Sharon will try again to kickoff regular season Saturday night with “Steel Valley Thunder” opener plus Penn-Ohio Stock Car Mini Series & power wheel races for kids
By Mike Leone
May 4, 2016
(Hartford, OH)…After a successful 2016 opener with the “Apple Festival Nationals” make-up on April 16, Sharon Speedway was forced to cancel the last two weekends’ events due to rain. Sharon is hoping to return to racing action this Saturday night (May 7) with the “Steel Valley Thunder” kickoff featuring the Hovis Auto & Truck Supply DIRTcar Big-Block Modifieds, Summit Racing Equipment Modifieds, Lyden/Red Line Oil RUSH Sportsman Modifieds, Gibson Insurance Agency Stock Cars for the Penn-Ohio Mini Series, HTMA/Precise Racing Products Econo Mods, and the Deforest Used Parts Mini Stocks. Saturday’s program will get underway at 7 p.m.
Saturday’s kitchen special is kielbasa and sauerkraut with mashed potatoes. During intermission, power wheel races will be held for kids. Once again this season, Hovis Auto & Truck Supply will award six complimentary pit passes for the following week; a pair going to the hard luck driver in DIRTcar Big-Block Modifieds, a pair to a lucky driver in the division that competes first, and a pair to a lucky fan.
The Stock Cars will be highlighted on Saturday night in their first of five Penn-Ohio Mini Series of events that pay a minimum of $1,000 to-win. The remaining dates are June 18, July 23, August 20, and then the “Apple Festival Nationals” on September 16-17. These five events will have a separate point fund besides the Penn-Ohio Series’ point fund for their regular schedule of events. The $2,000 to-win “Apple Festival Nationals” will award points for both.
Rob Shook opened the season for the Stocks on April 16 winning the Penn-Ohio Series make-up for his first ever at the speedway and his biggest career payday taking the $2,000. Mike Clark will begin his title defense in the Gibson Insurance Agency division Saturday as he tries for an unprecedented fourth straight crown, which would tie Steve D’Apolito for most in the division. D’Apolito may have something to say about that as he sits third on the division’s all-time win list, and is the most active winningest driver at 32 victories. D’Apolito campaigns a GM 604 crate engine and will also try and win RUSH’s $1,000 Sweeney Chevrolet Buick GMC Weekly Series title.
The DIRTcar Big-Block Modifieds have been a staple at the speedway since it went to dirt in 1981 and have been the track’s headlining division since 2011. Hovis Auto & Truck Supply is back once again as the divisional sponsor. Defending champion, Rex King, will look to break the tie of five championships with the late Lou Blaney, to become the division’s top titlist. King will also look to add to his 51 wins at the speedway, which is second all-time. King trails Blaney by 70 wins in that department, but has 30 more wins than the next active driver, Kevin Bolland.
King will have staunch weekly competition this season from his son Rex Jr., Jim and Jimmy Weller, Bolland, Rick Richner, Dave Murdick, Garrett Krummert, Jim Rasey, Michael Maresca, Rob Kristyak, and many more plus drivers like Brian Swartzlander and Jeremiah Shingledecker that make periodic appearances. New York’s Erick Rudolph topped a 34-car field on April 16 for The Mod Tour event.
Sharon offers sympathy to the families of Art McDonald and Dave Kristyak, who recently passed away. McDonald was a regular competitor in the Big-Block Modified division at Sharon throughout the 1980s and into the 1990s, while Kristyak provided towing service to the speedway in years past and was the father of current Big-Block Modified racer, Rob Kristyak.
Summit Racing Equipment will again present the Modified division, which has provided stout competition and quality racing in recent years. Joel Watson got off to a fast start winning the $2,000 make-up on April 16 for his 22nd career win at the speedway. Behind Watson on the win list in positions third through sixth are Jeff Johnson, Scott Stiffler, Russ Dunn, and Jeff Sharp. All of those racers are expected to contend for victories on a weekly basis, but the driver they’ll be shooting to dethrone from the championship is Will Thomas III. Thomas won the title last year in his first year of running Modifieds after successfully transitioning from the asphalt to the dirt with the RUSH Late Models.
The RUSH Sportsman Modifieds have begun their third year of existence and second year as a weekly division at the speedway. Lyden/Red Line Oil is on board as the divisional sponsor this season. A record car count of 24 turned out for the April 16 make-up, and with several other racers still not in competition the division could be racing for the 24-car payoff of $500 to-win, $75 to-start many times this year. Any driver that would fail to qualify for the feature would not only receive tow money, but also a free pit pass for the following week! Defending champion, Greg Martin, won the opener, but is not expected to race weekly in 2016 opening the door for a bevy of contenders. Sharon is also part of RUSH’s Bicknell Racing Products Weekly Series program that pays the top 15 members in points with $3,000 going to the champion!
The HTMA/Precise Racing Products Econo Mod division begins its seventh year of competition at Sharon since in debuted in 2010 in the old Friday night bi-weekly program. During that period, the division has produced five different champions with only Jeremy Double repeating in 2013-2014. Josh Ferry began the season winning the April 16 show for his first career win as became the 25th driver to win a feature in the division’s history. Ryan Fraley is the defending champion.
The Mini Stocks always produced some exciting and wild racing. When not being overtaken by outside invaders, Bill Fuchs has been the man to beat in the Deforest Used Parts-sponsored division. The Greenville, Pa. Mini Stock veteran has won three of the last five division titles and has won a division-leading 27 features! Fuchs has won 22% of the Mini Stock features run since 2009. Brian Felmlee picked up the special event April 16 make-up win for his second career win.
On Saturday, pits open at 4 p.m. with grandstands at 5 and racing at 7. Grandstand admission is $10 for those 14 and over. As always, children under 13, parking, and camping is always FREE! Pit passes are $30. 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.