King Jr holds off dad for Big-Block Mod win #3; Lunger wins 3rd in RUSH LM; 1st wins for Dixon, Wagner & Fraley in Mods, Stocks & Econos; Creech again in Minis
By Mike Leone
June 14, 2014
(Hartford, OH)…For the fourth straight Saturday, Sharon Speedway was blessed with sunny skies and no threat of rain resulting in a huge crowd turning out for the second annual free Fan Appreciation Night! Fans also enjoyed an on-track autograph session with all of the racers at intermission. 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, Steve Dixon-Summit Racing Equipment Modifieds, Bryan Wagner-Gibson Insurance Agency Stock Cars, Ryan Fraley-HTMA/Precise Racing Products Econo Mods, and Travis Creech-Deforest Used Parts Mini Stocks.
Last week it was Rex King holding off his son Rex, Jr. for the win in the DIRTcar Big-Block Modifieds; on Saturday night, Rex, Jr. turned the tables on Father’s Day Eve winning the 20-lap Hovis Auto & Truck Supply feature to become the division’s first three-time winner. “Cooter”, as he’s better known, kept the Kings and Jim Weller, Jr. as the division’s only three winners this season.
“I wasn’t going to let dad get close at all this time,” expressed the 23-year-old Bristolville, Ohio driver. “The track was really good tonight. If they keeping doing this, I’ll surely like it. This going to be good racing right down to the end of the season. The lapped cars were sliding everywhere. The track was a little rough in certain ends, but not too bad. You had to go up and drive around them. I didn’t do that every lap, but I tried.”
“Cooter” used the outside to blast into the lead past pole-sitter Rick Regalski, Jr. on the start. Reglaski battled side-by-side with Weller for second until the first caution was displayed with three laps scored when Bob Warren got into the turn four fence hard and came down across the track collecting Carl Murdick and Jamie Duncan. Murdick received heavy rear-end damage and was awarded the hard luck award. Murdick will receive two pit passes for next Saturday compliments of Hovis Auto & Truck Supply.
When racing resumed for the final 17 non-stop laps, sixth starting King, Sr. powered around both Weller and Reglaski for second, while Weller, Tom Mattocks, and Jeremiah Shingledecker were all able to get by Regalski as well for positions three through five respectively. By lap five the top three cars pulled away. Seventh starting Shingledecker drove by Mattocks down the backstretch for fourth on lap 11.
The elder King had closed in on “Cooter” on lap seven, but by lap 12 opened up his lead again. With five laps to go he had increased his margin to a straightaway over his father. Traffic came into play on lap 18. “Cooter” struggled clearing some cars allowing King, Sr. to close in. The final lap saw King, Sr. really close the margin, but needed another lap to make a challenge as he came up 0.516 of a second shy. “Cooter’s” 11th career win moved him into a tie for 10th with Rob Kristyak on the division’s all-time win list 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.
Weller was third and has yet to finish worse than sixth this season. Shingledecker was fourth matching his finish from the night before at Lernerville Speedway. After a flat tire in his heat, Ricky Richner came from 15th to finish fifth after getting around Mattocks on lap 15. Mattocks dropped to sixth over Jimmy Weller III, Regalski, newcomer Chris Haines, and Kevin Hoffman. King, Sr. and Rasey won the heat races.
Dennis Lunger, Jr. went uncontested leading wire-to-wire in the 20-lap of Barris Supply RUSH Late Model feature. It was third win of the season for the defending champion, who matched Will Thomas III’s win total for the season. Thomas entered the night winning three straight features and was relegated to the tail.
“We really needed this to get out of this slump,” stated the 46-year-old Albion, Pa. veteran. “We had a string of three straight weeks where we broke stuff. We’ve had to start back there after I won two in a row. I know what it’s like. Sometimes this place is real racy and you can start back there and win. It’s difficult in these crate cars. We all have the same motor and basically the same tires. The drivers have to get up on the wheel and sometimes I get blamed for being too aggressive, but if you’re not aggressive you’re not winning. I won this race last year when you had this free night. This crowd is outstanding and I want to thank everyone for coming out.”
Lunger took off in the lead over Bobby Whitling. Alan Dellinger passed Bob Diver for third on the opening lap. Lunger quickly began to pull away on lap two, while Dellinger began to battle with Whitling for second. 2011 track champion, Josh Double, was making just his second start of the season. Double started seventh, but cracked the top five on lap four passing Eric Wilson. Double moved up another spot the following lap when he drove under and past Diver down the backstretch on lap five.
Dellinger and Whitling continued to go at it racing side-by-side for second on lap seven. Lunger caught traffic on lap 10, but would get a clear track one lap later when Wilson cut a tire causing a caution. When racing resumed, Dellinger finally got past Whitling going down the backstretch. The event’s final caution slowed action with 12 laps scored for a four-car accident involving Thomas, Jamie Wrightsman, Eric Andrus, and Russ Byler.
When green replaced yellow, Double continued to move forward taking third from Whitling. As the last eight laps ticked off caution-free, Double caught Dellinger on lap 19 and drove around him in turns one and two on the final lap to take second. Lunger though was long gone as he took the checkered flag first by a margin of 2.932 seconds. Lunger’s ninth career win, which have all come since the season finale in 2012, moved him into sole possession of second place on the division’s all-time win list 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.
Double’s runner-up was his best finish since his second on August 10 of last year. Dellinger, Whitling, and Diver were third through fifth. Completing the top 10 were Wendell Pinckney, Wrightsman, Byler, Andrus, and Jason Stanke. Heat victors were Dellinger and Diver.
Steve Dixon out-dueled defending champion Mike Kinney for his first Modified win of the season at Sharon and second overall on the circuit. Dixon survived eight cautions throughout the 20-lap Summit Racing Equipment event that ruined some good racing up front. Dixon is now just two points out of the lead in his first full season of racing at Sharon.
“He had me on a couple restarts, but the cautions turned out in my favor,” explained the 34-year-old Smethport, Pa. racer. “I think we were equal cars. I don’t know if I could have gotten back by him, but hey a win is a win. I love racing with him. We’ve put on some good shows and tonight was one of them. He’s a great race car driver and there’s no cleaner driver. I have to thank Tim Engles and Bob Rial for putting me in this race car. We’ve struggled this year, but with their help we’re back on top where we should be and hopefully a lot more wins to come. I hope all these fans that came tonight come back and see a show like this every week. It’s a great track and was a great autograph session.”
A heads-up start put Kinney and Dixon on the front row with Dixon powering to the early lead. The two ran side-by-side lap after lap, but Dixon was able to lead every time. On two occasions following restarts, Kinney had taken the lead, but cautions gave the lead back to Dixon. The final time necessitated a single file restart after two consecutive cautions following a caution without a lap scored. Dixon would hold on in the three-lap shootout by 1.130 seconds over Kinney. Dixon’s third career win came in the Tim Engles-owned, Engles Trucking/Backyard Bodies/Close Racing Supply-sponsored #68.
Sixth starting Carl McKinney passed Jacob Eucker on lap 19 to finish third. Eucker was fourth for his third top five of the season for the 13-year-old Econo Mod graduate. Greg Beach was fifth. Sixth through 10th were Russ Dunn, Larry Kugel, Jeff Johnson, Paul Davis, and Jesse Gould. Davis worked his way from 21st to ninth to earn the $25 Summit Racing Equipment Hard Charger certificate. Heat winners were Kinney, Dixon, and Scott Stiffler. The 22 cars on hand matched a season high.
After a dominating performance by Brian Carothers, Bryan Wagner benefited from a caution on the final lap to steal a first win of the season away from Carothers with a last lap pass. For Wagner, it was his first win of 2014 in the Gibson Insurance Agency Stock Cars.
“I knew I had a car that could around the top,” stated the 26-year-old New Castle, Pa. driver. “I ran the heck out of it. A lot goes through your mind, but you have to stay focused and do what you have to do. Mike (Clark), Paul (Davis), and Brian (Carothers) are such good racers and you can race with them without having to worry about touching. I have to thank my parents, all of my sponsors, and these fans for turning out.”
Brent Coleman took off in the early lead. Gary Robinson got sideways on lap three allowing Carothers and fifth starting Wagner to take over second and third respectively. Carothers drove around Coleman on the outside in turn four to take the lead on lap five and began to pull away instantly. The battle was on for second as Coleman tried to hold off Wagner, Paul Davis, and Mike Clark.
On lap 12, Wagner ducked to the inside of Coleman and made the pass stick racing off turn four to garner second. Wagner now faced a straightaway deficit with three laps to go that appeared insurmountable; however, just as it looked like the race was going non-stop, Robinson slowed to bring out the caution.
Carothers chose the bottom for the double-file restart. The two raced side-by-side on the final lap, but Wagner had enough momentum on the outside to power to the victory by just 0.286 of a second! Wagner’s fourth career win, but first since June 22 of last year, came in his Whiting Family Foods/S. Dorr Lawn Service/Schwartzmiller Ground Maintenance/Cizmar Racing Supply/Wilson Lumber-sponsored #56. Davis passed Coleman on lap 13 to finish third. Coleman dropped to fourth over Pat Adams, who recorded his season’s best finish. Wagner and Davis picked up heat race wins.
Ryan Fraley led from green-to-checkered in the 15-lap Econo Mod feature to become the division’s fifth different winner in six races. Had Steve Burns, Jr. not passed Casey Bowers on the final lap last Saturday, there would have been six different winners in as many races.
“I haven’t run much after getting frustrated the first couple of races,” revealed the 25-year-old Wheatland, Pa. racer. “We worked hard and finally got here. Brandon (Blackshear), Jeff Johnson, Jimmy, and a whole bunch of crew guys put this back together. This is Jeff Johnson’s car from last year and he knows all of the tricks to make it go fast. It’s going to be a fun year.”
Fraley jumped into the early lead using the outside to drive around pole-sitter Steve Haefke. Jason Longwell started eighth, but was halfway to the front after one lap. Following a caution with one lap scored, Longwell passed Josh Mueller for third on the ensuing restart. Fraley pulled away from the pack as the laps ticked off. By lap four, the battle was on for second as Haefke and Longwell raced side-by-side on laps five and six. Longwell made the pass stick on the inside of turn three on lap six.
A caution for a spin by Brandon Blackshear with 11 laps scored set up a four-lap dash to the checkered. Mueller was able to get by Haefke for third when racing resumed. Longwell though didn’t have anything for Fraley, who won by 1.281 seconds for his fifth career win in the Ronald Fraley-owned, Sunset Lanes/CD Gibbs Construction/Tri-State Trailer Sales/Clay Bros. Transmission/Intense Fab-sponsored #12.
Longwell’s second place was his season’s best, while Mueller was a Sharon career best third. Point leader and defending champion Jeremy Double came from 13th to finish fourth and earned the $25 Summit Racing Equipment Hard Charger certificate. Haefke dropped to fifth. Longwell and Blackshear won the heat races.
Travis Creech rebounded from a flat tire in his heat race that relegated him to the 13th starting spot to win the 12-lap Deforest Used Parts Mini Stock feature. Creech became the Speedway’s first five-time winner of 2014! “I have to thank Darrell and Tyler and everyone that helps,” expressed the happy 26-year-old Niles, Ohio driver. “I didn’t think we’d be able to get up through the field after starting at the back, but man this thing never lets me down. I was down low by the yuke tires trying to miss the ruts then went to the top and realized there wasn’t any up there and was trucking!”
Rookie Joe Campbell looked good setting the pace out front early on. A caution for Tom Brenkert with five laps scored bunched up the field for the final time. When green replaced yellow, Creech passed both Dan Nagy and Jim Haefke, Jr. for third. On lap seven he moved to runner-up past Adam Little and one lap later made the winning pass of Campbell. Once in front, Creech drove off to his 11th career win in the May’s Towing/Elite Coleman/JLB Trucking-sponsored #75T.
Haefke also passed Campbell on lap eight to finish second for the second straight week. The rookie Little got by Campbell on the final lap for his first career top five finish. Campbell dropped to fourth after leading the first seven laps. Shane Smith was fifth. Little and Bill Fuchs captured heat race wins.
Hovis Auto & Truck Supply DIRTcar Big-Block Modifieds (20 laps): 1. REX KING, JR. (165) 2. Rex King (65) 3. Jim Weller, Jr. (31) 4. Jeremiah Shingledecker (37MD) 5. Ricky Richner (26) 6. Tom Mattocks (69) 7. Jimmy Weller III (23) 8. Rick Regalski, Jr. (13) 9. Chris Haines (35H) 10. Kevin Hoffman (00H) 11. Jim Rasey (32) 12. Tom Glenn (83T) 13. Jamie Duncan (18) 14. Erik Martin (29E) 15. Bob Warren (96B) 16. Carl Murdick (6).
Barris Supply RUSH Late Models (20 laps): 1. DENNIS LUNGER, JR. (Schwartz 71L) 2. Josh Double (38) 3. Alan Dellinger (Williams 8) 4. Bobby Whitling (7W) 5. Bob Diver (23) 6. Wendell Pinckney (11) 7. Jamie Wrightsman (23J) 8. Russ Byler (Hoover 00H) 9. Eric Andrus (54) 10. Jason Stanke (44) 11. Will Thomas III (9) 12. Eric Wilson (27W) 13. Lon Emerick (3) 14. Chris Reid (c4)-DNS.
Summit Racing Equipment (E) Modifieds (20 laps): 1. STEVE DIXON (Engles 68) 2. Mike Kinney (3) 3. Carl McKinney (6M) 4. Jacob Eucker (64) 5. Greg Beach (33x) 6. Russ Dunn (White 53) 7. Larry Kugel (0) 8. Jeff Johnson (27) 9. Paul Davis (3D) 10. Jesse Gould (2G) 11. Dwayne Clay (007) 12. Scott Stiffler (14) 13. Joe Gabrielson (58) 14. Clayton Kennedy (9) 15. Denny Crawford (75) 16. Amanda Stiffler (14A) 17. Brian Douglas (214) 18. Shawn Shingledecker (54s) 19. Bruce Powell (35) 20. John Upshire (97) 21. Rich Jaeger (5) 22. Bob Williamson (93)-DNS.
Gibson Insurance Agency Stock Cars (15 laps): 1. BRYAN WAGNER (56) 2. Brian Carothers (02c) 3. Paul Davis (3) 4. Brent Coleman (01) 5. Pat Adams (93) 6. Mike Clark (7) 7. Brian Mulichak (36D) 8. Tony Bruno (97) 9. Gary Robinson (44R) 10. Michael Lesky (5L) 11. Dave Myers (Burns 70B)-DNS.
HTMA/Precise Racing Products Econo Mods (15 laps): 1. RYAN FRALEY (12) 2. Jason Longwell (7s) 3. Josh Mueller (01) 4. Jeremy Double (83) 5. Steve Haefke (41) 6. Ty Rhoades (12R) 7. Josh Ferry (33) 8. Brandon Blackshear (10) 9. Casey Bowers (20) 10. Alan Atkinson (32) 11. Junior Mechling (89) 12. Jeff Webber (25) 13. Brian Foley, Jr. (16JSR) 14. Kayla Adams (39) 15. Mike Hillman (29) 16. Steve Burns, Jr. (70B) 17. Jace Ferringer (02)-DNS 18. Adam Babcock (67)-DNS.
Deforest Used Parts Mini Stocks (12 laps): 1. TRAVIS CREECH (75T) 2. Jim Haefke, Jr. (421) 3. Adam Little (99) 4. Joe Campbell (40c) 5. Shane Smith (299) 6. Jamie Maxwell (6) 7. Tim McAninch (43) 8. Steve Walker III (4M) 9. Rick Wilson, Jr. (55) 10. Geof Pinch (36) 11. Tom Brenkert (11B) 12. Alex Siekkinen 13. Jeff Little (42) 14. Dan Nagy (17B) 15. Bill Fuchs (10) 16. Greg Schmied (97s).
Coming up this Saturday night, June 21 is another “Steel Valley Thunder” program featuring the DIRTcar Big-Block Modifieds, RUSH Late Models, Modifieds, Stock Cars, Econo Mods, and Mini Stocks. It’s PCTC Club Night with free general admission for club members. 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.