Justin Peck continues stellar Sprint Car season winning 1st ever at Sharon worth $6000 with All Stars; Chas Wolbert tops RUSH Sportsman Mod opener
By Mike Leone
May 1, 2021
(Hartford, OH)…For the second straight Saturday night, Mother Nature tried to intervene at Sharon Speedway with some unexpected evening showers; however, track officials persevered and completed the “Buckeye Cup” as it marked the first time since the 2014 season that the first two scheduled race events were completed. Capturing wins on Lincoln Electric Night were Justin Peck-FloRacing All Star Circuit of Champions Sprint Cars presented by Mobil 1 and Chas Wolbert-HTMA Precise Racing Products RUSH Sportsman Modifieds. Sixty-five cars were on hand for the two-division program as a large crowd turned out for the first of four appearances in the 92nd anniversary season by Tony Stewart’s All Stars.
Justin Peck is quickly becoming a household name in Sprint Car racing. Peck made some successful substitute starts in Tom Buch’s #13 last year, and picked up the ride full-time in 2021. After a solid start to the season in the South, Peck won his first career central Pennsylvania races in March at Port Royal and Williams Grove Speedways then followed that up winning the All Star point season opener at Attica Raceway Park last month. On Saturday night, Peck broke away from Cole Duncan and Dave Blaney in the battle for the lead and then drove a masterful race through lapped traffic to score his second All Star win of the season, fourth overall of 2021, and just as important extended his All Star points lead.
“We just keep working and keep getting better- that’s the name of the game,” expressed the 22-year-old Monrovia, Indiana racer. “I tried to lose that race there pretty early on by running the top and smacking the wall. I actually knocked the ladder out of the car before we even got 10 laps in. I just had to smarten up a little bit after that. I knew we had a fast race car. I just needed to finish the race.”
Peck earned his first pole start of the season by winning dash one and raced to the early lead in the 30-lap feature, while Hunter Schuerenberg passed Duncan for second. Zeb Wise, who loves Sharon Speedway, moved from seventh to fourth on the opening lap with Ian Madsen following in fifth. The event’s only caution was for All Star regular Tyler Courtney, who suffered a flat right rear tire after getting into the fence, with one lap completed. That setup a 29-lap consecutive green flag run to the finish.
Peck took back off in the lead as green replaced yellow, but all eyes were now on Dave Blaney. Blaney, a 32-time Sharon “410” Sprint Car winner, was making his first start of 2021. Blaney, who is also one of the three owners at Sharon Speedway, won the 2020 opener at Sharon and was looking to do the same in 2021 on Saturday night. Blaney started back in ninth and cracked the top five when racing resumed on lap two taking the spot from Madsen. One lap later, Blaney passed Wise for fourth.
Up front, Peck was extending his lead each lap, but on lap five made heavy contact with the fence between turns three and four. Somehow Peck was able to get the car righted, not suffer any significant damage, and maintain the lead. Duncan, a three-time Sharon winner, regained second when he put a slider on Schuerenberg in turn two on lap seven. It was then three-wide for second between Duncan, Schuerenberg and Blaney on lap nine with the positions not changing.
Peck found himself in lapped traffic on lap 11, while the battled raged on for second. Blaney was finally able to get by Schuerenberg for third on lap 12, while Duncan began to close in on Peck on lap 15 and was right on the leader one lap later. Blaney joined in on lap 17 making it a three-car race for the lead. On lap 19, Blaney drove under and by Duncan in turn two for second, but Duncan reclaimed the spot on lap 20.
As Blaney and Duncan continued to battle, Peck broke free of the duo in traffic and pulled away over the final one-third of the race. Peck ended up taking the checkered flag by a comfortable 3.811 second margin in the Coastal Race Products/The Tree Center-sponsored #13 to become the 165th different driver to win a “410” Sprint Car feature at Sharon.
“We were able to put a whole night together,” Peck added. “We qualified good enough tonight where we just had to transfer through our heat race to make the dash, and that’s the name of the game. You need to put yourself in a position early and start up front in these things. We fine tuned things as the night went on. I can’t thank everyone enough. It’s been a dream to drive for these guys.”
Duncan edged out Blaney for second for his best All Star finish of the season. Blaney crossed the finish in third, but was scored last after failing to scale. That moved Madsen to third over Wise. Bill Balog, who is running the full All Star tour for the first time, recorded his first top five of the season in his first ever appearance at Sharon. Schuerenberg dropped to sixth. Lee Jacobs was seventh. Cap Henry, who won a FAST “410” show at Sharon in 2018, is back running with the All Stars full-time and went 14th to eighth. After copping the final feature transfer spot late in the B main, Paul McMahan raced from 24th to ninth to earn the hard charger. Cory Eliason completed the top 10.
Wise set fast time overall against the 41-car field in qualifying with a lap of 15.266. Heat winners were Blaney, Schuerenberg, Skylar Gee, Balog, and Jacobs. Peck and Duncan won the twin dashes, while Carl Bowser won the B main. The All Stars will return to Sharon on Tuesday, June 15 for Ohio Speedweek.
Chas Wolbert was able to avoid an opening lap accident, took the lead from Ben Easler on lap six, and held off a late charge by ninth starting Justin Shea to win the season opener for the HTMA/Precise Racing Products RUSH Sportsman Modifieds, worth $600. Wolbert is now two-for-two in 2021 also winning two weeks ago at Tyler County Speedway as he now not only leads Sharon’s points, but also the Pace Performance RUSH Sportsman Modified Hovis Auto & Truck Supply Weekly Series and Wedge Motorsports “Route 7 Rumble” Series points.
“We’re blessed to be able to be here let alone win,” expressed the 26-year-old Warren, Ohio winner. “I told Ben (Easler) don’t get out there and go throttle wide open; he did, so I just took my time and let him enjoy himself for a bit. He definitely gave me a run there. I’m proud of him and I’m sure Russ King is as well. We’re going to have our work cut out for us this year. We have a good schedule ahead of us. Everyone stepped up their game over the winter, and that’s what it’s all about. I have to thank God first and foremost, my family, and all of my sponsors. Also thank you to Sharon Speedway, the RUSH Series, and all of the fans for sticking it out with us.”
Contact between Ben Easler and Brandon Ritchey in turn three on the opening lap sent Ritchey spinning, while Rob Kristyak had nowhere to go hitting the fence hard ending his night. Kristyak had started sixth, ripped the top, and was making a bid for the lead when he was unable to avoid Ritchey and the fence. When racing resumed, Greg Porter took off in the early lead over Easler, Wolbert, Jordan Ehrenberg, and Tony Tatgenhorst.
As Porter led in search of his first career win, Easler and Wolbert raced side-by-side for second on the opening three laps before a caution for a spin by Josh Ehrenberg. When green replaced yellow on lap four, Easler made the outside work taking over from Porter, while Wolbert followed in second. Wolbert went to work on Easler again, but this time for the lead and made the winning pass in turn three on lap six.
The battle was then on for third as Porter was trying to fend off Tatgenhorst and Shea, who started eighth and ninth respectively. Shea got under Tatgenhorst for fourth on lap 12 then one lap later snuck under Porter in turn two for third. A caution for another spin by Josh Ehrenberg with 13 laps scored was just what Shea was looking for. Shea passed Easler for runner-up when racing resumed then went after Wolbert.
Shea really closed in on Wolbert, but Wolbert gained some ground in the final two laps to take the checkered flag first by 0.943 of second in his Alcon Mechanical/Dunkin Donuts of Warren, OH/C.T. Wolbert Trucking/Walters Building Co./Ohio Intra Express/Russ King Racing/BCT Construction-sponsored #c3. The victory was Wolbert’s all-time division leading 16th career win at Sharon and 35th overall in RUSH competition.
Shea was second in his first start at Sharon since a fifth on July 2, 2018. Tatgenhorst passed Easler for third on lap 17. Easler, who is just 14 years old in his first year in a full-size car after graduating from go-karts, dropped to fourth at the finish over Porter. Jordan Ehrenberg was sixth. Kyle Martell went 13th to seventh. Kole Holden, Jacob Jordan, and Gage Priester completed the top 10. Heat winners over the 24-car field were Shea, Tatgenhorst, and Jordan Ehrenberg.
Coming up this Saturday night (May 8) will be the first “Super Series” event of 2021 featuring the Hovis Auto & Truck Supply “410” Sprint Cars racing for $3,000 to-win. The HTMA/Precise Racing Products RUSH Sportsman Modifieds will again be on the card and will be joined by the Gibson Insurance Agency Pro Stocks and Whelen Econo Mods, who both return after a week off. Pits open at 4 p.m. with grandstands at 5. Race time is 7 p.m. General admission is $15. Kids 14 and under are free. Pit passes are $30.
All Star Circuit of Champions Sprint Cars (30 laps, $6,000 to-win): 1. JUSTIN PECK (Buch 13) 2. Cole Duncan (22) 3. Ian Madsen (McGhee 11) 4. Zeb Wise (Wise/Priddy 10) 5. Bill Balog (17B) 6. Hunter Schuerenberg (Vermeer 55) 7. Lee Jacobs (Lewis 81) 8. Cap Henry (Lane 4) 9. Paul McMahan (CJB 5) 10. Cory Eliason (Rudeen 26) 11. Gary Taylor (Seeling 97) 12. Cale Conley (3c) 13. Sye Lynch (42) 14. Tyler Courtney (Clauson/Marshall 7BC) 15. Dan Kuriger (08) 16. Carl Bowser (11) 17. Michael Bauer (Pryde 29) 18. Skylar Gee (Grove 28) 19. Bob Felmlee (6) 20. Adam Kekich (5K) 21. T.J. Michael (8M) 22. Brandon Spithaler (22) 23. Darin Gallagher (Peluso 12) 24. Jack Sodeman, Jr. (23Jr) 25. Dave Blaney (10) (scored last due to not scaling).
DNQ for the feature: Greg Wilson (w20), George Hobaugh (40), Dan Shetler (7K), Lucas Wolfe (Coldren 07), Sam Hafertepe, Jr. (Hills 15H), Brinton Marvel (21), Cody Bova (20B), Darren Pifer (23), Kyle Reinhardt (Quakenbush 91), Jeremy Kornbau (27K), Caleb Griffith (Ward 33W), Brent Matus (33), Frankie Nervo (21N), Brett Brunkenhoefer (47), Brandon Matus (13), Matt Sherlock III (55).
HTMA/Precise Racing Products RUSH Sportsman Modifieds (20 laps, $600 to-win): 1. CHAS WOLBERT (c3) 2. Justin Shea (14s) 3. Tony Tatgenhorst (63T) 4. Ben Easler (02) 5. Greg Porter (25) 6. Jordan Ehrenberg (JD57) 7. Kyle Martell (8) 8. Kole Holden (2) 9. Jacob Jordan (28J) 10. Gage Priester (71) 11. Brandon Ritchey (1R) 12. Chelsie Kriegisch (10) 13. Brandon Albert (30) 14. Dave Price (111) 15. Jessica Kriegisch (63) 16. Caden Petry (7P) 17. Gary Haupt (16) 18. Amelia Clay (16c) 19. Dalton Gabriel (333G) 20. Josh Ehrenberg (571) 21. Cole Edwards (29) 22. Rob Kristyak (00). DNS: Clayton Deems (55R), Steve Burns, Jr. (70B).
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.