Chris Schneider tops 64-car field for biggest career win in $10,000 “Steel Valley Pro Stock Nationals”; Angie Grzelak back in victory lane nearly 7 years after her 1st Dwarf Car win
By Mike Leone
June 12, 2021
(Hartford, OH)…Sharon Speedway hosted the third annual “Steel Valley Pro Stock Nationals” this weekend presented by Can-Am, Blue Ox Timber, and E&K Equipment. After practice, qualifying, and a king of the hill on Friday night, the balance of the program was completed on a beautiful Saturday evening in addition to a complete show for the Sportsman Dwarf Cars. Celebrating in the Hovis Auto & Truck Supply victory lane were Chris Schneider-Penn-Ohio Championship Series for the Gibson Insurance Agency Pro Stocks and Angie Grzelak in the Joe’s Radiator Service/Waterstone Mortgage by Sara Cipriano/R Tumbleweed Transportation Sportsman Dwarf Cars.
Chris Schneider has won every major Pro Stock race in the region over his many years of dominance with the exception of the “Steel Valley Nationals”, which eluded him in the first two years of existence. On Saturday night, Schneider patiently made his way from the eighth starting spot, inherited the lead with 10 laps to go after leader Chris McGuire suffered a flat tire from hitting the fence, and led the remainder of the way for his biggest career win worth $10,000 for the Penn-Ohio Championship Series. Schneider became the third different winner in as many years.
“I guess the outside was there,” stated the 42-year-old Lower Burrell, Pa. racer when asked about McGuire. “I thought about running it (outside) but I figured I’d stay smooth, calm, and conservative. I probably would have done some donuts after the race, but I’m just way to calm for that right now. We’ve built a lot of cars, but I sold my new car. I really miss it; it was really smooth. I built this car in 2003. It’s been sitting around and it’s like an old friend. I always said I was going to win ten grand with it jokingly, but hey I guess it happened!”
After the Diehl Automotive Pace Truck exited the speedway, Andrew Gordon raced into the early lead at the start of the 75-lap event over 2019 event winner Curt J. Bish. Schneider was halfway to the front when he passed Rob Shook on lap seven for fourth and brought Alan Dellinger with him. Dellinger, who was aboard Rod Laskey’s #1R, was on the move as he passed both Schneider and Jason Johns to take over third on lap eight, while Schneider also got by Johns to maintain fourth.
Lapped traffic came into play on lap 12 as Gordon had a half-straightaway lead on Bish. Dellinger ran down Bish and drove around him for second on lap 13. Dellinger was all over Gordon over the next five laps trying to find a way by and finally got a good enough run off turn two to sneak by on lap 18. Dellinger’s lead was short-lived though as he pulled off one lap later handing the lead back to Gordon.
Dellinger’s misfortune moved Schneider to third and he then would grab runner-up on lap 31 getting by Bish. Schneider though found himself 4.3 seconds behind Gordon. As the laps ticked off caution-free, Schneider began to pick up the pace at the halfway mark and began to chew into Gordon’s lead. The deficit shrank to less than two seconds on lap 40. Meanwhile, all eyes began to focus on seventh starting McGuire, who was powering around the fence. McGuire passed Johns for fourth on lap 44 then closed in on Schneider and Bish on lap 48. McGuire moved into third on lap 49 then drove around Schneider for second with a three-wide move in traffic on lap 51.
McGuire trailed Gordon by 1.5 seconds by the time he made his way to second. McGuire quickly ran down Gordon and made the pass for the lead off turn four on lap 54. McGuire then distanced himself from the field, while the battle was on for second. Schneider made the important pass for the runner-up spot on lap 63 as he would inherit the lead three laps later after McGuire suffered a flat tire from hitting the fence one too many times too hard.
After 65 caution-free laps, three more cautions followed the caution for McGuire over the next four laps. When green-replaced yellow for the final time on lap 70, Schneider pulled away and took his 14th career Sharon win by 3.190 seconds in his SS Chassis & Supply/Total Landscaping/Butler Truck Parts-sponsored #55.
While Schneider checked out, a four-car battle ensued for second over the final six laps with Gordon taking the $3,000 runner-up honors. Bish was third for $1,500. Shook brought Jim Fosnaught’s #20J home in fourth for $1,000. Thirty-two-time Sharon winner, Steve D’Apolito, had a strong run in fifth from the 14th starting spot. Completing the top 10 were Bobby Whitling, Dylan Cecce, Christian Schneider, McGuire, and Tim Bish.
Chris Couchenour led all 15 laps of the B feature and elected to take the 30th starting spot in the A feature forfeiting what would have been a $500 payday. Couchenour was able to make his way up to 13th in the feature finish to earn $350 instead.
On Friday night, Gordon set fast over the 64-car field with a 19.301 to earn $100 and then went on to win the king of the hill worth $250. Heat winners on Saturday night were Gordon, Dellinger, Joey Zambotti III, Bish, Shook, and Johns. Gordon also won the dash for the heat winners to set the first three rows of the feature. Paul Davis, Zach Gustafson, and Brett McDonald split the three last chance B mains.
In addition to Can-Am, Blue Ox Timber, and E&K Equipment Other, other sponsors making the “Steel Valley Pro Stock Nationals” possible include Wedge Motorsports, Lynchwood Spirits, Bish Heating & Cooling, Les Frickshun, Crawford Custom Consulting, ITC Crane, R & R Enterprise Auto Sales & Garage, R.K. Virgile Scrap Metals, RCR Automotive, SS Chassis & Supply, Stoneboro Recycling, Witmer’s Feed & Grain, Beck’s Seeds, World of Wheels, Close Racing Supply, Shaffer’s Auto & Exhaust, Centerline Collision, May’s Towing, Roostit Chassis, STAAR Trucking, The Dirt Network, Shingledecker Welding, and Razor Sharp Logistics.
Angie Grzelak passed her brother Joe on lap two and fended off his challenges over the remaining 14 laps to pick up the $500 win in the first appearance of the season by the Sportsman Dwarf Cars. Grzelak picked up her first career Sharon win on the old surface back on September 12, 2014 during the “Apple Festival Nationals”, which was believed to be the first female winner in the storied history of Sharon Speedway, and returned to victory lane on Saturday night for the first time on the new red clay surface.
“That was a lot of fun,” expressed the 33-year-old Hubbard, Ohio driver. “This is such a great track for our cars- I just love it here. When I’m racing with my brother, I’m always nervous. I’m still trying to catch my breath- I don’t think I breathed the whole race. I have to thank my dad at Joe’s Radiator Service, who is one of the sponsors tonight along with Sara Cipriano and R Tumbleweed. I also have to thank my mom, who comes to every single one of races, my friends and family, the fans that come out, Dave (Willoughby) that puts us on the schedule ”
Tiffany Williams was docked a row for jumping the initial start, which put Joe Grzelak, Jr. on the outside pole and he raced into the lead on the opening lap with third starting Angie Grzelak moving to second past pole-sitter Steve Mix. Angie made the winning move on lap two as the sister-brother duo distanced themselves from the field. Twelve-year-old Luke Mulichak, who started eighth, was on the move as he passed Mix for third on lap seven, but lost the handle and spun to bring out the caution with two laps to go.
Angie was able to hold off her brother Joe on the final two restarts in the Joe’s Radiator Service-sponsored #57. Williams was third. Tyler Yoho, who was unable to start his heat race, came from 16th to finish fourth. Jacob Eakin was also unable to start his heat race and charged from 15th to fifth. Mix fell to sixth. Taylor Suchan was seventh. Corey Renforth and Jared Thompson were eighth and ninth in their first ever Sharon starts. Mulichak, a former Junior Sprint racer, came back from his spin with two laps to go to round out the top 10.
The Dwarfs will return for two more appearances during the 92nd anniversary season presented by Joe’s Radiator Service, Waterstone Mortgage of Hermitage by Sara Cipriano, and R Tumbleweed Transportation with the next coming on August 7 followed by September 10 for the “Apple Festival Nationals”.
Coming up on Tuesday (June 15) will be Ohio Speedweek for the FloRacing All Star Circuit of Champions for $6,000 to-win along with the Terry Bowser Excavating RUSH Sprint Cars. Warm-ups begin at 6:15 p.m. followed by All Star qualifying and racing. Pre-sale tickets are available here: https://sharonspeedway.simpletix.com
Next Saturday (June 19) will be a “Steel Valley Thunder” show featuring the Hovis Auto & Truck Supply UMP Modifieds for $1,000 to-win along with the Gibson Insurance Agency Pro Stocks, HTMA/Precise Racing Products RUSH Sportsman Modifieds, and the Whelen Econo Mods. Race time is 7 p.m.
Penn-Ohio Championship Series for the Gibson Insurance Agency Pro Stocks “Steel Valley Nationals” (75 laps, $10,000 to-win): 1. CHRIS SCHNEIDER (55) 2. Andrew Gordon (25) 3. Curt J. Bish (Tarr 29) 4. Rob Shook (Fosnaught 20J) 5. Steve D’Apolito (84) 6. Bobby Whitling (7W) 7. Dylan Cecce (Clark 18) 8. Christian Schneider (M5) 9. Chris McGuire (63) 10. Tim Bish (11B) 11. Todd Weldon (45) 12. Coleton Longwell (7) 13. Chris Couchenour (299) 14. Shaun Hooks (65) 15. Leigh Wheeler (2W) 16. Larry Kugel (Petsko 00) 17. Brian Carothers (02c) 18. Tyler Wyant (24) 19. Zach Gustafson (983) 20. Josh Seippel (84s) 21. William Hurrelbrink (c8) 22. Brett McDonald (25) 23. Joey Zambotti III (948) 24. Paul Davis (3) 25. Jason Johns (31) 26. Jackson Humanic (17) 27. Chase Lambert (22) 28. Bruce Hartzfeld, Jr. (101) 29. Alan Dellinger (Laskey 1R) 30. Scott Stiffler (14).
Pro Stock B Feature (15 laps, $500 to-win or option of transfering to A) 1. Chris Couchenour 2. Matt Bernard (7B) 3. Douglas Eck (4*) 4. Jeff Broniszewski (08) 5. Jesse Brock (22B) 6. Curt Bish (00) 7. Wesley McCray (32) 8. Shane Applebee (30) 9. Doug Iorio II (28) 10. Ray Gregory (82R) 11. Jonathan Davis (8) 12. Brad Hensel (Nicely 2x). DNS: Gil Demello (22), Jamie Barber (1776), Jamie Duncan (67J), Marty Spade, Jr. (18s).
DNQ for either Pro Stock Feature: Ed Bolyard (Patrick 05), Jim Nicely (72x), Andy Buckley (965), Chris Withers (21W), Dan Lewis (64), Josh Blum (39B), Pat Fielding (23), Troy DeZarn (Nichols 21), Tim Deutsch (20), Darr Diegelman (15*), Blaze Myers (43M), Tyler Kubic (222), Jamie Colwell (54J), Jason Fosnaught (J19), Mike Kerr (25K), Scott Malone (25M), Jamie Scharba (11S), Jamie Maxwell (6), Rusty Wheeler (927).
Joe’s Radiator Service/Waterstone Mortgage by Sara Cipriano/R Tumbleweed Transportation Sportsman Dwarf Cars (15 laps, $500 to-win): 1. ANGIE GRZELAK (57) 2. Joe Grzelak, Jr. (888) 3. Tiffany Williams (58) 4. Tyler Yoho (9R) 5. Jacob Eakin (14) 6. Steve Mix 7. Taylor Suchan (44) 8. Corey Renforth (43) 9. Jared Thompson (25T) 10. Luke Mulichak (55) 11. Jerry Langley, Jr. (23L) 12. Shawn Migdol (17) 13. Jim Haefke, Jr. (421) 14. Greg Davis (34) 15. Drew Hannay (808) 16. Mark Suchan (66).
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.