Bolland ends 4+ year winless drought in Big-Block Mods at Sharon; Win #3 for Stiffler in Mods; Schaffer repeats in RUSH Mods; Davis & Haefke win & clinch Stock & Econo Mod titles; 4th for Walker in Minis
By Mike Leone
August 27, 2016
(Hartford, OH)…Sharon Speedway wrapped up the month of August on Saturday night with the next-to-last “Steel Valley Thunder” event of the 87th anniversary season. Celebrating with wins in the Hovis Auto & Truck Supply victory lane on ANSYS Night were Kevin Bolland-Hovis Auto & Truck Supply DIRTcar Big-Block Modifieds, Scott Stiffler-Summit Racing Equipment Modifieds, Brian Schaffer-Lyden/Red Line Oil RUSH Sportsman 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. A total of 104 cars were in the pit area.
Earlier this season, veteran racers Jim Rasey and Dave Murdick ended five and three-year winless droughts respectively at Sharon in the Big-Block Modifieds. On Saturday night, another veteran racer in Kevin Bolland stopped a more than four-year personal winless drought of his own. Bolland led all 20 laps of the non-stop Hovis Auto & Truck Supply feature holding off Murdick and point leader Rex King, Jr. for his first win since July 10, 2012! Bolland picked a perfect night to do it as over 120 people were on hand for his sponsor, ANSYS, company picnic.
“I have to thank God first- he drove this car all the way to victory lane because he knew I had to prove to ANSYS I could get around here so we had a perfect score here tonight (heat win as well),” stated the 56-year-old New Brighton, Pa. driver. “The challenge is always to perform when you have to. We’ve been struggling all year. We’re still driving this 11-year-old car, but we have some new Bilstein Shocks- they’re working with us and we’re finally getting her dialed in. It’s unfortunate we haven’t been here more, but we’re in the process of coming back full circuit and moving our business so it’s been an ongoing feat just to race. I have to thank all the guys on the team and the sponsors.”
Bolland and Murdick started on the front row and battled hard into turn one with Bolland prevailing. King, Jr. closed in on Murdick on lap four in the race for second. Bolland had opened up a straightaway lead over Murdick; however, by the halfway point Murdick cut the lead in half. With green flag racing continuing, lapped traffic came into play on lap 11. Three laps later, Murdick was right on the leader.
For the final six laps, Murdick moved around the track trying to find a way by Bolland, but Bolland was too strong on this night winning by just 0.596 of a second in his Bolland Machine/Boundary Systems/ANSYS/Cintas/Budisak Boys-sponsored #777. With Bolland’s 22nd career victory, he became the season’s ninth different winner. The event’s non-stop time was 6:01.597.
King, Jr. inched one step closer to his second track title in three years with his third place finish beating out his father. Kevin Hoffman made just his third start of the season and recorded a season best fifth to earn an additional $50 from an anonymous donor. Completing the top 10 were Jimmy Weller III, Rasey, Rick Richner, Rob Kristyak, and Rick Regalski, Jr. The only driver to drop out of the feature was second time visitor Rusty Jones, who received two complimentary pit passes from Hovis for the next event. Heat victors were Murdick and Bolland.
Back on June 11, Scott Stiffler ended a near three-year winless drought in the Modifieds. Stiffler then added a second win a little over a month later, and on Saturday night won for the third time this season in the 20-lap feature. Stiffler has now won three of the last nine Summit Racing Equipment feature events.
“I relaxed to go faster but when I saw it was the 20 of Potosky I thought I better quit calming down because I know he’s strong,” explained the 46-year-old Farmdale, Ohio racer. “I kept looking out the side wondering where he was at. I saw his nose a couple times. I just said ‘keep calm and steady and hopefully it works out’.”
After finishing fifth last Saturday night in his first ever appearance, David Pangrazio made the three and half hour tow back to Sharon on Saturday night. Pangrazio would have started from the pole position, but lost a motor at the finish of his heat race, which gave Stiffler the pole. It was a position that Stiffler would never relinquish. Stiffler opened up a straightaway lead on lap six before his daughter, Amanda, spun to bring out the event’s first caution.
When racing resumed on lap seven, it was three-wide for second with Brandon Blackshear and Mike Potosky getting by Shawn Shingledecker. Carl McKinney then followed by Shingledecker for fourth one lap later. Meanwhile, Potosky made the pass of Blackshear for second on lap eight and began to close in on Stiffler on lap 11. McKinney looked strong as he challenged Blackshear for third before Blackshear broke with 15 laps completed bringing out the caution.
The caution put the fast closing Potosky alongside Stiffler; however, the restart proved to actually help Stiffler as he pulled away and was never challenged over the final five laps to win by 2.257 seconds over Potosky for his milestone 20th career win in the Integra Fabricating/Sam’s Construction/Forty Nine Designs/Afco Shocks/HRE/Three Wide Media-sponsored #14.
Seventh starting Jeremy Double got by McKinney on lap 16 to match his season’s best finish in third and also received a $25 gift certificate from Summit for being the hard charger. McKinney was fourth over Jeff Johnson. Shingledecker dropped to sixth over point leader Joe Gabrielson, who had a rough night. Eric Singhaus was seventh in his season debut over Amanda Stiffler and Blackshear. Johnson and Potosky won the heat races.
If it was wasn’t for mistaking the white flag for the checkered flag back on June 25, Brian Schaffer would be the only three-time RUSH Sportsman Modified winner this season. Nonetheless, Schaffer has been the fastest car in the Lyden/Red Line Oil-sponsored division during the second half of the season. On Saturday night, Schaffer led all 15 non-stop laps of the feature for his second win as he’s recorded five top two finishes over the past seven races! The non-stop time was 4:43.126. Meanwhile, two-time winner, Brandon Ritchey, finished sixth and captured the track championship!
“I love this track,” expressed the 29-year-old Boyers, Pa. racer. “I’d like to thank Sharon for having the RUSH Modifieds here. It should have been three wins for sure. I just took my time and picked my way through traffic. It was fun. I was little surprised it went non-stop with a class with young drivers; mistakes happen- I make them too so I was surprised. I have to thank my wife, sponsors, and Schaffer Family Racing for making this possible.”
Schaffer bolted to the lead, while Chelsie Kriegisch passed Jeremy Weaver for second on the opening lap. Fifth starting Kyle Martell had a good run going as he got by Jessica Kriegisch on the opening lap for fourth then passed Weaver down the backstretch on lap four for third. Schaffer stretched his lead out by the halfway point and had a straightaway advantage on Kriegisch when he caught lapped traffic on lap 11.
Lapped traffic did nothing to derail Schaffer from his season’s fourth win overall on the circuit as he also has a win at both Lernerville and Thunder Mountain Speedways to lead the $3,000 to-win Bicknell Weekly Series points. Schaffer’s winning margin was 2.962 seconds in his Bowers Garage/Kennedy 213-sponsored #41. Ironically Schaffer’s winning margin on July 23 at Sharon was 2.960 seconds!
Kriegisch had her hands full as Martell, Weaver, and Kole Holden were all over her back bumper in the race for second. Martell pulled alongside Kriegisch on the final four laps, but Kriegisch was able to hold on for her best career finish by less than two tenths of a second. Weaver was fourth ahead of Holden, who received an extra $50 from an anonymous donor. Holden, Martell, and Jessica Kriegisch won the heat races over the 22-car field.
Paul Davis capped off his first career championship by leading all 15 laps of Gibson Insurance Agency Stock Car feature for his division-leading fourth win of the season. It wasn’t an easy win for Davis, who had to contend with three-time champion Mike Clark along with Brian Carothers and veteran Andy Buckley.
“This is the one thing I’ve been trying to get for 37 years,” stated the 56-year-old Fowler, Ohio veteran. “I’ve really only tried to chase a championship for the last three of four years and maybe back in the 1980s. I wanted to go out with a bang. I’m glad Andy (Buckley) caught up to me. He had a good jump on me there at the end. He was on it and made a good race into the turn, but I knew if I just hauled it in I’d get it. He was there and I had to just keep changing it up on the restarts. It was a good race. I have to thank my crew- I couldn’t have done it without them along with my sponsors and family.”
Davis used the outside to take the lead from pole-sitter Clark on the start with Carothers getting by Jamie Scharba for third. Carothers advanced to second on lap two past Clark; meanwhile, Buckley started in fifth and also passed Scharba on the opening lap then got by Clark for third on lap three. Buckley closed in on Carothers in the race for second on lap five before a caution slowed action with eight laps completed.
When racing resumed on lap nine, Buckley found good bite off the bottom to pass Carothers for second and temporarily got alongside Davis, but Davis had the momentum on the top to maintain his lead. A pair of cautions slowed action with 10 laps scored before the final five laps went green-to-checkered with Davis winning by 1.099 seconds. Davis’ 21st career Stock Car win and 24th overall at the track came in his Hover Racing/Collins Heating & Cooling/Ocala Restaurant Supply/Don Williams Trucking/Tub’s Automotive-sponsored #3.
Buckley was runner-up for the third time in the past four races and fourth time overall this season as he just hasn’t been able to get over the hump to score a win. Carothers and Clark battled throughout the duration of the event swapping positions, but in the end Carothers got the third position over Clark. Scharba dropped to fifth and earned an extra $50 from an anonymous donor. Lernerville regular, Brett McDonald, made his third start of the season with his GM 604 crate engine and finished a season best seventh as he advanced 13 spots to earn the $25 Summit hard charger certificate. Jacob Billyk, Buckley, and Carothers were heat race winners over the 22-car field.
Steve Haefke started on the pole and was able to stay out in front and avoid a lot of crazy action behind him in the 15-lap HTMA/Precise Racing Products Econo Mod feature to clinch his first track championship. Haefke’s sixth win of the season continued his remarkable streak of top two finishes as he has now not finished worse than second for 17 straight races dating back to last season!
“I can’t explain how anything has went this year- it’s just been great,” acknowledged the 50-year-old Austintown, Ohio resident. “Everyone has been nervous going over the car and keeping an eye on everything. I’m glad I didn’t win last week because I don’t know what was going on behind me- it didn’t sound pretty. I have to thank everyone on my crew- my dad, my wife, my nephew, Kenny, Scotty- it’s the same group of guys. They make this all possible.”
Haefke took off from the pole position, while Butch Lambert passed Chris Clay for second. Sixth starting Josh Ferry was on the move as he passed Tyler Frankenberry for fourth on lap four then dropped Clay back another spot on lap five. Clay then spun to bring out the caution after eight non-stop laps. Ferry, who was looking to go three-for-three in the division this season, got into Lambert on the ensuing restart and collected Brad Blackshear ending both of those racers nights.
When racing resumed, Haefke pulled away from Frankenberry, who had inherited second. Zach Myers had worked his way from 14th to third but on lap 14 got into turn three too hard spinning Frankenberry and collecting five other racers. Haefke went unchallenged over the final two laps to win by 1.332 seconds. The victory was Haefke’s ninth career in the division and 10th overall at Sharon in his Tub’s Automotive/Wedge Motorsports/212 Chiropractic/O’Reilly Auto Parts/Integra Shocks/Hoosier Tires-sponsored #41.
Mitchell Wright got by Ferry on the final lap for a career best Sharon finish of second. Ferry was third. Frankenberry came back to finish fourth. Thirteenth starting Jeff Mundell finished fifth and received a $25 certificate from Summit for being the hard charger. Ferry and Frankenberry won the heat races.
It was a big night for Steve Walker II. Walker captured his fourth Mini Stock feature win of the season, was selected as the lucky recipient of the pair of pit passes from Hovis, and has one more night to maintain his point lead to repeat his 2010 Deforest Used Parts track championship. “We got in a little pickle last week, but just win was our mindset this week,” explained the 35-year-old Greenville, Pa. driver. “I want to thank Sharon Speedway along with Ted from Hittles Auto Supply. If it wasn’t for Ted we wouldn’t have any parts; also Joe Hartman, my dad, daughter, fiancé, and my sister who I always forget to thank.”
Pole-sitter Logan Keney led the opening lap, but on lap two Bill Fuchs took over. Following a caution for debris, fifth starting Walker passed Keney for second on lap three. Walker closed in on Fuchs on lap five. Behind the lead duo, sixth starting Joe Campbell was working his way forward as he passed Keney for third on lap six.
Fuchs’ bid for his second win and potential fourth track championship most likely ended when he lost a wheel on lap eight. That handed the lead to Walker, who led the final five laps for his fifth career win in his Hittles Auto Supply-sponsored #4M. Campbell was second as he trails Walker by only nine points heading into the final night of points on September 10. Jim Haefke, Jr. made his way from ninth to finish third after getting by Keney on the final lap. Keney dropped to fourth beating out Jim Jones, who made his second start driving for Keney. Will Aley and Campbell were heat victors.
Hovis Auto & Truck Supply DIRTcar Big-Block Modifieds (20 laps): 1. KEVIN BOLLAND (777) 2. Dave Murdick (61) 3. Rex King, Jr. (165) 4. Rex King (65) 5. Kevin Hoffman (00) 6. Jimmy Weller III (23) 7. Jim Rasey (32) 8. Rick Richner (26) 9. Rob Kristyak (00) 10. Rick Regalski, Jr. (7z) 11. Justin Rasey (21) 12. Skip Moore (17M) 13. Chris Haines (35H) 14. Shawn Kozar (3K) 15. Rusty Johns (17).
Summit Racing Equipment (E) Modifieds (20 laps): 1. SCOTT STIFFLER (14) 2. Mike Potosky (m20) 3. Jeremy Double (83) 4. Carl McKinney (Hendrickson 6M) 5. Jeff Johnson (27) 6. Shawn Shingledecker (54s) 7. Joe Gabrielson (58) 8. Eric Singhaus (45) 9. Amanda Stiffler (14A) 10. Brandon Blackshear (10) 11. Jeff Hassay (10) 12. Bob Williamson (93) 13. David Pangrazio (136)-DNS 14. Jacob Eucker (64)-DNS.
Lyden/ Red Line Oil RUSH Sportsman Modifieds (15 laps): 1. BRIAN SCHAFFER (41) 2. Chelsie Kriegisch (10) 3. Kyle Martell (8) 4. Jeremy Weaver (35W) 5. Kole Holden (2) 6. Brandon Ritchey (17) 7. Rocky Kugel (83) 8. Nick Ritchey (77N) 9. Josh Deems (9D) 10. Chas Wolbert (c3) 11. Steve Slater (35) 12. Jessica Kriegisch (63) 13. Tiffany Williams (58) 14. Mike Sparks (Smith 3G) 15. Blaze Myers (43JR) 16. Calvin Clay (21) 17. Jacob Jordan (28J) 18. Michael Kristyak (404) 19. Will Schaffer (4) 20. Amelia Clay (12) 21. Preston Cope (24P) 22. Don Blaney (11)-DNS.
Gibson Insurance Agency Stock Cars (15 laps): 1. PAUL DAVIS (3) 2. Andy Buckley (965) 3. Brian Carothers (02c) 4. Mike Clark (7) 5. Jamie Scharba (11S) 6. Mike Miller (T6) 7. Brett McDonald (25) 8. Jacob Billyk (4) 9. Steve D’Apolito (84) 10. Ed Bolyard III (Patrick 05) 11. Gary Robinson (44R) 12. Jamie Maxwell (6) 13. Mike Kerr (25K) 14. Dillon Kineston (19) 15. Rusty Moore (17M) 16. Bryan Wagner (56) 17. Brent Coleman (01) 18. Brad Shaffer (77S) 19. Troy Norman (19N) 20. Rod Laskey (1R) 21. Troy DeZarn (21) 22. Jamie Duncan (67J)-DNS.
HTMA/Precise Racing Products Econo Mods (15 laps): 1. STEVE HAEFKE (41) 2. Mitchell Wright (m11) 3. Josh Ferry (33) 4. Tyler Frankenberry (38) 5. Jeff Mundell (11) 6. Haley Lapcevich (77) 7. Zach Myers (1M) 8. Wayne Daniels (4) 9. George Vestal IV (4) 10. Buzz Seitz (1) 11. Kyle Miller (15) 12. Butch Lambert (Hendrickson 19) 13. Brad Blackshear (19) 14. Chris Clay (99) 15. Bret McCarthy (33)-DNS 16. Tommy Davis (32)-DNS 17. Mike Hillman (29)-DNS.
Deforest Used Parts Mini Stocks (12 laps): 1. STEVE WALKER II (4M) 2. Joe Campbell (40C) 3. Jim Haefke, Jr. (421) 4. Logan Keney (Coleman 75) 5. Jim Jones (Keney 16) 6. Pat Drennan (24) 7. Ed Roberts (11) 8. Joe Keney (15K) 9. Matt Rubright (X) 10. Mike Aley (Maxwell 6) 11. Bill Fuchs (10) 12. Jeff Little (42) 13. Will Aley (Root 17J) 14. Dan McEwen (44M).
There will be no racing over Labor Day Weekend. The next event will be Saturday, September 10 when the “410” Sprint Cars make their final appearance of the season and will be joined for the final “Steel Valley Thunder” point event for the Big-Block Modifieds, (E) Modifieds, Econo Mods, and Mini Stocks. The RUSH Sportsman Modifieds and Stock Cars will have the night off. Racing begins at 7 p.m. The 2016 season will then conclude with the “Apple Festival Nationals” on Friday and Saturday, September 16-17. Race time is 6 p.m. both days.
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.