King Jr. backs up dad’s win w/ BB Mod victory; RUSH LM to Lunger; Career 1st win for Eck RUSH SPT MODS; Watson & Creech repeat in Mods & Minis; 1st wins for Davis & Burns in Stocks & Econos
By Mike Leone
April 26, 2014 FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
(Hartford, OH)…Sharon Speedway resumed action on another clear and very cold evening for week two of “Steel Valley Thunder” as part of the 85th anniversary season. Celebrating in the Hovis Auto & Truck Supply victory lane were Rex King, Jr.-Hovis Auto & Truck Supply DIRTcar Big-Block Modifieds, Dennis Lunger, Jr.-Barris Supply RUSH Late Models, Joel Watson-Summit Racing Equipment Modifieds, Paul Davis-Gibson Insurance Agency Stock Cars, Jordan Eck-Sweeney Chevrolet Buick GMC RUSH Sportsman Modifieds, Steve Burns, Jr.-HTMA/Precise Racing Products Econo Mods, and Travis Creech-Deforest Used Parts Mini Stocks. The seven-division show with 102 cars was run off in less than three and a half hours.
For the second straight year the King Family begins the season a perfect two-for-two in DIRTcar Big-Block Modified competition. Last year, it was Rex King, Sr. winning on opening night followed by Rex, Jr. in week two; this year, the elder King won the opener and on Saturday night “Cooter” garnered week two honors winning from the fifth starting spot in the 20-lap Hovis Auto & Truck Supply feature.
“The top was starting to come in good in turns three and four,” explained the 23-year-old Bristolville, Ohio driver. “I knew I had to get good starts to continue going where we were. I have to dedicate this one to a guy who was like a father-figure to me- John Zdelar, who passed away in a car accident, and also Bill Thomas. I have to thank my crew, my mom and dad, my brother’s wife, my grandparents, and all of my sponsors.”
Rob Kristyak took off in the lead early over Rick Regalski. King, Jr. was able to pass Tommy Marshall III and Jeremiah Shingledecker on the opening lap for third. Newcomer Erick Rudolph of Ransomville, New York started eighth, but moved into the top five after two laps. On lap three, King, Jr. drove under and past Regalski for second. Two laps later, King, Jr. closed on Kristyak and on lap six was right on the leader’s tail.
Meanwhile, Rudolph continued working his way to the front passing Shingledecker for fourth on lap five and then ran down Reglaski on lap eight. Great racing was taking place as Kristyak and King, Jr. raced side-by-side for the lead and right behind the duo were Regalski and Rudolph going at it side-by-side for third. Rudolph was able to make the pass stick for third on lap nine, while King’s winning move came off the bottom of turn four on lap 11 before the event’s first caution with 11 laps scored for a spin by Kevin Green.
The caution was a big break for Shingledecker. After starting third, Shingledecker faded to fifth and got back to fourth past Regalski before the caution. When racing resumed, Shingledecker drove around Rudolph for third then slipped under and past Kristyak for second on lap 13 before the second and final caution of the race with 13 laps scored.
The last seven laps went caution-free. King, Jr. pulled away from Shingledecker by a margin of 1.432 seconds at the finish for his ninth career win in the KMB Inc.-owned, Jim Brown Seed Sales/Bristol Disposal/Reese Services/Professional Heating Systems/Jet Inc/Cedar Steel/Mahan Welding & Fab/Schaeffer Oil/Cintas Uniform-sponsored #165.
Rudolph, who finished third in his first ever Lernerville start on April 18, came home third in his first ever Sharon appearance. Jim Weller, Jr. improved from his 12th starting spot to finish fourth over Brian Swartzlander from 10th. Rounding out the top 10 were King, Kristyak, Regalski, Jim Rasey, and Ricky Richner. Heat winners over the 23-car field were Weller, King, and Swartzlander. Tom Glenn was awarded the hard luck after running in the top five early on before being the first car out of the event. Glenn will receive two pit passes for May 3 compliments of Hovis Auto & Truck Supply.
After coming up short last week to Alan Dellinger, defending champion Dennis Lunger, Jr. led all 20 laps of the non-stop Barris Supply RUSH Late Model feature holding off a late charge by 2012 champion Will Thomas III.
“I didn’t know Will was catching me,” stated the 46-year-old Albion, Pa. racer. “I just tried to keep going and hold a line. That’s the thing about being up front, you don’t know how fast the guys are running behind you, and it makes it tough. Sometimes it’s harder from the front row. To be honest, I’d rather start further back and give the fans a show. It’s no fun without cars here tonight. I don’t know where everyone is at. The place can be tough on tires and gets costly, but it’s a great place to race- why wouldn’t you come here? I keep telling people to come here, but I think they’re just afraid to get beat by us old guys!”
Lunger powered past “Futures Cup” racer Clay Ruffo on the start for the lead. Thomas raced Ruffo side-by-side on laps two and three for second. Thomas made the pass in turn four on lap three, albeit with some contact, but by now was a straightaway behind Lunger. Thomas cut between one and two tenths of a second off Lunger’s lead just about every lap and was within striking distance at the end, but Lunger still held on to win by 0.566 of a second.
Lunger’s victory came in the Reuben Schwartz-owned, Schwartz Construction/English Tire/Carter Lumber/State Farm/Edward Jones Financial Advisor/Beacon Lubricants/Kabanatime.com/Ron and Don North-sponsored #71L, and was the seventh of his career at Sharon and all have come since the season finale in 2012. He’s now tied Max Blair for third on the division’s all-time win list.
Ruffo held off Jamie Wrightsman, Russ Byler, and Alan Dellinger in a battle for third that lasted from lap four to the conclusion. Wrightsman matched a career best Late Model finish in fourth. The race’s non-stop time was 5:42.607. Dellinger won the heat race.
For the second straight week, Joel Watson charged from the seventh starting to beat a stellar field of Modifieds in the 20-lap Summit Racing Equipment feature. This week’s win was a little more challenging than last week’s domination.
“I was really driving tonight,” said the 34-year-old Conneaut, Ohio resident. “Scott (Stiffler) was really good. I was surprised I was able to get up there and run with him. I was actually driving over my head, but it was working. Somehow I was able to stay off of him, but it was close. Sometimes you just have to go and hope they give you the room. That was some tough racing!”
Scott Stiffler drove past Shawn Shingledecker, Russ Dunn, and Greg Beach to take command early on. After a caution with three laps scored for newcomers Jim Plance and Mike Potosky, positions second on back really got shuffled as Jeff Johnson advanced from fourth to second with Steve Dixon moving into third from his ninth starting spot.
Watson didn’t enter the picture until moving into fourth on lap eight past Dunn. Three cautions slowed action all on lap 12. The one collected six cars on a restart including Johnson, Dunn, and Shingledecker. Watson now lined up third on the restart and passed Dixon for runner-up when racing resumed. Watson went after Stiffler. The two put on a great show running side-by-side on laps 17-19 with Watson making the pass stick on lap 19.
Watson pulled away on the final lap for his 16th career win by 0.758 of a second over Stiffler in his Northwest Restoration/Zimmer’s Service Center/Lakeshore Auto Parts/Custom Automated Machine/BMS/BSB Manufacturing-sponsored #92. Dixon was third for the second straight week. Thirteen-year-old Jacob Eucker came from ninth to finish fourth. Pole-sitter Greg Beach dropped to fifth for his best career finish at Sharon.
Sixth through 10th were Carl McKinney from 14th, Mike Kinney, Jason Fosnaught, Potosky, and Dunn. Potosky was awarded the hard charger for advancing 10 spots and received a $25 gift certificate from Summit Racing Equipment. Dixon, Eucker, and Watson won the heat races over the 22-car field.
Last week, Paul Davis lost a hard fought battle to Mike Clark in the Stock Cars. This week, Davis didn’t yield the lead as he led all 15 laps of the Gibson Insurance Agency feature. “Last week was a lot of fun racing Mike (Clark) like that, but I had a little bit of engine trouble and had a miss in the motor,” explained the 53-year-old Fowler, Ohio veteran. “We got it fixed and it ran good tonight. I kept looking for Mike to catch me, but I wasn’t going to let it happen again this week.”
Davis took the top spot over from pole-sitter Jamie Duncan on the start. A caution for Tony Bruno on lap three was all that really slowed Davis’ run to the checkered flag; however, Davis did have a scare on the last lap when rookie Dave Myers did a 360-spin in the middle of turn four not far in front of Davis. Myers kept going and Davis went around him and still took the checkered flag first by a margin of 3.825 seconds. Davis’ 13th career Stock Car win came in his Hover Racing/GCM Enterprises/Don Williams Excavating/Advance Auto Parts/Tub’s Automotive-sponsored #3.
Brent Coleman came from fifth to place second after passing Duncan on lap four following the caution. Coleman received the hard charger for advancing three spots and received a $25 gift card from Summit Racing Equipment. Duncan edged out Clark in a photo finish for third. Brian Carothers was fifth. Clark won the heat race.
Jordan Eck will go down in the history books as the very first winner of the RUSH Sportsman Modifieds as the former E-Mod and Crate Late Model racer captured his first career win in the 15-lap Sweeney Chevrolet Buick GMC feature.
“It would have been great if dad was here to see my first win,” expressed the 29-year-old Corry, Pa. driver and son of Super Late Model racer Doug Eck. “My wife is cold, we have a three-year-old, and she’s seven months pregnant. I’m so setup to run Late Models, but it’s so expensive; the motor rebuild at the end of the year is still $8,000-9,000 even if you don’t blow it up. I can’t see spending that kind of money nor I can I afford it. I can buy three of these motors brand new for that! I’d like to thank Vicki (Emig) for getting this series going down here. I’d like to thank my crew chief Andy Larson- he’s been a ton of help to me. Also the Kings; I had way too much gear in the heat and went over and got a set of gears from them so I have to thank Russ and those guys. I hope there’s more guys coming and I’m looking forward to coming back- that’s for sure!”
Veteran racer Jerry Schaffer led the first five laps before slipping high in turn two allowing Eck to take the lead. Greg Martin started fourth and after racing Schaffer side-by-side for three laps made the pass stick on lap nine. Eck had built a straightaway lead by the time Martin moved into second. On lap 12, Eck slipped high in traffic allowing Martin to close in. Eck though would hold on for the victory over Martin in his C&H Sports Center-sponsored #20 by 0.918 of a second.
Adam Hilton passed Schaffer on lap 12 to finish third. Schaffer dropped to fourth over Jamie Duncan, who was doing double-duty. Martin won the heat race. Ten cars were on hand for the first race; however, three did not pass pre-race tech and competed with the big blocks. Another 15 drivers are committed for the division and plan to be ready in the coming weeks.
Steve Burns, Jr. held off a valiant charge by Brandon Blackshear, who came from the back after a first lap accident, to win in his first start of 2014 in the 15-lap HTMA/Precise Racing Products Econo Mods. “We ran four laps last week at Raceway 7′s practice and blew up,” explained the 23-year-old Masury, Ohio driver. “We picked this motor up from Bob Williams. It’s a good motor. I’m glad we made the choice. I saw Brandon (Blackshear) down there on the bottom so I chose the inside on the restart. My car was good and fast on the inside line.”
Burns started from seventh and moved into third on lap two past George Vestal IV. Ryan Fraley led the first three laps before Ty Rhoades took over on the fourth circuit. Fraley would exit the event on lap six allowing Burns to inherit second. Rhoades, who looked primed for his first career win, suffered a flat tire on lap 11 yielding the lead to Burns.
Burns was able to hold off Blackshear over the final five laps to win by just 0.696 of a second for his fourth career Econo Mod and sixth overall in the Steve Burns, Sr.-owned, All Points/Bud’s Towing/Rien Construction/Myers Towing/Warehouse Sales-sponsored #70B. Jeremy Double came back from a lap two accident to finish third over Jason Longwell, who received the $25 Summit Racing Equipment hard charger gift card for advancing 14 spots. Improving Brian Foley, Jr. was fifth for his second straight top five. Burns and Double won the heat races over the 20-car field.
Defending champion Travis Creech has laid down the gauntlet in the Mini Stocks as he made it two-for-two winning the non-stop 12-lap Deforest Used Parts feature. “That was a blast trying to catch him (Scott Gilliland),” acknowledged the 26-year-old Niles, Ohio driver. “I knew he was going to be fast. I just kept hitting my marks and didn’t come off my line at all. This freaking car is wicked- it’s awesome!”
Creech started sixth, but was halfway to the front after one lap then passed Bill Fuchs for second on lap two. The top three of Scott Gilliland, Creech, and Fuchs pulled away by lap three. Creech closed in on Gilliland and made the winning pass on lap nine when Gilliland dodged the lapped car of Joe Campbell. Creech went on for his eighth career win in his May’s Towing/Elite Coleman/JLB Trucking-sponsored #75T.
Gilliand, who finished runner-up in the 2013 points to Creech, was second over Fuchs. Jamie Maxwell started fourth and finished fourth for the second straight week. Sophomore racer Pat Drennan was fifth. Fuchs and Creech garnered the heat race wins.
Hovis Auto & Truck Supply DIRTcar Big-Block Modifieds (20 laps): 1. REX KING, JR. (165) 2. Jeremiah Shingledecker (37MD) 3. Erick Rudolph (25) 4. Jim Weller, Jr. (31) 5. Brian Swartzlander (83) 6. Rex King (65) 7. Rob Kristyak (00) 8. Rick Regalski, Jr. (13) 9. Jim Rasey (32) 10. Ricky Richner (26) 11. Tommy Kristyak (26z) 12. Jimmy Weller III (23) 13. Ralph McBride (R13) 14. Carl Murdick (6) 15. Bob Warren (96B) 16. Rodney Beltz (64) 17. Rocky Kugel (1) 18. J.C. Boyer (1m) 19. Tommy Marshall III (Hinkle 77) 20. Kevin Green (74) 21. Erik Martin (29E) 22. Tom Glenn (83T) 23. Adam Siegel (91)-DNS.
Barris Supply RUSH Late Models (20 laps): 1. DENNIS LUNGER, JR. (Schwartz 71L) 2. Will Thomas III (9) 3. Clay Ruffo (14R) 4. Jamie Wrightsman (21J) 5. Russ Byler (Hoover 00H) 6. Alan Dellinger (Williams 8) 7. Jason Stanke (44) 8. Lon Emerick (3).
Summit Racing Equipment (E) Modifieds (20 laps): 1. JOEL WATSON (92) 2. Scott Stiffler (14) 3. Steve Dixon (Engles 68) 4. Jacob Eucker (64) 5. Greg Beach (33x) 6. Carl McKinney (Hendrickson 6M) 7. Mike Kinney (3) 8. Jason Fosnaught (J19) 9. Mike Potosky (m20) 10. Russ Dunn (White 53) 11. Evan Taylor (7) 12. Larry Kugel (0) 13. Clayton Kennedy (9) 14. Jim Plance (4J) 15. Shawn Shingledecker (54s) 16. Jeff Johnson (27) 17. Howard Fraley (217) 18. Amanda Stiffler (14A) 19. Jonathan Taylor (5) 20. Dwayne Clay (007)-DNS 21. Paul Davis (3D)-DNS 22. Rusty Wheeler (Woodworth 4)-DNS.
Gibson Insurance Agency Stock Cars (15 laps): 1. PAUL DAVIS (3) 2. Brent Coleman (01) 3. Jamie Duncan (67J) 4. Mike Clark (7) 5. Brian Carothers (02c) 6. Bryan Wagner (56) 7. Dave Myers (Burns 70B) 8. Jamie Gibbs (98) 9. Tony Bruno (97).
Sweeney Chevrolet Buick GMC RUSH Sportsman Modifieds (15 laps): 1. JORDAN ECK (20) 2. Greg Martin (4) 3. Adam Hilton (3A) 4. Jerry Schaffer (4) 5. Jamie Duncan (18) 6. Mike Kiezer (77) 7. Michael Kristyak (404). (Note: Rocky Kugel (1), J.C. Boyer (1M) & Adam Siegel (91) were illegal in pre-race tech & competed with the Big-Block Mods.)
HTMA/Precise Racing Products Econo Mods (15 laps): 1. STEVE BURNS, JR. (70B) 2. Brandon Blackshear (10) 3. Jeremy Double (83) 4. Jason Longwell (7s) 5. Brian Foley, Jr. (16JSR) 6. Casey Bowers (20) 7. George Vestal IV (4) 8. Josh Ferry (33) 9. Josh Mueller (01) 10. Jeff Webber (25) 11. Rod Artman (97) 12. Megan Adams (39) 13. Ty Rhoades (12R) 14. Adam Babcock (67) 15. Ryan Fraley (12) 16. Devin Henry (21*JR) 17. Junior Mechling (89) 18. Alan Atkinson (32) 19. Steve Haefke (41)-DNS 20. Haley Lapcevich (77)-DNS.
Deforest Used Parts Mini Stocks (12 laps): 1. TRAVIS CREECH (75T) 2. Scott Gilliland (27) 3. Bill Fuchs (10) 4. Jamie Maxwell (6) 5. Pat Drennan (Sirrine 24) 6. Tim McAninch (43) 7. Joe Campbell (40c) 8. Geof Pinch (36) 9. Ray Kennedy (18) 10. Dan McEwen (Walker 4m) 11. Greg Schmied (97) 12. Dan Marshall (76M) 13. Adam Little (99).
Coming up this Saturday night, May 3 will be another “Steel Valley Thunder” program featuring the six weekly divisions Pits open at 4 p.m. with grandstands at 5 and 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.