Haines wins career 1st in 600th Big-Block Mod race at Sharon; 1st wins for Thomas, Haefke & Rubright in E-Mods, Econo Mods & Minis; Ritchey is only winner to repeat in RUSH Mods
By Mike Leone
June 4, 2016
(Hartford, OH)…Sharon Speedway has had eight events scheduled this year, and only the 2015 “Apple Festival Nationals” make-up back on April 16 has featured good weather. For the past seven weeks, Mother Nature has either rained out the races or severely threatened. On Saturday night while most other speedways were rained out, Sharon pushed on with the show and completed the program without delay despite persistent drizzle. The five-division show was completed in less than two and half hours as Sharon evened score at four with Mother Nature. Capturing wins on Sellinick Transmission Night were Chris Haines-Hovis Auto & Truck Supply DIRTcar Big-Block Modifieds, Will Thomas III-Summit Racing Equipment Modifieds, Brandon Ritchey-Lyden/Red Line Oil RUSH Sportsman Modifieds, Steve Haefke-HTMA/Precise Racing Products Econo Mods, and Matt Rubright-Deforest Used Parts Mini Stocks.
Chris Haines, a veteran Stock Car racer and former Crate Late Model racer, is in his sixth year of DIRTcar Big-Block Modified racing. On a fast track, Haines rode the cushion and held off some of the region’s best Modified racers on Saturday night for his first career win in the division. The 45-year-old Sandy Lake, Pa. driver led the final 16 laps of the Hovis Auto & Truck Supply feature for the $1,100 win. Haines became the track’s 87th different Big-Block Modified winner, which came in the 600th race held all-time!
Jim Rasey powered into the early lead on the outside front row. Rasey’s car began to show smoke on lap two and his night ended two laps later in a plume of smoke as he exited the track handing the lead to Haines. Behind Haines, Mike Maresca, Jr. and Garrett Krummert were having a torrid battle for second. The two ran side-by-side lap after lap with Krummert running above the cushion, but Maresca maintained the spot. The event’s first caution was displayed when Maresca’s teammate Rob Kristyak slowed with 17 laps scored.
A wild restart ensued as sixth starting Rick Richner went from fourth to second and 10th starting Rex King, Jr. flying into third. Krummert’s night ended early as he dropped from the event with motor problems as well and was awarded two pit passes for next week as Hovis Auto & Truck Supply Hard Luck award winner. One more caution slowed action with 18 laps in the books when Kevin Bolland, Rex King, and Rick Regalski, Jr. tangled in turn four.
Haines held off one more big final charge by both Richner and King, Jr. for the popular win, which came in his Lakeview Fertilizer/Jerry Lucas Auto/Marlow’s Campground/Mark Buckley Trucking-sponsored #35H. The win was Haines’ second career at the track as he won a Stock Car feature last season. Richner was 0.540 of a second behind Haines and just 0.048 of a second ahead of King, Jr. Maresca was fourth over 12th starting Brad Rapp, who received a $50 bonus from an anonymous donor. Dave Murdick, Regalski, Jimmy Weller III, newcomer Jimmy Holden, and Bolland completed the top 10. Heat winners were Richner and Murdick.
Defending champion, Will Thomas III, ran a smooth line around the bottom of the track to pass Jeff Johnson and race on to his season’s first win in the Modifieds. The 40-year-old nearby Sharpsville, Pa. resident became just the second driver to win in the Summit Racing Equipment division after Joel Watson started the year off winning the first three shows. Watson was not on hand on Saturday night. The win was the fourth of Thomas’ career in the division.
Johnson raced into the early lead from the pole position over Shawn Shingledecker and Thomas. Shingledecker got high on lap five brushing the fence, which allowed Thomas to close in. Thomas performed a slide job racing off turn two on lap six to take runner-up before a caution for a spin by newcomer Rich Jaeger.
Back under green, Thomas was all over Johnson. The two ran side-by-side for the lead with a tremendous battle on laps 10, 11, and 12 as Thomas ran the bottom and Johnson powered around the cushion. Thomas had just enough run off the bottom of turn four to lead lap 13 before another spin by Jaeger. The last eight laps would go caution-free. Joe Gabrielson passed Johnson for second on the restart and closed on Thomas in the final laps, but Thomas held on to win by 0.648 of a second. Thomas’ 18th career win overall at Sharon, including 14 in the RUSH Late Models, came in his Colonial Metal Products/Hallman Foundry/All Star/Sweet Manufacturing/Russ King Racing/Wedge Motorsports/955 Automotive-sponsored #9.
Scott Stiffler also got by Johnson taking third on lap 17. Johnson dropped to fourth, but did take over the point lead. Josh Ferry, who won the Econo Mod make-up to start the season, is in his first year of “open” Modified racing, finished fifth, and is just two points out of the lead. Completing the top 10 were Jeremy Double, Carl McKinney, Casey Bowers, Shingledecker, and Amanda Stiffler. Gabrielson and Ferry won the heat races.
With defending champion and April 16 winner Greg Martin not making the three and half hour trip down for weekly competition this year, the RUSH Sportsman Modified division has been wide open. On Saturday night, Tiffany Williams led for 13 laps, but Brandon Ritchey, who won his first career feature on May 7, became the division’s first repeat winner on the region’s circuit getting by Williams on the late-race restart. Another 24-car field was present again in the Lyden/Red Line-oil sponsored division, which bumped the entire payoff up as the 22-year-old Ritchey of Seneca, Pa. earned $500!
Williams took off in the lead over Ritchey on the initial start. Ninth starting Kyle Martell worked his way into the top five after one lap then fourth past Justin Shea on lap two. Martell continued his march to the front taking third from Chelsie Kriegisch on lap five then two laps later passed Ritchey for second. Martell closed in on Williams on lap nine and was right on the 28-year-old female leader on lap 11. The two put on a great side-by-side race for the lead on laps 12, 13, and 14. On lap 14, Martell tried to get under Williams on the backstretch but made contact and spun bringing out the caution.
The caution wasn’t what Williams wanted to see as Ritchey made the outside work on the restart and led the final two laps in the Clair Ritchey-owned, Casey’s Restaurant & Lounge/Eakin Concrete/The Nickle Bar/Kings Landscaping/American Auto Pride-sponsored #17. Williams held off last week’s winner and 10th starting Kole Holden for a career best runner-up at Sharon. Jerry Schaffer came from 11th to place fourth over 13th starting Brian Schaffer, who received a $50 bonus from an anonymous donor.
Michael Kristyak finished 11th and was the lucky recipient of the pair of pit passes for next Saturday compliments of Hovis Auto & truck Supply. Heat winners were Martell, Nick Ritchey, and Kriegisch. An unbelievable occurrence took place in heat three as Chelsie Kriegisch beat out her sister Jessica and two other fellow females in Williams and Jessica Shea as those four ladies swept the top four positions.
After winning on Friday night at Raceway 7, Steve Haefke came out on top of a caution-filled 15-lap Econo Mod feature for his first Sharon win of the season. The point leader battled it out with Zach Myers to become the fourth different winner in as many races in the HTMA/Precise Racing Products-sponsored division.
“He was really strong and raced me clean,” expressed the 50-year-old Austintown, Ohio winner. “We had a heck of a battle there. When you’re running that close you’re going to bump a little bit and that’s ok. That was pretty awesome. I have to thank my wife Shelly, my dad who helps us a ton, all my sponsors, and everyone that helps on this car.”
Myers and Haefke starting on the front row with Myers taking the early lead, but Haefke made the bottom of turn four work as he led lap two. Myers would regain the lead on lap five following a restart. Haefke closed back in on Myers on lap seven and the two raced side-by-side for the lead on lap eight until a pair of cautions slowed action with nine laps scored.
Haefke regained the lead on lap 10 following a restart and held on for his fourth career win in the division and fifth overall at Sharon in his Tub’s Automotive/Wedge Motorsports/212 Chiropractic/Hoosier Tires-sponsored #41. Myers crossed the finish in second, but was two pounds light at the scales moving Josh Mueller to a career best second. Ryan Fraley came from 15th to finish third over Butch Lambert and Ty Rhoades. Wayne Daniels and Brad Blackshear won the heat races.
After Tyler Fulton dominated for 11 laps, second year racer, Matt Rubright, came out on top of a wild last lap scramble to capture his first career win in the 12-lap Deforest Used Parts Mini Stocks. “It got a little hairy those last couple laps,” stated the 16-year-old Harmony, Pa. winner. “I was just hoping I didn’t mess up and have to restart at the back. I have to thank my parents and my sponsors. My dad used to race and has been around racing for 25 years and I decided I wanted to do this.”
Fulton started second and took the lead over Isaac Paden, Bill Fuchs, and Joe Campbell. Paden broke on lap two as 10th starting Willie Aley flew into second. Fulton had a straightaway lead built up when the first caution was displayed for a tire that came off a rim with three laps scored. Back under green flag racing, Campbell got into Fuchs spinning him. Both drivers went to the tail.
When racing resumed, it appeared Aley missed a shift on the restart allowing Steve Walker II to take second. Aley though came back to retake the runner-up spot on lap six. A caution for newcomer Summer Pitts slowed the event with 11 laps scored and set-up a one-lap shootout to the finish. Fulton didn’t get up to speed on the restart as he exited the event ruining his bid for his first career Sharon win. A wild scramble then ensued on the final lap as Rubright, who lined up fourth on the restart, came out on top at the checkered flag in his Boice’s Auto Sales/Hook n Haul/Jim Eck’s Auto Body-sponsored #X. Point leader Walker was second over Aley, Fuchs, and Logan Keney. Heat winners were Paden and Fulton.
Hovis Auto & Truck Supply DIRTcar Big-Block Modifieds (20 laps): 1. CHRIS HAINES (35H) 2. Rick Richner (26) 3. Rex King, Jr. (165) 4. Mike Maresca, Jr. (7) 5. Brad Rapp (11R) 6. Dave Murdick (61) 7. Rick Regalski, Jr. (13) 8. Jimmy Weller III (23) 9. Jimmy Holden (28H) 10. Kevin Bolland (777) 11. Rex King (65) 12. Jim Weller, Jr. (31) 13. Kevin Green (74) 14. Garrett Krummert (29) 15. Rob Kristyak (7K) 16. Jim Rasey (32).
Summit Racing Equipment (E) Modifieds (20 laps): 1. WILL THOMAS III (9) 2. Joe Gabrielson (58) 3. Scott Stiffler (14) 4. Jeff Johnson (27) 5. Josh Ferry (33) 6. Jeremy Double (83) 7. Carl McKinney (Hendrickson 6M) 8. Casey Bowers (20) 9. Shawn Shingledecker (54s) 10. Amanda Stiffler (14A) 11. Rich Jaeger (5) 12. Jeff Sharp (54) 13. Bob Williamson (93) 14. Bob Diver (23)-DNS.
Lyden/Red Line Oil RUSH Sportsman Modifieds (15 laps, $500 to-win): 1. BRANDON RITCHEY (17) 2. Tiffany Williams (58) 3. Kole Holden (2) 4. Jerry Schaffer (14) 5. Brian Schaffer (41) 6. Chelsie Kriegisch (10) 7. Chas Wolbert (c3) 8. Justin Shea (14s) 9. Josh Deems (9D) 10. Steve Slater (35) 11. Michael Kristyak (404) 12. Mike Sparks (Smith 3G) 13. Calvin Clay (21) 14. Josh Seippel (84) 15. Jessica Kriegisch (63) 16. Will Schaffer (4) 17. Jessica Shea (24s) 18. Jonathan Myers (11) 19. Amelia Clay (12) 20. Kyle Martell (8) 21. Jeremy Weaver (35W) 22. Rocky Kugel (6) 23. Nick Ritchey (77N) 24. Preston Cope (24P)-DNS.
HTMA/Precise Racing Products Econo Mods (15 laps): 1. STEVE HAEFKE (41) 2. Josh Mueller (01) 3. Ryan Fraley (12) 4. Butch Lambert (Hendrickson 19) 5. Ty Rhoades (12R) 6. Wayne Daniels (4) 7. Haley Lapcevich (77) 8. Jeff Mundell (11) 9. Bob Burk (18) 10. Brad Blackshear (19) 11. Brandon Blackshear (Burns 70B) 12. Buzz Seitz (1) 13. Chris Clay (99) 14. Brian Toto (8B) 15. Zach Myers (1M)-DSQ (light) 16. Kyle Miller (15)-DNS 17. Daniel McEwen, Jr. (28*)-DNS.
Deforest Used Parts Mini Stocks (12 laps): 1. MATT RUBRIGHT (X) 2. Steve Walker II (4M) 3. Willie Aley (Maxwell 6) 4. Bill Fuchs (10) 5. Logan Keney (16) 6. Michael DelliQuadri (77D) 7. Joe Campbell (40C) 8. Pete Blazczak (77) 9. Joe Keney (15K) 10. Tim McAninch (43) 11. Tyler Fulton (09) 12. Summer Pitts (McCracken 64) 13. Allen Long (12) 14. Isaac Paden (24) 15. Jim Haefke, Jr. (421)-DNS.
Six-division “Steel Valley Thunder” racing returns this Saturday night, June 11 as the Gibson Insurance Agency Stock Cars rejoin the program along with the Hovis Auto & Truck Supply DIRTcar Big-Block Modifieds, Summit Racing Equipment Modifieds, Lyden/Red Line Oil RUSH Sportsman Modifieds, HTMA/Precise Racing Products Econo Mods, and Deforest Used Parts Mini Stocks. It’s Pittsburgh Circle Track Club Night with FREE grandstand admission for card carrying members or $20 pit passes. Pits open at 4 p.m., 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.