By Mike Leone
Hartford, OH May 18, 2013 Sharon Speedway was able to complete their fifth straight night of racing and sixth of the season on a beautiful, sunny Saturday evening. Trumbull Business College presented the “Steel Valley Thunder” program on a night that saw six new feature winners, of which three were their first ever wins at the speedway! The age of the winners ranged from 12 to 59!
Celebrating in the Hovis Auto & Truck Supply victory lane were Dave Murdick-Governor Insurance DIRTcar Big-Block Modifieds, Will Thomas III-Barris Supply RUSH Late Models, Bob Diver-Summit Racing Equipment Modifieds, Bob Sloss-Gibson Insurance Agency Stock Cars, Jacob Eucker-HTMA/Precise Racing Products Econo Mods, and Travis Creech-Deforest Used Parts Mini Stocks. Christie Unrue and Alan were the bike giveaway winners courtesy of King Bros. and Sharon Speedway.
Fresh off his second career track championship, the 2013 season hasn’t gone as planned for Dave Murdick with a series of mechanical failures and some issues while battling for the lead. Saturday night, Murdick turned it around with a wire-to-wire dominating victory in the 20-lap Governor Insurance Agency DIRTcar Big-Block Modifieds.
“We’ve been struggling everywhere,” acknowledged the 50-year-old Butler, Pa. native. “The car hasn’t been perfect. We changed a ton of stuff today. I guess it worked out, but we could be better. I thought the motor was going away. I have to thank Steve’s Auto Body, Donnie Graham, Dale Stevenson- he’s my chassis guys, and Jim Hyman, who helps me out at the garage. Without those guys I surely couldn’t do it.”
The race got off to an ugly start when pole-sitter Erik Martin appeared to lose power with everyone getting stacked up behind him as Carl Murdick and Tom Glenn received heavy damage in the melee. The second start proved costly for Jimmy Weller III, who would have to be towed off. The third try was a charm as Murdick blasted into the lead with Bob Warren, Jim Weller, Jr., and Skip Moore in tow.
Last week’s winner and sixth starter, Weller, Jr., looked strong again as he passed Warren for second on lap two. On lap three, both Rex King, Jr. and Sr. passed Skip Moore for fourth and fifth respectively. King, Jr. made contact with Warren on lap six sending Warren spinning with both cars going to the rear.
The last 15 laps settled down and went caution-free. Ricky Richner started 13th and was on the move. The New York racer drove around Skip Moore for fourth on lap seven. Murdick pulled away at the halfway point, while the battle was on for second. Weller had his hands full with King and the fast closing Richner by lap 11. Finally on lap 17, King was able to power around Weller in turns one and two for second.
By now, Murdick had more than a straightaway lead and went to win by 3.204 seconds for his seventh career win in his Steve’s Auto Body-sponsored, Dunk’s Competition Engines-powered #61. King was second to maintain his point lead by two over Weller. In a photo finish for third, the transponders had Weller edging out Richner by 0.007 of a second! Richner has now finished fourth, fifth or sixth in all five shows to date this season! Moore was fifth holding off King, Jr., who came back to grab sixth. Seventh through 10th were Rob Kristyak, Warren, rookie Rick Regalski, Jr., and Eric Gabany. Heat winners were Weller, Jr. and King, Jr.
Like Murdick, defending champion Will Thomas III hadn’t gotten off to the start he’d have like this season. While it looked like early on Thomas was going to be shutout of victory lane again, a caution proved critical and changed the complexion of the event. Thomas would pass Eric Wilson for the lead then hold off hard-charging Mike Pegher, Jr. for the victory in the 20-lap Barris Supply RUSH Late Model feature.
“I was trying not to look at the scoreboard,” said the 37-year-old Sharpsville, Pa. resident. “Mike (Pegher) was here and he’s a good runner. I don’t know how close he got, but my lead shrunk as the race went on. We got to second. We’re going to race people how they race us and not going to deal with that anymore. We’ve had a real good car here, but for whatever reason we haven’t been able to win. I have to thank Sharon Speedway for having us, Barris Supply, my wife, and everybody that helps us.”
Seventeen and sixteen year-old “Futures Cup” racers Jorden Peters and Eric Wilson led the feature field to green with Wilson taking the advantage. Mike Pegher, Jr., who started sixth, passed both Rocky Kugel and Bill Cunningham for fourth on lap two. Pegher then closed on the second and third place cars of Peters and Thomas. Pegher pulled alongside of Thomas on laps five and six, but couldn’t make the pass stick, while two-time winner Dennis Lunger, Jr. moved into the top five on lap five getting by Cunningham.
Finally on lap seven, Pegher worked his way by Thomas for third with an inside move in turns three and four. At this point it didn’t appear Thomas would be in contention for the victory as he appeared to be a fourth or fifth place car, but a caution for a spin by Jamie Wrightsman with seven laps scored quite possibly totally changed the outcome of the event.
Back under green flag conditions, Thomas got a great restart off the top powering past both Pegher and Peters into second. Thomas caught Wilson and the duo ran side-by-side on lap 11 with both racers hungry for their season’s first win. Thomas made his winning pass on lap 13 as the two made contact. Pegher had gotten by Peters for third then was able to also get past Wilson for runner-up on lap 13 as well.
Pegher hounded Thomas, but Thomas had just enough to hold on by 0.517 of a second for his fifth career win at the track moving him into a tie for second on the division’s all-time win list. Thomas became the fourth different winner in five races this season in his Colonial Metal Products/Barris Supply/All Star Motorstate/Sweet Mfg. Quarter Master/King Sanitary-sponsored #9.
Last week’s winner and 2011 champion, Josh Double, started ninth and worked his way by Wilson on lap 17 to finish third. Wilson crossed the line in fourth, but was later disqualified for post-race unsportsmanlike conduct by his crew. The disqualification moved point leader Lunger to fourth and 10th starting Matt Latta to fifth. Completing the top 10 were Peters, Cunningham, Kugel, Shaun Hooks, and Ben Black. Heat victors were Latta and Double.
The Modifieds continue to put on some of the best racing night in and night out. Saturday night was no different and it was new face in victory lane as Bob Diver pulled off the upset for his just second career win at the track. Diver had his hands full holding off a bevy of competitors in the 15-lap Summit Racing Equipment event to become the fifth different winner in six races!
“This is a brand new car we got last year and just the second night out with it,” explained the 43-year-old Canfield, Ohio racer. “The first night we didn’t know what the car would like so we did a bunch of changes to it, and tonight we found it. I have to thank Brad from Race 1, mom and dad, all of my fans, my daughter who is with me every night, and Close Racing for putting me in a good car. We’ll be doing double duty soon as we have a Late Model too.”
Diver got the jump on point leader Alan Dellinger for the early lead. Dellinger put the pressure on Diver on lap two, but on the following lap slipped high in turn high in turn two allowing fourth starting Jonathan Taylor to get by for second. While the battle was on for second and on back, Diver opened up some breathing room on lap five.
After 11 non-stop laps, the caution was displayed for Shawn Shingledecker, who lost power. When racing resumed, Joe Gabrielson was able to nose by Dellinger at the line for third. Taylor was working hard on Diver. Taylor was able to get alongside the leader on lap 13, but Diver had the momentum to continue to lead. Diver got back out in front and held on to win by 0.792 of a second in his Diver Steel City/Sweeney Chevrolet/Race 1-sponsored #23.
A torrid battle took place for second as it was three-wide down the backstretch for the position. Contact was made entering turn three with Gabrielson unable to race to the finish. Dellinger came out on top to claim second with Taylor third. Eighth starting Clayton Kennedy was fourth over Carl McKinney. Jeff Johnson, Joel Watson, Mike Kinney, Gary Sullivan, and Bruce Powell were sixth through 10th. Heat winners were Evan Taylor and Shingledecker.
After not racing for a couple seasons, Bob Sloss decided to get back behind the wheel this weekend. On Friday night, Sloss finished runner-up at Raceway 7 and then on Saturday did one better. After arriving late and missing pill draw for his heat race, Sloss came up to fourth at the finish and made the eight inversion putting him on the pole of the 15-lap Gibson Insurance Agency Stock Car feature. Sloss would go to win his first ever at the speedway to become the fourth different winner in five races this season!
“I impressed myself- I’m giddy,” exclaimed the 59-year-old Franklin, Pa. driver. “I broke my arm and haven’t run a race since 2011. I had Rod Laskey in the car and he did a great job for me. We took last weekend off. Last night I decided to go to Raceway 7 and we finished second in my first night out and second night out I win! I have to praise the Lord for giving me the opportunity to do this and enjoy my life. I’m retired now and this is just great. I have to thank my sponsors and all of my friends who have helped me through the years. This doesn’t happen overnight- it takes a lot of years.”
Sloss took off in the lead from the outside pole past Ron Yarab, Jr. Sloss led the first five laps before slipping high on lap six allowing Jamie Duncan to take over with Brian Carothers following in second. Duncan led the next four laps, but sheet metal rubbing on his tire gave him a flat tire under a caution for debris with nine laps completed.
When racing resumed, Sloss overtook Carothers for the lead. Fifth starting Mike Clark entered the picture for the final six laps. Clark was all over Carothers racing side-by-side for second on laps 12, 13, and 14. Clark made the pass of Carothers on the inside of turn two on lap 14 and went after Sloss. Sloss though was barely able to hold off Clark’s big last lap challenge to win by a mere 0.165 of a second in his Joy Mining/Les Frickshun Supply/RK Virgile Scrap Metals/Pennewell Sandblasting/Stan Hepler Roofing-sponsored #44s.
Clark’s runner-up allowed him to maintain his point lead in search of his first championship. Carothers was third over Jamie Scharba and 10th starting Tim Burns. Heat winners were Charlie Jasinski and Carothers.
After leading laps in four of the first five HTMA/Precise Racing Products features this season, Jacob Eucker put in 15 good laps to capture a popular Econo Mod victory to become the youngest winner at 12 years of age in the 84-year history of Sharon Speedway! After dominating competition last season at 11 years of age at Deerfield Raceway, the great grandson of the great Dale Johnson was making just his sixth career Sharon start Saturday!
“I was nervous on the last couple laps with last lap jitters,” revealed the nearby Fowler, Ohio driver. “I tried to stay on the bottom as it rubbered up and the top was all slippery. I’d like to thank all of the other drivers for stopping and congratulating me, and all of my sponsors.”
Two-time winner Jeremy Double looked like a sure bet to win his third after starting from the pole and taking the lead over Ty Rhoades and Eucker. Eucker moved into second on lap two after a spin by Rhoades. Following a caution with eight laps scored, Eucker used the outside to pass Double on the restart. By lap 10, Eucker and Double pulled away. The duo ran side-by-side on laps 12 and 13 with Eucker still holding on before three cautions slowed actions on laps 13 and 14.
In the one-lap shootout to the finish, Eucker edged out Double by 0.414 of a second in the Matt Eucker-owned, Ohio Commerce Center/Dr. John Eucker/Damon Race Engines/Altitude Adjustment/Danski Dyno & Performance/Close Racing Supply-sponsored #64 to become the 20th different winner in the division’s short history. Ninth starting Larry Root turned in his best run of the season in third over point leader and two-time winner Ryan Fraley, and rookie Alan Atkinson. Jace Ferringer and Eucker picked up heat race wins.
Like Eucker, after coming close on several occasions Travis Creech was able to pick up his first win in the Mini Stocks. The 12-lap Deforest Used Parts victory was the first career win for the rookie racer. “I didn’t know how big of a lead I had- I was just running the shit out of it,” exclaimed the 25-year-old Niles, Ohio driver. “This is awesome! I have to thank everyone from May’s, Dow and Darrell Coleman, Dave Bass, my girlfriend for helping me buy this car, Tim, Jim- there’s just so many people that I can’t thank everybody.”
Creech started third, but passed both Tim McAninch and Jim Haefke, Jr. on the opening lap for the lead. A caution for Evan Kornbau at the halfway point was the only thing that slowed Creech’s run to the victory in his May’s Towing/Elite Coleman Sales-sponsored #75T. Creech became the 19th different winner in the history of the division.
Bill Fuchs, who was in sixth after one lap, moved to fourth on lap two, passed Ray Gregory and McAninch for runner-up on lap two, but didn’t have anything for Creech. Point leader and heat winner Scott Gilliland was third over Gregory and Haefke.
Governor Insurance Agency DIRTcar Big-Block Modifieds (20 laps): 1. DAVE MURDICK (61) 2. Rex King (65) 3. Jim Weller, Jr. (31) 4. Ricky Richner (26) 5. Skip Moore (17M) 6. Rex King, Jr. (165) 7. Rob Kristyak (00) 8. Bob Warren (96B) 9. Rick Regalski, Jr. (13) 10. Eric Gabany (3E) 11. Erik Martin (29E) 12. Jimmy Weller III (23) 13. Tom Glenn (83T) 14. Carl Murdick (6) 15. Dean Pearson (8J)-DNS.
Barris Supply RUSH Late Models (20 laps): 1. WILL THOMAS III (9) 2. Mike Pegher, Jr. (Geisler 1c) 3. Josh Double (38) 4. Dennis Lunger, Jr. (Schwartz 71L) 5. Matt Latta (21) 6. Jorden Peters (11P) 7. Bill Cunningham (59) 8. Rocky Kugel (21KRT) 9. Shaun Hooks (65) 10. Ben Black (27B) 11. Jamie Wrightsman (21J) 12. Eric Wilson (27W)-DSQ (unsportsmanlike conduct).
Summit Racing Equipment (E) Modifieds (15 laps): 1. BOB DIVER (23) 2. Alan Dellinger (White 53) 3. Jonathan Taylor (5) 4. Clayton Kennedy (9) 5. Carl McKinney (Hendrickson 6M) 6. Jeff Johnson (27) 7. Joel Watson (92) 8. Mike Kinney (3) 9. Gary Sullivan (47s) 10. Bruce Powell (35) 11. Wayne Tessean (10) 12. Larry Kugel (Petsko 00) 13. Jeff Hassay (10) 14. Trevor Herr (32) 15. Joe Gabrielson (58) 16. Shawn Shingledecker (54s) 17. Steve Haefke (41) 18. Evan Taylor (7).
Gibson Insurance Agency Stock Cars (15 laps): 1. BOB SLOSS (44s) 2. Mike Clark (7) 3. Brian Carothers (02c) 4. Jamie Scharba (00s) 5. Tim Burns (66) 6. Brent Coleman (01) 7. Dan McEwen (95) 8. Paul Davis (3) 9. Charlie Jasinski (5J) 10. Ron Yarab, Jr. (Burns 70B) 11. Bob Pollock (70x) 12. Jason Stanke (44) 13. Jamie Duncan (67J) 14. Bryan Wagner (56) 15. Mark Hopkins (69H).
HTMA/Precise Racing Products Econo Mods (15 laps): 1. JACOB EUCKER (64) 2. Jeremy Double (83) 3. Larry Root (22x) 4. Ryan Fraley (12) 5. Alan Atkinson (30Too) 6. Jace Ferringer (02) 7. Brian Foley, Jr. (16JSR) 8. Brian Lacey (51) 9. Gina Thompson (Webber 25) 10. George Vestal IV (4) 11. Cole Ruffo (12R) 12. Kevin Robinson (24R) 13. Brian Hathaway (93) 14. Bob Williams (8) 15. Ty Rhoades (12R) 16. Derek Dellinger (19) 17. Steve Burns, Jr. (70B)-DNS 18. Brad Westover (13)-DNS 19. Bruce Redman (27)-DNS.
Deforest Used Parts Mini Stocks (12 laps): 1. TRAVIS CREECH (75T) 2. Bill Fuchs (10) 3. Scott Gilliland (27) 4. Ray Gregory (82R) 5. Jim Haefke, Jr. (421) 6. Tim McAninch (43) 7. Jim Edison (01) 8. Evan Kornbau (62) 9. Ken Koby II (22)-DNS 10. Brian Shay (3J)-DNS.
Sharon Speedway will host the two-day Bill Emig Memorial this Saturday and Sunday, May 25-26 featuring two complete shows for the Sweeney Chevrolet Buick GMC RUSH Dirt Late Model Touring Series paying $1,500 to-win each plus the $1,500 “Wild Card Weekend” point fund. The Modifieds, Econo Mods and Mini Stocks will be on the card Saturday with DIRTcar Big-Block Mods for $1,500 to-win, Open Stock Cars for $750 to-win and Mini Stocks for $200 to-win on Sunday.
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.