Weller III doubles career Sharon win total with 3rd Big-Block Mod win; Career 1st for Wolbert in RUSH Mod Tour; Watson & Haefke keep on winning in E-Mods & Econos; Davis & Walker repeat in Stocks & Minis
By Mike Leone
June 25, 2016
(Hartford, OH)…After a rocky start with weather, Sharon Speedway has been blessed with sunshine and no chance of rain for the past three events and Saturday night made for the sixth straight event completed without a rain out. Celebrating in the Hovis Auto & Truck Supply victory lane with wins were Jimmy Weller III-Hovis Auto & Truck Supply DIRTcar Big-Block Modifieds, Chas Wolbert-Lyden/Red Line Oil RUSH Sportsman Modified Bicknell Tour, Joel Watson-Summit Racing Equipment Modifieds, Paul Davis-Gibson Insurance Agency Stock Cars, Steve Haefke-HTMA/Precise Racing Products Econo Mods, and Steve Walker II-Deforest Used Parts Mini Stocks.
It’s been quite a year for the Wellers at Sharon Speedway. Last Saturday night, Jim Weller, Jr. won his season’s second DIRTcar Big-Block Modified feature and on Saturday night, Jimmy Weller III captured his third win on the past five Hovis Auto & Truck Supply events! The younger Weller held off a furious charge by Rex King to win the 20-lap feature event as he’s now doubled his career win total this season. The Wellers have now won three straight features and five of the seven run this year!
“Dad is running well and I’m having fun,” expressed the 30-year-old Hubbard, Ohio driver. “It’s tough when you see Cooter (King, Jr.) and Rex (King) back there and you know they’re hungry. I kind of moved down when I saw Rex, but I moved back up to the top so I’d get a better run. We’ve always struggled turning the corners here, but we’re starting to get better. I have to thank my dad. He’s been busting his butt, and Chris Shockey has been doing a lot along with my brother. I have to thank God as well.”
Weller III took charge from the pole position, while Rex King passed Shawn Kozar for second. King, Jr. started back in eighth and made his way to fifth after one lap. Kevin Bolland was battling with Shawn Kozar for third when contact was made as Bolland brought out the caution with three laps scored. Bolland’s night ended as he awarded a pair of pit passes for next Saturday compliments of Hovis. Back under green, King, Jr. shot past Kozar for third. The two Kings would go at it swapping second back and forth until a lap seven restart when the elder King took over for good.
A caution for Rob Kristyak and Dave Murdick halted action for the final time with 13 laps scored. Back under green, King and Weller III raced side-by-side for the lead on laps 15 and 16 with King on the bottom and Weller up top. Weller III had the preferred line as he raced on to his sixth overall win at the track in his Hughes Construction/Integrated Metal Products/Speed Energy Drink/Genmak-Steel/Geneva Liberty/Liberty Steel Industries-sponsored #23.
Weller, Jr. raced from ninth to get past King, Jr. for third on lap 17. After battling for the lead early on, King, Jr. fell back to fourth at the finish, but still maintains the point lead. Twelfth starting Brad Rapp made his way to fifth at the finish and earned an extra $50 from an anonymous donor plus a tire from Hoosier Tire Mid-Atlantic. Rick Regalski, Jr., Rick Richner, Dave Murdick, Jim Rasey, and Rob Kristyak completed the top 10. Heat winners were Chris Haines and Bolland.
Chas Wolbert made the move up this season to “big cars” after a successful career running Mod Lites throughout the region. Wolbert has been fast all year recording top eight finishes in all six Bicknell Weekly Series events to date at Sharon, and was fresh off a third place finish last Sunday at Tri-City Raceway Park in the Bicknell Tour opener. On Saturday night, Wolbert charged from the 10th starting spot to run down race-long leader Brian Schaffer then got past the slowing leader on the final lap for the $600 win in the 20-lap Lyden/Red Line Oil-sponsored event.
“I think Brian (Schaffer) thought that white flag was the checkered,” explained the 21-year-old Warren, Ohio driver. “He was fast all night. Everyone is real fast. I didn’t think coming from the 10th position we’d get here. It’s an honor to be here. This is awesome- I can’t even believe this and it’ll probably hit me tomorrow morning. Vicki (Emig from RUSH) and Sharon run a great program. I’d like thank God first off for allowing us to be here financially and giving me the physical strength to do this…it’s a hot day. I want to thank Russ King and all of my sponsors, my lovely wife, my dad for helping me to get the car together , and everyone that came out here tonight.”
From the pole position, Schaffer raced into the lead, while Tiffany Williams passed fellow female racer Chelsie Kriegisch for second. Fifth starting Justin Shea drove by Kriegisch going down the backstretch for third on lap two. Schaffer stretched his lead out on lap four, while Shea closed in on Williams in the race for second on lap five. A spin by Jessica Kriegisch slowed action for the first time with six laps scored.
When racing resumed, Shea continued his march forward taking second from Williams before a caution for Steve Slater. Positions really swapped over the ensuing laps as when green flag racing resumed, Kriegisch had an excellent restart going from fourth to second, but her night came to a heartbreaking end when rear-end problems caused her to spin in front of the field in turn two. Thankfully everyone missed her, but her night ended prematurely.
Wolbert had been moving his way forward and the three cautions were a big help before the final 11 laps went green-to-checkered. Back under green at the halfway point, Wolbert got past Jerry Schaffer for second and brought Kyle Martell and Brandon Ritchey with him. Brian Schaffer and Wolbert began to distance themselves from the field as the laps wore on. Schaffer caught Craig Wimer and slipped high trying to lap him, which allowed Wolbert to close in on lap 18. Schaffer, who won his first career feature in a Bicknell Weekly Series event on May 13 at Lernerville Speedway, was able to protect the bottom and looked like he was headed to victory, but slowed on the final lap.
Wolbert seized the opportunity as he darted by and drove away on the final lap to win by a misleading 2.369 second advantage in the C.T. Wolbert Trucking/Roberts Unlimited/Russ King Racing/Ohio Intra Express/Crooked Pine Woodworking/Ohio Intra Logistics/955 Automotive/Thompson Campers-sponsored #C3. Wolbert became the sixth different winner in seven races this season at Sharon!
Schaffer, who regained power, was able to hold off 14th starting Martell for second. Ritchey, the Sharon point leader, was fourth after starting eighth beating out his cousin Nick Ritchey, who started one spot behind him and earned an extra $50 from an anonymous donor. Shea dropped to sixth over Jeremy Weaver, Michael Kristyak, Josh Deems, and Jeremy Zufall.
Slater, Shea, and Nick Ritchey won the heat races over the record 26-car field. Wolbert raced from fourth to win the K&N “Cold Air Induction” Dash. Two of the female racers won the night’s two biggest prizes part of the “Manufacturers Night” presented by MSD Performance drawings. Amelia Clay won two TBM Brakes F1 Tornado Calipers and two F3 Tornado Calipers along with three bottles of TBM Brake Fluid worth over $1,400, while Jessica Shea won the custom drivers suit from Velocita-USA valued at $1,000!
After Joel Watson won the first three Modified races to start the season, Will Thomas, Scott Stiffler, and Joe Gabrielson were able to capture wins, but on Saturday night Watson returned to victory lane for his track leading fourth win of the season in the Summit Racing Equipment-sponsored division.
“The top looked like it was the right place to be,” stated the 37-year-old Conneaut, Ohio driver. “I ventured below about the middle of the race, but I couldn’t tell much difference . The last restart I thought I was going to lose the lead. With double file restarts, every restart it’s like you have to get the lead again. I think this makes 10 wins overall, and I’d really like to win that #1 Cochran Cavalcade Championship. My crew puts so much time into this. It’s amazing they do that for someone else’s program and I love them for it.”
Watson started second and powered around the cushion into the lead. Two cautions were all that slowed Watson, who dominated the 15-lap feature in his Northwest Restoration/Zimmer’s Service Center/Close Racing Supply/Absolute Powder Coating/Rod’s Rigging/955 Automotive/Custom Automation & Machine/Lake Shore Auto Parts/H&K Donuts-sponsored #92 for his 25th career win. Gabrielson, the point leader, came from sixth to second. Pole-sitter Brandon Blackshear dropped to third in his first “open” Mod start of the season. Shawn Shingledecker and Jeff Johnson were fourth and fifth. Scott Stiffler was sixth after starting 11th and received a $25 Summit Racing Equipment gift card for being the hard charger. Johnson and Gabrielson were the heat winners.
Last Saturday night, Paul Davis picked a great night to win his season’s first with his biggest career win in the $1,500 to-win Penn-Ohio Stock “Jim Hooks Memorial” event. On Saturday night, Davis picked up where he left off winning his second straight in the Gibson Insurance Agency feature despite starting from the ninth spot to maintain his point lead in his bid for his first championship.
“Everyone just kept spinning out and I had to wait it out,” explained the 56-year-old Fowler, Ohio racer. “I knew I could get to the front, but didn’t think I’d have to dodge everyone getting there. I survived and I’m going to drive it out of here.”
Four cautions slowed action in the first five laps including two six-car accidents; however, the final 10 laps went green to checkered. Davis was up to second when racing resumed for the final time and on lap seven made the winning move slipping under and past Bob McCann in turn four. Davis then pulled away and went unchallenged to win his 19th of his career in the Stocks at Sharon and 22nd overall at the track in his Hover Racing/Collins Heating & Cooling/Ocala Restaurant Supply/Don Williams Trucking-sponsored #3.
Mike Miller, who battled for the title for much of last season, was second and trails Davis in the points. McCann dropped back to third over 10th starting Andy Thompson and Jacob Billyk, who received a $50 bonus from an anonymous donor. Billyk actually led the first five laps in search of his first career win, but spun and would came back through for a top five. Mike Kerr started 18th and finished eighth as the hard charger and received a $25 Summit Racing Equipment certificate. Miller and Andy Buckley won the heat races over the 21-car field.
For the third time in four weeks, Steve Haefke stood in victory lane following the 15-lap HTMA/Precise Racing Products Econo Mods. Haefke extended his streak to an amazing 12 straight top two finishes dating back to last season! “This sport will humble you real quick,” expressed the 50-year-old Austintown, Ohio driver. “We’re riding this right now and the car is running good. I have to thank my dad and Kenny Bennett. We ran last night (Raceway 7) and a couple guys drove over us so they got the car back together because I had to work today. I came home and they had everything done. I’m not changing anything, everything is staying the same.”
Brandon Blackshear took charge of the event taking the lead from Tyler Frankenberry on the start, while Haefke was halfway to the front after one lap from his sixth starting spot. Haefke then passed Brad Blackshear for second on lap five and made the winning move from Brad’s older brother Brandon on lap six. Haefke opened up a comfortable lead before two cautions slowed action in the closing laps. Haefke though was able to hold off the Blackshear brothers in his Tub’s Automotive/Wedge Motorsports/212 Chiropractic/Hoosier Tires-sponsored #41. The victory was Haefke’s sixth of his career in Econo Mod competition at Sharon and seventh overall at the track. Frankenberry was fourth over rookie Kyle Miller. The Blackshears won the heat races.
On May 7, Steve Walker II won the Mini Stock feature for the first time since his championship season back in 2010. It didn’t take Walker as long to win again as on Saturday night he dominated the 12-lap Deforest Used Parts feature and took back the point lead from three-time champion Bill Fuchs.
“This is a whole new car,” revealed the 36-year-old Greenville, Pa. winner. “A couple weeks ago the wires fell off the white car and got wrapped around the axle. It’s a mess. I bought this car over the winter and the guy said you’ll win in it. I said we’ll see and lo and behold here we are. I brought it out Tuesday night and it ran decent, but it’s a little different.”
Walker started alongside two-time winner, Joe Campbell, on the front row and raced to the lead. Walker stretched his lead to a full straightaway over Campbell as the race went non-stop. The victory was Walker’s third of his career in his Hittles Auto Supply-sponsored #4M. Fuchs was third over Todd Hanlon and Logan Keney. Campbell won the lone heat race after Jason Easler was disqualified.
Hovis Auto & Truck Supply DIRTcar Big-Block Modifieds (20 laps): 1. JIMMY WELLER III (23) 2. Rex King (65) 3. Jim Weller, Jr. (31) 4. Rex King, Jr. (165) 5. Brad Rapp (11R) 6. Rick Regalski, Jr. (13) 7. Rick Richner (26) 8. Dave Murdick (61) 9. Jim Rasey (21) 10. Rob Kristyak (7K) 11. Mark Frankhouser (03) 12. Shawn Kozar (3K) 13. Chris Haines (35H) 14. Kevin Bolland 15. Garrett Krummert (29)-DNS.
Lyden/ Red Line Oil RUSH Sportsman Modified Bicknell Touring Series (20 laps, $600 to-win): 1. CHAS WOLBERT (C3) 2. Brian Schaffer (41) 3. Kyle Martell (8) 4. Brandon Ritchey (17) 5. Nick Ritchey (77N) 6. Justin Shea (14s) 7. Jeremy Weaver (35W) 8. Michael Kristyak (404) 9. Josh Deems (9D) 10. Jeremy Zufall (20) 11. Kole Holden (2) 12. Tiffany Williams (58) 13. Jessica Shea (24s) 14. Calvin Clay (21) 15. Josh Seippel (84) 16. Steve Slater (35) 17. Jonathan Myers (11) 18. Preston Cope (24P) 19. Jessica Kriegisch (63) 20. Amelia Clay (12) 21. Jordan Ehrenberg (JD57) 22. Craig Wimer (Schaffer 4) 23. Jerry Schaffer (14) 24. Chelsie Kriegisch (10) 25. Mike Sparks (Smith 3G) 26. Jacob Jordan (28J)-DSQ.
Summit Racing Equipment (E) Modifieds (15 laps): 1. JOEL WATSON (92) 2. Joe Gabrielson (58) 3. Brandon Blackshear (10) 4. Shawn Shingledecker (54s) 5. Jeff Johnson (27) 6. Scott Stiffler (14) 7. Russ Dunn (White 53) 8. Carl McKinney (Hendrickson 6M) 9. Casey Bowers (20) 10. Paul Phillips (44) 11. Josh Ferry (33) 12. Amanda Stiffler (14A).
Gibson Insurance Agency Stock Cars (15 laps): 1. PAUL DAVIS (3) 2. Mike Miller (T6) 3. Bob McCann (Fornataro USA1) 4. Andy Thompson (5) 5. Jacob Billyk (4) 6. Bryan Wagner (56) 7. Steve D’Apolito (84) 8. Mike Kerr (25K) 9. Michael Hudzik (31H) 10. Jamie Maxwell (6) 11. Jamie Duncan (67J) 12. Andy Buckley (965) 13. Mike Clark (7) 14. Dillon Kineston (19) 15. Jim Flaherty III (95) 16. Brent Coleman (01) 17. Troy DeZarn (21) 18. Jamie Scharba (11S) 19. Brian Carothers (02c) 20. Gary Robinson (44R) 21. Chris Haines (35H)-DNS.
HTMA/Precise Racing Products Econo Mods (15 laps): 1. STEVE HAEFKE (41) 2. Brandon Blackshear (Burns 70B) 3. Brad Blackshear 4. Tyler Frankenberry (38) 5. Kyle Miller (15) 6. Jeff Mundell (11) 7. Wayne Daniels (4) 8. Brian Toto (8B) 9. Chris Clay (99) 10. Haley Lapcevich (77) 11. Buzz Seitz (1) 12. Dan McEwen, Jr. (28*).
Deforest Used Parts Mini Stocks (12 laps): 1. STEVE WALKER II (4M) 2. Joe Campbell (40C) 3. Bill Fuchs (10) 4. Todd Hanlon (7H) 5. Logan Keney (Coleman 75) 6. Will Aley (Maxwell 6) 7. Pat Drennan (24) 8. Jason Easler (02)-DNS 9. Anthony Jasinski (300)-DNS 10. Matt Rubright (X)-DNS
Six-division “Steel Valley Thunder” racing returns this Saturday night, July 2 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, HTMA/Precise Racing Products Econo Mods, and Deforest Used Parts Mini Stocks will also be on the card for “Armed Forces Night”. Pits open at 4 p.m., grandstands at 5, and racing at 7.
Coming up on Saturday, July 9 will be the “Lou Blaney Memorial” featuring Tony Stewart’s Arctic Cat All Star Circuit of Champions Sprint Cars for $10,000 to-win plus The Mod Tour for the Hovis Auto & Truck Supply Big-Block Modifieds. Reserved and advance tickets are on sale through SharonSpeedway.com.
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.