Former track regular Danny Holtgraver wins $10,000 in All Star Sprints; Jim Rasey ends 5-year winless drought in Big-Block Mods & becomes 1st repeat “Lou Blaney Memorial” winner after 8 years
By Mike Leone
July 9, 2016
(Hartford, OH)…Sharon Speedway hosted the eighth annual “Lou Blaney Memorial” presented by Ollie’s Bargain Outlet on Saturday night as Tony Stewart’s Arctic Cat All Star Circuit of Champions Sprint Cars made their second and final appearance of the season and were joined by The Mod Tour for the Hovis Auto & Truck Supply Big-Block Modifieds. A huge crowd turned out as activities took place throughout the day that benefitted the Alzheimer’s Association. After a beautiful afternoon, clouds rolled in during the evening as two unexpected rounds of showers slightly delayed the program, but not enough to stop the eighth straight event from being completed.
Three years ago Danny Holtgraver won a $10,000 “360” Sprint Car race in Florida at East Bay Raceway Park. On Saturday night, Holtgraver earned his second career $10,000 payday with an impressive run on a fast track holding off last year’s “Lou Blaney Memorial” winner, Sheldon Haudenschild, in the 30-lap All Star Sprint feature. Holtgraver, a former track regular, became the eighth different “Lou Blaney Memorial” winner in as many races!
“This is awesome,” expressed the 26-year-old Pittsburgh, Pa. racer after his fourth career Sharon win. “I grew up racing here. I didn’t get to watch Lou (Blaney), but I’ve raced with Dale and Dave for a long time so this means a lot for me to win this race and for them to be here. I can’t thank everyone enough on this 70-car- Pete Grove, Janet Holbrook, and Scott Bonnell along with my dad, and all my sponsors. Cody Jacobs is working on this thing and is giving me a hell of a race car right now and I’m having a blast. I’m speechless. On a race track like this you kind of want a yellow at the end. You know you can take off with a good restart and it’s going to be tough for someone to get around you unless you really screw up, which I did try and do, but was able to hold on. The caution didn’t bother me tonight, but any other time I would have been shaking.”
Holtgraver used the outside to fly into the lead past pole-sitter Josh Baughman. Baughman was coming off his first career “410” Sprint win on Friday night at Lernerville Speedway and was strong all night winning his heat and the dash to earn the feature pole. Baughman though received front wing damage on the opening lap then spun following a restart for a caution by Jack Sodeman, Jr. with one lap completed.
Fourth starting Caleb Griffith advanced to second for the restart, but he’d only be able to hold the spot until lap four when fifth starting Dean Jacobs made the move. Holtgraver had a half-straightaway lead by the time Jacobs made his way to second. Dale Blaney dropped Griffith back to third then Haudenschild, who started back in seventh, began making his way forward taking fourth from Griffith on lap five. Griffith though didn’t go away as he got back by Haudenschild on lap nine then brought Haudenschild with him as they both passed Blaney for third and fourth respectively on lap 11.
Joe Kubiniec slowed to bring out the caution with 18 laps completed. Runner-up Jacobs had nose wing damage, which would hamper his chance for the win the rest of the way. Back under green, Haudenschild once again passed Griffith, this time for third. Eighth starting Chad Kemenah was able to get by Blaney then passed Griffith for fourth on lap 20.
Lapped traffic came into play on lap 21, but Griffith’s tough luck at Sharon continued when he slowed to bring out the event’s final caution with 24 laps completed. When racing resumed, Haudenschild passed Jacobs for second. He went after Holtgraver, but would run of time in his bid to repeat his $10,000 win in the event. Holtrgaver’s second All Star win of the year and 11th of his career came in the Pete Grove-owned, Premier Motorsports/Premier Pallet/Bonnell’s Rod Shop/DKW Transport/Lutz Custom Cabinets/Olympic Forestry -sponsored #70.
After three straight All Star wins, Haudenschild settled for a runner-up as he continues to close in on point leader Chad Kemenah and second place man Blaney. “Good night overall,” said the Wooster, Ohio second generation racer. “I just didn’t feel like I got up there quick enough to be able to challenge Holtgraver. He had clean air and was able to run with it. Congrats to him and Cody (Jacobs). They work hard so I’m glad to see that. It means a ton with everyone that helps out to get us out here each week and it wouldn’t be possible without them.”
Despite the collapsed nose wing, Jacobs held on for a third place improving on his fifth place finish at the Ohio Speedweek event last month. Kemenah and Blaney were fourth and fifth. Kraig Kinser, Tim Shaffer, Caleb Helms, Dave Blaney, and 23rd starting Cap Henry completed the top 10. Dale Blaney set fast time in qualifying over the 39-car field with a lap of 12.990 not far off the 12.704 track record. Besides Baughman, also picking up heat wins were Griffith, Haudenschild, and Bryan Sebetto. Lee Jacobs won the B main.
One thousand eight hundred seventy-six days. That’s how many days had passed since Jim Rasey’s last victory. But on Saturday night with a new car and pieced together motor, Rasey looked like the Rasey of old driving past some of the region’s best Big-Block Modified racers to capture an improbable $2,000 victory in the 30-lap Mod Tour feature for the Hovis Auto & Truck Supply big blocks. Rasey’s last win was on May 21, 2011; however, became the first repeat winner of the “Lou Blaney Memorial” for the either the Sprints or Modifieds backing up his 2010 event win.
“I’ll tell you what- dad, myself, and the crew worked non-stop all night long for the last three or four nights to get this thing together at 4:30 today,” revealed the 44-year-old Southington, Ohio driver. “We barely made it. I have to thank everyone that has been standing behind me in this. That was a race track tonight! That was the old school, Lou Blaney track. I love it- it was great! I call this a three in one- three motors in one. Then we call it C4 because we don’t know when it’s going to blow up. I have to thank Alcon Mechanical, JD Pit Stop and Hovis Tire, who came on board this week to get us a set of tires that we were desperately in need of. There’s a lot of people over the last five years that really busted their butts thinking it was over, but I guess I proved them wrong.”
A side-by-side battle on the opening lap saw three-time time 2016 winner, Jimmy Weller III, lead the opening lap, but pole-sitter, Jeremiah Shingledecker, took charge of the race on lap two over Weller and Eric Gabany. It was four-wide for fourth on lap two with sixth starting Rex King, Jr. moving into the position over Erick Rudolph and Rasey.
Shingledecker pulled away from the field by lap five, while the battle was on for second as Weller III tried to hold off Gabany and King, Jr. Shingledecker opened up his lead to a straightaway on lap nine and then caught lapped traffic on lap 11 as the laps ticked off caution-free. King, Jr. and Rudolph passed Gabany for third and fourth on laps 11 and 12 respectively. King, Jr. was all over Weller III on lap 12, 13, and 14 before nosing ahead for the runner-up spot on the 14th circuit.
Shingledecker’s straightaway lead was erased when Shayne Pierce slowed to bring out the caution with 16 laps scored. After quietly running outside the top five for the first 16 laps, the caution was just what Rasey needed. Back under green, he passed both Rudolph and Gabany for fourth then one lap later took third from Weller III. Rasey charged after King, Jr. and drove under him for second on lap 22 before a caution for Jim Weller, Jr., who didn’t make it off the track.
When racing resumed on lap 23, Rasey took charge as King, Jr. followed past Shingledecker for second. The event was slowed for the final time with 25 laps completed when Rick Richner hit the frontstretch wall head on and Garrett Krummert clipped Richner’s rear leaving a debris field all over the frontstretch.
After the lengthy cleanup, the final 10 laps went green-to-checkered. Rasey increased his lead every lap and took the checkered flag first by a comfortable 2.594 second margin in his Alcon Mechanical/Hovis Tire/JD Pit Stop-sponsored #32. Rasey’s 19th career Sharon win tied him for seventh on the all-time win list, ironically with King, Jr., the track’s point leader who crossed the line in second.
After leading 21 laps, Shingledecker dropped to third over Rudolph, who is The Mod Tour point leader and April 16 “Russ King Memorial” winner. Gabany had a solid fifth despite being underpowered with his “358” small-block. Michael Maresca, Weller III, Rex King, Dave Murdick, and Brad Rapp were sixth through 10th. Murdick, Rudolph, King, Jr., and Brian Swartzlander copped the heat races over the 33-car field. Tom Mattocks won the B main.
All Star Circuit of Champions Sprint Cars (30 laps, $10,000 to-win): 1. DANNY HOLTGRAVER (Grove 70) 2. Sheldon Haudenschild (93) 3. Dean Jacobs (Seeling 97) 4. Chad Kemenah (Hunter 10H) 5. Dale Blaney (CH Motorsports 1) 6. Kraig Kinser (11K) 7. Tim Shaffer (Rudzik/Demyan 49) 8. Caleb Helms (40) 9. Dave Blaney (Motter 71M) 10. Cap Henry (Coomer 21) 11. Andrew Palker (57x) 12. Bryan Sebetto (Chappel 8) 13. Carl Bowser (10) 14. Jack Sodeman, Jr. (23Jr) 15. T.J. Michael (8M) 16. Brad Howard (49H) 17. Lee Jacobs (Lewis 81) 18. Caleb Griffith (Marshall 33M) 19. Mike Bauer (46) 20. Travis Philo (5T) 21. Joe Kubiniec (19) 22. Chris Andrews (Armbruster 73) 23. Jimmy Morris III (4N) 24. Josh Baughman (17) 25. Dan Kuriger (08) 26. Kory Crabtree (60).
DNQ for the feature: Brandon Spithaler (22), A.J. Flick (2), Adam Kekich (5K), Brandon Matus (13), Lance Moss (McCall 23), Gary Edwards (57), Alex Paden (24), Eric L. Williams (4W), Paul Kish (4c), Mike Flynn (12X), Brent Matus (33), Darren Pifer (23), Gale Ruth, Jr. (1R).
Mod Tour for the Hovis Auto & Truck Supply Big-Block Modifieds (35 laps, $2,500 to-win): 1. JIM RASEY (32) 2. Rex King, Jr. (165) 3. Jeremiah Shingledecker (37MD) 4. Erick Rudolph (25R) 5. Eric Gabany (3E) 6. Michael Maresca (7) 7. Jimmy Weller III (23) 8. Rex King (65) 9. Dave Murdick (61) 10. Brad Rapp (11R) 11. J.R. McGinley (66M) 12. Shannon Whaley (44) 13. Rob Kristyak (00) 14. Bob Warren (96B) 15. Mark Frankhouser (03) 16. Garrett Krummert (29) 17. Rick Richner (26) 18. Shawn Fleeger (88) 19. Jim Weller, Jr. (31) 20. Tom Mattocks (69) 21. Kevin Bolland (777) 22. Brian Swartzlander (83) 23. Shayne Pierce (88) 24. Mark Flick (Regalski 7z) 25. Skip Moore (17M) 26. Rick Regalski, Jr. (13).
DNQ for the feature: Justin Rasey (21), Dave Reges (27R), Scott Kerwin (7), Rodney Beltz (64), Tom Glenn (83T), Chris Haines (35H), Dave Blaney (18B).
There will be no racing on July 16. The next event will Thursday, July 21 for the Super DIRTcar Series for the Big-Block Modifieds paying $6,000 to-win plus the Renegades of Dirt (E) Modifieds. There will be a FREE concert featuring the Southern Rock Superstars on Friday, July 22 for “Summer Jam & BBQ Series” III. Six-division “Steel Valley Thunder” racing returns on Saturday night, July 23 with 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 plus kids power wheels races on Twin-State Auto Racing Club Night.
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.