Weller wins $3K Zdelar Memorial for Big-Block Mods; Dellinger, Martin & Longwell repeat in RUSH LM, RUSH Mods & Econos; Dixon & Davis again in Mods & Stocks; Blazczak wins 1st in Minis
By Mike Leone
August 9, 2014
(Hartford, OH)…After a night off and three consecutive Saturday night rainouts, Sharon Speedway was finally back in action for the first time on a Saturday night since July 5! In fact, three of the divisions hadn’t competed since June 28! A great crowed watched the inaugural “Johnny Zdelar Memorial” on FREE Driver Appreciation Night, which attracted a whopping 130 cars!
Celebrating in the Hovis Auto & Truck Supply victory lane were Jim Weller, Jr.-Hovis Auto & Truck Supply DIRTcar Big-Block Modifieds, Alan Dellinger-Barris Supply RUSH Late Models, Steve Dixon-Summit Racing Equipment Modifieds, Greg Martin-Sweeney Chevrolet Buick GMC RUSH Sportsman Modifieds, Paul Davis-Gibson Insurance Agency Stock Cars, Jason Longwell-HTMA/Precise Racing Products Econo Mods, and Pete Blazczak-Deforest Used Parts Mini Stocks.
Veteran Jim Weller, Jr. captured one of, if not the biggest races of his career in the 30-lap inaugural “Johnny Zdelar Memorial” for the Hovis Auto & Truck Supply DIRTcar Big-Block Modifieds. Weller got by New York invader Justin Wright in lapped traffic and held him and point leader Rex King, Jr. off in the final 10 laps for the $3,000 win- his third of the season.
“We tried something in the dash and it didn’t work out so we went back to what we know works,” revealed the Hubbard, Ohio veteran. “We were catching Justin, but catching him and getting by him is another story. He was good and he got into traffic and I got by him. I was better on the bottom. It’s pretty to cool to win this first one (Zdelar Memorial). We all miss Johnny. Everyone knew him- he was a great guy. It’s just a shame.”
From the outside pole, Wright blasted by Ronnie Kahler into the lead, while fifth starting Brian Swartzlander made his way to second over Randy Chrysler, King, Jr., and Weller, Jr. after one lap. Following a caution for Tom Mattocks with four laps scored, King, Jr., fifth starting Weller, Jr., and Weller III all passed Chrysler for positions two through four. A flat tire for Rex King necessitated the event’s second caution with seven laps completed.
Back under green, Weller, Jr. passed King, Jr. for third. Weller, Jr. went after Swartzlander and the two raced side-by-side from laps 9 through 12 before Weller, Jr. made the slide job work in turn four on lap 12. Wright had a half-straightaway lead on Weller, Jr. at this point. King, Jr. ducked under and past Swartzlander for third in turns one and two on lap 14.
Weller, Jr. began to close on Wright on lap 18 and two laps later was right on the leader. In turn three on lap 20, Wright went to the top to lap Carl Murdick, but Murdick drifted high and Wright got into the marbles losing his momentum, which allowed Weller, Jr. to make the winning pass on the bottom of turn four. The remainder of the race saw Weller, Jr. fight his way through lapped traffic. Wright and King, Jr. battled for second, while staying close to Weller, Jr., but were unable to make a serious challenge.
Weller, Jr’s 29th career Big-Block Modified win and the 35th overall at the Speedway came in the Zip Motorsports-owned, Liberty Steel Products-sponsored #31 by a margin of 1.207 seconds. Wright’s runner-up was his career best finish at Sharon. King, Jr. was third to maintain his point lead over his father. Swartzlander and New York’s Chrysler were fourth and fifth. Rounding out the top 10 were Weller III, Jim Rasey, Brad Rapp, Jeremiah Shingledecker, and King. Heat winners over the 22-car field were Rasey, Tom Glenn, and Weller III. King, Jr. won the $100 to-win Johnny Zdelar Memorial Dash.
Rapp was randomly drawn for two pit passes for next Saturday compliments of Hovis Auto & Truck Supply. Shingledecker passed nine cars to receive a free tire compliments of Hoosier Tire Mid-Atlantic. J.C. Boyer suffered a hard heat race crash that ended his night and was awarded two pit passes for next Saturday compliments of Hovis.
Opening night winner Alan Dellinger returned to victory lane in the RUSH Late Models holding off point leader Will Thomas III to win one of the closest finishes in track history by just 0.005 of a second! Dellinger’s victory in the non-stop 20-lap Barris Supply/Sweeney Chevrolet Buick GMC Weekly Series feature came on the $135 Bilstein “sealed” spec shocks.
“There was a line off the bottom with rubber in it and I was on it and was alright, but I was trying to be easy with those lapped cars and didn’t realize he (Thomas) was there,” explained the 50-year-old Hermitage, Pa. resident. “These cars are all the same so it should be like this. The right front tire has been on here and wore out for a month, but we can’t afford to buy a new one. I appreciate Bob Williams giving me the opportunity to drive this car and his boy Jeff and Bob Jones works on the car.”
Dellinger took off in the lead over Canadian Jorden Peters and 2011 track champion Josh Double. Thomas started in fifth and passed Ben Black for fourth on lap two. The battle for second was on as Peters was trying to fend off Double and Thomas. Thomas drove under Double for third down the backstretch on lap five. Thomas then caught Peters and the two raced side-by-side on lap six before Thomas made the pass stick coming off turn four.
By the time Thomas made his way to second, Dellinger checked out and had a 4.4 second lead. That lead actually grew over the next couple laps to near five seconds before Thomas started cutting into the lead. Dellinger was in lapped traffic on lap 12 and Thomas chewed into the lead every lap. Thomas began to close in on lap 18 as the lead shrunk to less than a second. With Dellinger being cautious through traffic, Thomas appeared to have a shot on the final lap. Thomas got under Dellinger off turn four and the two had a drag race to the finish with the transponders showing Dellinger by five thousandths of a second!
Dellinger’s third career Crate Late Model win at Sharon came in the unsponsored Bob Williams-owned #8 and was the 162nd overall win of his illustrious career at Sharon alone! The race was timed in 6:24.013. Peters, who has won the last two features at Canada’s Humberstone Speedway, was a career Sharon best third. Double was fourth over Bobby Whitling. Rounding out the top 10 were Russ Byler, Dennis Lunger, Jr., Ben Black, Clay Ruffo, and Jamie Wrightsman. Dellinger and Lunger won the heat races; however, Lunger had to start 12th due to winning two features in a row.
For the second straight race and third time in the last four, Steve Dixon was victorious in the Modifieds. Dixon got past race-long leader Jeff Johnson, albeit with contact, coming down for the white flag in the 20-lap Summit Racing Equipment feature. The victory also propelled Dixon into the point lead in his first season competing for a championship at Sharon.
“I’m not sure I deserved that win,” expressed the 34-year-old Smethport, Pa. racer. “Jeff Johnson deserved that one and I deserve all the boos you want to give me. We’ve been struggled a little bit, and I wanted to take the win. I didn’t want to get into him. I thought I had him cleared. Jeff is my buddy. It sucks for him, and I don’t even feel like I won the race. Hopefully Jeff doesn’t beat me up in the pits.”
Johnson took off in the lead from the pole position over Russ Dunn and Clayton Kennedy. Seventh starting Carl McKinney worked his way into fourth on lap two and was challenging Kennedy for third when he got in too hard in turn four. McKinney spun and was slammed by Jacob Eucker ending the night for both racers.
Dixon, who started eighth, was now up to fourth for the restart and passed Joe Gabrielson for third on lap seven. Dixon closed in on Dunn on lap 12. The leaders were in lapped traffic on lap 14 as it was a three-car race for the lead. Dixon had just made the pass of Dunn for second when Paul Phillips spun negating the pass as scoring reverted back to lap 13.
Racing resumed for the final time on lap 16 following a spin by Kennedy. Dixon made the pass of Dunn for second on the restart and went after Johnson. The two raced side-by-side for the next three laps. On lap 19, Dixon decided to make his move as his slide job in turn four resulted in contact with Johnson. Dixon took over the top spot, while the contact sent Johnson high into the marbles. Johnson was able to maintain second, but Dixon would go on for his fifth career win in the Tim Engles-owned, Engles Trucking/Backyard Bodies/Close Racing Supply-sponsored #68 by 1.098 second over Johnson.
Dunn, 11th starting Scott Stiffler, and 10th starting Shawn Shingledecker were third through fifth. Completing the top 10 were Gabrielson, 14th starting Greg Beach, Paul Davis, Kennedy, and Jesse Gould. Davis received a $25 gift certificate from Summit Racing Equipment for being the hard charger as he advanced 10 spots. Capturing heat race wins over the 21-car field were Kennedy, Dunn, and Johnson.
Making their fourth appearance of the season, Greg Martin became the first repeat winner in the RUSH Sportsman Modifieds capturing the 15-lap Sweeney Chevrolet Buick GMC-sponsored feature event. “This is a beautiful facility,” acknowledged the 32-year-old Wilson, New York driver. “The track was great tonight and it was nice to have a beautiful track for a big night of racing. The track still had bite in the end- it was great. Once people start seeing these cars there’s going to be more interest. There’s a lot of support with this crate program. Sweeney Chevrolet does a great job.”
Martin took off in the lead from the pole position over Jamie Duncan. Series point leader, Adam Hilton, started in fifth and was up to third after one lap. Hilton passed Duncan on lap two for second. Hilton was unable to mount a serious challenge on Martin in the final 13 laps despite a pair of restarts alongside the leader. Martin’s victory came by 1.135 seconds over Hilton in his Jeffrey Machine/NYDKS Go-Kart Series/Atwell Eye Care-sponsored #4.
Sixth starting Rocky Kugel came from sixth to finish third after getting by Duncan on lap four. Ken Moy, Jr. was fourth over seventh starting Chad Reitz, who filled in for Andy Paden. Duncan and Martin won the heat races.
Paul Davis out-dueled point leader Mike Clark and two-time winner Bryan Wagner to capture his season’s third win the 15-lap Gibson Insurance Agency Stock Car feature. “Bryan (Wagner) gave me that outside on the restart,” explained the 54-year-old Fowler, Ohio veteran. “I was going to haul it down in there but he got ahead of me, but I felt like I could get by him. My car was working good anywhere. Even if he took the outside, I was catching him running the bottom so it would have been a good race into (turn) one anyways.”
Dan McEwen, who was making his first start of the season, led the first lap before sixth starting Wagner flew into the lead. Davis started alongside Wagner in fifth and worked his way to second past Gary Robinson on lap four. Wagner appeared like he had the race in hand before a caution for Dave Myers and Mark Hopkins with eight completed.
When racing resumed, Wagner led lap nine before Davis pulled alongside on lap 10. Davis went outside of Wagner in turn four and made the pass stick racing off turn four. Davis survived one more restart with two laps to go to win by 1.189 seconds Hover Racing/GCM Enterprises/Don Williams Excavating/Advance Auto Parts/Tub’s Automotive-sponsored #3. It was Davis’ 15th career Sharon Stock Car win and 18th overall at Sharon.
Clark got by Wagner for runner-up at the finish and it was an important pass as it kept him ahead of Davis by just two points in the standings! Robinson and Brian Carothers were fourth and fifth respectively. In his season debut, Mike Miller went from 16th to seventh to receive the $25 Summit Racing Equipment hard charger certificate. Carothers and Jamie Scharba won the heat races over the season-high 17-car field.
After going his entire career without winning at Sharon, Jason Longwell made it two-in-a-row in the 15-lap HTMA/Precise Racing Products Econo Mods. “I’m kind of shocked really,” stated the 39-year-old Burghill, Ohio driver when asked about his second straight win. “I figure the 83-car (Jeremy Double) would be coming so I was afraid to take it easy at all. We’ve got some stuff figured out on this car and my guys work on it every day. We find stuff and keep working at it.”
Longwell started sixth, but was up to second after two laps and then made his winning pass one lap later taking the lead from Alan Atkinson with an inside pass racing off turn two. A caution for a flat tire by Brandon Blackshear slowed the race with five laps scored. The final 10 laps went green-to-checkered and it was all Longwell as he took the checkered flag first by a whopping 5.524 seconds margin in his S&S Processing-sponsored #7s.
Point leader Jeremy Double started 10th and worked his way to the front as he passed Casey Bowers for third on lap eight then drove around Atkinson for runner-up on lap 13, but without a caution he had no shot at Longwell. Double received the $25 Summit Racing Equipment hard charger certificate. Atkinson’s third was his third top three finish in the past four races as he nears his first career Sharon win. Bowers was fourth over Keith Felicetty, who received a $50 certificate from Sweeney Chevrolet Buick GMC/Pace Performance for being the top finishing eligible GM 602 crate engine. Steve Burns, Jr. and Blackshear topped the heat races over the 19-car field.
Making just his third start of the season, Pete Blazczak came out on top of a wild 12-lap Deforest Used Parts Mini Stock feature for his first win. Blazczak was able to improve on his 10th and fifth place finishes from back in May.
“I sold this car to someone then bought it back and then took it back from someone else and hand painted,” explained the 42-year-old Gibsonia, Pa. driver when asked about the two other numbers on the car. “I wanted to try something different and come here tonight. I really like it here and the track is always nice. The free driver pit pass was a great deal.”
Geof Pinch led the opening lap before point leader Bill Fuchs took over on lap two. Eighth and ninth starting Blazczak and Travis Creech worked their way to second and third on lap three past Pinch. Creech then passed Blazczak for second on lap five and took the lead one lap later from Fuchs. Fuchs didn’t back down and charged back toward Creech. Fuchs got into Creech in turn four on lap seven ending Creech’s night. Fuchs was sent off for rough driving.
Blazczak was handed the lead and he led the final six laps for his fifth career win at the Speedway in his Blazczak Salvage #77. The $150 victory was worth an extra $50 than the normal payoff due to being over 17 cars as a season high 26 checked in. 13th starting Tim McAninch improved on his season best third from opening night with a career best runner-up. Jamie Maxwell was third over newcomer Tyler Fulton. Pinch dropped to fifth, but it was still good enough for a career best finish for the rookie. Creech, Blazczak, and Maxwell won the heat races.
Hovis Auto & Truck Supply DIRTcar Big-Block Modifieds “Johnny Zdelar Memorial” (30 laps, $3,000 to-win): 1. JIM WELLER, JR. (31) 2. Justin Wright (19W) 3. Rex King, Jr. (165) 4. Brian Swartzlander (83) 5. Randy Chrysler (21K) 6. Jimmy Weller III (23) 7. Jim Rasey (32) 8. Brad Rapp (11R) 9. Jeremiah Shingledecker (37MD) 10. Rex King (65) 11. Rick Regalski, Jr. (13) 12. Tom Glenn (83T) 13. Steve Barr (25B) 14. Bob Warren (96B) 15. Carl Murdick (6) 16. Ronnie Kahler (75) 17. Ricky Richner (26) 18. Mike Turner (96) 19. Tom Mattocks (69) 20. Kevin Green (74) 21. Justin Rasey (21)-DNS 22. J.C. Boyer (1M)-DNS.
Barris Supply RUSH Late Models (20 laps): 1. ALAN DELLINGER (Williams 8) 2. Will Thomas III (9) 3. Jorden Peters (11P) 4. Josh Double (38) 5. Bobby Whitling (7w) 6. Russ Byler (Hoover 00H) 7. Dennis Lunger, Jr. (Schwartz 71L) 8. Ben Black (27B) 9. Clay Ruffo (14R) 10. Jamie Wrightsman (21J) 11. Lon Emerick (3) 12. Bobby Pifer III (6P) 13. Chris Frank (49) 14. Dennis Dellinger, Jr. (Cole 43).
Summit Racing Equipment (E) Modifieds (20 laps): 1. STEVE DIXON (Engles 68) 2. Jeff Johnson (27) 3. Russ Dunn (White 53) 4. Scott Stiffler (14) 5. Shawn Shingledecker (54s) 6. Joe Gabrielson (58) 7. Greg Beach (33x) 8. Paul Davis (3D) 9. Clayton Kennedy (9) 10. Jesse Gould (2G) 11. Denny Crawford (75) 12. Mike Monreal (71) 13. Rich Jaeger (5) 14. Amanda Stiffler (14A) 15. Dwayne Clay (007) 16. Al Brewer (71) 17. Paul Phillips (44) 18. Bob Williamson (93) 19. Carl McKinney (Hendrickson 6M) 20. Jacob Eucker (64) 21. Wayne Brugmann (79)-DNS.
Sweeney Chevrolet Buick GMC RUSH Sportsman Modifieds (15 laps): 1. GREG MARTIN (4) 2. Adam Hilton (3A) 3. Rocky Kugel (1) 4. Ken Moy, Jr. (34) 5. Chad Reitz (Paden 24) 6. Jeremy Zufall (20) 7. Jeremy Paup (X) 8. Jamie Duncan (18) 9. Will Schaffer (4) 10. Don Blaney (11) 11. Jerry Schaffer (4C).
Gibson Insurance Agency Stock Cars (15 laps): 1. PAUL DAVIS (3) 2. Mike Clark (7) 3. Bryan Wagner (56) 4. Gary Robinson (44R) 5. Brian Carothers (02c) 6. Dan McEwen (44) 7. Mike Miller (666) 8. Andy Thompson (6) 9. Kevin Robinson (McCarthy 33) 10. Tony Bruno (97) 11. Jamie Scharba (Kerr 25K) 12. Brian Mulichak (36D) 13. Jamie Gibbs (98) 14. Dave Myers (Burns 70B) 15. Mark Hopkins (69H) 16. Mike Lesky (5L) 17. Brent Coleman (01)-DNS.
HTMA/Precise Racing Products Econo Mods (15 laps): 1. JASON LONGWELL (7S) 2. Jeremy Double (83) 3. Alan Atkinson (32) 4. Casey Bowers (20) 5. Keith Felicetty (98) 6. Ty Rhoades (12R) 7. Brian Foley, Jr. (16JSR) 8. Josh Ferry (33) 9. Mike Hillman (29) 10. Junior Mechling (89) 11. Bob Simmons (4RJ) 12. Larry Root (22x) 13. Tim Deutsch (8) 14. Josh Mueller (01) 15. Brandon Blackshear (10) 16. Ryan Fraley (12) 17. Steve Burns, Jr. (70B) 18. Steve Haefke (41)-DNS 19. Adam Babcock (67)-DNS.
Deforest Used Parts Mini Stocks (12 laps): 1. PETE BLAZCZAK (77) 2. Tim McAninch (43) 3. Jamie Maxwell (6) 4. Tyler Fulton (09) 5. Geof Pinch (36) 6. Jim Haefke, Jr. (421) 7. Pat Drennan (Sirrine 24) 8. Dan Nagy (17B) 9. Mike Delliquadri (8) 10. Ray Kennedy (18) 11. Jeff Hughes (22) 12. Cole Brugmann (12) 13. Joe Campbell (40C) 14. Shane Smith (299) 15. Travis Creech (75T) 16. Craig Hardway (12J) 17. Jake Monreal (32) 18. Adam Little (99) 19. Steve Walker II (4M) 20. Jim Clay, Jr. (84J) 21. Rick Wilson, Jr. (55) 22. James Edison (01) 23. Bill Fuchs (10) 24. Robert Wagner (35)-DNS 25. Jorden Ehrenberg (JD57)-DNS 26. Christi Brugmann (19)-DNS.
Coming up this Saturday night, August 16 is another “Steel Valley Thunder” program and it’s $5 Fan Appreciation Night. Those 14 and older will be admitted into the grandstands for just $5. Kids 13 and under are always free. 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.