King repeats opening night Big-Block Mod win; Thomas wins 3rd straight in RUSH LM; 4th win for Watson in Mods; #3 for Clark in Stocks; Burns again in Econos; 1st for Fuchs in Minis
By Mike Leone
June 7, 2014
(Hartford, OH)…For the third straight Saturday, Sharon Speedway was blessed with warm and sunny weather after battling Mother Nature with cold and damp conditions for much of April and May. Celebrating in the Hovis Auto & Truck Supply victory lane Rex King-Hovis Auto & Truck Supply DIRTcar Big-Block Modifieds, Will Thomas III-Barris Supply RUSH Late Models, Joel Watson-Summit Racing Equipment Modifieds, Mike Clark-Gibson Insurance Agency Stock Cars, Steve Burns, Jr.-HTMA/Precise Racing Products Econo Mods, and Bill Fuchs-Deforest Used Parts Mini Stocks.
After winning on opening night, Rex King had to watch his son and defending champion Jim Weller, Jr. share wins in each of the past four events. On Saturday night, the elder King and four-time champion of Bristolville, Ohio returned to victory lane holding off his son Rex King, Jr. in a near photo finish in the 20-lap Hovis Auto & Truck Supply DIRTcar Big-Block Modified feature.
King started from the pole, while King, Jr. started third and passed Brian Swartzlander on the opening lap. After battling early on, King pulled away from “Cooter”. The youngest King of the family put the pressure on his father in the final laps. “Cooter” got under his father on the final lap, but came up just 0.082 of a second behind. King’s 48th career win came in his Midway Garage Door/University Hospital/RD Banks Chevrolet/Campbell Gardening Supply/Hunyady Auction/Cintas Uniforms-sponsored #65. After six races there yet to be anyone other than the Kings or Weller win a feature this season.
A good battle for third took place with Weller nailing down the spot over Friday night’s Lernerville Speedway winner Jeremiah Shingledecker and Brian Swartzlander, who made just his second start of the year. Completing the top 10 were Ricky Richner, Kevin Hoffman, Jimmy Weller III, Bob Warren, and Tom Glenn. Weller, Jr. and King won the heats.
Will Thomas III has certainly found his groove. Last Saturday in victory lane following his second straight win the Sharpsville, Pa. driver said, “When I lost my dad, I worried if I’d ever win again without him, but I think we’ll probably win more now that he’s up there looking out after us.” And Thomas just might be right. On Saturday night, Thomas won his third straight 20-lap Barris Supply RUSH Late Model feature following the passing of Bill Thomas.
Starting 10th, Thomas was halfway to the front after one lap. On lap two he passed Jamie Wrightsman for fourth. Two laps later he took over third from Eric Andrus. Thomas moved to runner-up on lap five past Clay Ruffo and one later made the winning move taking over from Russ Byler, who led the opening five circuits.
Ruffo had a solid run going in third until he hit an infield yuke tire ending his night on lap 10. Byler stayed somewhat close to Thomas in the final half of the race, but Thomas was too strong winning his all-time division-leading 12th of his career in his Colonial Metal Products/Barris Supply/King Sanitary/All Star Performance/Motorstate/Sweet Manufacturing/Russ King Racing-sponsored #9.
Byler was 2.879 seconds back in second for his second runner-up of the season as he’s yet to finish worse than seventh in his first full season of Late Model competition. Andrus’ third was his first ever top five at Sharon. Ben Black was fourth in his first start of 2014. Wrightsman was fifth. Completing the top 10 were Canadian Luke Carleton in his first start of the year, Jason Stanke, newcomer Pat Willar, Ruffo, and Christopher Reid. Thomas and Byler won the heat races.
Joel Watson has been fast and has come to the front no matter where he’s started this year. On Saturday night, he’d lead every lap from the pole position of the 20-lap Summit Racing Equipment Modified feature. The only thing that slowed his run to the checkered flag was an uncharacteristic nine cautions in the event.
The Conneaut, Ohio driver’s fourth win of the season came by a margin of 1.104 seconds over runner-up Russ Dunn, who recorded his season’s best finish driving the Jim White-owned #53. For Watson, his 18th career win tied him for second with Jeff Johnson on the division’s all-time win list and came in his Northwest Restoration/Zimmer’s Service Center/Lakeshore Auto Parts/Custom Automated Machine/BMS/BSB Manufacturing-sponsored #92.
Joe Gabrielson was a season best third in just his third start of 2014. Johnson was fourth over Clayton Kennedy. Completing the top 10 were Dwayne Clay, Jacob Eucker, Steve Dixon, Paul Davis, and Jason Fosnaught. Dixon had raced from 16th to second only to spin out on lap 15, which negated a shot at his first of win of the season. Heat victors were Johnson and Watson.
Each year since winning his first career feature in 2011, veteran Mike Clark has continued to improve in the Stock Cars. Last year, Clark won a career best four features and his first ever track championship. On Saturday night, Clark led all 15 laps of the Gibson Insurance Agency for his third victory already this season in just five races. Clark’s 11th career win came by a margin of victory of 2.393 seconds in his King’s Sanitary Service/Champion Auto Supply/Martuccio Eye Care/Sons of Italy of Warren, Ohio-sponsored #7.
Bryan Wagner passed Paul Davis for second on lap three, but was no challenge for Clark. Jamie Duncan got past Davis on lap 12 to finish third. Davis dropped to fourth over Brian Carothers. Heat winners were Clark and Wagner.
Steve Burns, Jr. became the first repeat winner in the Econo Mods after five weeks of competition and just barely as he made a last lap pass of Casey Bowers for the win! Burns’ victory came in the 15-lap HTMA/Precise Racing Products feature that had just one caution.
Burns didn’t even take over second until lap 14 from Ty Rhoades then got past Bowers on the final circuit to win by just 0.244 of a second. The Masury, Ohio driver’s fifth career win in the division and seventh overall at Sharon came in the Steve Burns, Sr.-owned, All Points/Bud’s Towing/Rien Construction/Myers Towing/Warehouse Sales-sponsored #70B.
Bowers, who hasn’t won at Sharon since sweeping the “Apple Festival Nationals” in September 2012, just missed out on becoming the fifth different winner in as many races. Rhoades was third over Josh Mueller, who matched his best career finish in fourth. Steve Haefke was fifth. Jason Longwell and Brandon Blackshear won the heat races.
Mini Stock all-time leading feature winner Bill Fuchs finally captured his season’s first win. Fuchs led all 12 laps of the non-stop Deforest Used Parts feature for his first victory since September 14, 2013. The Greenville, Pa. driver’s 23rd career win came in his RTW Industrial Contracting/Hittles Auto Supply/Chatfield Well Drilling/Kreider Tire/McKray & Haag Automotive/Mega Builders/Veados Mini Mart/Headliners Gentleman Club-sponsored #10.
2012 champion Jim Haefke, Jr. was second for his best finish since winning last on August 17, 2013. Four-time winner, Travis Creech, came from 12th to finish third. Scott Gilliland and Joe Campbell were fourth and fifth respectively after missing the May 31 program.
Hovis Auto & Truck Supply DIRTcar Big-Block Modifieds (20 laps): 1. REX KING (65) 2. Rex King, Jr. (165) 3. Jim Weller, Jr. (31) 4. Jeremiah Shingledecker (37MD) 5. Brian Swartzlander (83) 6. Ricky Richner (26) 7. Kevin Hoffman (00H) 8. Jimmy Weller III (23) 9. Bob Warren (96B) 10. Tom Glenn (83T) 11. Carl Murdick (6) 12. Ronnie Kahler (75) 13. Kevin Green (74) 14. Rick Regalski, Jr. (13) 15. Jim Rasey (32) 16. Erik Martin (29E)-DNS.
Barris Supply RUSH Late Models (20 laps): 1. WILL THOMAS III (9) 2. Russ Byler (Hoover 00H) 3. Eric Andrus (54) 4. Ben Black (27B) 5. Jamie Wrightsman (21J) 6. Luke Carleton (97c) 7. Jason Stanke (44) 8. Pat Willar (39) 9. Clay Ruffo (14R) 10. Chris Reid (c4).
Summit Racing Equipment (E) Modifieds (20 laps): 1. JOEL WATSON (92) 2. Russ Dunn (White 53) 3. Joe Gabrielson (58) 4. Jeff Johnson (27) 5. Clayton Kennedy (9) 6. Dwayne Clay (007) 7. Jacob Eucker (64) 8. Steve Dixon (Engles 68) 9. Paul Davis (3D) 10. Jason Fosnaught (J19) 11. Greg Beach (33x) 12. Michael Bambarger (B2) 13. Scott Stiffler (14) 14. Mike Kinney (3) 15. Rich Jaeger (5) 16. Amanda Stiffler (14A) 17. Carl McKinney (6M).
Gibson Insurance Agency Stock Cars (15 laps): 1. MIKE CLARK (7) 2. Bryan Wagner (56) 3. Jamie Duncan (67J) 4. Paul Davis (3) 5. Brian Carothers (02c) 6. Gary Robinson (44R) 7. David Myers (Burns 70B) 8. Brian Mulichak (36D) 9. Dan Fedorchak (Bruno x7) 10. Pat Adams (93) 11. Michael Lesky (5L) 12. Mark Hopkins (69H).
HTMA/Precise Racing Products Econo Mods (15 laps): 1. STEVE BURNS, JR. (70B) 2. Casey Bowers (20) 3. Ty Rhoades (12R) 4. Josh Mueller (01) 5. Steve Haefke (41) 6. Brandon Blackshear (10) 7. Alan Atkinson (32) 8. George Vestal IV (4) 9. Devin Henry (21*JR) 10. Tim Deutsch (8) 11. Jeff Webber (25) 12. Kayla Adams (39) 13. Adam Babcock (67) 14. Jason Longwell (7s) 15. Brian Foley, Jr. (16JSR) 16. Mike Hillman (29).
Deforest Used Parts Mini Stocks (12 laps): 1. BILL FUCHS (10) 2. Jim Haefke, Jr. (421) 3. Travis Creech (75T) 4. Scott Gilliland (27) 5. Joe Campbell (40c) 6. Rick Wilson, Jr. (55) 7. Tim McAninch (43) 8. Shane Smith (299) 9. Jim Longnecker (117) 10. Pat Drennan (Sirrine 24) 11. Jamie Maxwell (6) 12. Dan Nagy (17B) 13. Steve Walker II (4M)-DNS.
Coming up this Saturday night, June 14 is the rescheduled FREE general admission night plus autographs for all cars and drivers on the speedway during intermission. It’ll be another “Steel Valley Thunder” program featuring the DIRTcar Big-Block Modifieds, RUSH Late Models, Modifieds, Stock Cars, Econo Mods, and Mini Stocks. Pits open at 4 p.m. with grandstands at 5 and racing at 7.
Coming up on Tuesday, June 24 is Ohio Speedweek for the All Star Circuit of Champions Sprint Cars plus the TUSA Mod Lites. Gates open at 4 with time trials at 6:30. Advance ticket holders will be able to get in one hour earlier at 3 p.m. for preferred seating.
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.