Sharon set to begin 86th anniversary season Saturday; New surface, format & $10 admission highlight 6-division program
By Mike Leone
April 29, 2015 FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
(Hartford, OH)…After a long and cold winter, Sharon Speedway is ready to kickoff the 2015 racing season this Saturday night (May 2). The 86th anniversary season opener will include the Hovis Auto & Truck Supply DIRTcar Big-Block Modifieds, Summit Racing Equipment Modifieds, RUSH Sportsman Modifieds, Gibson Insurance Agency Stock Cars, HTMA/Precise Racing Products Econo Mods, and the Deforest Used Parts Mini Stocks. Warm-ups begin at 6:30 p.m. with group qualifying at 7.
Drivers will be anxious to test the all-new racing surface that was laid down last fall that will feature 111 tri-axle loads of clay. The new format has been well received by the racers that will see group qualifying used for all divisions except the Mini Stocks, which will continue to run heat races. Extended features will be run with 30 laps for the DIRTcar Big-Block Modifieds and the (E) Modifieds, while 20 laps will now be the distance for the Stock Cars, Econo Mods, and the new RUSH Sportsman Modifieds. Drivers will also not have to pay the annual registration fee to race in 2015.
Race fans will enjoy the lowered general admission price of $10. Saturday’s promotion is youth sports and scouts night with free general admission and a free slushie for those in uniform. Adults will now be able to purchase beer with all beer and 50/50 raffle proceeds will benefit a chosen charity or organization. Saturday will be the American Cancer Society. Sharon reminds fans that coolers are not permitted in the grandstands. Saturday’s kitchen special is chicken gravy over mashed potatoes.
For the fifth straight year, the Big-Block Modifieds will be the headlining division at the Speedway. With the exception of 1993-1995 when no weekly racing took place, the Big-Block Modifieds have been part of the weekly program since the track switched to back to dirt in 1981. That late Lou Blaney still sits atop the win list with 121 victories over Rex King, who is one win away from his milestone 50th career win at the track. Could it come Saturday?
One driver that will be sure to try to keep the elder King from reaching the milestone is his son and defending champion, Rex, Jr. Back on June 19, 2011, “Cooter” captured his first career win. Less than four years later, the youngest King now sits with 14 career wins, which is ninth best all-time. Both Kings already have a feature win at Lernerville Speedway this year.
Jim Weller, Jr. is a three-time champion and has raised his win total to 31 as he trails the retired and hall of famer, Bob Kraus, by eight victories. Drivers like Jim Rasey, Jimmy Weller III, Ricky Richner, Jeremiah Shingledecker, Brian Swartzlander, Dave Murdick, and others will be sure to challenge throughout the season. Sharon is the only track in the region this weekend running the Northeast-style Modifieds.
The Modified division (formerly known as E-Mods) has become the strongest division at the Speedway in recent years with full fields of quality cars and great competition. With that said, racers in the division will see a purse increase. The former 24 or more car count payoff of $700 to-win, $100 to-start will now be the 14-23 payoff, and if 24 or more cars are present the Mods will be racing for $1,000 to-win, $700 for second, and an increase in positions 3-12 as well!
In 2014, Steve Dixon became a Sharon regular for the first time in his career. That move paid off as he captured the track championship and is now tied for ninth in the division’s all-time win list at seven victories. No one is near Alan Dellinger’s leading total of 87; however, Joel Watson continues to add wins as he sits second with 19 over current racers Jeff Johnson (18), Scott Stiffler (17), and Russ Dunn (13).
The third Modified class in 2015 will be the RUSH Sportsman Modifieds, which will be presented by Weller Hughes Contracting and Developing. In 2014, the GM 602 crate engine cars on $135 Bilstein Shocks, steel wheels, and Hoosier Tires made eight appearances with four different winners and car counts between 10-13 cars. Many new racers from all throughout western Pa. and eastern Ohio have joined the division for 2015. RUSH Members racers will be eligible for the $3,000 to-win Bicknell Racing Products Weekly Series Championship that pays down 15 positions in addition to the Touring Series and Futures Cup.
In recent years, Mike Clark and Paul Davis have been the drivers to beat in the Stock Cars. The duo tied for the Gibson Insurance Championship in 2014 with the tiebreaker going to Clark giving him back-to-back championships. Davis and Clark have quickly moved up the all-time win list as they have 17 and 13 wins now respectively. With the bigger tires now permitted and the new format, several new racers are expected to frequent Sharon more in 2015. One is Rusty Moore, a driver that has had huge success in western Pennsylvania racing and will be looking for his first career Sharon win.
The Econo Mods will be beginning their sixth season at the speedway, and fourth as a weekly Saturday night division. With Jacob Eucker moving up to the Modified class in 2014 and now Jeremy Double and Brandon Blackshear this year, the division should be wide open. Those three racers have accounted for wins in 35 of the 79 races run all-time and three of the five championships! Next in line with wins are Ryan Fraley and Steve Burns, Jr., who each have five, and are expected to be the division favorites.
Travis Creech made a splash in the Mini Stock division the last two years with 16 victories, a championship, and a runner-up. Creech is moving up to the Stock Car division this year, but Mini Stock racers will still have to contend with Bill Fuchs. The Greenville, Pa. driver owns two championships and leads all drivers with 23 victories. The Deforest Used Parts Mini Stock counts were on the rise from mid-season on last year and several new racers expected in 2015.
The RUSH Late Models will not be a weekly division at the Speedway in 2015; however, will make numerous appearances when Wayne County Speedway is not running them with the first being next Saturday, May 9.
Pits open at 4 p.m. with grandstands at 5, drivers meeting at 6:15, warm-ups at 6:30 and group qualifying slated for 7. Admission for those 14 and over is $10. Pit passes are $30. As always, children under 13, parking, and camping is always FREE! Sharon has a no carry-in cooler policy.
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.