Track champ Curt J. Bish defends home turf winning the Penn-Ohio “Steel Valley Pro Stock Nationals” & King of the Hill worth $10,500; Rhoades earns biggest career win in Elite Econo Mods worth $2000; D’Apolito wins $1000 Stock Non-Qualifier

Track champ Curt J. Bish defends home turf winning the Penn-Ohio “Steel Valley Pro Stock Nationals” & King of the Hill worth $10,500; Rhoades earns biggest career win in Elite Econo Mods worth $2000; D’Apolito wins $1000 Stock Non-Qualifier

Track champ Curt J. Bish defends home turf winning the Penn-Ohio “Steel Valley Pro Stock Nationals” & King of the Hill worth $10,500; Rhoades earns biggest career win in Elite Econo Mods worth $2000; D’Apolito wins $1000 Stock Non-Qualifier

By Mike Leone

September 7, 2019 

(Hartford, OH)…After getting rained out back on June 15, Sharon Speedway completed the rescheduled second annual “Steel Valley Pro Stock Nationals” on Saturday night.  Celebrating in the Hovis Auto Truck Supply victory lane were Curt J. Bish-Penn-Ohio Series for the Gibson Insurance Agency Stock Cars and Ty Rhoades-Elite Series for the Summit Racing Equipment Econo Mods.  Also, Steve D’Apolito picked up the Non-Qualifier win for the Penn-Ohio Stocks.  A total of 104 cars participated for the two-division program.

To say 2019 has been a career best season for Curt J. Bish would be an understatement.  Back on June 29, Bish ended a four-year winless drought at Sharon with his victory in the Gibson Insurance Agency Stock Cars.  That win along with a second victory on August 3 propelled him past defending champion, Chris McGuire, to capture his first Sharon title.  Fast forward to this weekend and Bish came out on top of 30 cars on Friday night to take the $500 King of the Hill title.  Then on Saturday night, Bish charged from the 15th starting spot to pass Bobby Whitling on lap 50 and kept the standout at bay over the final one-third of the race to capture his biggest career win in the $10,000 “Steel Valley Pro Stock Nationals” for the Penn-Ohio Championship Series.

“Bobby (Whitling) is a tough competitor,” acknowledged the 35-year-old Oil City, Pa. driver.  “I like racing with him.  He’ll race you clean so hats off to those guys.  My car owners are $10,000 richer.  I have to thank Bob and Brian Tarr- this is their car.  They give me an opportunity to drive this car.  I have to thank my engine builder Les Myers, car builder Chris Schneider, lubricant supplier Schaeffer’s Oil- they’re second to none, and all of my sponsors and family.  Once again you have to thank the track prep crew and everyone behind the scenes- the cashiers, concession people.  It’s a total group effort.  I don’t know what it takes to do this deal but thank you to everyone.” 

Two-time track champion, Paul Davis, earned the pole position for the 75-lap feature following his $300 dash victory and took off in the lead over Leigh Wheeler, Jason Fosnaught, McGuire, and Whitling.  Fifth starting Shaun Hooks moved past McGuire for fourth on lap four then Fosnaught and Hooks took over second and third respectively from Wheeler on lap five.  Hooks was hooked up on the outside as he flew around Fosnaught for second on lap six then ran down Davis on lap nine.  Hooks charged past Davis off turn four to lead lap 10 before the events first caution when Brian Carothers and Pat Fielding tangled on the backstretch.

Back under green, Hooks began to stretch his lead out and distanced himself from the field by lap 14, while McGuire and seventh starting Daryl Charlier began to challenge Davis for second.  McGuire drove around Davis off turn to snatch second on lap 17.  Whitling, who started sixth, joined the four-car race for second as he got by Charlier, Davis, and then McGuire to take runner-up on lap 21.  Whitling was easily running the fastest laps of everyone as he quickly ran down Hooks and was on the leader on lap 24.  Whitling became the third different leader of the race when he went under Hooks on lap 27. 

Charlier continued to move forward taking third from Davis on lap 31 then three laps later second from Hooks.  Jeremy Perry brought out caution number two when he spun just shy of halfway with 37 laps in.  Eleventh starting Andrew Gordon had worked his way into contention as he cracked the top five for the first time when racing resumed on lap 38.  Gordon had been running the bottom, but moved up and smacked the turn two fence ending his night with 40 laps scored.  Gordon also earned $200 on Friday for finishing second to Bish in the King of the Hill.

Bish had worked his way to fourth before the caution and then stole third from Hooks when racing resumed on lap 41, while three-time 2019 winner, Chris Schneider who started 21st, cracked the top five.  After fading back to third, Hooks took second back from Charlier then regained the lead from Whitling on lap 43.  It was three-wide for the lead on laps 44 and 45 as Bish joined in the fight.  Whitling took back the lead on lap 44, while overtook Hooks for second on lap 45. 

Bish hounded Whitling over the next five laps before making the winning move on the 50th circuit as he became the fourth and final different leader of the event, while Schneider moved one spot closer to the front taking third from Hooks.  Two cautions with 64 laps scored, one for Davis who was selected as the $75 hard luck recipient, gave everyone one more shot at Bish.  Bish pulled away when racing resumed, but in the closing laps Whitling made up a ton of ground and was right on Bish at the finish.  Bish’s fourth career Sharon win came by just 0.330 of a second in the Robert Tarr-owned, Bish Heating & Cooling/Double E Fencing/RK Virgile/Pioneer Electric-sponsored #29.

Whitling, who ended a seven-year Sharon winless drought earlier in the season, earned $3,200 for finishing second.  Schneider picked up the $75 hard charger after gaining 18 spots at the finish along with his $1,800 third place payoff.  Jackson Humanic came from 17th to finish fourth for $1,400.  Todd Weldon started 20th and finished fifth for an $1,100 payday.  Completing the top 10 were Rod Laskey, McGuire, Hooks, Wheeler, and Jason Black. 

Four-time track champion and 32-time feature winner, Steve D’Apolito, was credited with the Non-Qualifier victory after apparent winner, Jim Nicely, was disqualified in post-race tech due to a his wheelbase being too short.  The 20-lap victory was worth $1,000 after D’Apolito elected to choose taking the money over starting 30th in the feature, which paid $500 to-start.

“I wanted to start the race but my dad and brother wanted to take the money,” revealed the 41-year-old North Lima, Ohio racer.  “They ended up winning out.  Nicely was better than me, but I guess his wheelbase was too short.”

Nicely started seventh and took the lead from Dar Diegelman on lap two with D’Apolito following in second one lap later.  D’Apolito hounded Nicely and was running about the same lap times, but never got quite close enough to challenge.  That all changed when D’Apolito was handed the race victory in his Race 1/D’Apolito Tree Farm-sponsored #84.  The battle for third turned battle for second was over two seconds behind D’Apolito as 11th starting Chris Withers edged out Nick Kocuba in a great race.  Terry Wheeler was fourth as Diegelman dropped to fifth.   

Schneider set a new track record in qualifying back on June 14 with a lap of 17.577 to earn $500 from Zimmer’s Service Center.  Rusty Moore, Leigh Wheeler, Whitling, McGuire, Fosnaught, Davis, Charlier, and Hooks won the heat races over the 67-car field.  The four B mains went to Humanic, Rusty Martz, Andy Thompson, and Weldon.

Ty Rhoades won the regular season opener back on May 18 and would have won the championship had he not missed a race during the season yielding the title to second year racer Dustin DeMattia.  On Saturday night, Rhoades charged from the 19th starting spot and ironically passed DeMattia for the race win on lap 25.  Rhoades’ biggest career win was worth $2,000 and came in the 30-lap Elite Series feature for the Summit Racing Equipment Econo Mods that featured five different leaders.  An all-time record 37 cars were on hand for the richest Econo Mod race in the 10-year history of the division! 

“This car and crew gave me every cent they had,” stated the Guys Mills, Pa. native who now calls Pittsburgh home.  “We had a throttle malfunction- it’s actually only half put together.  I was afraid it wasn’t even going to last.  This car is amazing- 19th to the win.  I knew I had to keep hitting my marks.  Dan Davies and I spent probably every night for an hour on the phone, and my fiancé was probably tired of the phone calls.  He drove it last week and was telling me what I needed to change.  I just kept listening to him; roll the car, roll the car, and I did- I just steered.  I have to thank all of my sponsors and everyone that helps out on this car.”

Matt Alexander led the first four laps before Jeremy Double took over on lap five after the duo raced side-by-side for the lead for three laps.  Double’s lead was short-lived as his left rear brake line broke and he shot across the track in turn four into Alexander allowing Andy Buckley to take over the top spot on lap six.  DeMattia started fifth and battled side-by-side with the fellow #77 for second on laps 15 and 16 with DeMattia taking the spot on the 16th circuit.  Rhoades had worked his way forward and entered contention on lap 18 when he took third from Alexander.

DeMattia became the fourth leader of the event when he took the top spot away from Buckley off turn four on lap 19.  It was three-wide for second on lap 22 with Rhoades and Jacob Eucker taking second and third from Buckley.  Rhoades’ winning move came on the 25th circuit when he snuck under DeMattia in turn four to become the fifth and final leader of the event. 

Four cautions over the final five laps gave DeMattia four chances on the double file restarts, but Rhoades was able to withstand the 2019 champion to take his fourth career win by 0.286 of a second in his Bloom Machineworks/Trace Lawn & Landscaping/A&MP Electric/Talbar Inc./Dirt Rhoades Logging/Village Auto/Smokey Martins BBQ/Weldbark Energy-sponsored #12R.

Eucker was third after starting ninth.  Brian Huchko had a great run coming from 15th to fourth.  After getting spun, Butch Lambert came from the tail in the final nine laps to finish fifth.  Completing the top 10 were Eric Wilson, Buzz Seitz, Alexander, newcomer Garrett Calvert, and Jarrett Young.  Dwayne Clay set fast time in qualifying back on June 14 with a lap of 17.970.  Double, DeMattia, and Eucker won the heat races, while Rhoades and Brian Toto copped the last chance B main victories.

Penn-Ohio Series for the Gibson Insurance Agency Stock Cars “Steel Valley Nationals” (75 laps, $10,000 to-win): 1. CURT J. BISH (Tarr 29)  2. Bobby Whitling (7w)  3. Chris Schneider (55)  4. Jackson Humanic (17)  5. Todd Weldon (45)  6. Rod Laskey (1R)  7. Chris McGuire (63)  8. Shaun Hooks (65)  9. Leigh Wheeler (717)  10. Jason Black (5B)  11. Daryl Charlier (McManus 114)  12. Danny Exley (23H)  13. Rusty Martz (16M)  14. Rob Shook (Keihl 64)  15. Noah Brunell (31)  16. Joey Zambotti (948)  17. Rusty Moore (17M)  18. Tim Bish (11B)  19. Jeff Broniszewski (08)  20. Tyler Thompson (T2)  21. Paul Davis (3)  22. Jim Fosnaught (20J)  23. Andy Thompson (5)  24. Andrew Gordon (25)  25. Jeremy Perry (15X)  26. Mike T. Miller (T6)  27. Jason Fosnaught (Tristani 73)  28. Pat Fielding (23)  29. Brian Carothers (02c).    

Penn-Ohio Pro Stock Non-Qualifier (20 laps, $1,000 to-win): 1. Steve D’Apolito (84)  2. Chris Withers (21W)  3. Nick Kocuba (10)  4. Terry Wheeler (2W)  5. Dar Diegelman (15*)  6. Jason Jones (81)  7. Steve Burns, Jr. (70B)  8. Troy DeZarn (Nichols 21)  9. Don Kramer (95)  10. Curt Bish (00)  11. Bob Egley (30)  12. Jimmy Combs (129X)  13. Jacob Billyk (4)  14. Jamie Barber (Bish 1B)  15. Gil Demello (22)  16. Tyler Wyant (24)  17. Charlie McMillen (61M)  18. Jamie Duncan (67J)  19. Jim Nicely (33X)-DSQ (wheelbase)  20. Brad Shaffer (6)-DNS  21. Josh Seippel (84S)-DNS  22. Gary Fisher (99F)-DNS  23. Andy Buckley (965)-DNS.  DNQ: Randy Wyant (11T), Mike Kerr (25K), Don DeZarn (Nichols 12D), Bob Sloss (Humanic z17), Jason Longwell (7), William Hurrelbrink (c8), Jamie Scharba (11S), Mike Miller (Thompson 81), Tim Deutsch (20), Allen English (64E), Larry Kugel (Duncan 67), Calob McLaughlin (08), Bob Rosman (48R), Tyler Kubic (222), Kyle Couchenour (299). 

Elite Series for the Summit Racing Equipment Econo Mods (30 laps, $2,000 to-win): 1. TY RHOADES (12R)  2. Dustin DeMattia (77D)  3. Jacob Eucker (64)  4. Brian Huchko (60)  5. Butch Lambert (Hendrickson 19)  6. Eric Wilson (Bambarger 27B)  7. Buzz Seitz (1)  8. Matt Alexander (77)  9. Garrett Calvert (7G)  10. Jarrett Young (21)  11. Dan McEwen (44)  12. Judson Fell (21)  13. Kyle Miller (15)  14. Nate Young (42)  15. Andy Buckley (Leamer 965)  16. Dwayne Clay (007)  17. Brian Toto (8B)  18. Josh Mueller (01)  19. Gary Robinson (44R)  20. Josh Ferry (Myers 77M)  21. Wayne Tessean (Williams 7)  22. Bob Vogt, Jr. (Rogers 60)  23. Mitchell Wright (M1)  24. Jeremy Double (83).  DNQ: Jason Brightman (16), Daniel Moffitt (2), Rick Wilson, Jr. (35), Ray Gregory (82R), Pat Drennan (22), Ed Snyder (25s), Ed Roberts (6s), Mitchell Lam (12), Chris Schneider (64), George Vestal IV (4), J.J. Bametzrieder (74), Mike Hillman (29), Gary Olson (23).

Next Saturday (September 14) night will feature the USA-East truck and tractor pulls put on by Full Pull Productions.  Pits open at 3 p.m. with the grandstands at 4 and pulling beginning at 6:30.  Grandstand admission is $13 for those 13 and over.  Kids 7-12 are $5.  Pit passes are $25.

The 90th anniversary season will wrap up with the annual “Apple Festival Nationals” on Friday and Saturday, September 20-21.  The Big-Block Modifieds, RUSH Sprint Cars, Sportsman Dwarf Cars, and Junior Sprints for kids will run a complete show on Friday night, while the “410” Sprint Cars and Mod Lites will run a complete show on Saturday night.  The Penn-Ohio Stock Series, RUSH Sportsman Modified Touring Series, and Elite Econo Mod Series will run heats on Friday night with the remainder of their program on Saturday 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.

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Thank you for a successful 2019 season. Look forward to seeing everyone in 2020