Rudolph captures $2K Mod Tour King Memorial for 1st Sharon win; Latta & Martin star in RUSH LM & Mod Tour; $2K wins for Watson & Shook in Mods & Stocks; 1st ever for Ferry in Econos; Minis to Felmlee
By Mike Leone
April 16, 2016
(Hartford, OH)…Sharon Speedway kicked off the 87th anniversary season on Saturday night with the twice postponed 2015 “Apple Festival Nationals” night two. A large crowd watched an overflowing pit area full of race cars open the 2016 season on a picture-perfect evening as Erick Rudolph-Big-Block Mod Tour “Russ King Memorial”, Matt Latta-Sweeney Chevrolet Buick GMC RUSH Late Model Touring Series, Joel Watson-Summit Racing Equipment Modifieds, Rob Shook-Penn-Ohio Stock Car Series, Greg Martin-Lyden/Red Line Oil RUSH Sportsman Modified Bicknell Tour, Josh Ferry-HTMA/Precise Racing Products Econo Mods, and Brian Felmlee-Deforest Used Parts Mini Stocks earned opening night wins.
Erick Rudolph captured his first career Sharon win in a big way taking the $2,000 “Russ King Memorial” event for The Mod Tour Hovis Auto & Truck Supply Big-Block Modifieds. The Ransomville, New York racer held off a bevy of competitors including teammate Randy Chrysler, the father-son duo of Rex King and Rex King, Jr., and a late charge by Garrett Krummert.
“I was doing everything I could to keep the behind me,” stated the Empire State star. “Seemed like I was good in the longer runs, but was struggling on the restarts. The Kings were a tick better than me and all I could do was keep them behind me. I had a couple scares, but was able to get the job done. I was on cruise control until that caution with one to go, but that opened up a whole can of worms. I’d like to thank the Kings for racing me clean out there- it was a fun race. Between Randy and I myself we both had top five runs, and I’d like to thank the fans for coming out today.”
While Rudolph would lead all 35 laps, the competition was hot and heavy behind him as the 34-car field was whittled down to 26 for the starting field. The first 17 laps went caution-free as Rudolph would build up a half-straightaway lead on Chrysler. King, Jr. passed Chrysler on lap 13 for second. Though the first half of the race was clean, the second-half was marred by seven caution periods. Krummert started back in 12th and moved into third following a restart on lap 27.
Positions two and on back kept shuffling on the restarts. The elder King made a charge on the final lap to temporarily get by Rudolph for the lead only to have the caution come out and setup a one-lap shootout. When racing resumed for the final time, Krummert made a move on the final lap to take second, but it was Rudolph becoming the 86th different driver in the history of Sharon Speedway to win a big-block feature.
King was third over Chrysler and King, Jr. Brad Rapp came from 16th to finish sixth over Brian Swartzlander, Mark Flick, Jimmy Weller III from 21st, and Eric Gabany. Chrysler set fast time in qualifying with a lap of 16.285. Heat wins went to Rudolph, King, Jr., Michael Maresca, and Swartzlander, while Weller III won the B main.
Matt Latta has had several top five finishes over the years in Sweeney RUSH Late Model Touring Series events including three last year with a career best runner-up; however, the 23-year-old racer was just never able to break into victory lane. That changed on Saturday night as Latta led all 30 laps of the feature holding off staunch challenges by crate racing great Max Blair and veteran Charlie Duncan for the big $2,000 victory.
“I can’t even put into words what this means for our team,” expressed the emotional Conneaut Lake, Pa. native. “My brother (Tim) won this race. He puts in the most hours of anyone- you can’t even imagine. Russ King has been a huge help this year and has helped us find a little more speed. The sponsors on this car make this happen. I couldn’t ask for anything better than to start the season this way.”
Latta used the outside to power into the lead on the start over Duncan, Blair, and former Sharon Speedway Champions Will Thomas III and Josh Double. Thomas and Double were battling for fourth with Double making the pass on lap five as Thomas ran out of room on the backstretch slapping the fence and ending his night. When racing resumed on lap six, Blair took over runner-up and two laps later was right on Latta. On lap 12, Blair made a move in lapped traffic, but caught a rut allowing Latta to open up some breathing room. By the halfway point, the top three of Latta, Blair, and Duncan pulled away from the field. Blair began to close back in on lap 17 in lapped traffic before a caution for rookie Jared Kane.
Back under green, Latta controlled the restart and by lap 20 him and Blair pulled away from the pack. Latta caught traffic again on lap 24. Coming off turn four, Latta went high to lap Kane, while Blair shot to the bottom. It was three-wide racing down the frontstretch with Latta barely leading the lap and getting to the bottom in turn one first. That was the move that sealed the deal for Latta.
A pair of cautions slowed action on laps 27 and 28. Duncan was able to take back second on lap 28 only to see Blair regain the spot on the 29th circuit racing off turn four and coming down for the white flag. Blair went after Latta on the final lap, but would come up 0.791 of a second shy of Latta, who earned his fourth career Sharon win. Duncan, Eric Wilson, and Double while third through fifth. Alan Dellinger raced from 15th to sixth over Dave Lyon, Wyatt Scott, Jason and Brian Knowles.
Joel Watson was out of the area competing on Thursday and Friday and wasn’t sure if he was coming back to race Saturday at Sharon, but his team made the correct decision as Watson led all 20 laps of the Summit Racing Equipment Modified feature for the $2,000 pay day.
The Conneaut, Ohio driver was never seriously challenged in his #92 and his run to his 22nd career win was slowed only by five cautions. David Scott quietly made his way from 17th to second holding off Dan Davies, who came back from a spin battling for second with four laps to go to finish third. Daryl Charlier was fourth over pole-sitter Jacob Eucker.
Rob Shook dominated much of the final 21 laps of the Penn-Ohio Stock Car Series event for not only his first career Sharon win, but the biggest of racing career as he earned $2,000 for the 25-lap Gibson Insurance Agency victory. Andy Buckley took the lead temporarily on lap five only to break in turn four and Shaun Hooks, who led the first four laps, had nowhere to go as the two crashed to bring out the caution. This gave the lead to Steve D’Apolito; however, Shook, who started sixth, made the winning pass on the restart.
The Creighton, Pa. winner had made only a few prior starts in his career at Sharon in the #64 and had to hold off ninth starting Bobby Whitling, who closed in but couldn’t mount a serious challenge. Chris Haines was third after starting 14th. Paul Davis, who started 16th, passed Andy Thompson for fourth and dropped Thompson to fifth at the finish.
On July 15, 2015 at nearby Expo Speedway, Greg Martin made history winning the inaugural Bicknell Racing Products Touring Series event for the Sweeney RUSH Sportsman Modifieds. On that night, Martin beat a 13-car field. Saturday’s second career Bicknell Touring Series victory for Martin came over a record 24-car field for a class that is beginning its third year of competition and second for Bicknell Touring Series action! Martin held off an impressive run by 16-year-old Kyle Martell for the $800 win- his richest in RUSH competition.
“That lapped traffic was really racing hard for themselves,” explained the 34-year-old Wilson, NY racer. “I had to pick a lane and unfortunately I got into him a bit. I knew the guys wouldn’t be too far behind me so I forced my way a bit. I hated to do that and ding up a new body, but I really wanted to get the checkered flag. These guys down here are working so hard to get their cars top notch. These guys are great and are going to have a heck of a field this year. I hope you guys all enjoy watching them.”
While the box score will show Martin leading all 20 laps, the victory was by no means a cake walk for the veteran Sportsman Modified racer and defending Sharon Speedway and two-time Bicknell Weekly Series Champion. Only two cautions slowed the event; one on lap five for a slowing Larry Kugel and another on lap nine for a slowing Calvin Clay.
When racing resumed on lap 10, seventh starting Rocky Kugel entered the picture taking third from Nick Ritchey. As the laps ticked off, Martell stayed within striking distance of Martin. On lap 18, Martell closed in on Martin as the leader tried to lap rookie Blaze Myers. Martin was able to keep Martell at bay in the final laps through heavy lapped traffic for his all-time leading 11th career Sharon win in his #4.
Ironically, Martell began his rookie RUSH season in 2015 with a pair of runner-ups at Sharon in Bicknell Weekly Series action and ended 2015 with a career best Bicknell Tour finish of third at Lernerville before starting 2016 season off with a great second place effort. Rocky Kugel was a solid third over Kole Holden and Anthony Gillespie.
After being close in the past, top Econo Mod runner, Josh Ferry, finally sealed the deal at Sharon for his first career win at the track. The Cochranton, Pa. driver picked a good night to get the monkey off his back as the 15-lap HTMA/Precise Racing Products victory was worth $700.
Ferry started third and took charge on the opening lap. Ferry had to withstand eight cautions for the win in his #33 to become the 25th different driver to win an Econo Mod feature in the history at Sharon. Veteran Steve Haefke was second over defending track champion Ryan Fraley. Josh Mueller was fourth after starting 13th over Gary Miller, Jr., who came from 15th.
Brian Felmlee survived a wild 15-lap Deforest Used Parts Mini Stock feature for the big $500 pay day. Last year, the Oil City, Pa. driver invaded Sharon to earn his first career win and kicked off the 2016 season in fine fashion taking the win. Felmlee inherited the lead on lap five after leader Andy Proper broke. Chris Leone was second in his first ever Sharon appearance after starting 16th. Alan Perry was third in his Sharon debut over Tyler Fulton and Steve Walker II.
The Mod Tour “Russ King Memorial” Hovis Auto & Truck Supply Big-Block Modifieds (35 laps, $2,000 to-win): 1. ERICK RUDOLPH (25R) 2. Garrett Krummert (29) 3. Rex King (65) 4. Randy Chrysler (21K) 5. Rex King, Jr. (165) 6. Brad Rapp (11R) 7. Brian Swartzlander (83) 8. Mark Flick (7z) 9. Jimmy Weller III (23) 10. Eric Gabany (3E) 11. Ricky Richner (26) 12. J.R. McGinley (66M) 13. Kevin Bolland (777) 14. Jim Rasey (21) 15. Tom Glenn (83T) 16. Michael Maresca (7) 17. Rob Kristyak (00) 18. Shayne Pierce (88) 19. Shawn Kozar (3K) 20. Jim Weller, Jr. (31) 21. Dave Murdick (61) 22. Shannon Whaley (44) 23. Ron Cartwright, Jr. (2B) 24. Kevin Hoffman (00) 25. Jeremiah Shingledecker (37MD) 26. Rodney Beltz (64). DNQ: Shawn Fleeger (88F), Mark Frankhouser (03), Rick Regalski, Jr. (13), Chris Haines (35H), Erik Martin (29E), Tom Mattocks (69), Bob Warren (96B), Skip Moore (17M).
Sweeney RUSH Late Model Touring Series (30 laps, $2,000 to-win): 1. MATT LATTA (21) 2. Max Blair (111) 3. Charlie Duncan (Hall 240) 4. Eric Wilson (27W) 5. Josh Double (38) 6. Alan Dellinger (Williams 8) 7. Dave Lyon (14L) 8. Wyatt Scott (X3) 9. Jason Knowles (4) 10. Brian Knowles (7) 11. Michael Duritsky, Jr. (90J) 12. Clinton Hersh (16) 13. Chris Frank (49) 14. Ed Bolyard (Patrick 05) 15. Clay Ruffo (14R) 16. Jared Kane (7) 17. Damian Bidwell (7Teen) 18. Dennis Lunger, Jr. (Pifer 6P) 19. Lon Emerick (3) 20. Jamie Wrightsman (21J) 21. Will Thomas III (9) 22. Russell King (Andrus 54)-DNS 23. Steve Lowery (48)-DNS 24. Russ Byler (Hoover 00H)-DNS 25. Rob Marhefka (99FM)-DNS 26. Joe Sylvester (8)-DNS 27. Joel Prosser (77)-DNS 28. Paul Grigsby (24)-DNS.
Summit Racing Equipment (E) Modifieds (25 laps, $2,000 to-win): 1. JOEL WATSON (92) 2. David Scott (Engles 68) 3. Dan Davies (71D) 4. Daryl Charlier (11) 5. Jacob Eucker (64) 6. Carl McKinney (Hendrickson 6M) 7. Troy Johnson (2J) 8. Bill Henry, Jr. (21*) 9. Joe Gabrielson (58) 10. Mike Potosky (M20) 11. Jeff Johnson (1) 12. Paul Davis (3D) 13. Dennis Lunger, Jr. (Schwartz 71L) 14. Jeremy Double (83) 15. Will Thomas III (9) 16. Bob Williamson (93) 17. Jeff Hassay (10) 18. Tim Deutsch (White 53) 19. Mike Kinney (3)-DNS 20. J.J. Bametzrieder (74)-DNS.
Penn-Ohio Series Gibson Insurance Agency Stock Cars (25 laps, $2,000 to-win): 1. ROB SHOOK (64) 2. Bobby Whitling (7W) 3. Chris Haines (35H) 4. Paul Davis (3) 5. Andy Thompson (5) 6. Randy Wyant (11T) 7. Mike Clark (7) 8. Mike Miller (T6) 9. Chris Schneider (55) 10. Rod Laskey (1R) 11. Jackson Humanic (17K) 12. Jamie Duncan (67J) 13. Brett McDonald (25) 14. Jesse Brock (22B) 15. Shaun Fawcett (224) 16. Jacob Billyk (4) 17. Tim Bish (1B) 18. Brandon Wearing (Neely 27) 19. Steve D’Apolito (84) 20. Shaun Hooks (65) 21. Andy Buckley (965) 22. Rusty Martz (16M) 23. Brian Rhed (69R) 24. Troy DeZarn (21D) 25. Gary Robinson (44R). DNS: Bob Heim (92), Steve Burns (70B), Rusty Moore (17M), Brian Carothers (02c), Brent Coleman (01), Leigh Wheeler (717), Travis Norman (3x), Bob Schwartzmiller (28s), Bryan Wagner (56), Curt Bish (29), Curt Bish, Jr. (00), Mark Hopkins (69H), Bruce Redman (06), Ryan Newman (12), Ed Bolyard (05), Charlie Baptiste (28B), Ed Bolyard (Patrick 05), Bob McCann (Fornataro USA1), Tim Deutsch (11D), Dan Fedorchak (Bruno x7), Joey Zambotti (948), Clyde Roberts (33c).
Bicknell Tour Lyden/Red Line Oil RUSH Sportsman Modifieds (20 laps, $800 to-win): 1. 1. GREG MARTIN (4) 2. Kyle Martell (8) 3. Rocky Kugel (6R) 4. Kole Holden (2) 5. Anthony Gillespie (Smith 3G) 6. Brian Schaffer (41) 7. Josh Deems (9D) 8. Chas Wolbert (c3) 9. Jerry Schaffer (14) 10. Josh Seippel (84) 11. Brandon Ritchey (17) 12. Jeremy Weaver (35W) 13. Will Schaffer (4) 14. Jessica Shea (24s) 15. Jessica Kriegisch (63) 16. Calvin Clay (21) 17. Chelsie Kriegisch (10) 18. Blaze Myers (43Jr) 19. Nick Ritchey (77N) 20. Tiffany Williams (58) 21. Steve Slater (35) 22. Larry Kugel (0) 23. Justin Shea (14s) 24. Jonathan Myers (0)-DSQ.
HTMA/Precise Racing Products Econo Mods (15 laps, $700 to-win): 1. JOSH FERRY (33) 2. Steve Haefke (41) 3. Ryan Fraley (12) 4. Josh Mueller (01) 5. Gary Miller, Jr. (1M) 6. Brandon Blackshear (19) 7. Haley Lapcevich (77) 8. Kevin Robinson (34R) 9. Ty Rhoades (12R) 10. Bob Burk (18) 11. Brian Toto (8B) 12. Mitchell Wright (M11) 13. Kyle Miller (15) 14. Keith Felicetty (98) 15. Wayne Daniels (4) 16. Jr. Mechling (89)-DNS 17. Brian Foley, Jr. (16JSR)-DNS 18. Jamie Scharba (11S)-DNS 19. Buzz Seitz (9)-DNS 20. Tyler Frankenberry (38)-DNS 21. Robert Simmons (4RJ)-DNS.
Deforest Used Parts Mini Stocks (15 laps, $500 to-win): 1. BRIAN FELMLEE (28) 2. Chris Leone (62) 3. Alan Perry (35) 4. Tyler Fulton (09) 5. Steve Walker II (4M) 6. Matt Rubright (X) 7. Michael DelliQuadri (77D) 8. Joe Keney (15K) 9. Tim McAninch (43) 10. Roger Wigton (9) 11. Anthony Hermanson (79) 12. Steve Morse (14M) 13. Mitch Stokes (6M) 14. Scott Gill (11) 15. Pat Drennan (24) 16. Bill Fuchs (10) 17. Logan Keney (16) 18. Andy Proper (17) 19. Jason Pavlick (00) 20. Jason Easler (02) 21. Pete Blazczak (77)-DNS 22. Travis Creech (75T)-DNS 23. Shane Shook (17s)-DNS 24. Jeff Little (42)-DNS 25. Mitch Reichard (32)-DNS 26. Stephen Crowe (46)-DNS.
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.