Weller charges to milestone 30th career Big-Block win; Thomas dominates RUSH LM #4; Gabrielson holds on for 1st Mod win; Clark & Blackshear keep winning in Stocks & Econos; 1st for Haefke in Minis
By Mike Leone
August 16, 2014
(Hartford, OH)…After losing four consecutive Saturdays of racing, Sharon Speedway was blessed with beautiful weather for the second straight Saturday. A large crowd and 111 cars turned out for $5 Fan Appreciation and Twin-State Auto Racing Cub Night. Celebrating in the Hovis Auto & Truck Supply victory lane were Jim Weller, Jr.-Hovis Auto & Truck Supply DIRTcar Big-Block Modifieds, Will Thomas III-Barris Supply RUSH Late Models, Joe Gabrielson-Summit Racing Equipment Modifieds, Mike Clark-Gibson Insurance Agency Stock Cars, Brandon Blackshear-HTMA/Precise Racing Products Econo Mods, and Jim Haefke, Jr.-Deforest Used Parts Mini Stocks.
Fresh off a $3,000 win in the inaugural “Johnny Zdelar Memorial” last Saturday night, Jim Weller, Jr. made it two-in-a-row with an impressive run from sixth to pass Rex King in the non-stop 20-lap Hovis Auto & Truck Supply DIRTcar Big-Block Modified feature. Weller’s fourth win of the season was his milestone 30th career Big-Block Modified victory at Sharon Speedway!
“The King father-son duo is tough- they’re good guys,” stated the Hubbard, Ohio veteran. “It’s tough to win two in a row with Rex (King) on the pole. I honestly didn’t think I had a chance and he’d be long gone, but we were alright and did good. Once you catch him, you have to figure out how to get around him so I started trying things. I have to thank (John) Corbin. He put the setup in. I had my doubts, but not anymore!”
Ricky Richner led the opening lap before King muscled his way by in turn one on lap two. With King pulling away, it was three-wide for second on lap six between Richner, King, Jr., and Weller with Weller taking third. Weller then drove under Richner for second in turn two on lap seven. By the time Weller made his way to second, King had a 1.466 second advantage.
At the halfway point, Weller began to chew into King’s lead cutting the deficit in half; meanwhile’s King’s son “Cooter” and Weller III disposed of Richner for third and fourth on laps nine and 11 respectively. Back up front, Weller continued to close on King lap after lap and got alongside the leader on lap 17. Weller then surprised King driving around him for the lead in turns one and two on lap 18.
Once in front, Weller pulled away to win by 1.121 seconds over King in the Zip Motorsports-owned, Liberty Steel Products-sponsored #31 for his 36th overall win at Sharon. The event’s non-stop time was 6:14.456. King, Jr. was third as Weller III gave the Wellers and Kings a sweep of the top four positions. Richner dropped to fifth. Completing the top 10 were Rick Regalski, Jr., Jim Rasey, Bob Warren, Tom Glenn, and Larry Kugel. Kevin Green, who was the only car to fail to finish the feature, was awarded the hard luck award and a pair of pit passes compliments of Hovis Auto & Truck Supply. Heats were won by Richner and King.
It took 2012 champion Will Thomas III until May 24 to win a feature this season. Thomas then went on a tear winning an unprecedented three straight RUSH Late Model features; however, he went on a winless drought until Saturday night when he dominated the 20-lap Barris Supply feature for his first win in over two months.
“I actually hate starting up front,” acknowledged the 38-year-old Sharpsville, Pa. winner. “I would have loved to have these cautions last week when we were trying to track Alan (Dellinger) down. Alan is a good racer. He’s won in about everything he’s ever driven. We’d love to have some more cars here, but to beat a guy like Alan is always hard. I saw him moving up the scoreboard. I respect him and I hope those guys respect me too. It’s always good to win at Sharon. It’s been a big part of my life growing up here and I live five miles away. I have to thank all of the fans. It’s great to come here to do what we’re doing and see a crowd like this. Thanks Sharon Speedway for giving us a great facility to race at too.”
An invert two put Thomas on the pole and he immediately took off with newcomer Bryan Salisbury in tow. Fifth and eighth starting Jorden Peters and Alan Dellinger moved into fourth and fifth respectively on lap three past Bobby Whitling. A great battle then ensued for third with Ben Black trying to fend off Peters and Dellinger. The battle lasted between laps 6 through 10. On lap 10, it was three-wide as Dellinger went to the outside in turn two to pass both Peters and Black. Peters then regained fourth when he passed Black in turn four.
Thomas was in lapped traffic on lap 14 before spins by Lon Emerick and Russ Byler, which brought out the caution after 13 non-stop laps. After three more laps were completed, newcomer Dave Shagla, Jr. slowed with a flat tire bringing out the caution. When racing resumed on lap 17, Dellinger made the pass of Salisbury for second.
Dellinger would get two shots alongside Thomas as a pair of cautions slowed action before the finish; however, Thomas was too strong as he won by 1.266 seconds in his Colonial Metal Products/Barris Supply/King Sanitary/All Star Performance/Motorstate/Sweet Manufacturing/Russ King Racing-sponsored #9 for his all-time division-leading 13th career win at the Speedway.
It was another good run for Dellinger on the $135 Bilstein “sealed” spec shocks over a great run by Salisbury. Peters of Canada had another top five in fourth over Black. Sixth through 10th were Jamie Wrightsman, 12th starting Dennis Lunger, Jr., Whitling, Bobby Pifer III, and Byler. Salisbury and Thomas captured the heat races.
Joe Gabrielson won the race of the night for his season’s first win in the 20-lap Summit Racing Equipment Modifieds holding off the challenges of Joel Watson, Steve Dixon from the tail and a solid run by Bruce Powell. A season high 28 cars were on hand, which resulted in a $700 to-win, $100 to-start payoff and all non-qualifiers received a free pit pass in addition to tow money!
“It’s been tough since losing dad last year,” expressed the 26-year-old Bristolville, Ohio driver who won for the first time since August 24, 2013. “We’re still getting it done, just not as good as when he was here. I have to thank everyone that helps me to make this possible, and Sharon Speedway for a great place to race.”
Gabrielson raced ahead of pole-sitter Bruce Powell on the start. Sixth starting Carl McKinney was fourth after one lap then passed Paul Davis for third on lap two. Watson started eighth and was quickly on the move as he got around Davis for fourth on lap three. Watson then moved to third on lap four past McKinney before the event’s first caution.
The top four of Gabrielson, Powell, Watson, and McKinney really went at it as Gabrielson continued to lead even with several cautions slowing action. McKinney had re-passed Watson for third on lap 15, but slowed to bring out the caution with 16 laps scored moving Watson back to third and Dixon now to fourth.
The final four-lap dash saw Dixon make quite a move on the restart to take over second and initially appeared as if he was going to make a run at Gabrielson for an improbable win from the tail after suffering a flat tire on lap four; however, Gabrielson maintained the top spot, while Watson snuck back by Dixon on lap 19.
Watson then made a big run in turns three and four on the final lap. Watson got under Gabrielson racing off turn four, but Gabrielson had the momentum to hold on by just 0.202 of a second for his seventh career win in his Reese Services/X-10 Pavement Sealing/Wedge Motorsports/Willy’s Carb & Dyno Shop/Awesome Signs & Shirts/Integra Shocks-sponsored #58.
Point leader Dixon also picked up a $25 gift certificate from Summit Racing Equipment for being the hard charger gaining 11 spots from his initial 14th starting spot. Powell was a season best fourth over Jonathan Taylor. Completing the top 10 were Clayton Kennedy, Mike Kinney, Dwayne Clay, Jeff Johnson, and Jesse Gould. Fourteenth starting Steve Rex won the drawing for the pair of pit passes compliments of Hovis Auto & Truck Supply. Topping the heats were Mike Potosky, Watson, and Clay, while Greg Beach won the last chance B main.
One week after a season high 17-car field in the Stock Cars, the count bumped up to 19 on Saturday night, but it was a familiar face in victory lane as point leader Mike Clark captured his fourth of the season in the 15-lap Gibson Insurance Agency feature.
“Thank the restarts, but the original start was no good,” joked the 48-year-old Bristolville, Ohio victor. “Bret (McCarthy) took off on the first start and snookered me. Those last couple restarts I probably should have started a little sooner, but I like to wait until the cars space out a little bit until I try a different line that way I can get back into it, but it never happened with all of those cautions. I’d like to first thank the Lord Jesus Christ along with my mom, sister, son, and all of my sponsors.”
Third starting Bryan Wagner darted into the lead past McCarthy and Clark going into turn one on lap one for the early lead. Brian Carothers started sixth and moved into fourth on lap two . Five cautions slowed action between laps 6-11 including the top five cars of Paul Davis and Gary Robinson. On the final restart on lap 12, Wagner came up lame as Clark blasted into the lead and led the final four laps.
And like point leader Will Thomas, it was Clark’s first win since June 7 in his King’s Sanitary Service/Champion Auto Supply/Martuccio Eye Care/Sons of Italy of Warren, Ohio-sponsored #7. Clark’s 12th career win came by 1.338 seconds over Carothers, who recorded his ninth top five finish in 10 races! Carothers also received a $25 Summit Racing Equipment certificate for being the hard charger as he gained six spots. Brent Coleman was third. Mike Miller improved on last week’s seventh place finish in his debut with a fourth, while Davis came back to place fifth. Carothers and Miller won the heat races.
Despite starting ninth, Econo Mod all-time leading feature winner Brandon Blackshear charged to the front and had the lead before the halfway point in the 15-lap HTMA/Precise Racing Products feature. Blackshear also became the division’s first three-time winner of the season.
“Casey Bowers is one of those guys you can race side-by-side and not worry about it,” stated the 24-year-old Brookfield, Ohio driver. “That’s probably the most fun I’ve had racing all year. I didn’t want to touch him and I thought I had him cleared so I eased it up, and once I got up front I figured we were good to go. I have to thank Tubby (Tessean) for everything he does, my dad, my brother, and everyone else that helps out.”
Fourth starting Casey Bowers took the lead at the start, while Blackshear was already up to second after one lap due to several cars getting into a first lap accident. Blackshear got under Bowers on several occasions as the two raced side-by-side lap after lap. Bowers was looking for his first win in nearly two years, but it wouldn’t happen as Blackshear would make the winning pass on lap seven following a restart for newcomer Butch Lambert, who lost a driveshaft running a close third.
The final eight laps went non-stop with Blackshear capturing his 14th career win in his Tubs Automotive/Clay Bros. Trucking/Deforest Used Parts/Intense Fabricating/Blackshear Racing Engines-sponsored #10. Steve Haefke came from the tail after the first lap accident for a season best second after passing Bowers on lap nine. Bowers dropped to third. Alan Atkinson came from 15th to finish fourth to earn the $25 Summit Racing Equipment Hard Charger. Atkinson has now finished in the top four in four of the last five races. Point leader Jeremy Double was fifth. Robert Simmons and Keith Felicetty received $50 and $25 Sweeney Chevrolet Buick GMC/Pace Performance gift certificates respectively for being the two highest finishers utilizing the GM 602 engines. Ty Rhoades and Steve Burns, Jr. picked up heat race wins over the 20-car field, which matched a season high count.
After early season domination by Travis Creech and wins by standouts Bill Fuchs and Scott Gilliland, the Mini Stocks have now produced four straight different winners! On Saturday night, it was Jim Haefke, Jr’s turn. Haefke, the 2012 champion, came from ninth to garner his first win in nearly one year from day (August 17, 2013) in the 12-lap Deforest Used Parts feature! And with over 17 cars for the second straight week, the Mini Stocks raced for the higher $150 to-win, $40 to-start purse!
“After I totaled my other car out at the Trumbull County Fair (July 9) I didn’t think I was even going to get one this year,” explained the 32-year-old Youngstown, Ohio racer. “Thank God for the rain gods for those couple weeks and I was able to get this one done. I have a good bunch of guys so I’m happy. If it wasn’t for my crew, this car couldn’t be here. I have to thank my wife and all of my sponsors as well. I hope I didn’t take Travis (Creech) out- that wasn’t what I was intending to do.”
Dan Nagy led the opening two laps before 10th starting Creech passed both Haefke and Nagy for the lead on lap three. Haefke followed past Nagy one lap later in second with Fuchs grabbing third on lap six. Following a caution for Joe Campbell, who lost a wheel with eight laps recorded, Haefke and Creech battled side-by-side on laps nine and 10 with Haefke making the winning move on the inside of turn four.
Haefke’s 11th career win came in his AAMCO Transmission/Ludt’s Towing/Car Stereo Headquarters/Island Tropic Tanning-sponsored #421. Creech had a tire go down on the final lap as he limped across the finish line in sixth as Fuchs, Tim McAninch, Nagy, and Michael Delliquadri moved up to take spots two through fifth. Heat winners were Jeff Hughes and Fuchs.
Hovis Auto & Truck Supply DIRTcar Big-Block Modifieds (20 laps): 1. JIM WELLER, JR. (31) 2. Rex King (65) 3. Rex King, Jr. (165) 4. Jimmy Weller III (23) 5. Ricky Richner (26) 6. Rick Regalski, Jr. (13) 7. Jim Rasey (32) 8. Bob Warren (96B) 9. Tom Glenn (83T) 10. Larry Kugel (0) 11. Shawn Kozar (3K) 12. Kevin Green (74).
Barris Supply RUSH Late Models (20 laps): 1. WILL THOMAS III (9) 2. Alan Dellinger (Williams 8) 3. Bryan Salisbury (126) 4. Jorden Peters (11P) 5. Ben Black (27B) 6. Jamie Wrightsman (23J) 7. Dennis Lunger, Jr. (Schwartz 71L0 8. Bobby Whitling (7W) 9. Bobby Pifer III (6P) 10. Russ Byler (Hoover 00H) 11. Lon Emerick (3) 12. Dave Shagla, Jr. (6).
Summit Racing Equipment (E) Modifieds (20 laps, $700 to-win): 1. JOE GABRIELSON (58) 2. Joel Watson (92) 3. Steve Dixon (Engles 68) 4. Bruce Powell (35) 5. Jonathan Taylor (5) 6. Clayton Kennedy (9) 7. Mike Kinney (3) 8. Dwayne Clay (007) 9. Jeff Johnson (27) 10. Jesse Gould (2G) 11. Carl McKinney (Hendrickson 6M) 12. Jamie Duncan (67J) 13. Jeff Hassay (10) 14. Steve Rex (27R) 15. Paul Davis (3D) 16. Russ Dunn (White 53) 17. Greg Beach (33X) 18. Amanda Stiffler (14A) 19. Brian Douglas (214) 20. Evan Taylor (7) 21. Tony Tatgenhorst (63) 22. Mike Potosky (M20) 23. Scott Stiffler (14) 24. Wayne Brugmann (79). DNQ: Mike Monreal (71), Bob Williamson (93), Paul Phillips (44), Rich Jaeger (5).
Gibson Insurance Agency Stock Cars (15 laps): 1. MIKE CLARK (7) 2. Brian Carothers (02c) 3. Brent Coleman (01) 4. Mike Miller (666) 5. Paul Davis (3) 6. Jamie Scharba (Kerr 25K) 7. Dan McEwen (44) 8. Bret McCarthy (33) 9. Tony Bruno (97) 10. Brian Mulichak (36D) 11. Jamie Gibbs (98) 12. Bryan Wagner (56) 13. Kevin Robinson (McCarthy 33R) 14. Gary Robinson (44R) 15. Lucas Sprouse (5s) 16. Ron Yarab, Jr. (Burns 70B) 17. Andy Thompson (6)-DSQ (light) 18. Jeff Kravec (5K)-DNS 19. Mark Hopkins (69H)-DNS.
HTMA/Precise Racing Products Econo Mods (15 laps): 1. BRANDON BLACKSHEAR (10) 2. Steve Haefke (41) 3. Casey Bowers (20) 4. Alan Atkinson (32) 5. Jeremy Double (83) 6. Steve Burns, Jr. (70B) 7. Mike Hillman (29) 8. Jason Longwell (7s) 9. Brian Foley, Jr. (16JSR) 10. Josh Mueller (01) 11. Robert Simmons (4RJ) 12. Wayne Daniels (4) 13. Adam Babcock (67) 14. George Vestal IV (4) 15. Keith Felicetty (98) 16. Butch Lambert (Hendrickson 19) 17. Junior Mechling (89) 18. Ty Rhoades (12R) 19. Tim Deutsch (8)-DNS 20. Bret McCarthy (33)-DNS.
Deforest Used Parts Mini Stocks (12 laps): 1. JIM HAEFKE, JR. (421) 2. Bill Fuchs (10) 3. Tim McAninch (43) 4. Dan Nagy (17B) 5. Michael Delliquadri (8) 6. Travis Creech (75T) 7. Jeff Hughes (22) 8. Jamie Maxwell (6) 9. Shane Smith (299) 10. Geof Pinch (36) 11. Ray Kennedy (18) 12. Joe Campbell (40C) 13. Christi Brugmann (19) 14. Cole Brugmann (12) 15. Adam Little (99) 16. Pat Drennan (Sirrine 24) 17. Charley Roberts (6s) 18. Josh Eakman (Thompson 57) 19. Rick Wilson, Jr. (55) 20. Steve Walker II (4M)-DNS.
Coming up this Saturday night, August 23 is another “Steel Valley Thunder” program plus another appearance by the Sweeney Chevrolet Buick GMC RUSH Sportsman Modifieds. One lucky RUSH Mod driver will win a brand new GM 602 engine valued at over $3,200. There will also be kids bike races at intermission. 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.