Murdick ends 3-yr winless drought in Big-Block Mods at Sharon; Davis’ 3rd Stock win is worth $1000; 2nd for Stiffler in Mods; Schaffer becomes 8th different RUSH Mod winner in 9 races; 4th wins for Haefke & Campbell in Econos & Minis
By Mike Leone
July 23, 2016
(Hartford, OH)…After a rainy and wet spring, Sharon Speedway has been blessed with dry weather since the end of May, and on a hot and sultry Saturday night, Sharon was able to complete the 10th straight racing program during the 87th anniversary season. The following drivers celebrated in the Hovis Auto & Truck Supply victory lane on Twin-State Auto Racing Club Night: Dave Murdick-Hovis Auto & Truck Supply DIRTcar Big-Block Modifieds, Paul Davis-Penn-Ohio Championship Mini Series for the Gibson Insurance Agency Stock Cars, Scott Stiffler-Summit Racing Equipment Modifieds, Brian Schaffer-Lyden/Red Line Oil RUSH Sportsman Modifieds, Steve Haefke-HTMA/Precise Racing Products Econo Mods, and Joe Campbell-Deforest Used Parts Mini Stocks.
Two weeks ago veteran Jim Rasey ended a five-year victory drought in the DIRTcar Big-Block Modifieds. On Saturday night, another Big-Block Modified veteran ended a winless drought of his own as Dave Murdick made a clean sweep of the night leading every lap of the heat race and 20-lap Hovis Auto & Truck Supply feature for his first win since August 20, 2013! Murdick may have found some speed at the nearby Expo Speedway where he finished a season best second in The Mod Tour event just over a week ago.
“It’s been a struggle for us this year,” stated the 53-year-old Butler, Pa. resident. “The last month or so we’ve felt we’ve had a car capable of winning, but haven’t had the breaks go our way. Tonight I didn’t know if that inside starting position was the place to be, but it worked. I like it a little rough as I feel like we’ve got a good shock package for it; although, I feel we’re a long way off on our shock package from where we were a few years ago. I didn’t think we had a good enough car to run against the Super DIRT guys so we took Thursday off and I guess it paid off.”
A zero invert put Murdick on the pole and he opened up a comfortable lead in the first half of the race until a caution for newcomer Eric Beggs, who slowed with 11 laps completed. Beggs, whose night ended, was chosen as the hard luck recipient and received a pair of pit passes for next Saturday night compliments of Hovis. Back under green, Murdick resumed his lead over Garrett Krummert, while Jimmy Weller III got by Rick Richner for third. Seventh starting Rex King was on the move as he dropped Richner back another spot on lap 13 then passed Weller for third on lap 15.
Up front though, no one had anything for Murdick as he took the checkered flag first by 1.424 seconds over Krummert. Murdick’s ninth career Sharon win came in his Steve’s Auto Body/Murdick’s Auto Parts-sponsored #61. King, who still remains winless this season, was able to record his fifth top three finish in third. Weller III was fourth driving his father Jim’s #31. After challenging for second for the first half of the race, Richner faded to fifth at the finish. Completing the top 10 were Rex King, Jr., Jim Rasey, Rick Regalski, Jr., Bob Warren, and Beggs.
In the race of the night, point leader Paul Davis and Andy Buckley put on a classic battle fans won’t soon forget during the 20-lap, $1000 to-win Penn-Ohio Championship Mini Series feature for the Gibson Insurance Agency Stock Cars. Buckley charged from the 17th starting spot to come up just 0.091 of a second shy of overtaking Davis for the win. It was Davis’ third win in the last four events, which have totaled $3,000!
“I got out to that big lead and my car started to get hot and overheating and I wondered if I was going to finish,” revealed the 56-year-old Fowler, Ohio driver. “I put soft enough tires on that would last and they lasted just long enough. I screwed up the one time and Andy got underneath me with two laps to go. The car was really getting tight as the right rear was going away. I couldn’t have held him off much longer. I’d like to thank all of my sponsors, and can’t thank my crew enough tonight. In the heat race we packed the radiator full of mud and it’s still probably full of it.”
Pole-sitter Bryan Wagner took command early. Newcomer Chris McGuire passed Gary Robinson for second on lap three, but two laps later Davis overtook McGuire for runner-up following a restart on lap five. Another caution slowed action with six laps scored, which put Davis alongside Wagner for the double file restart. Wagner and Davis went at it side-by-side for the lead for the next three laps with Davis taking charge on lap nine with an inside move in turn one.
Wagner then slipped high on lap 10 as Buckley, Rod Laskey, and Mike Clark moved into second through fourth. On lap 14, Buckley began to close the gap on leader Davis before a five-car pileup ensued in turn two. Back under green for the final seven laps, Davis resumed his lead, but it was never a comfortable one as Buckley pulled even on lap 17. The two then raced side-by-side for the final four laps with Davis winning his milestone 20th career Stock Car victory and 23rd overall at Sharon in his Hover Racing/Collins Heating & Cooling/Ocala Restaurant Supply/Don Williams Trucking-sponsored #3.
Buckley received a $25 gift certificate from Summit Racing Equipment for being the hard charger after gaining 15 positions. Mike Clark made his way from eighth to third at the finish. Randy Wyant had a strong run in fourth after starting 13th. Rod Laskey, Mike Miller, McGuire, Jamie Scharba, Brett McDonald, and Jacob Billyk completed the top 10. Heat races for the 25-car field were won by Clark, Miller, and Scharba.
Despite only 12 cars, the Modifieds put on a great 15-lap Summit Racing Equipment feature with Scott Stiffler coming out on top for his second win of the season over a hard fought battle with Brandon Blackshear, who was utilizing a Pace Performance CT525 sealed crate engine, and five-time winner Joel Watson. After going nearly three years without a win, Stiffler has now won two of the last six races.
“There was a little bit (moisture) on the bottom so I had to go elsewhere to get him because you can’t go through him,” explained the 46-year-old Farmdale, Ohio racer. “I saw Joel at first and thought ‘now it’s a three-car race here’ then I had a pretty good run on him and he faded. That’s when I figured the outside would be better. Joel is pretty tough as you all know. He couldn’t make it go on the bottom so I figured I better stay up there.”
It was Blackshear’s crate engine using the outside to take the lead from pole-sitter and defending champion Will Thomas III. Stiffler meanwhile started in fifth and was up to fourth after the opening lap. Stiffler then drove under and by Gabrielson in turns one and two for third on lap four. Due to winning the last two weekly events, Watson had to start back in 12th, but he was quickly moving forward as he got by both Jacob Eucker and Gabrielson for fourth following a restart on lap six.
A caution for Thomas’ spin with six laps scored moved Stiffler alongside Blackshear for the double file restart with Watson now lurking in third. Back under green, the top three pulled away. On lap eight, Watson got under Stiffler racing off turn four to take second on lap eight. Most probably thought at this point Watson was headed for his sixth win, but Stiffler moved to the top and surprised Watson driving by him for second one lap later.
Stiffler then used the top to drive around Blackshear with the winning move on lap 10. The remaining five laps saw the top three battle to the finish, but Stiffler had enough to hold on by 1.099 for his 19th career win in his Integra Fabricating/Sam’s Construction/Forty Nine Designs/Afco Shocks/HRE/Three Wide Media-sponsored #14. Blackshear’s runner-up was a season best in the division. Watson’s third closed the gap in the point race to 10 behind Gabrielson, who dropped to seventh at the finish. Watson also received a $25 gift certificate from Summit Racing Equipment for being the hard charger. Carl McKinney and Jacob Eucker were fourth and fifth. Heats were won by Brandon Blackshear and Thomas.
The new winners just keep churning out in the RUSH Sportsman Modifieds. After losing a heartbreaker on the final lap on June 25 to Chas Wolbert, Brian Schaffer didn’t let that happen again as he dominated all 15 laps of the Lyden/Red Line Oil feature to become the eighth different winner in nine races this season! The non-stop time was 4:39.271. “I was schooled on the flags before the race by my wife,” joked the 29-year-old Boyers, Pa. driver, who thought the white flag was the checkered on June 25. “This class is a lot of fun and competitive- I hope it’s fun to watch. I have to thank my wife Ashley, my mom and dad- without them I couldn’t do this.”
Schaffer used the outside to power past pole-sitter Josh Deems for the lead, while Kyle Martell got by Jordan Ehrenberg for third on the opening lap. Wolbert started in seventh and made his way to fourth on lap three dropping Ehrenberg back another spot. Eighth starting Brandon Ritchey followed Wolbert forward as he moved to fifth on lap six by Ehrenberg.
Back up front, Schaffer had stretched his lead to a straightaway over Deems when he caught lapped traffic on lap 12; meanwhile, Martell was trying to fend off Wolbert as Ritchey closed in making it a three-car race for third. Traffic did little to slow Schaffer, who won by a comfortable 2.960 seconds in his Bowers Garage/Kennedy 213-sponsored #41. The victory was Schaffer’s second on the RUSH Sportsman Modified circuit as he won at Lernerville Speedway earlier this season, and continues to lead the $3,000 to-win Bicknell Weekly Series standings.
Deems’ runner-up was his best career finish anywhere on the circuit. Martell was third over Wolbert and Ritchey, who continues to lead Sharon’s points. Randy Kriegisch made his first RUSH start driving for Jerry Schaffer and finished 12th as he was in competition with both of his daughter’s Chelsie and Jessica, which is believed to be the first time ever a father competed with both of his daughters in the long history of Sharon. Mike Sparks finished 16th and was the lucky recipient of the pair of pit passes for next Saturday compliments of Hovis. Schaffer and Deems won the heat races over the 19-car field, which was actually a season low.
Steve Haefke continued his dominance of the HTMA/Precise Racing Products Econo Mods on Saturday night winning for the fourth time in the past six events. More impressively, Haefke has now finished in the top two spots of the feature for the past 14 events dating back to last season! “All the credit goes to the crew,” stated the 50-year-old Austintown, Ohio driver. “We had a few issues last night on the motor but they figured it out. I went to work this morning, while John Christy dug into the motor and got it running back where it should be. My dad, everyone knows Butch Haefke, along with Kenny Bennett and my nephew- without that crew that statistic wouldn’t be possible. This is for those guys- they keep this car together.”
Haefke took over from two-time winner and pole-sitter, Brandon Blackshear on the start and immediately pulled away. Three cautions slowed action between laps two and eight. The last seven laps went green-to-checkered as Haefke copped the win by a commanding 4.826 seconds in his Tub’s Automotive/Wedge Motorsports/212 Chiropractic/Hoosier Tires-sponsored #41. Haefke now has seven career wins in Econo Mod competition at Sharon and eight overall at the track.
Blackshear recorded his second runner-up finish of the night. After running outside of the top five for the first half of the race, Butch Lambert came on strong late to finish third after getting by Josh Mueller on lap 13. Mueller was fourth over Brad Blackshear. George Vestal IV finished seventh and received a $25 gift certificate from Summit Racing Equipment for being the hard charger after advancing seven spots. Brandon Blackshear and Haefke were heat race winners over the season-high 18-car field.
Joe Campbell raced from the sixth starting spot to win his second straight 12-lap Deforest Used Parts Mini Stock feature and division leading fourth of the season. “I was trying to push it harder and harder into the turns but I think he might have had that,” described the 32-year-old Austintown, Ohio driver on leader Steve Walker’s issues. “I heard his car and said ‘that’s it I think I can get around him’. We couldn’t finish a race for two years with problems and I think we finally got things ironed out. Working on the car during the week is part of the win. I have to thank my dad first for keeping control of the van as we had a flat tire on the way here. I thought we were going to die, we almost took out a mailbox.”
Pole-sitter Matt Rubright and Will Aley raced side-by-side for the lead on the opening lap with Rubright edging ahead. Point leader and seventh starting Steve Walker was on the charge as he made his way to second after just two laps then took the lead on lap five from Rubright. Campbell meanwhile had passed Pat Drennan for third on lap four then got by Rubright for second on lap seven. Campbell closed on Walker on lap 10 then made the winning pass down the backstretch on lap 11.
Campbell’s sixth career win came in his Custom Metal Works of Austintown/DCS Truck & Trailer Repair/Statton-Borowski Funeral Home/Henry’s Dynatorium/McGuire’s Coney Island/Tub’s Automotive/Utsinger’s Towing/Superior Auto Body/West Side Tire-sponsored #40c. Walker, who appeared to lose power off and on in the final laps, held on to second over Rubright, Drennan, and Bill Fuchs. The heat races were won by Mitch Stokes and Aley.
Hovis Auto & Truck Supply DIRTcar Big-Block Modifieds (20 laps): 1. DAVE MURDICK (61) 2. Garrett Krummert (29) 3. Rex King (65) 4. Jimmy Weller III (31) 5. Rick Richner (26) 6. Rex King, Jr. (165) 7. Jim Rasey (21) 8. Rick Regalski, Jr. (7z) 9. Bob Warren (96B) 10. Eric Beggs (29*).
Penn-Ohio Championship Mini Series for the Gibson Insurance Agency Stock Cars (20 laps, $1,000 to-win): 1. PAUL DAVIS (3) 2. Andy Buckley (965) 3. Mike Clark (7) 4. Randy Wyant (11T) 5. Rod Laskey (1R) 6. Mike Miller (T6) 7. Chris McGuire (63C) 8. Jamie Scharba (11S) 9. Brett McDonald (25) 10. Jacob Billyk (4) 11. Brian Carothers (02c) 12. Bryan Wagner (56) 13. Michael Hudzik (31H) 14. Jamie Duncan (67J) 15. Troy DeZarn (21) 16. Jamie Maxwell (6) 17. Gary Robinson (44R) 18. Bob McCann (Fornataro USA1) 19. Shaun Fawcett (224) 20. Steve D’Apolito (84) 21. Brent Coleman (01) 22. Chris Schneider (55) 23. Mike Kerr (25K) 24. Rusty Moore (17M)-DNS 25. Bobby Whitling (7W)-DNS.
Summit Racing Equipment (E) Modifieds (15 laps): 1. SCOTT STIFFLER (14) 2. Brandon Blackshear (10) 3. Joel Watson (92) 4. Carl McKinney (Hendrickson (6M) 5. Jacob Eucker (64) 6. Jeff Johnson (27) 7. Joe Gabrielson (58) 8. Kevin Miller III (4M) 9. Amanda Stiffler (14A) 10. Rich Jaeger (5) 11. Will Thomas III (9) 12. Josh Ferry (33)-DNS.
Lyden/ Red Line Oil RUSH Sportsman Modifieds (15 laps): 1. BRIAN SCHAFFER (41) 2. Josh Deems (9D) 3. Kyle Martell (8) 4. Chas Wolbert (c3) 5. Brandon Ritchey (17) 6. Chelsie Kriegisch (10) 7. Jeremy Weaver (35W) 8. Kole Holden (2) 9. Nick Ritchey (77N) 10. Jordan Ehrenberg (JD57) 11. Jessica Kriegisch (63) 12. Randy Kriegisch (Schaffer 14) 13. Steve Slater (35) 14. Calvin Clay (21) 15. Tiffany Williams (58) 16. Mike Sparks (Smith 3G) 17. Jacob Jordan (28J) 18. Preston Cope (24P)-DNS 19. Blaze Myers (43JR)-DNS.
HTMA/Precise Racing Products Econo Mods (15 laps): 1. STEVE HAEFKE (41) 2. Brandon Blackshear (Burns 70B) 3. Butch Lambert (Hendrickson 19) 4. Josh Mueller (01) 5. Brad Blackshear (19) 6. Kyle Miller (15) 7. George Vestal IV (4) 8. James Myers (77M) 9. Jeff Mundell (11) 10. Wayne Daniels (4) 11. Gary Myers (32) 12. Kayla Adams (39) 13. Brian Toto (8B) 14. Mitchell Wright (M11) 15. Buzz Seitz (1) 16. Dan McEwen (44) 17. Tyler Frankenberry (38)-DNS 18. Bob Burk (18)-DNS.
Deforest Used Parts Mini Stocks (12 laps): 1. JOE CAMPBELL (40C) 2. Steve Walker II (4M) 3. Matt Rubright (X) 4. Pat Drennan (24) 5. Bill Fuchs (10) 6. Mitch Stokes (6M) 7. Pete Blazczak (77) 8. Joe Keney (16) 9. Jim Root (17J) 10. Allen Long (12) 11. Logan Keney (Coleman 75) 12. Will Aley (Maxwell (6).
Coming up this Saturday (July 30) is the rescheduled “Fan Appreciation Night” with FREE general admission along with autograph night. All six divisions will be in competition. Pits open at 4 p.m. with 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.