By MIKE LEONE
HARTFORD, OH – Sharon Speedway will conclude the 88th anniversary season this weekend with the running of the annual “Apple Festival Nationals” on Friday and Saturday night (September 8-9). Ten different divisions will compete. The Mod Lites, Sportsman Dwarf Cars, and Junior Sprints will run a complete show on Friday night, while “410” Sprint Cars, Big-Block Modified Non-Winners, Penn-Ohio Pro Stock Championship Series, E-Mods, RUSH Sportsman Modified Touring Series, Econo Mods, and Mini Stocks will have their shows split over the two days with their features on Saturday night. Race time is early at 6 p.m. both nights.
For the first time ever, the “410” Sprint Cars will not only compete during the “Apple Festival Nationals”, but will also be the headlining division. The Sprints have made three appearances during the 2017 season with Kyle Larson winning the Ohio Speedweek All Star Circuit of Champions event in June, Christopher Bell adding his name as a “Lou Blaney Memorial” winner for the All Stars in July, and most recently Danny Holtgraver winning the $3,000 non-sanctioned “Simon Yoder Memorial” event last month. This weekend’s event will pay $3,000 to-win, $250 to-start. Standard local Sprint Car rules will be utilized. Mufflers are not required. Group qualifying will be used to set the heat race lineups.
For the second straight year, the weekly headlining Big-Block Modifieds will participate in a non-winners event paying $1,100 to-win. Only drivers that have never won a Big-Block Modified race anywhere in their career will be eligible to compete. Last year, Kyle Fink captured the victory utilizing a “358” small-block powered engine.
The Penn-Ohio Pro Stock Championship Series return with $2,000 on the line this time. The Series has boasted big car counts in recent years with 51 competing at the last event back on July 29 that was won by Chris McGuire. On that night, Chris Schneider picked up last year’s $2,000 “Apple Festival Nationals” make-up feature win. Schneider went on to win the weekly finale on August 26 as he and McGuire were the year’s only repeat winners. Paul Davis captured the 2017 Gibson Insurance Agency Championship for the second straight year, and would love to cap off the year with a big win. Like the Sprints, group qualifying will be utilized to set the heat race lineups.
Though they weren’t part of the weekly “Steel Valley Thunder” lineup in 2017, the E-Mods have made special appearances throughout the season culminating with this weekend’s $1,500 to-win event. Back on May 20, Joel Watson won his 27th career feature at Sharon. Also that night, Jacob Hawkins won the 2016 “Apple Festival Nationals” make-up E-Mod feature. On June 3, Carl McKinney reached double figures with his 10th career Sharon win. Unfortunately their July 22 scheduled event was rained out, but most recently Dan Davies topped a 23-car field for a $1,000 payday on August 5.
The RUSH Sportsman Modifieds are in their fourth year of competition and are set to finish their third season as a weekly division at Sharon. This weekend will be a Bicknell Racing Products Touring Series event with $800 on the line. At the last event on August 26, the RUSH Mods competed in their twice rained out “Manufacturers Night” Tour event that saw 29 cars participate with Steve Slater capturing his first career win. Kole Holden and Rocky Kugel tied with the most wins at three during the season; however, it was the teenager Holden garnering his first HTMA/Precise Racing Products Championship. Chas Wolbert won a pair of features including the $800 2016 “Apple Festival Nationals” make-up feature back on August 5. Kyle Martell, who won a feature at Sharon in 2016, is the current Bicknell Touring Series points leader.
The Summit Racing Equipment Econo Mods will battle for a $500 payday- matching their richest of the season. For the second straight year, Steve Haefke has been heads and shoulders above the competition winning six features in route to his second track championships. More impressively dating back to 2015, Haefke has finished in the top two for 25 of the last 28 races. Kyle Miller and Jacob Eucker closed out the regular season with their first wins on August 19 and 26 respectively. Thanks to Twin-State Auto Racing Club, the top two Econo Mods from each heat will run a special dash on Saturday that will determine the top feature starting spots with $100 to-win, $50 for second, and $25 for all other starters.
Like the E-Mods, the Mini Stocks were not part of the weekly “Steel Valley Thunder” program in 2017; however, did make several appearances, four in fact, as 2016 champion, Steve Walker II, was victorious twice along with Bill Fuchs, the division’s all-time winner, and first-time winner Isaac Paden. The Mini Stocks will be racing for $300 to-win.
The Mod Lites, Sportsman Dwarf Cars will return once again as part of the “Apple Festival Nationals” running their complete show on Friday along with the Junior Sprints for children. The Mod Lites will race for $500 to-win, while the Sportsman Dwarfs for $250 to-win. The events are presented by Leader Chassis and Joe’s Radiator. The Junior Sprints debuted at last year’s “Apple Festival Nationals” and have run a pair of events in 2017. Many of the competitors in these small car divisions race weekly at Deerfield Raceway and Mercer Raceway Park, and always enjoy a chance to compete at Sharon.
On Friday, pit pass sales will begin at 3 p.m. with grandstands at 4. A drivers meeting is slated for 5:20 p.m. Sprint Car engine starts will be at 5:45 p.m. followed by the Junior Sprint heat race at 6 p.m., group qualifying for the Sprints and Stocks, followed by heat race action. The same times will be in effect on Saturday with racing starting at 6. Cars that do not compete Friday can tag the B main or feature, provided the 24-car feature fields aren’t set.
Breakfast will be served in the main concession on Saturday morning from 8:30-10 a.m. and lunch from 12-2 p.m. in the pit concession. The band Wyld Ryde will perform after the races on Friday night.
Grandstand admission for those 14 and over is $12 on Friday and $15 on Saturday or $25 for a two-day pass. Pit passes are $30 on Friday and $35 on Saturday or $60 for a two-day pass. There is no entry or registration fees for Sharon, only the typical Penn-Ohio and RUSH entry fees for those two divisions. Any driver that has not raced at Sharon Speedway in 2017 needs to complete a registration form, and try and bring it to the track completed to save time. The form is available by going to SharonSpeedway.com, clicking on Drivers, then Registration or directly here http://www.sharonspeedway.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/12/RegistrationFormSharon2017-1.pdf.
As always, children under 13, parking, and camping is always FREE! Sharon has a no carry-in cooler policy. PLEASE NOTE: THE BACKSTRETCH GRANDSTANDS WILL NOT BE AVAILABLE FOR GENERAL ADMISSION ON FRIDAY NIGHT- ONLY FOR PIT PASS HOLDERS. This is due to using the area for overflow pit parking.
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.