Weller joins his son as repeat Big-Block Mod winners; Davis’ $1500 Penn-Ohio Stock win is biggest of his career; 1st wins for Gabrielson, Martell & Fuchs in E-Mods, RUSH Mods & Minis; Haefke again in Econos
By Mike Leone
June 18, 2016
(Hartford, OH)…For the first time since the April 16 opener, sunny skies and no chance of rain were in the forecast Saturday for Sharon Speedway allowing the fourth straight event to be completed. A large crowd and 117 cars were in the pit area as Jim Weller, Jr.-Hovis Auto & Truck Supply DIRTcar Big-Block Modifieds, Paul Davis-Penn-Ohio Mini Series for the Gibson Insurance Agency Stock Cars, Joe Gabrielson-Summit Racing Equipment Modifieds, Kyle Martell-Lyden/Red Line Oil RUSH Sportsman Modifieds, Steve Haefke-HTMA/Precise Racing Products Econo Mods, and Bill Fuchs-Deforest Used Parts Mini Stocks captured wins and celebrated in the Hovis Auto & Truck Supply victory lane.
After taking probably the hardest crash of his career in a wild barrel-roll flip last Saturday night, Jim Weller, Jr. and crew went to work and put together a car that carried him to victory in the 20-lap DIRTcar Big-Block Modified feature. Weller withstood pressure for most of the race from point leader Rex King, Jr. and a late charge by Garrett Krummert to capture his second win of the season and joined his son, Jimmy III, as the division’s only repeat winners.
“Last week’s flip was hard and we junked that car,” acknowledged the Hubbard, Ohio veteran. “This is an old chassis that we had sitting around and put it together. We worked on this every night this week to get it finished up this morning. I’m starting to like this one a lot. I’ll be honest with you. I had the better starting position (outside) on the start. I stayed up top and saw ‘Cooter’ (King, Jr.) sneak down underneath so I moved down, but I wasn’t real sure what to do on the top or bottom.”
On the start, second starting Weller ran the rim as the outside carried his momentum into the lead over King, Jr. with Rick Richner and Krummert in pursuit. King, Jr. stayed right with Weller and drew even on lap seven. The two ran side-by-side for the lead on laps seven and eight with King, Jr. on the bottom and Weller around the top. Contact was made on lap eight in turn four that allowed Weller to open up some breathing room. By lap 13, Richner closed on King, Jr. Weller caught lapped traffic on lap 17 as King, Jr. and Richner closed in. The race for the lead was about to pick up when Rob Kristyak spun in turn one bringing out the event’s first and only caution.
Back under green, Weller regained control, while Krummert went from fourth to second and Richner was also able to get by King, Jr. Krummert closed in on Weller in the final laps, but would run out of time as Weller raced on to his 35th career Sharon Big-Block Modified win and 41st overall at the track in the Liberty Steel Products-sponsored, HRE-powered #31 Troyer car.
After missing last week due to blown motors, Krummert returned strong to finish second for his fourth top four finish in five starts this year. King, Jr. got back by Richner to take third. Richner was fourth over Jimmy Weller III, who received an extra $50 from an anonymous donor. Kevin Bolland, Rex King, Brad Rapp, Rich Regalski, Jr., and Chris Haines were sixth through 10th. Dave Murdick’s tough season continued in 15th and was awarded a pair of pit passes for next Saturday compliments of Hovis Auto & Truck Supply. Weller and King, Jr. won the heat races.
Paul Davis has raced for many years, but had never won a race as big as he did on Saturday night. The 55-year-old racer picked a great night to capture his first win since September 20, 2014 as he scored the upset victory doing it on small 8″ tires and wheels in the 20-lap Gibson Insurance Agency feature for the Penn-Ohio Pro Stock Mini Series. Davis’ $1,500 win came in the “Jim Hooks Memorial” as he became the season’s fifth different winner in as many races!
“I’m on a mission,” stated the Fowler, Ohio veteran. “I really didn’t think this old car could do it. This is the same car I’ve had. I’ve done some work on the motor and a lot of people have helped me get here today. I’m glad to be the first to win this on small tires. I have to credit Gary Robinson. At times he ran good and up front last year. I watched him and knew I could do it. I have to thank two of the best engine builders in Tub’s Automotive and Blackshear Racing.”
The race got off to a rocky start with three cautions in the first lap. Once racing got underway, Shaun Fawcett took command from pole-sitter Corey McPherson with fourth starting Davis moving to second. By lap four, Fawcett and Davis pulled away, while McPherson was trying to fend off Jackson Humanic and Chris Schneider for third. Schneider passed Humanic on lap five four for fourth and two laps later got past McPherson for third. Meanwhile, Davis drove under and past Fawcett in turn four for the lead on lap six. Davis pulled away as he ran the quickest lap of the race. Three more cautions halted action between laps 10-15.
When racing resumed, Davis quickly regained control. Fawcett slipped high on lap 18 allowing Schneider and McPherson to take over second and third. Schneider closed the gap in the final two laps, but would come up 0.941 of a second shy to Davis’ Hover Racing/Collins Heating & Cooling/Ocala Restaurant Supply/Don Williams Trucking-sponsored #3. The victory was Davis’ 18th of his career at Sharon in Stock Car competition and 21st overall at the track.
McPherson had a strong run in third for his best career finish at the track in just his second start of the season doing it with a GM 604 crate engine. Fawcett dropped to fourth. Rusty Moore, who won the $200 to-win dash, added another $50 from an anonymous donor for finishing fifth. Steve D’Apolito was sixth. Shaun Hooks raced from 21st to seventh and earned the $25 Summit Racing Equipment hard charger certificate. Andy Buckley, Humanic, and Brian Rhed completed the top 10. McPherson, Fawcett, Humanic, and Davis won the heat races over the 40-car field, while Hooks and Bobby Whitling copped the last chance B mains.
After finishing runner-up the last two weeks, Joe Gabrielson finally did one spot better to earn the 20-lap Summit Racing Equipment Modified feature win. And like Paul Davis, it was his first win in two seasons with his last coming on August 16, 2014. After Joel Watson started the season winning the first three features, Gabrielson became the third straight different winner.
“Hats off to Jimmy Mars- they build a hell of a race car,” expressed the 28-year-old Bristolville, Ohio driver. “We went out 12 hours from home in January and got this car. It’s been a little bit off and made some changes this week and it was perfect. I have to thank my dad upstairs. He got me started in this and it’s Father’s Day weekend. This is awesome! My mom keeps this thing going. My wife has really stepped up. I have to thank my family for continuing to come and support me. I’ve been doing this since I was a 16-year-old kid and couldn’t get out of my own way. It’s not always the most exciting thing, but I’m glad when we get a win like this- it’s nice for them.”
Gabrielson started on the pole and took the early lead over Carl McKinney, Jeff Johnson, and Russ Dunn. Gabrielson and McKinney distanced themselves from the field on lap three and then one lap later Gabrielson broke away from McKinney, while Dunn got by Johnson for third. Gabrielson opened up a straightaway lead on lap seven as the laps ticked off caution-free. Gabrielson caught lapped traffic and got too hard into turn one going a 360-spin. Gabrielson gathered it back up and kept going without stopping. The caution was displayed inadvertently and due to Gabrielson regaining control without stopping before McKinney had got by, was able to maintain the lead.
One more caution slowed action on lap 12 before the final eight laps ran off green-to-checkered with Gabrielson winning by 1.313 seconds in his Awesome Signs & Shirts/Hinchman Racewear/Wedge Motorsports-sponsored #58 for his eighth career win. Dunn and McKinney swapped second a pair of times before McKinney took the spot for good. Watson, who started 13th, picked his way to the front and took third on the final lap from Dunn and received a $25 Summit Racing Equipment gift card for being the hard charger. Dunn and Johnson dropped to fourth and fifth. Will Thomas III, Scott Stiffler, Mike Potosky, Shawn Shingledecker, and Jeremy Double were sixth through 10th. McKinney and Gabrielson won the heat races. After a season low nine cars the week before, the car count doubled to 18 on Saturday night.
Second year racer Kyle Martell has come close so many times to victory with three runner-up finishes and earlier this season hit a yuke tire late in a race while leading. On Saturday night, Martell ran 15 perfect laps leading from green-to-checkered for his first career win anywhere on the Sweeney Chevrolet Buick GMC RUSH Sportsman Modified Series circuit. Martell became the fifth different winner in six Lyden/Red Line Oil features this season.
“Finally…it’s been awhile,” expressed the jubilant Rootstown, Ohio racer. “The right rear tire was starting to give away at the end and was losing some grip. I’d like thank mom and dad for spending hours working on this car, my grandparents who helped pay for it, my sponsor Sarchoine Ford & Chevy, and everyone that has helped me. This is a really fun and competitive class. It’s always close and anyone can win every week.”
Martell took the lead from his pole position starting spot, while Brian Schaffer passed Jonathan Myers for second. Myers would slow on lap two to bring out the caution. New York racer Adam Hilton, who won Friday night at Thunder Mountain Speedway in RUSH competition, was making his season debut and flew from the 10th starting spot into third by lap three when racing resumed.
The top three of Martell, Schaffer, and Hilton broke away and battled for the lead. Schaffer was all over Martell on lap seven and got alongside the leader on lap nine, but was unable to make the pass; meanwhile, seventh starting Kole Holden caught up making it a four-car race for the lead. A pair of cautions by rookie Amelia Clay slowed action with nine laps completed.
Back under green, Martell chose the outside and made it work to maintain his lead, while it was three-wide for second as Holden got by Hilton for third. Martell was able to keep cool from the heavy pressure to garner the win in the Sarchoine Chevrolet/Ford-sponsored #8 by just 0.527 of a second. Schaffer’s runner-up was his best career Sharon finish. Holden was third. Point leader Brandon Ritchey and his cousin Nick Ritchey were able to pass Hilton late in the race to take fourth and fifth. Nick came from 10th and earned an extra $50 from an anonymous donor. Jerry Schaffer was the lucky recipient of the drawing for the pair of pit passes from Hovis Auto & Truck Supply. Nick Ritchey, Jerry Schaffer, and Holden were the heat race winners over the 21-car field, which was actually the lowest of the season despite two new racers making their debuts.
After coming up just shy in runner-up last week, Steve Haefke was able to win for the second time in three weeks in the Econo Mods. Haefke led all 15 laps and extended his HTMA/Precise Racing Products point lead. “It was fun and a good race,” said the 50-year-old Austintown, Ohio driver. “Ryan Fraley is a good racer. He’s going to run you hard, but will run you clean, and I expected that. I like racing with him anytime. I had to go to work today. My dad, George, and wife Shelly got the car all done from last night. We weren’t really planning on running two nights this year; it’s a lot of work, but it’s a blast. It’s tough to work seven days a week, but if you want to race you’ve got to work.”
Despite leading from green-to-checkered, it wasn’t an easy win as he had defending champion, Ryan Fraley, all over him for most of the race including four restarts that lined him up alongside. After the final caution with 11 laps scored, Haefke was able to pull away over the final four laps and won by a comfortable margin of 2.161 seconds over Fraley in his Tub’s Automotive/Wedge Motorsports/212 Chiropractic/Hoosier Tires-sponsored #41. The victory was Haefke’s fifth of his career in Econo Mod competition at Sharon and sixth overall at the track. Brad Blackshear beat out his brother Brandon for third as rookie Kyle Miller completed the top five. Haefke and Fraley won the heat races.
After being shutout of victory lane for the first five races, defending three-time champion and all-time leading Mini Stock winner, Bill Fuchs, was able to return to the Hovis Auto & Truck Supply winners circle for the first time since August 22, 2015. Fuchs became the season’s fifth different winner in six races and propelled him into the Deforest Used Parts point lead for the first time this season.
“A lot of this work this week and it paid off,” explained the 40-year-old Greenville, Pa. driver. “You can never give up and just got to keep at it. Everyone is getting faster so I give them credit. The only thing we’ve changed on this car this year is the throttle body. We put a new one on this year. It was sluggish. Tonight we went back to the old one and it was a rocket. Thanks to my pit guys who busted their butts all week.”
Fuchs started second and passed Logan Keney on the opening lap. A caution for Steve Walker II, who entered the night as the point leader, was the only stoppage of the 12-lap event. When racing resumed on lap three, Joe Campbell passed Keney for second. Campbell, the division’s only repeat winner, wasn’t able to stop Fuchs from his 28th career win in his RTW Industrial Contracting/Hittles Auto Supply/J&J Lanes/Crash Auto Wrecking/Roberts Automotive-sponsored #10. Keney dropped to third over Pat Drennan and Michael DelliQuadri. Fuchs also won the lone heat race.
Hovis Auto & Truck Supply DIRTcar Big-Block Modifieds (20 laps): 1. JIM WELLER, JR. (31) 2. Garrett Krummert (29) 3. Rex King, Jr. (165) 4. Rick Richner (26) 5. Jimmy Weller III (23) 6. Kevin Bolland (777) 7. Rex King (65) 8. Brad Rapp (11R) 9. Rick Regalski, Jr. (13) 10. Chris Haines (35H) 11. Skip Moore (17M) 12. Jim Rasey (21) 13. Tom Mattocks (69) 14. Michael Maresca, Jr. (7) 15. Dave Murdick (61) 16. Rob Kristyak (Glenn 83T) 17. Kevin Green (74).
Penn-Ohio Mini Series “Jim Hooks Memorial” for the Gibson Insurance Agency Stock Cars (20 laps, $1,500 to-win): 1. PAUL DAVIS (3) 2. Chris Schneider (55) 3. Corey McPherson (c33) 4. Shaun Fawcett (224) 5. Rusty Moore (17M) 6. Steve D’Apolito (84) 7. Shaun Hooks (Janovick 65) 8. Andy Buckley (965) 9. Jackson Humanic (Kellogg 17K) 10. Brian Rhed (69R) 11. Rob Shook (Keihl 64) 12. Brian Carothers (02c) 13. Bobby Whitling (7W) 14. Bob Schwartzmiller (28s) 15. Bob McCann (Fornataro USA1) 16. Dillon Kineston (19) 17. Mike Miller (T6) 18. Curt J. Bish (Tarr 29) 19. Brandon Groters (Myers 22) 20. Mike Clark (7) 21. Nate Smith (28N) 22. Jamie Scharba (11S) 23. Randy Wyant (11T) 24. Joey Zambotti III (948). DNQ: Jacob Billyk (4), Andy Thompson (5), Brent Coleman (01), Wayne Carbo (54), Jamie Maxwell (6), Terry Wheeler (2W), Jamie Duncan (67J), Jim Flaherty III (95), Troy DeZarn (21), Mike Kerr (25K), Dan Fedorchak (Bruno 67), Jamie Colwell (54J), Chris Haines (35H), Rod Laskey (1R), Gary Robinson (44R), Clyde Roberts (33c).
Summit Racing Equipment (E) Modifieds (20 laps): 1. JOE GABRIELSON (58) 2. Carl McKinney (Hendrickson 6M) 3. Joel Watson (92) 4. Russ Dunn (White 53) 5. Jeff Johnson (92) 6. Will Thomas III (9) 7. Scott Stiffler (14) 8. Mike Potosky (m20) 9. Shawn Shingledecker (54s) 10. Jeremy Double (83) 11. Casey Bowers (20) 12. Bruce Powell (35) 13. Josh Ferry (33) 14. Jacob Eucker (64) 15. Amanda Stiffler (14A) 16. Jeff Hassay (10) 17. Bob Williamson (93) 18. Adam Babcock (67)-DNS.
Lyden/Red Line Oil RUSH Sportsman Modifieds (15 laps): 1. KYLE MARTELL (8) 2. Brian Schaffer (41) 3. Kole Holden (2) 4. Brandon Ritchey (17) 5. Nick Ritchey (77N) 6. Adam Hilton (1R) 7. Chas Wolbert (c3) 8. Chelsie Kriegisch (10) 9. Jeremy Weaver (35W) 10. Jerry Schaffer (4) 11. Tiffany Williams (58) 12. Calvin Clay (21) 13. Mike Sparks (Smith 3G) 14. Preston Cope (24P) 15. Jessica Kriegisch (63) 16. Will Schaffer (4) 17. Jacob Jordan (28J) 18. Amelia Clay (12) 19. Steve Slater (35) 20. Rocky Kugel (6) 21. Jonathan Myers (11).
HTMA/Precise Racing Products Econo Mods (15 laps): 1. STEVE HAEFKE (41) 2. Ryan Fraley (12) 3. Brad Blackshear (19) 4. Brandon Blackshear (Burns 70B) 5. Kyle Miller (15) 6. Wayne Daniels (4) 7. Brian Toto (8B) 8. Buzz Seitz (1) 9. Bob Burk, Jr. (18) 10. Jeff Mundell (11) 11. Mike McConnell (54)-DNS 12. Chris Clay (99)-DNS.
Deforest Used Parts Mini Stocks (12 laps): 1. BILL FUCHS (10) 2. Joe Campbell (40c) 3. Logan Keney (Coleman 75) 4. Pat Drennan (24) 5. Michael DelliQuadri (77D) 6. Matt Rubright (X) 7. Joe Keney (15K) 8. Steve Walker II (4M) 9. Will Aley (Maxwell 6)-DNS.
Coming up this Tuesday (June 21) will be Ohio Sprint Speedweek featuring Tony Stewart’s Arctic Cat All Star Circuit of Champions for $5,000 to-win plus the Deforest Used Parts Mini Stocks racing for $300 to-win. Reserved and advanced tickets are on sale through SharonSpeedway.com. Pits open at 3 p.m., grandstands at 4, with warm-ups at 6 followed by time trials and racing.
Six-division “Steel Valley Thunder” racing returns this Saturday night, June 25 as the Lyden/Red Line Oil RUSH Sportsman Modifieds compete in a $600 to-win Bicknell Touring Series event for their “Manufacturers Night”. The Hovis Auto & Truck Supply DIRTcar Big-Block Modifieds, Summit Racing Equipment Modifieds, Gibson Insurance Agency Stock Cars, HTMA/Precise Racing Products Econo Mods, and Deforest Used Parts Mini Stocks will also be on the card. 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.