King Jr repeats in Big-Block Mods; Emotional wins for Thomas & Hooks in RUSH LM & Stocks; Wagnes takes $1500 TUSA Mod Lites; 3rd wins for Watson & Creech in Mods & Minis
By Mike Leone
May 24, 2014
(Hartford, OH)…It took until almost the end of May, but finally Sharon Speedway was blessed with a warm and sunny conditions and the result was the season’s biggest crowd and car count as 105 cars filled the pit area on Saturday night. Celebrating in the Hovis Auto & Truck Supply victory lane were Rex King, Jr.-Hovis Auto & Truck Supply DIRTcar Big-Block Modifieds, Will Thomas III-Barris Supply RUSH Late Models, Joel Watson-Summit Racing Equipment Modifieds, Derek Wagner-TUSA Mod Lites, Shaun Hooks-Gibson Insurance Agency Stock Cars, and Travis Creech-Deforest Used Parts Mini Stocks. Three of the six features went non-stop!
Rex King and his son Rex, Jr. have certainly stepped up their game this year. The two have been winning at both Lernerville and Sharon Speedways this year and been in contention every night. On Saturday night, it was King, Jr’s turn to return to glory as he captured his second win this season and third on the circuit following an unchallenged victory in the 20-lap non-stop Hovis Auto & Truck Supply DIRTcar Big-Block Modified feature.
“We have to watch the tires and the lapped cars race each other so that’s really the only bad thing when a race goes non-stop,” explained the 23-year-old Bristolville, Ohio driver. “When it goes green to checkered you’re going to run through a lot of lapped cars and you just hope you have a good enough lead on second. This one is for Johnny Zdelar- our longtime crew chief, who passed away. I have to thank all of my crew and sponsors- they’re all great!”
“Cooter” as he’s aptly known took off on the start racing out to the lead from the outside pole while Jim Rasey was able to pass both Jeremiah Shingledecker and Erik Martin on the opening lap for second. Shingledecker regained third when he passed Martin on lap two. Jim Weller, Jr., who won the feature last time out, had to start sixth and he was able to move into fourth on lap six past Martin. King cracked the top five on lap nine when he got past Martin.
With the laps ticking off caution-free, “Cooter” had a 1.5 second lead when caught lapped traffic for the first time on lap 13. “Cooter” was able to clear those cars and by the time he caught traffic again four laps later, he increased his lead by a second to 2.5. Rasey was only able to cut the margin slightly at the checkered flag as King, Jr’s victory was his 10th career at Sharon 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. The event was timed non-stop in 5:58.501.
Rasey has been off to a great start to the season as he recorded his second runner-up finish and third top three finish in four starts. Shingledecker held off Weller for third. King crossed the line in fifth. Ricky Richner was sixth and earned the free Hoosier Tire for passing the most cars in the feature after starting 11th. Completing the top 10 were Martin, Rick Regalski, Jr., Tom Glenn, and Jimmy Weller III. Newcomer Kevin Hoffman was awarded the hard luck and received two passes for next week compliments of Hovis Auto & Truck Supply. Heat winners were King and Rasey.
Will Thomas III looked like he was on a mission Saturday night. After an early heat race accident, Thomas pitted and charged through the pack to finish third to make the feature invert. In the 20-lap Barris Supply RUSH Late Model feature, Thomas tracked down Mark Banal and pulled away for a convincing season’s first win and an emotional one for his father Bill, who recently passed away.
“It’s been hard,” expressed the 38-year-old Sharpsville, Pa. racer, who debuted a retro Bill Thomas Special look for his #9 last time out. “This has always been something we did together. My dad would have been 74 tomorrow. I have to thank all of the people that help me.”
Subbing for Alan Dellinger in the Bob Williams-owned #8, Banal took the early lead over Bobby Whitling, Russ Byler, Thomas, and Bob Diver. A spin for Lon Emerick bunched up the field with four laps scored. Thomas got a great restart as he passed both Byler and Whitling for the second spot, while Diver stole fourth from Byler.
Thomas quickly ran down Banal as he closed in on lap six and was right on the leader on lap seven. Thomas got underneath Banal on lap eight and the two raced side-by-side for the lead the next three laps. Thomas inched ahead to lead lap nine and made the pass stick for good racing off turn two and down the backstretch of lap 10 before a caution for a spin by newcomer Anthony Mariano. It would be the last stoppage of the event as the final 11 laps went green-to-checkered.
Dennis Lunger, Jr. had to start 12th due to winning the prior two events. Lunger had worked his way up to seventh when the caution was displayed, but got a great restart as he flew into third when racing resumed. Up front, no one had anything for Thomas, who pulled away to win by 3.184 seconds in his Colonial Metal Products/Barris Supply/King Sanitary/All Star Performance/Motorstate/Sweet Manufacturing/Russ King Racing-sponsored #9. The win was Thomas’ 10th of his career, which is tops all-time in the division.
Lunger caught Banal on lap 17, but wasn’t able to make the pass as Banal held down the runner-up spot. Diver crossed the line in fourth in his season debut. Sophomore Late Model racer Jamie Wrightsman recorded his second top five of the season in fifth. Sixth through 10th were Whitling, Byler, Wendell Pinckney, Canadian newcomer Jorden Peters, and “Futures Cup” racer Clay Ruffo. Heat winners over the season-high 18-car field were Ruffo and Andrus.
It was youth vs. veteran in the 20-lap Summit Racing Equipment Modified feature. Thirteen-year-old Econo Mod graduate Jacob Eucker sat on the pole for the first time this season, but couldn’t stop Joel Watson from capturing his third feature win in four tries this season.
“That kid has his shoes on tight,” stated the 35-year-old Conneaut, OH standout. “He’s doing everything right. He’s going to be a real problem for me in a couple years I think. We found a little something more in the car tonight. I’m really getting happy with this car. We haven’t finished worse than second all year and we’re going to try to keep that streak going. I have to thank all of the guys that help me, my wife for being here with me, my parents for watching me, all the fans that come out, and I’d really like to thank the veterans that made all the sacrifices so we can have the freedom to do this. I really, really appreciate that.”
Eucker led the first lap, while Watson passed Jeff Johnson for second. Watson wasted little time taking over as he grabbed the lead with an inside move in turns one and two on lap two for the lead. Once in front, all that slowed Watson were three cautions on laps 3, 11, and 18. Steve Dixon started seventh and made his way to fourth following the first restart on lap four. Dixon used the second restart to get by Johnson after Dunn and Johnson made contact on the backstretch.
Dixon would pressure Eucker in the final four laps, but up front it was all Watson taking the win by 1.454 seconds in his Northwest Restoration/Zimmer’s Service Center/Lakeshore Auto Parts/Custom Automated Machine/BMS/BSB Manufacturing-sponsored #92, Watson continues to rack up the wins and climb up the win chart as Saturday’s win was the 17th of his career at Sharon moving him into a tie for third place with Scott Stiffer and trails second place Johnson by just one win.
Eucker edged out Dixon for his best career Modified finish giving him four top nine finishes in four starts! Dixon earned the $25 Summit Racing Equipment Hard Charger certificate for advancing the most positions. Dunn was fourth ahead of Dwayne Clay, who won the two pit passes for next week in the random drawing compliments of Hovis Auto & Truck Supply. Sixth through 10th were Clayton Kennedy, Johnson, Mike Kinney, Steve Burns, Jr., and Larry Kugel. Heat victors were Watson and Johnson.
Making his first ever appearance, Derek Wagner came out on top of a wild 25-lap TUSA Mod Lite National Event for the big $1,500 payday. “I can’t be more happy,” expressed the 25-year-old Middleport, NY driver. “This is definitely something different for us. A lot of the tracks we run are a lot smaller. This is a real high paced, stand on the throttle and don’t really left off- hang on for the ride track. I have to thank my girlfriend for dealing with me for this, my mom for coming from New York, and my dad, who is at home unfortunately.”
The race featured five stoppages including a flip by Richard Lawson on the start, some hard racing throughout the pack, a late race penalty, and a post race disqualification. Wagner took the lead on lap two from Delaware racer Jimmy Wills then withstood a ferocious battle and challenge from Rod Jones, Mark Marcucci, Chad Shearer, and Jeff Teeters. Teeters actually crossed the finish line first, but jumped two cars on the final restart and was docked four positions at the finish, which turned out to be a three-position penalty after the apparent fourth place finishers Chris Logan failed to go to tech.
After running second for much of the race, Marcucci got passed by Jones on lap 17 then got tangled up in the final caution with four to go. The Wagner’s Performance Manufacturing/HFI/DMB Motorsports #61 was officially first over Jones, Shearer, Teeters, and Shane Pfeuffer. Heat winners over the 25-car field were Wills, Teeters, and Frank.
Like Thomas, Shaun Hooks garnered an emotional season’s first win in the Stock Cars after losing his brother Jim one month ago. Hooks was able to end the alternating wins by Mike Clark and Paul Davis in the non-stop 15-lap Gibson Insurance Agency feature. “This is in memory of my brother,” stated the 44-year-old New Castle, Pa. driver, who changed his car number from 65 to 68 in memory of his brother’s former Stock Car number. “He’s right there in the car with me. I thank to Rod Laskey for building the car and Travis Harry for the motor and my crew for doing all of the work.”
Steve D’Apolito, who was making his first start of the season, and Brent Coleman led the season-high 14-car field to the green flag. It was three-wide on the backstretch of lap one between Coleman, D’Apolito, and Hooks. Coleman took the early advantage, while D’Apolito and Hooks raced side-by-side from laps two through fifth before Hooks moved into second. Fifth starting Brian Carothers was on the move passing Jamie Duncan for fourth on lap six and D’Apolito for third on lap seven.
Up front, Hooks began to close in on Coleman on lap seven and caught the leader on lap nine. The two ran side-by-side for the lead on lap 11 and made the winning pass stick off the bottom of turn four. Once in front, Hooks pulled away to win by 1.226 seconds over Coleman, who recorded his second runner-up of the season. Hooks’ non-stop time was 4:51.498 for his eighth career win. Carothers was third over Duncan and Clark. Sixth place finisher Bryan Wagner earned the $25 Summit Racing Equipment Hard Charger certificate. Carothers and Clark topped the heats.
Like Watson, Travis Creech was able to win his third feature in four tries this season. Creech’s win came in the 12-lap non-stop Deforest Used Parts Mini Stock feature. “We didn’t get home until 3 in the morning from Raceway 7,” revealed the 26-year-old Niles, Ohio winner. “I’m surprised the car even held up- it was rough up there, but I had a blast. I come here tonight and had even more of a blast. Can’t beat this! Thanks to Darrell Coleman, Tyler, and everyone in the pits that’s helping.”
Creech started on the outside pole and took charge immediately over newcomer Dan Nagy, who was making his first start in six years. Bill Fuchs started fifth and worked his way to second on lap three after passing Nagy and Joe Campbell. Fuchs though was no challenge to Creech, whose ninth career win came in the May’s Towing/Elite Coleman/JLB Trucking-sponsored #75T. Jim Haefke, Jr. passed Campbell on lap four to finish third. The rookie Campbell dropped to fourth over Shane Smith. Heats were won by Gilliland and Nagy.
Hovis Auto & Truck Supply DIRTcar Big-Block Modifieds (20 laps): 1. REX KING, JR. (165) 2. Jim Rasey (32) 3. Jeremiah Shingledecker (37MD) 4. Jim Weller, Jr. (31) 5. Rex King (65) 6. Ricky Richner (26) 7. Erik Martin (29E) 8. Rick Regalski, Jr. (13) 9. Tom Glenn (83T) 10. Jimmy Weller III (23) 11. Tom Mattocks (69) 12. Ralph McBride (R13) 13. Bob Warren (96B) 14. Kevin Hoffman (00) 15. Carl Murdick (6) 16. Ronnie Kahler (75).
Barris Supply RUSH Late Models (20 laps): 1. WILL THOMAS III (9) 2. Mark Banal (Williams 8) 3. Dennis Lunger, Jr. (Schwartz 71L) 4. Bob Diver (23) 5. Jamie Wrightsman (21J) 6. Bobby Whitling (7W) 7. Russ Byler (Hoover 00H) 8. Wendell Pinckney (11) 9. Jorden Peters (11P) 10. Clay Ruffo (14R) 11. W.L. Stile (1W) 12. Eric Andrus (54) 13. Chuck Recker, Jr. (Porter 6R) 14. Jason Stanke (44) 15. Anthony Mariano (11X) 16. Lon Emerick (3) 17. Bobby Pifer III (6P) 18. Michael Lake (Yowler 27)-DNS.
Summit Racing Equipment (E) Modifieds (20 laps): 1. JOEL WATSON (92) 2. Jacob Eucker (64) 3. Steve Dixon (Engles 68) 4. Russ Dunn (White 53) 5. Dwayne Clay (007) 6. Clayton Kennedy (9) 7. Jeff Johnson (27) 8. Mike Kinney (3) 9. Steve Burns, Jr. (70B) 10. Larry Kugel (0) 11. Michael Bambarger (B2) 12. Carl McKinney (6M) 13. Bob Williamson (93) 14. Joe Gabrielson (58)-DNS 15. Bruce Powell (35)-DNS.
TUSA Mod Lites (25 laps, $1,500 to-win): 1. DEREK WAGNER (61) 2. Rod Jones (820) 3. Chad Shearer (27) 4. Jeff Teeters (L1) 5. Shane Pfeuffer (717) 6. George Englert (11x) 7. Mark Marcucci (8M) 8. Chris Frank (49) 9. Jim Good (31) 10. Rob Misener (91) 11. Josh Sliter (17) 12. Joe Grzelak, Jr. (888) 13. Jason Darocha (5) 14. Kenny Meadows (Teague 10T) 15. Keith Smith (16) 16. Jim Gump (71) 17. Ron Hixenbaugh (11) 18. Cory Webb (115) 19. Shane Webb (267) 20. Tim Prelog (06) 21. Jimmy Wills (22) 22. Jim Bogett (12) 23. Kevin Nicolino (25) 24. Richard Lawson (70×7) 25. Chris Logan (21)-DSQ (no tech).
Gibson Insurance Agency Stock Cars (15 laps): 1. SHAUN HOOKS (68) 2. Brent Coleman (01) 3. Brian Carothers (02c) 4. Jamie Duncan (67J) 5. Mike Clark (7) 6. Bryan Wagner (56) 7. Paul Davis (3) 8. Steve D’Apolito (84) 9. Dan Fedorchak (Bruno x7) 10. Pat Adams (93) 11. Jason Stanke (44) 12. Tony Bruno (97) 13. Dave Myers (Burns 70B) 14. Brian Mulichak (36D).
Deforest Used Parts Mini Stocks (12 laps): 1. TRAVIS CREECH (75T) 2. Bill Fuchs (10) 3. Jim Haefke, Jr. (421) 4. Joe Campbell (40c) 5. Shane Smith (299) 6. Jamie Maxwell (6) 7. Dan Nagy (17B) 8. Rick Wilson, Jr. (55) 9. Scott Gilliland (27) 10. Geof Pinch (36) 11. Jeff Little (42_ 12. Ray Kennedy (18) 13. Charley Roberts (6s) 14. Steve Walker II (4M) 15. Adam Little (99)-DNS 16. Tim McAninch (43)-DNS 17. James Edison (01)-DNS.
Coming up this Saturday night, May 31 is another “Steel Valley Thunder” program featuring the DIRTcar Big-Block Modifieds, RUSH Late Models, Modifieds, Stock Cars, Econo Mods, and Mini Stocks plus the return appearance of the RUSH Sportsman Modifieds. The Stock Cars will have the night off. 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.