King Jr powers to 4th Big-Block Mod win; Kugel wins 1st ever in RUSH Sportsman Mods; Dixon, Wagner & Double repeat in Mods, Stocks & Econos; Career 1st for Little in Minis
By Mike Leone
June 28, 2014
(Hartford, OH)…After a rainout for Tuesday’s Ohio Speedweek event, Sharon Speedway was able to complete the sixth straight Saturday night of short-track auto racing excitement as part of the “Steel Valley Thunder” 85th anniversary season. Celebrating in the Hovis Auto & Truck Supply victory lane were Rex King, Jr.-Hovis Auto & Truck Supply DIRTcar Big-Block Modifieds, Steve Dixon-Summit Racing Equipment Modifieds, Rocky Kugel-Sweeney Chevrolet Buick GMC RUSH Sportsman Modifieds, Bryan Wagner-Gibson Insurance Agency Stock Cars, Jeremy Double-HTMA/Precise Racing Products Econo Mods, and Adam Little-Deforest Used Parts Mini Stocks. The entire program was done shortly after 10 PM once again.
It’s hard to believe that it wasn’t until three years ago that Rex King, Jr. won his career first in the DIRTcar Big-Block Modifieds on June 19, 2011. Fast forward three years and the youngest King won his division-leading fourth Hovis Auto & Truck Supply feature matching last year’s career high total on Saturday night. After finishing runner-up in last year’s standings, King has the point lead at the mid-point of the season.
“I couldn’t imagine four wins already,” said the 23-year-old Bristolville, Ohio resident. “It’s tough to do, but it feels good. It’s hard to go green-to-checkered. Everyone is so good. Sometimes it’s good to have a yellow, but in this case I’m glad it went green-to-checkered. You have to get around lapped traffic. They don’t give you any room or watch the flagman so you have to make it happen. I have to thank all of my sponsors, my family, the fans, everyone that helps me, and Sharon Speedway. My little boy is here tonight so it’s awesome.”
Bob Warren took off in the early lead as Jim Weller, Jr. got by Rick Regalski, Jr. on the start for second. King, Jr., who started fifth, moved to fourth on the opening lap then got by Regalski down the backstretch on lap two for third. The elder King and Jim Rasey were able to get under and past Regalski on lap three for positions fourth and fifth respectively.
On lap four, Weller began to close in on Warren and one lap later King, Jr. made it a three-car race for the lead. Weller was trying everything to get past Warren and in the meantime, King, Jr. snuck under for second racing down the backstretch on lap seven. As Warren continued to lead in search of his first career win, King and Rasey caught the leaders making it a five-car race for the lead on lap eight.
King, Jr’s winning move came in turn four on lap nine. Warren caught newcomer Shawn Kozar and went low to lap him, but Kozar moved down blocking Warren as King, Jr. powered into the lead. King, Jr. quickly pulled away at the half-way point. Weller and King were able to get by Warren in turns three and four on lap 13 for positions two and three respectively, but by now King, Jr. had built a straightaway lead.
Without a caution, King, Jr. went unchallenged taking his 12th career win by a big margin of 4.31 seconds 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. King, Jr. also received a free tire for being the hard charger compliments of Hoosier Tire Mid-Atlantic.
Weller edged out King for second. Rasey was fourth after starting eighth. Ricky Richner was fifth for the third straight week and has now finished fifth or sixth for the past six weeks! Warren and Regalski dropped to sixth and seventh respectively. Tom Glenn, Ralph McBride, and Carl Murdick completed the top 10. King and King, Jr. won the heat races. Jimmy Weller III got together with Richner in his heat race knocking the rear-end out and ending his night. Weller III was awarded the hard luck and will receive two pit passes for next Saturday compliments of Hovis.
For the second time in the past three weeks, Steve Dixon led all 20 laps of the Summit Racing Equipment Modifieds holding off a hungry pack of top racers for the victory. “It’s nice to get a heads-up start,” acknowledged the 34-year-old Smethport, Pa. winner. “The competition here in the E-Mod class is very strong. You have Joel Watson, Mike Kinney, Scott Stiffler- it’s tough. If you start fifth on back it’s tough to get to the front. You can’t make any mistakes. You look on the board and see Joel Watson is second, and I have my crew guy giving me signals to know if he’s catching me. He probably was catching me at the end, but I was trying to be smooth and not push the car too hard- that’s when you make mistakes.”
Early challenger Scott Stiffler exited the event on lap five with smoke billowing from his car yielding runner-up to Joel Watson with Mike Kinney trailing. Three cautions in the first eight laps were all that slowed Dixon as the final 12 went caution-free and Dixon was able to hold off track standouts Watson and Kinney by 0.887 of a second for his fourth career win in the Tim Engles-owned, Engles Trucking/Backyard Bodies/Close Racing Supply-sponsored #68.
Last week’s winner Dwayne Clay was fourth after starting sixth over Russ Dunn. Rounding out the top 10 were Bruce Powell, Carl McKinney, Jeff Johnson, Joe Gabrielson, and Jacob Eucker. Bob Williamson was the hard charger and received a $25 gift certificate from Summit Racing Equipment. Stiffler and Dixon copped the heat race victories.
Rocky Kugel has raced in the RUSH Late Model and E-Mod divisions over the years, but when the new RUSH Sportsman Modified division featuring GM 602 engines with $135 Bilstein “sealed” spec shocks along with steel wheels on Hoosier Tires was announced over the winter, Kugel felt the division would be a perfect, affordable fit for him.
Kugel had never driven a center-sitting Northeast-style Modified until this season, and had never won at Sharon Speedway before. That changed on Saturday night as he led all 15 laps of the Sweeney Chevrolet Buick GMC feature holding off New York standouts Greg Martin and point leader Adam Hilton for the popular victory. Kugel became the third different winner in as many races this year at Sharon and fifth different overall. A record 11 cars were on hand.
“I’ve raced a bunch of cars and this is different,” revealed the soon-to-be 38-year-old East Liverpool, Ohio driver. “I knew nothing about it coming in and no setups. Everybody has helped me. Guys have stepped up and people you would have never expected gave me a hand and taught me how to set these things up. I guess it was pretty good tonight. I was able to hit my marks every lap and be more consistent as the race went on. I don’t think I’ve ever had a car that hooked up as good as this one did tonight. It was pretty spot on and I wasn’t lifting. The only sponsor I have is Paper Services- the place I work. If they didn’t help me I wouldn’t be here. I needed a motor and they bought me a motor.”
Ken Moy, Jr. and Jamie Duncan brought the field to green, but Kugel was able to sneak under both racers on the inside racing down the frontstretch. Martin started sixth, but was halfway to the front after one lap. On lap two, Martin got under Moy in turns three and four for second. By now Kugel had built a half-straightaway lead. Hilton meanwhile started eighth and passed Moy down the backstretch for third on lap four with Duncan following a lap later for fourth.
As the laps ticked off caution-free, Martin began to close in on lap eight as the top three pulled away at the halfway point. Martin tried everything to get by Kugel and his slip on lap 13 getting high in turn two was possibly the difference. The slip also allowed Hilton to close in on Martin’s bumper. The trio were in a blanket at the finish with Kugel holding on by just 0.327 of a second over Martin in his Paper Services-sponsored #1. The event’s non-stop time was 4:33.761. Duncan and Adam Siegel were fourth and fifth. Moy and Martin won the heat races.
Two weeks ago Dixon won his first of the year and backed it up with a second Mod win on Saturday night. Bryan Wagner followed in Dixon’s footsteps doing the same thing in the Stock Cars. And in a carbon copy of June 14 passing Brian Carothers on a restart for the victory in the 15-lap Gibson Insurance Agency feature.
“I didn’t know where anyone was,” said the 26-year-old New Castle, Pa. driver. “Greg (Cizmar) was on the back-chute telling me what was going on and I was kind of going off of him. I kept running the heck out of it. We had a good car last week too. I think we hit the setup right. The track was a little deceiving. I thought it was slicker than it was, but it has more moisture in it. A couple small minor changes is all you have to make and it makes a world of a difference.”
Carothers led the opening lap with Wagner passing Gary Robinson for second before a three-car accident in turns one and two involving rookie Dave Myers, Brent Coleman, and Mike Clark. On the ensuing restart, Wagner took the lead using the outside to lead lap two before the event’s final caution for simultaneous spins by Robinson and Dan Fedorchak.
The last 13 laps went green-to-checkered. Carothers stayed within striking distance, but Wagner was too strong taking his fifth career win in his Whiting Family Foods/S. Dorr Lawn Service/Schwartzmiller Ground Maintenance/Cizmar Racing Supply/Wilson Lumber-sponsored #56 by 1.603 seconds over Carothers. Paul Davis was third after starting sixth. Defending champion and point leader Clark came from the tail to place fourth. Fedorchak was a season best fifth and earned the $25 Summit Racing Equipment hard charger certificate. Clark and Davis won the heat races.
Jeremy Double won seven features and the track championship in 2013. When his biggest nemesis Jacob Eucker, who won six features, moved to the Modified division one figured 2014 would be another banner season for Double. Double came out of the box swinging winning opening night, but the competition has been tough in 2014 and it took over two months for Double to get back in victory lane, which happened on Saturday night in the 15-lap HTMA/Precise Racing Products feature.
“The track has been a little different and the groove has slowly been moving up,” explained the 18-year-old Bristolville, Ohio driver. “The top is definitely a lot better. Last week I kept digging the nose in the bottom and couldn’t get the momentum. There’s not as much traction down there as last year. It’s kind of evened out now and you can run the top or bottom so it’s good. The competition is definitely a lot better this year. Instead of three or four good cars it’s more throughout the entire field- it’s tough.”
Double started third and moved to second on lap two past Josh Mueller. Double made his winning move on lap four driving around two-time winner Steve Burns, Jr. on the outside racing off turn four. The remainder of the race was a strange one as three of the standouts received flat tires from hard battles and contact including Burns, Jason Longwell, and Brandon Blackshear.
When everything shook out, Double won by 1.137 over Alan Atkinson in his Cortland Auto Repair/Wedge Motorsports/Thomas Heating & Cooling/King Bros/Russ King Racing/Mahan Welding & Fab/Pioneer Sports & Supply-sponsored #83. Atkinson hadn’t finished better than seventh this season until last Saturday night’s career best Sharon finish of third and was able to improve that by one position on Saturday night. Seventh starting Casey Bowers advanced to fourth at the finish over Mueller.
Newcomer Robert Simmons received the $25 Summit Racing Equipment hard charger certificate for advancing nine positions to sixth at the finish in addition to the $50 Sweeney Chevrolet/Pace Performance certificate for being the highest finishing GM 602. Keith Felicetty received a $25 Sweeney/Pace certificate for being the second highest finisher in his season debut. Longwell and Blackshear won the heat races.
Rookie Adam Little has been fast all season in the Mini Stocks. In fact, he was coming off back-to-back season best third place finishes. On Saturday night with point leader and dominator Travis Creech and standout Scott Gilliland missing in action, and the division’s all-time winner Bill Fuchs starting last, it was Little’s turn to shine. Little won from the fifth starting spot in the 12-lap Deforest Used Parts feature for his first career win!
“I was shaking in my pants,” expressed the 29-year-old Leetonia, Ohio driver. “I’m so happy. Up front all the way! This is a Honda CRX. First year of racing- first win. I have to thank my wife, who stays up all night and works on the car with me, and my sponsor Heroes and Halos. They are a great charity organization- look them up on Facebook.”
With the RUSH Late Models not in competition, Jamie Wrightsman brought out his Mini Stock for the first time this season and led the opening lap after the event’s only caution for Steve Walker II. Little was up to third after one lap and on lap two passed both Jamie Maxwell and Wrightsman for the lead. Once in front, Little was never challenged in his Heroes and Halos-sponsored #99. Maxwell was a career best second over Wrightsman. Fuchs made it up to fourth ahead of Rick Wilson, Jr., who received two pit passes for next Saturday compliments of Hovis Auto & Truck Supply in the random draw. Heat winners were Joe Campbell and Dan Nagy.
Hovis Auto & Truck Supply DIRTcar Big-Block Modifieds (20 laps): 1. REX KING, JR. (165) 2. Jim Weller, Jr. (31) 3. Rex King (65) 4. Jim Rasey (32) 5. Ricky Richner (26) 6. Bob Warren (96B) 7. Rick Regalski, Jr. (13) 8. Tom Glenn (83T) 9. Ralph McBride (R13) 10. Carl Murdick (6) 11. Shawn Kozar (3K) 12. Jimmy Weller III (23)-DNS.
Summit Racing Equipment (E) Modifieds (20 laps): 1. STEVE DIXON (Engles 68) 2. Joel Watson (92) 3. Mike Kinney (3) 4. Dwayne Clay (007) 5. Russ Dunn (White 53) 6. Bruce Powell (35) 7. Carl McKinney (Hendrickson 6M) 8. Jeff Johnson (27) 9. Joe Gabrielson (58) 10. Jacob Eucker (64) 11. Clayton Kennedy (9) 12. Bob Williamson (93) 13. Amanda Stiffler (14) 14. Rich Jaeger (5) 15. Scott Stiffler (14).
Sweeney Chevrolet Buick GMC RUSH Sportsman Modifieds (15 laps): 1. ROCKY KUGEL (1) 2. Greg Martin (4) 3. Adam Hilton (3A) 4. Jamie Duncan (18) 5. Adam Siegel (91) 6. Ken Moy, Jr. (34) 7. Andy Paden (24) 8. Marty Kristyak (404) 9. Will Schaffer (4)-DNS 10. Jeremy Zufall (20)-DNS 11. Chelsie Kriegisch (Schaffer 4C)-DNS
Gibson Insurance Agency Stock Cars (15 laps): 1. BRYAN WAGNER (56) 2. Brian Carothers (02c) 3. Paul Davis (3) 4. Mike Clark (7) 5. Dan Fedorchak (Bruno x7) 6. Bret McCarthy (33) 7. Brent Coleman (01) 8. Jamie Gibbs (98) 9. Gary Robinson (44R) 10. Dave Myers (Burns 70B) 11. Brian Mulichak (36D) 12. Tony Bruno (97)-DNS 13. Mark Hopkins (69H)-DSNS.
HTMA/Precise Racing Products Econo Mods (15 laps): 1. JEREMY DOUBLE (83) 2. Alan Atkinson (32) 3. Casey Bowers (20) 4. Ty Rhoades (12R) 5. Josh Mueller (01) 6. Robert Simmons (4RJ) 7. Steve Burns, Jr. (70B) 8. Brandon Blackshear (10) 9. Jeff Webber (25) 10. Keith Felicetty (98) 11. Brian Foley, Jr. (16JSR) 12. Steve Haefke (41) 13. Jason Longwell (7s) 14. Junior Mechling (89) 15. Mike Hillman (29).
Deforest Used Parts Mini Stocks (12 laps): 1. ADAM LITTLE (99) 2. Jamie Maxwell (6) 3. Jamie Wrightsman (21J) 4. Bill Fuchs (10) 5. Rick Wilson, Jr. (55) 6. Tim McAninch (43) 7. Pat Drennan (Sirrine 24) 8. Geof Pinch (36) 9. Dan Nagy (17B) 10. Ray Kennedy (18) 11. Jim Haefke, Jr. (421) 12. Joe Campbell (40c) 13. Steve Walker II (4M) 14. James Edison (01)-DNS.
Coming up this Saturday night, July 5 is the “Bill Emig Memorial” featuring the first appearance by the Sweeney Chevrolet Buick GMC RUSH Dirt Late Model Touring Series for $1,500 to-win along with the DIRTcar Big-Block Modifieds, Econo Mods, and Mini Stocks. The Modifieds and 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.