Nearly 24 years later Dave Blaney is a World of Outlaws Sprint Car winner again scoring a popular win at Sharon 14 years after their last appearance; 61-year-old great Rod George wins RUSH Sprint Car opener
By Mike Leone
May 22, 2021
(Hartford, OH)…A capacity crowd that spilled over into the infield fan zone was part of a magical night as the World of Outlaws NOS Energy Drink Sprint Cars returned to Sharon Speedway on Saturday after a 14-year absence. Dave Blaney (World of Outlaws) and Rod George (Terry Bowser Excavating RUSH Sprint Cars) captured popular wins in an electric atmosphere at the track and for those that watched at home on DIRTVision.
Twenty-three years, seven months, and two days after his last World of Outlaws victory on October 21, 1997 at Southern New Mexico Speedway, Dave Blaney welcomed back the Series to his own track 14 years after their last appearances and sent Hartford, Ohio into a frenzy with a last lap pass of Sheldon Haudenschild for the $10,000 victory in the 35-lap feature.
“I feel like I had a Sprint Car career in the 90s but I don’t anymore,” explained the 58-year-old Hartford, Ohio native. “I just come out and play nowadays. It’s not lost on me that winning a World of Outlaws race in this day and age is giant; especially at a track I’m part-owner at. The response was just overwhelming. I thought we had a car that could come here and be competitive. We’ve raced here quite a few times with this car and it’s ran really well. To have it actually work out is pretty crazy though. This is really awesome and such a proud moment for us. This is a car we built ourselves and we just beat the Outlaws- holy crap! It’s a dream come true, and it happened at my home track.”
Following his dash win, Haudenschild bolted into the lead, while Carson Macedo, Blaney, and David Gravel all got past Aaron Reutzel for spots second through fourth. Haudenschild was ripping the fence and had extended his lead until catching lapped traffic on lap seven, which allowed Macedo to close in. One lap later though Haudenschild was able to break free of Macedo, while Blaney put a slider on Macedo in turn four to take second. Eleventh starting Brad Sweet cracked the top five when he passed both Brent Marks and Reutzel on lap 12.
Haudenschild was setting a wicked pace out front building his lead to more than seven seconds despite dealing with heavy traffic. Haudenschild had lapped up to eighth place and continued to bang the fence leaving everyone in amazement how not only did he not crash or suffer a flat tire, but also maintained his huge advantage. On Friday night at Attica Raceway Park, Haudenschild was a little more than a lap from a victory when D.J. Foos lost a wheel and Haudenschild was unable to avoid his spinning car. On Saturday night it was a caution for Reutzel’s flat tire with five laps to go would be what doomed him.
The caution cleared all of the lapped cars that were between Haudenschild and Blaney and set up a five-lap sprint to the checkered flag. Blaney stuck right with Haudenschild getting along side Haudenschild on several occasions, but Haudenschild had the momentum around the top to maintain the lead. With the white flag waving and the fans on their feet, Haudenschild caught the turn two fence a little too hard this time getting his NOS Energy Drink #17 sideways allowing Blaney to blast by on the backstretch and capture one of, it not, the most popular wins in Sharon Speedway history.
“I knew that was my only chance,” Blaney explained. “That caution saved us, no doubt. I could see him up there and the lappers were catching him on the bottom, so the top was slowing down. He wasn’t going to move off it, so I thought I had a chance if I could get alongside him. I thought we were dead with two to go, but that mistake was all we needed.”
Blaney’s 95th career World of Outlaws win also broke the record for the longest gap between a first and last career victory, making it 36 years, 1 month, and 16 days between his April 5, 1985 win at Tri-City (IL) Speedway and Saturday’s win! It was Blaney’s 33rd career Sharon “410” Sprint Car win and 36th overall at his home track.
After dominating the first 34 laps, Haudenschild came home 0.802 of a second behind Blaney’s #10 at the finish to earn $6,000. “I let my guys down,” expressed Haudenschild. “We’ve got a really fast race car, but I just pushed too hard and lost my momentum. Sometimes you get beat. If I’m gonna lose to anybody, I’m glad it’s Dave. He and my dad [Jac Haudenschild] grew up racing so for him to get an Outlaw win this late in his career at his home track, that’s special for the Blaney family.”
World of Outlaws racers Macedo, Gravel, and points leader Sweet finished second through fifth respectively. Marks was sixth in his first ever Sharon start. Brock Zearfoss raced from 12th to seventh. Logan Schuchart was eighth. Kraig Kinser went 13th to ninth as James McFadden rounded out the top 10. Last Saturday night’s “410” Sprint Car feature winner, George Hobaugh, was running ninth, but lost four spots on the final lap to finish 13th as the highest finishing local racer.
After being fastest in warm-ups, Reutzel set fast time in qualifying with a lap of 13.342 then went on to win heat race one. Other heat race winners were Gravel and Haudenschild. After breaking in his heat race, Donny Schatz captured the last chance B main then went 21st to 11th in the feature as he continues to search for his first Series win of the season, which will be milestone win #300.
It was a trip down memory lane for those in attendance and watching on DIRTVision as not only did 58-year-old Dave Blaney win the World of Outlaws feature, but 61-year-old former “410” Sprint Car great Rod George brought down the curtain on the magical night winning the first appearance by the Pace Performance RUSH Sprint Car Series. George passed fellow former “410” Sprint Car veteran Arnie Kent on lap 13 to score the $800 win in the 20-lap Terry Bowser Excavating feature.
“That was a lot of fun battling with Arnie (Kent),” expressed the Kittanning, Pa. racer. “I didn’t want to touch him and we definitely had a good battle going there. I haven’t raced in four or five years and didn’t have much intention of doing anymore racing, but Ted Hull kept calling me over the winter so I decided to give it a try. I was never very good running without a wing. I’ve been struggling big time. These cars are so hard to drive. You have to be so smooth and keep the momentum. They don’t have a lot of power if you screw up to get going again. Overall they are a ball to drive, but a lot tougher than I expected.”
Kent and two-time RUSH Equipment Rental Options Weekly Series Champion Chad Ruhlman brought the field to green with Kent taking the lead, while fourth starting George raced to second on the opening lap. Second year racer Tyler Newhart brought action to a halt when he flipped in turn three on lap two; he was okay. When racing resumed, sixth starting Nolan Groves moved into third past Ruhlman. By lap four, the top four of Kent, George, Groves, and Ruhlman pulled away.
Ruhlman slowed to a stop with 11 laps scored to bring out the event’s final stoppage. This moved last year’s RUSH Weekly Series Champion, Jeremy Weaver, who started ninth, into fourth. Back under green flag conditions, Kent and George raced side-by-side for the lead with George taking the top spot on the 13th circuit, while last year’s RUSH “Futures Cup” Champion, Groves, followed in second.
George held off Groves over the final six laps to win by 1.255 seconds for his first win driving for veteran car owner Ted Hull in the Washington House/Alternative Power Sources-sponsored #41. George became the seventh different RUSH Sprint winner in 10 races run all-time at Sharon to go along with three career “410” wins at Sharon. George also becomes the fourth different winner in four RUSH Sprint races contested in the region in 2021.
Kent was third after the leading the first 12 laps. After crashing in his heat, Blaze Myers stormed through the field from his 19th starting spot to finish fourth after passing Steve Pedley on lap 19. Pedley, who won his first career feature last year at Sharon, was fifth after starting 10th. Weaver was sixth in his first start in Calvin Clay’s #12C. Brandon Shughart was seventh over Gale Ruth, Jr. Teammates A.J. MacQuarrie and Brian Hartzell were ninth and 10th. Groves and Shughart won the heat races over the 19-car field.
Coming up next Saturday night (May 29) will see the UMP Mods return for their second of five appearances and will be joined by the Terry Bowser Excavating RUSH Sprint Cars, Gibson Insurance Agency Pro Stocks, and the HTMA/Precise Racing Products RUSH Sportsman Modifieds. Kids power wheel races will take place at intermission. Pits open at 4 p.m., grandstands at 5 with racing at 7.
World of Outlaws “410” Sprint Cars (35 laps, $10,000 to-win): 1. 10-Dave Blaney [$10,000]; 2. 17-Sheldon Haudenschild [$6,000]; 3. 41-Carson Macedo [$3,500]; 4. 2-David Gravel [$2,800]; 5. 49-Brad Sweet [$2,500]; 6. 19-Brent Marks [$2,300]; 7. 3Z-Brock Zearfoss [$2,200]; 8. 1S-Logan Schuchart [$2,100]; 9. 11K-Kraig Kinser [$2,050]; 10. 9-James McFadden [$2,000]; 11. 15-Donny Schatz [$1,600]; 12. 2C-Wayne Johnson [$1,400]; 13. 40-George Hobaugh [$1,200]; 14. 11-Carl Bowser [$1,100]; 15. 42-Sye Lynch [$1,050]; 16. 13-Brandon Matus [$1,000]; 17. 23-Darren Pifer [$1,000]; 18. 22-Brandon Spithaler [$1,000]; 19. 5K-Adam Kekich [$1,000]; 20. O8-Brandon Conkel [$1,000]; 21. 29-Michael Bauer [$1,000]; 22. 83-Aaron Reutzel [$1,000]; 23. 1A-Jacob Allen [$1,000]; 24. 70-Henry Malcuit [$1,000]. DNQ: 12-Darin Gallagher, 33-Brent Matus, 47-Bret Brunkenhoefer.
WoO Sprint Qualifying: 1. 83-Aaron Reutzel, 13.342; 2. 2-David Gravel, 13.545; 3. 17-Sheldon Haudenschild, 13.573; 4. 42-Sye Lynch, 13.615; 5. 19-Brent Marks, 13.787; 6. 41-Carson Macedo, 13.872; 7. 1S-Logan Schuchart, 13.876; 8. 10-Dave Blaney, 13.903; 9. 15-Donny Schatz, 13.944; 10. 1A-Jacob Allen, 13.967; 11. 49-Brad Sweet, 13.972; 12. 70-Henry Malcuit, 14.128; 13. 9-James McFadden, 14.195; 14. 2C-Wayne Johnson, 14.212; 15. 3Z-Brock Zearfoss, 14.233; 16. 5K-Adam Kekich, 14.275; 17. 11-Carl Bowser, 14.616; 18. 12-Darin Gallagher, 14.689; 19. 22-Brandon Spithaler, 14.705; 20. 13-Brandon Matus, 14.764; 21. 40-George Hobaugh, 14.807; 22. 11K-Kraig Kinser, 15.044; 23. 29-Michael Bauer, 15.088; 24. 23-Darren Pifer, 15.458; 25. 33-Brent Matus, 16.006; 26. O8-Brandon Conkel, 16.415; 27. 47-Bret Brunkenhoefer, 18.529.
WoO Sprint DRYDENE Heat #1 (8 Laps) – (Top 6 Transfer): 1. 83-Aaron Reutzel ; 2. 42-Sye Lynch ; 3. 1S-Logan Schuchart ; 4. 9-James McFadden ; 5. 11K-Kraig Kinser ; 6. 22-Brandon Spithaler ; 7. 5K-Adam Kekich ; 8. 1A-Jacob Allen ; 9. 33-Brent Matus .
WoO Sprint DRYDENE Heat #2 (8 Laps) – (Top 6 Transfer): 1. 2-David Gravel ; 2. 10-Dave Blaney ; 3. 19-Brent Marks ; 4. 49-Brad Sweet ; 5. 11-Carl Bowser ; 6. 13-Brandon Matus ; 7. 29-Michael Bauer ; 8. 2C-Wayne Johnson ; 9. O8-Brandon Conkel .
WoO Sprint DRYDENE Heat #3 (8 Laps) – (Top 6 Transfer): 1. 17-Sheldon Haudenschild ; 2. 41-Carson Macedo ; 3. 40-George Hobaugh ; 4. 3Z-Brock Zearfoss ; 5. 23-Darren Pifer ; 6. 70-Henry Malcuit ; 7. 12-Darin Gallagher ; 8. 15-Donny Schatz ; 9. 47-Bret Brunkenhoefer .
WoO Sprint DIRTVision Fast Pass Dash (6 Laps): 1. 17-Sheldon Haudenschild ; 2. 83-Aaron Reutzel ; 3. 41-Carson Macedo ; 4. 10-Dave Blaney ; 5. 2-David Gravel ; 6. 42-Sye Lynch .
WoO Sprint Last Chance Showdown (12 Laps) – (Top 6 Transfer): 1. 15-Donny Schatz [-]; 2. 29-Michael Bauer [-]; 3. 2C-Wayne Johnson [-]; 4. 5K-Adam Kekich [-]; 5. 1A-Jacob Allen [-]; 6. O8-Brandon Conkel [-]; 7. 12-Darin Gallagher [$300]; 8. 33-Brent Matus [$250]; 9. 47-Bret Brunkenhoefer [$225].
Terry Bowser Excavating RUSH Sprint Cars (20 laps, $800 to-win): 1. ROD GEORGE (Hull 41) 2. Nolan Groves (25) 3. Arnie Kent (18) 4. Blaze Myers (43JR) 5. Steve Pedley (21) 6. Jeremy Weaver (Clay 12C) 7. Brandon Shughart (29) 8. Gale Ruth, Jr. (McConnell 24) 9. A.J. MacQuarrie (Hartzell 69x) 10. Brian Hartzell (69) 11. Andy Feil (Mahoney/Eckart 9) 12. Brad Blackshear (19) 13. Amelia Clay (16C) 14. Gale Ruth, Sr. (Boyles 5B) 15. Kevin Kaserman (13) 16. Ricky Tucker, Jr. (1T) 17. Chad Ruhlman (Engles 68) 18. Bill Watson (37x) 19. Tyler Newhart (57N).
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.