Sheldon Haudenschild edges Ryan Smith for $10,000 All Star Sprint win; Jim Weller passes Rex King Jr for 1st win in Mod Tour; No repeat winners in 7 “Lou Blaney Memorial” events
By Mike Leone
July 11, 2015
(Hartford, OH)…Chamber of commerce weather graced Sharon Speedway on Saturday night as the seventh annual “Lou Blaney Memorial” brought out a huge crowd for Tony Stewart’s UNOH All Star Circuit of Champions Sprint Cars and Mod Tour event for the Hovis Auto & Truck Supply Big Blocks. After seven years, there’s still yet to be a repeat winner in either division. The event was again presented by Ollie’s Bargain Outlet and many activities, auctions, and raffles throughout the day benefited the Alzheimer’s Association.
0.021. That was the margin of victory for Sheldon Haudenschild’s biggest career win. While the box score may show Haudenschild leading all 30 laps of the All Star Sprint Car feature, the second generation star, who is amidst his career best season, had to hold off All Star rookie Ryan Smith, Caleb Helms, and point leader Dale Blaney in a torrid battle to the finish for the $10,000 prize.
“I really didn’t know what was coming or who was behind me,” revealed the 21-year-old Wooster, Ohio driver, who becomes the youngest event winner in the seven-year history. “I kind of tried to peak at the board, but couldn’t really tell anything. It was getting a little abrasive in the middle down here and I didn’t know if he (Smith) was rolling and coming off the bottom or if he was sticking to the bottom the whole way around. It was definitely too close of a finish, but I’m glad we got the win. I have to thank my parents, everyone that helps me, and Tony Stewart for a great series to bring us to all of these great tracks. The Lou Blaney Memorial is definitely a big race and it’s awesome to have seven different winners. To get to race against both Dale and Dave Blaney at their dad’s race is pretty special to me.”
After an impressive victory in the dash to earn the feature pole, Haudenschild took off in the lead over Andrew Palker and Lee Jacobs. Haudenschild began to open up his lead by lap three over Palker, while the battle was on for third. Smith caught Jacobs on lap four as Blaney joined the fight one lap later. Smith drove around Jacobs off turn four on lap six to grab the third spot. Haudenschild encountered lapped traffic on lap seven, but a caution for Chad Kemenah and Brandon Spithaler gave the leader a clear track with six laps scored.
Green flag action was short lived as Dave Blaney and Cole Duncan tangled in turn one, while Travis Philo got upside down. He was okay. One more lap did get scored allowing Helms to take fifth from Blaney. Back under green on lap eight, Helms made the pass of Jacobs for fourth. Smith pressured Palker and finally made the pass with an inside move in turn four on lap 10. Haudenschild had a straightaway lead by the time Smith worked his way to second.
Blaney got back into the top five on lap 11 getting by Jacobs. Helms continued his forward progression taking third from Palker on lap 14. Haudenschild meanwhile was back in lapped traffic on lap 15, and this time didn’t get the benefit of a caution as Smith quickly cut the deficit in half. Helms also closed in as it was a three-car race for the lead on lap 19.
Many had an eye on Blaney, who won the Ohio Speedweek race on June 23, as the all-time leading All Star feature winner has a knack for coming on late in the race. Blaney raced by Palker for fourth on lap 21 and every lap began to chew into the deficit. Blaney caught the top three of Haudenschild, Smith, and Helms with five to go making it a four-car race for the lead down to the finish.
The closing laps through lapped traffic saw Smith try every line on the racey track to make the pass for the lead, while Helms was fast on the top and Blaney was looming in fourth. In turn four on the final lap, Smith dove under Haudenschild and it was a drag race to the checkered, but Haudenschild came out on top in a near photo finish. The victory was Haudenschild’s third of the season and fourth of his career with the All Stars, and also his second career Sharon win in his Southern Pacific Farms/Tim Hawkins Logging/Finzer Farms/Ham Signs/Callies Performance-sponsored #93. Haudenschild joins Tony Stewart, Mike Lutz, Sam Hafertepe, Jr., Brad Sweet, Jack Sodeman, Jr., and Dave Blaney as winners of the “Lou Blaney Memorial”.
Helms’ third place was his best of the season in All Star competition as he beat out Blaney and Palker. Completing the top 10 were Jacobs, Steve Kinser in his first ever Lou Blaney Memorial, Cody Darrah, Tim Shaffer, and Jac Haudenschild. Heat winners were Kinser, Sheldon Haudenschild, Shaffer, and Jacobs. Philo won the B main. Sodeman turned the fastest lap in qualifying over the 35-car field with a lap of 12.805 not far off Danny Holtgraver’s 12.704 track record.
Last season Jim Weller, Jr. won five features including the “Russ King Memorial” and “Johnny Zdelar Memorial” events. Weller certainly didn’t pick up where he left off in 2014 as the start of the 2015 season hasn’t been what the veteran racer had hoped for. Maybe though it took another special event for Weller to get back on track, as on Saturday night Weller charged from the eighth starting spot to pass point leader and three-time winner, Rex King, Jr., for the 35-lap, $2,000 Mod Tour feature win- his first of the season.
“That was a tough race,” acknowledged the Hubbard, Ohio great. “Cooter (King, Jr.) got behind some lapped cars and if he didn’t, I don’t know if I would have got by him- he’s good. That was my fault on the last restart, I pushed up a little and Cooter was there. I take the blame, I screwed that one up. The tires heated up a bit and it was fun. It’s been a tough year so far. The first car I bought was a Tobias from Lou Blaney.”
Tom Glenn led the opening lap before Jeremiah Shingledecker took over on lap two. King, Jr. started sixth and made his way to second on lap 10 taking the spot from New York invader Erick Rudolph. King, Jr. caught Shingledecker on lap 13. Then on lap 14, Shingledecker had to negotiate the lapped car of Shawn Fleeger, while King, Jr. made it three-wide for the lead racing off turn two. King prematurely took the lead, but meanwhile in turn three, Justin Rasey lost the handle and spun. Shingledecker was running the top and couldn’t get slowed down enough to avoid Rasey as he brushed the fence and came to a rest with a flat tire.
King, Jr. was now the new leader on lap 14. Dave Murdick was running third, but broke and couldn’t clear the track forcing another caution with 15 laps in the record books. This moved Weller to third for the restart, but it took until lap 26 for him to work by Rudolph for second. Weller had a half-straightaway to make up on King, Jr. Weller began to cut into the lead and really closed in on lap 28. The two were side-by-side for the lead on lap 30 with Weller making the outside work in turn four in lapped traffic to take over, while King passed Rudolph for third.
A caution for Shawn Kozar slowed action for the final time and set up a four-lap shootout to the finish. Weller chose the bottom for the restart and made heavy contact with King, Jr., who looked like he might have a shot at regaining the lead, entering turn one. Everyone kept going and no one lost any positions. Weller went on for his 32nd career Big-Block Modified win and 38th overall at Sharon by 1.360 seconds in the Zip Motorsports owned, Liberty Steel Products-sponsored #31. Weller joins Jack Johnson, Rasey, Kristyak, Kevin Bolland, Murdick, and King, Jr. as winners of the prestigious “Lou Blaney Memorial” Modified portion.
King, Jr. beat his father across the finish line for second. Rudolph dropped to fourth over fellow New York racer Ricky Richner, who started ninth. Garrett Krummert, 14th starting Brad Rapp, 18th starting Jim Rasey, Justin Wright, and Rob Kristyak completed the top 10. Heat winners were Weller, Richner, Rick Regalski, Jr., and King over the season high 34-car field. Brian Swartzlander won the B main.
UNOH All Star Circuit of Champions Sprint Cars (30 laps, $10,000 to-win): 1. SHELDON HAUDENSCHILD (93) 2. Ryan Smith (Warko 94) 3. Caleb Helms (40) 4. Dale Blaney (Quiring/Holbrook 1) 5. Andrew Palker (57x) 6. Lee Jacobs (Lewis 81) 7. Steve Kinser (Stewart 11) 8. Cody Darrah (89) 9. Tim Shaffer (Grove 45) 10. Jac Haudenschild (Armbruster 73) 11. Danny Holtgraver (Leidig 59) 12. Greg Wilson (w20) 13. Justin Barger (5) 14. Chad Kemenah (Hunter 10H) 15. Tayler Malsam (Rudeen 26) 16. Adam Kekich (5K) 17. Eric Williams (7) 18. Dan Kuriger (08) 19. Carl Bowser (10) 20. Cole Duncan (Rudzik/Demyan 49) 21. Brandon Spithaler (22) 22. Jack Sodeman, Jr. (Seger 25) 23. Dave Blaney (98H) 24. Travis Philo (5T).
DNQ from the B main: Scott Priester (Dionise 15), Danny Smith (4), Brandon Matus (13), Dan Shetler (7K), Jimmy Morris (16), Gray Edwards (57), Mike Bauer (46), Eric L. Williams (4w), Brent Matus (33), Davey Jones (76), Parker Price-Miller (9P).
Hovis Auto & Truck Supply Big-Block Modified Tour (35 laps, $2,000 to-win): 1. JIM WELLER, JR. (31) 2. Rex King, Jr. (165) 3. Rex King (65) 4. Erick Rudolph (Chrysler 21R) 5. Ricky Richner (26) 6. Garrett Krummert (29) 7. Brad Rapp (11R) 8. Jim Rasey (32) 9. Justin Wright (19W) 10. Rob Kristyak (00) 11. Kevin Bolland (777) 12. Brian Swartzlander (83) 13. Jimmy Weller III (23) 14. Rick Regalski, Jr. (13) 15. Eric Gabany (3E) 16. Steve Feder (45) 17. Steve Barr (25B) 18. Carl Murdick (6) 19. Tom Glenn (83T) 20. Mark Frankhouser (03) 21. Shawn Fleeger (88) 22. Shawn Kozar (3K) 23. Dave Murdick (61) 24. Justin Rasey (21) 25. Jeremiah Shingledecker (37MD) 26. Kevin Hoffman (00).
DNQ from the B main: Dillon Barr (25), Max Smoker (5), Randy Chronister (71), Tiffany Williams (58), Rodney Beltz (64), Tom Mattocks (69), Randy Chrysler (21K), Dave Reges (27R).
Coming up this Saturday, July 18 is a full “Steel Valley Thunder” program featuring the weekly six divisions plus the RUSH Late Models. It’s Twin-State Auto Racing Club Night. Power races for the kids will be held at intermission. Pit gates open at 4 p.m. with grandstand gates open 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.