Sharon Speedway

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Sharon Speedway


By Mike Leone


(Hartford, OH)…For the third straight Saturday, Sharon Speedway was able to beat the thunderstorms that came after midnight as the “Steel Valley Thunder� program presented by Lincoln Electric saw 119 cars participate with three new faces in victory lane.

Celebrating with wins in the Hovis Auto & Truck Supply victory lane were Kevin Bolland-Governor Insurance Agency Big-Block Modifieds, Eric Wilson-Barris Supply FASTRAK Late Models, Carl McKinney-Ainsley 500 Heating & Cooling E-Mods, Paul Davis-Gibson Insurance Agency Stock Cars, Steve Haefke-Summit Racing Equipment Econo Mods, Bill Fuchs-Presidential Lawn Care Mini Stocks, while Pastor Dale Day won the annual Faster Pastor race.

Third generation driver Eric Wilson pulled off what could be considered the biggest upset in FASTRAK Late Model Racing history. The 14-year-old held off defending two-time National Weekly Series and Northeast Touring Champion Max Blair, last week’s $2,000 Tour winner George Kowatic, two-time weekend winner Josh Holtgraver, and three-time Sharon winner and 19th starting Joe Martin to become what is thought to be the youngest winner in Sharon Speedway’s storied history. Wilson, who entered the night with a career best finish of 10th, became the amazing 12th different winner of the season out of 17 races!

“I’m lost in the moment,� expressed the Cortland, Ohio driver. “Thanks to my dad we had a great setup in the car, and my grandpa with the motor- we couldn’t ask for anything better. There’s a big adjustment from go-karts and we’ve struggled, but I’m holding the checkered flag now!�

Wilson started on the pole of the 20-lap Barris Supply feature, but it was Michael Mitchell using the outside to take the early lead. Tom Copeland and sixth starting Holtgraver passed Bobby Pifer III for third and fourth on the opening lap. The event’s first caution was with one lap completed for Rocky Kugel and Bill Cunningham.

When racing resumed, Holtgraver worked his way past Copeland for third on lap three. Mitchell quickly began to pull away on lap four. Blair, who started ninth, made his presence known when he cracked the top five on lap five taking the spot from Matt Latta. Two laps later, Blair disposed of Copeland for fourth.

As Mitchell continued to pull away, Wilson was holding off a hungry pack of six racers that were trying everything to get past him. Kowatic started 11th and was on the march as he moved into the top five on lap 10 getting by Copeland. On lap 15, Holtgraver went for the pass doing a slider in turn four, but lost his momentum as Wilson nosed back ahead at the start-finish line.

On lap 17 Mitchell caught lapped traffic, while Holtgraver finally made the move on Wilson for second using the highline in turn two. Mitchell, who had a near five-second lead and was primed for his first career win, had nowhere to go on the frontstretch when FASTRAK rookie Stan Woomer moved up sending Mitchell into the fence and a heartbreak end to a promising night.

The caution was huge as the pass of Wilson by Holtgraver was negated and it put Wilson out in front on the Delaware restart. Holtgraver was stuck on the bottom and his bid for three straight wins ended as Blair used the advantageous outside to get by Holtgraver on the restart with Kowatic following.

Wilson was able to hold off four of the best of the business along with point leader Josh Double over the course of the final three laps for the popular and emotional win in the Chris Wilson-owned, Simpson Racing Equipment/Pet Parlor-sponsored #27. Wilson is one of 18 racers competing for the inaugural FASTRAK Northeast “Futures Cup�. Wilson joined “Futures Cup� racers Ryan Montgomery and Chad Wright, who have also won features this season, while “Futures Cup� point leader Damian Bidwell was a feature winner last season at Tri-City Speedway.

Blair was just 0.212 seconds back in second. Kowatic had another strong run in third. Holtgraver was fourth ahead of Martin, who dug himself out of a big hole after a poor pill draw and heat race finish. Double was sixth and regained the point lead by two over John Volpe. Copeland was a season best seventh. Billy Cunningham, Volpe, and Bidwell completed the top 10. Kugel, Chad Wright, and Holtgraver were heat winners over the 23-car field.

Kevin Bolland took full advantage of a pole position starting spot and led all 20 laps of an unusual caution-filled 20-lap Governor Insurance Agency Big-Block Modified feature for his second win of the season.

“It’s always tough when you have to start at the back and earn your way up there,� acknowledged the 51-year-old New Brighton, Pa. driver. “It’s been a tough year for us and we’ve been trying to reach into the bag and pull out different tricks. The team is pulling together. We had a rough night two weeks ago here. When it rubbers up, it sure makes us quicker. I didn’t know where everyone else was at.�

Bolland quickly took off in the lead with two-time winner Rex King, Jr. following. Rob Kristyak passed Chris Haines and newcomer Carl Weatherby for third on the opening lap. Kevin Hoffman started in seventh and made his way up to fourth after two laps. Three cautions slowed action between laps three and five.

Kristyak had passed King for second on lap four, but on lap six Kristyak got a poor restart as King, Hoffman, and ninth starting Brian Weaver made their way by for second through fourth. King and Hoffman traded second spot back and forth during three cautions between laps nine and 12.

The last eight laps went non-stop. King got by Hoffman for good on lap 13, while Justin Rasey grabbed fourth from Weaver. King would have nothing for the leader as Bolland stretched his lead and margin of victory to 2.263 seconds. Bolland’s 18th career win came in the Boundary Systems/CREO/Bolland Machine/Cintas/Cranberry Coin & Currency/My Way Mobile Storage/Car Clean Products/Auto Body Works/Budisak Boys-sponsored Bicknell #777 Bicknell.

King, Jr. was second. Hoffman crossed the finish in third, but was light at the scales moving 17-year-old rookie Justin Rasey up to a career best third in just his fourth feature start! New York invader Brian Weaver was fourth over 14th starting Brad Rapp. Sixth through 10th were Jim Weller, Jr., Chris Haines, Mark Flick, Dean Pearson, and Mark Frankhouser. King, Jr. and Kristyak were heat victors over the 20-car field.

Carl McKinney won his last track championship in 2004- the same year he won his last feature at Sharon. On Saturday night, McKinney passed Ronnie Kahler at the start and held off a furious charge by Joel Watson to capture the 15-lap Ainsley 500 Heating & Cooling feature for his first win in seven years and at the same time took over the point lead by 13 over Kinney! McKinney’s sixth career victory came over a stellar field of 31 cars.

“I didn’t want to see 92 (Joel Watson) starting third because that’s like the prime spot,� expressed the soon-to-be 40-year-old Mars, Pa. driver. “He races me clean. I saw him peek his nose under there, but my car is the best through the middle so he was going to either have to try it on the very bottom or very top. After racing here since April, this was my first front row starting spot all season. I’m a patient guy, but that was testing me a little bit!�

McKinney took control over Kahler with Andy Buckley advancing from sixth to third after one lap. Jim Turley spun to bring out the first caution with three laps completed. When racing resumed, Buckley passed Kahler for second. Watson started seventh and cracked the top five on lap six. Watson put a slider on Joe Gabrielson to take fourth on lap seven.

Buckley began to close on McKinney on lap eight, while Watson began to pressure Kahler for third. Watson did another slider in turn four on lap nine to take the third position then got the caution he needed when Bill Thomas stopped with 11 laps completed. On the ensuing restart, Watson stole second Buckley. Watson hounded McKinney over the final four laps, but McKinney held on by 0.494 seconds in the Mike Hendrickson-owned, Townsend Gas & Oil/Whitehills Garage/The Galley/Brad Penn Oil/All Star Performance/Holden Oil & Gas/Hoosier Tire-sponsored #6M.

Watson, who won three features in his first eight starts, made his return to Sharon for the first time in over a month to finish second. Buckley was third for the second straight time. Joe Gabrielson was another driver making his first start in over a month and was fourth. Scott Stiffler came from 12th to place fifth. Dwayne Clay, Thomas, Watson, and Jeff Johnson won the heats, while Ron Roncaglione and Mike Potosky won the B mains in their first appearances of the season.

Paul Davis charged from the seventh starting spot to pass Steve Burns, Jr. on lap eight and went on to capture his fourth Gibson Insurance Agency Stock Car feature win tying Alan Dellinger as the division’s top winner.

“This one is definitely for my buddy, crew chief, and car owner Matt Schaefers,� said the veteran Fowler, Ohio driver. “He passed away about two weeks ago from a heart attack. We worked on this car six days a week for a year to get it ready.�

Burns took off in the lead from the pole with Jamie Scharba trailing. Davis passed four cars on the opening lap for third. Dellinger started in 11th and was making his way to the front. Dellinger passed Tyler Nicely for fourth on lap two and one lap later joined the front three making it a four-car race for the lead.

Davis got under Scharba in turn four for second on lap six and one lap later Dellinger followed in third. Burns checked up in turn three on lap eight allowing Davis to make the winning move. The race’s first caution slowed action for Michael Hudzik with eight laps completed. When green replaced yellow, Dellinger passed his teammate Burns for second. Dellinger would slow on lap 14 and exited the race while Jamie Gibbs brought out the second and final caution setting up a one-lap shootout.

Davis wasn’t to be denied as he went unchallenged on the final lap in his Hover Racing/Integra Fab-sponsored #3. Point leader Steve D’Apolito started 12th and passed Brian Carothers and Burns on the final lap to cross the line in second, but was docked two spots for jumping the restart. Burns was temporarily credited with second, but was disqualified in a post-race engine teardown protest.

Carothers, who started ninth, was awarded in second for a season best finish. D’Apolito’s third continued his perfect streak of all top six heat and feature finishes as he extended his point lead to 19 over Mike Clark, who finished fourth. Scharba dropped to fifth. Heat victories over the 19-car field went to Scharba and D’Apolito.

Steve Haefke owned one career win at Sharon Speedway and that was in the E-Mod division back in the half-mile days. On Saturday night, Haefke subbed for his step-son Corey Skully in the Econo Mod division and captured the 15-lap Summit Racing Equipment feature.

“We have three E-Mods in the garage,� stated the 45-year-old Austintown, Ohio driver. “This car here Scott Stiffler, Alan Dellinger, and Corey won it. We bought it off Scotty four year ago and I built a new one last year. Corey wanted to run 2 barrels and we put him in this. I screwed up last week. If it was anyone’s fault it was mine and I should have been thrown out not him. This is for the kids and he said lets go race the car and let me know how it feels. It feels pretty good!�

Haefke started all the way back in 12th and inherited the lead on lap seven after an accident took out several of the top runners including Jeff Christy, who led the first six laps. Once in front, Haefke survived two more restarts for the win in his J&M Machine/Tub’s Automotive-sponsored #21.

Jim Turley took second when Derek Dellinger did a 360-spin on lap seven. Turley’s runner-up was his best of the season and cut more than half into Junior Mechling’s point lead. Dellinger came back to get third after passing Larry Root on lap 14. Root was fourth over Kevin Robinson, who secured his first top five finish. Brad Blackshear and Dellinger won the heats.

After five years of trying, Bill Fuchs clinched his first career track championship by winning his track-leading ninth feature win in the 12-lap Presidential Lawn Care event. Fuchs started sixth and flew to the lead on the opening lap and was never seriously challenged for his first win since July 9. Fuchs dedicated his success to his late grandfather Bill Larmier, Sr., who pulled for over 52 years, won 30 championships, and invented the Northwest Pulling Association.

“We’ve been in a little bit of a slump after we blew the motor- it’s been nothing but electrical failures,� explained the 35-year-old Greenville, Pa. resident. “My hats off to my wingman Bill Watson. Without him and my sponsors I would have never won nine features. The fans here are great. Dave Willoughby puts on a spectacular show one after and another and my hats off to the entire Sharon Speedway crew.�

Steve Walker II chased Fuchs for five laps and was within striking distance until the first caution was displayed with five laps completed. On the ensuing restart, Lucas Sprouse and last week’s winner Jamie Wrightsman both passed Walker for second and third. The final caution slowed action when Rob McElhaney slammed the turn three fence and collected Jeremy Double with seven laps scored.

The final five laps went caution-free. Wrightsman passed Sprouse for second on the restart. Wrightsman stayed close, but Fuchs was too much in the RTW Industrial Contracting/Hittles Auto Supply/Kreider Tire-sponsored #10. Fuchs’ victory was the 12th of his career and tied Mike Scharba at the top of the division’s all-time win list. Randy Sprouse came from ninth to finish third after passing his son Lucas on lap 11. Lucas was fourth as Walker dropped to fifth. Randy Sprouse and Fuchs took the heat race honors.

The six-lap, five-car Faster Pastor race saw four lead changes with Pastor Dale Day capturing the win in his first race. Driving the Randy Sprouse-owned #23s, Day led the first three laps from the pole position only to get passed by Pastor Bill Johnson and Pastor Boyd Elliott on lap four. Elliott would lead lap five, but on the final lap Day passed both Johnson and Elliott to take the win. Elliott edged Johnson for second. Pastor Troy Duncan was fourth with Pastor Dan Bryant in fifth. Pastor Rich Whipkey was unable to start after damage suffered to Rob McElhaney’s car in the Mini Stock feature.

Barris Supply FASTRAK Late Models (20 laps): 1. ERIC WILSON (27) 2. Max Blair (111) 3. George Kowatic (5) 4. Josh Holtgraver (00) 5. Joe Martin (55) 6. Josh Double (38) 7. Tom Copeland (98) 8. Billy Cunningham (44c) 9. John Volpe (Bidwell B1D) 10. Damian Bidwell (17) 11. Matt Latta (21) 12. Bill Cunningham (59) 13. Bobby Pifer III (6) 14. Tony Tatgenhorst (Aguredakes 63) 15. Brian Booher (Hoover 00H) 16. Stan Woomer (2) 17. Jason Stanke (44) 18. Tyler Barris (32B) 19. Michael Mitchell (19) 20. Chad Wright (6) 21. Bob Diver (23) 22. Rocky Kugel (21KRT)-DSQ (unsportsmanlike conduct) 23. Will Thomas III (9)-DNS.

Governor Insurance Agency Big-Block Modifieds (20 laps): 1. KEVIN BOLLAND (777) 2. Rex King, Jr. (165) 3. Justin Rasey (32X) 4. Brian Weaver (Dieffenbach 1A) 5. Brad Rapp (11R) 6. Jim Weller, Jr. (31) 7. Chris Haines (35H) 8. Mark Flick (Baker 2) 9. Dean Pearson (8J) 10. Mark Frankhouser (03) 11. Jim Rasey (32) 12. Carl Murdick (6) 13. Bob Warren (96B) 14. Rick Ryder (Snider 189) 15. Rob Kristyak (00) 16. Carl Weatherby (919) 17. Rex King (65) 18. Mike Turner (96) 19. Skip Moore (17M) 20. Kevin Hoffman (17H)-DSQ (light).

Ainsley 500 Heating & Cooling E-Mods (15 laps): 1. CARL MCKINNEY (Hendrickson 6M) 2. Joel Watson (92) 3. Andy Buckley (965) 4. Joe Gabrielson (58) 5. Scott Stiffler (14) 6. Ronnie Kahler (7R) 7. Scott Jones (71J) 8. Jason Engles (68) 9. Mike Potosky (m20) 10. Paul Phillips (11SS) 11. Bob Diver (23) 12. Jeff Johnson (27) 13. Mike Kinney (3) 14. Ron Roncaglione (0) 15. Jeff Hassay (10) 16. Bill Johnson (58) 17. Dwayne Clay (007) 18. Bill Thomas (White 53) 19. Paul Drotar III (Clay 24/7) 20. Jim Turley (117) DNQ: Jim Clay (31), Bob Williamson (93), Vince Crisanti (221), Mike Monreal (071), Howard Fraley (217), Dale Monreal (711), Mike Harmon (09JR), Brian Foley (7JSR), Rob Mellinger (55), John Upshire (97), Ryan Fraley (12SS).

Gibson Insurance Agency Stock Cars (15 laps): 1. PAUL DAVIS (3) 2. Brian Carothers (02c) 3. Steve D’Apolito (84) 4. Mike Clark (7) 5. Jamie Scharba (00s) 6. Gary Robinson (44R) 7. George Cramer III (x42) 8. Bob Pollock (70x) 9. Al Herman (11) 10. Tyler Nicely (72) 11. Alan Dellinger (Burns 43B) 12. Jamie Gibbs (98) 13. Russ Stanke (44) 14. Pat Adams (93) 15. Michael Hudzik (31H) 16. Jamie Duncan (67J) 17. Charlie Jasinski (11A) 18. Steve Burns, Jr. (70B)-DSQ (engine infraction) 19. Steve Hall (93)-DNS.

Summit Racing Equipment Econo Mods (15 laps): 1. STEVE HAEFKE (21) 2. Jim Turley (117) 3. Derek Dellinger (119) 4. Larry Root (22x) 5. Kevin Robinson (24R) 6. Brad Blackshear (19) 7. Todd Canter (88) 8. Jeff Christy (Berry 91) 9. Dave Covatch (415) 10. Charles Campbell, Jr. (99) 11. Jamie Scharba (1BS) 12. Bill Diver (23) 13. Brian Hathaway (22)-DNS 14. Amanda Stiffler (14)-DNS.

Presidential Lawn Care Mini Stocks (12 laps): 1. BILL FUCHS (10) 2. Jamie Wrightsman (21J) 3. Randy Sprouse (23s) 4. Lucas Sprouse (24s) 5. Steve Walker II (4M) 6. Scott Gilliland (27) 7. Jim Haefke, Jr. (421) 8. Dan McEwen (44M) 9. Duane Westfall (Spencer 0) 10. Rob McElhaney (7) 11. Jeremy Double (83) 12. Dennis Dellinger, Jr. (1JR).

Sharon Speedway will have an open practice this Wednesday, August 24 from 5 p.m. until dark. Pit passes are $20 and grandstand admission is free. All cars are welcome. Gates open at 4 p.m.

“Steel Valley Thunder� action continues next Saturday night, August 27 with the same great six divisions plus kids bike races. Gates open at 5 p.m. with racing at 7.

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 or call 330-772-5481. Become a fan of Sharon Speedway on Facebook at and follow us on Twitter at

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