), Gary Robinson (44R), Bret McCarthy (33), Jesse Brock (22B), Jamie Gibbs (98), Troy DeZarn (21D), Bob Schwartzmiller (28s), Dan McEwen (95), Jason Stanke (44), Shawn Smith (36), Randy Miller (46M).
HTMA/Precise Racing Products Econo Mods (20 laps, $500 to-win): 1. TIM DEUTSCH (8) 2. Jason Longwell (7s) 3. Butch Lambert (Hendrickson 19) 4. Alan Atkinson (30Too) 5. Steve Haefke (41) 6. Brian Hathaway (93) 7. George Vestal IV (4) 8. Adam Babcock (67) 9. Brad Blackshear (Fraley 12) 10. Rusty Wheeler (Woodworth 6) 11. Casey Bowers (20) 12. Steve Samuelson (80JR) 13. Junior Mechling (89) 14. Keith Felicetty (98) 15. Steve Burns, Jr. (70B) 16. Brian Foley, Jr. (16JSR) 17. Jodi Woodworth, Jr. (07) 18. Jeff Webber (25) 19. Josh Ferry (33) 20. Ty Rhoades (12R) 21. Brandon Blackshear (10) 22. Jason Stanke (44) 23. Jamie Scharba (Petsko 00s) 24. Larry Root (22x) 25. Jacob Eucker (64) 26. Jeremy Double (83) 27. Mike Hillman (29)-DNS.
Deforest Used Parts Mini Stocks (15 laps, $300 to-win): 1. BILL FUCHS (10) 2. Alex Paden (24) 3. Travis Creech (75T) 4. Dale Fraschetti (23) 5. Jim Haefke, Jr. (421) 6. Tim McAninch (43) 7. Evan Kornbau (62) 8. Pat Drennan (24) 9. Jeff Little (42) 10. Kevin Sergeff (38) 11. Alex Siekkinen (Wheeler 44) 12. Tyler Fulton (09) 13. Roger Williams (412) 14. Jamie Maxwell (6M) 15. Josh Eakman (6) 16. Geof Pinch (36) 17. Steve Walker II (4M) 18. Scott Gilliland (27) 19. Nick Groves (65)-DNS.
Sharon returns to action this Saturday night (September 21) for “Steel Valley Thunder” featuring the weekly six divisions. Tom’s Sewer and Drain has put up a $500 bonus for the DIRTcar Big-Block Modified, (E) Modified, and Econo Mod feature winners! Gates open at 5 p.m. with racing at 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.