By MIKE LEONE
HARTFORD, OH – Following a successful “410” Sprint Car event last Saturday night for the inaugural “Simon Yoder Memorial”, the weekly four divisions will return this Saturday night (August 19) for the next-to-last “Steel Valley Thunder” program. The Hovis Auto & Truck Supply Big-Block Modifieds, Gibson Insurance Agency Stock Cars, HTMA/Precise Racing Products RUSH Sportsman Modifieds, and Summit Racing Equipment Econo Mods will be featured with racing at 7 p.m. Saturday night is the rescheduled Twin-State Auto Racing Club Night with free general admission for card-carrying members or $10 off pit admission.
After back-to-back victories, Rex King, Jr. will start no better than 12th in Saturday’s 25-lap Big-Block Modified feature as he looks for the hat trick. “Cooter” is closing in on his second straight Hovis Auto & Truck Supply crown and third in three years. Jim Weller, Jr. was the last driver other than a King to win a championship back in 2013. The elder Weller though trails King, Jr. by 30 makers and has just a one-point lead on Dave Murdick, who is still looking for his season’s first win. Jim Rasey is fourth in points. Two-time winner and 2015 champion, Rex King, is fifth.
The Stock Car division has been producing some big car counts this year as 51 were present for the July 29 Penn-Ohio race and 30 turned out for last Saturday’s weekly program. Drivers were rewarded with the $700 to-win payoff and non-qualifiers received two pit passes in addition to tow money!
Two drivers were fighting for their first wins in two years with Brian Carothers and Rusty Moore up front, but problems for Carothers on the restart allowed Moore to become the fifth different Stock Car winner in six races this year. It took Paul Davis 37 years to win a track championship, now the Fowler, Ohio veteran is closing in on his second straight Gibson Insurance Agency title as he has an 18-point lead over the consistent Andy Thompson. Third through fifth in points are Hunter Exley, Mike Clark, and Jamie Scarba. Sixth place point man, Chris McGuire, is the division’s only repeat winner.
Like King Jr., Rocky Kugel will also be able to start no better than 12th on Saturday night in his quest for three straight RUSH Sportsman Modified wins. Kugel is a three-time winner this year, but sits just fifth in points due to missing a night of competition. Kugel has closed to within two of Sharon point leader, Kole Holden, in the $3,000 to-win RUSH Weekly Series Championship. Meanwhile in Sharon’s HTMA/Precise Racing Products points, Holden has an 11-point lead on Chas Wolbert. Both drivers suffered issues leading last Saturday night in their bid for win #3. Chelsie Kriegisch and Kyle Martell are third and fourth in points.
The Econo Mod car counts have been strong all season and building in recent weeks. After 23 cars were on hand two weeks ago for the season’s second highest car count, a great field of 26 turned out last Saturday night which was the highest count in nearly two years. Nonetheless, it was Steve Haefke returning to victory lane one week after his streak of five straight wins ended. Haefke’s six wins leads the way at the track, but he still only has a 10-point lead on Brandon Blackshear in the Summit Racing Equipment standings. Zach Myers is third in points despite missing an event. Mike Hillman and Kyle Miller are fourth and fifth.
Pits open at 4 p.m. with grandstands at 5, and racing at 7. Grandstand admission is $10 for those 14 and over. Patio seating upgrades are just $5 and fan suite seating upgrades are just $20 over the cost of general admission. In order to reserve either of these ahead of time, call the office Monday through Thursday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at 330-772-5481. As always, children under 13, parking, and camping is always FREE! Pit passes are $30. Sharon has a no carry-in cooler policy.
Coming up next Saturday, August 26 will be the 2017 “Steel Valley Thunder” finale featuring the four weekly divisions including a $600 to-win Touring Series event for the RUSH Sportsman Modifieds as part of their rescheduled “Manufacturers Night”. It’ll be the final night of points for all four divisions. There will be no racing over Labor Day weekend. The 88th anniversary season will conclude on September 8-9 with the “Apple Festival Nationals” this year featuring a $3,000 to-win event for the “410” Sprints along with most all of the regional divisions.
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.