By MIKE LEONE
HARTFORD, OH – It’s been quite the challenge with Mother Nature in 2018. Outside of a successful May 5 event for the All Star Circuit of Champions Sprint Cars, Mother Nature has been the big winner to date at Sharon Speedway claiming the Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series event, two Menards “Super Series” events, “Fan Appreciation Night” along with two practice nights. All told, four of the first five race events have been lost and six of the first seven scheduled nights overall.
Management though is hoping for better weather this Saturday night (May 26) for the third attempt at completing a Menards “Super Series” event. The Hovis Auto & Truck Supply Big-Block Modifieds will be the featured attraction in the first appearance by The Mod Tour. Also on the card will be Gibson Insurance Agency Stock Cars, HTMA/Precise Racing Products RUSH Sportsman Modifieds, and Summit Racing Equipment Econo Mods on Hovis Auto & Truck Supply Night. Kids Power Wheels races will be held during intermission. Race time is 7 p.m.
The Modified Tour for the Hovis Auto & Truck Supply big blocks will be competing for their first $2,000 to-win payday of the season. The Tour opened their season back on April 14 at West Virginia’s Tyler County Speedway where Erick Rudolph ran his win streak to an amazing nine straight! The New York versatile driver has two career wins at Sharon both coming in 2016 including the last time the Mod Tour visited Sharon on September 17, 2016. Only four other big-block races have been held in the region with Mat Williamson, Rex King, Jr., and Brian Swartzlander victorious at Lernerville, while Mike Maresca won last Sunday night at Tri-City.
Rex King, Jr. leads the way for the Sharon regulars. The Bristolville, Ohio driver has won three of the last four titles and has upped his career win total to 23. His father Rex Sr. is a five-time track champion and leads the active drivers with 53 career wins. Jim Weller, Jr. has posted 36 career wins and three track titles. Other active top racers with career wins in parentheses including Kevin Bolland (22), Jim Rasey (19), Swartzlander (14), Dave Murdick (9). Jeremiah Shingledecker is fresh off a runner-up finish at Tyler County and owns three wins at Sharon including last year’s prestigious “Lou Blaney Memorial” victory. For more information on The Mod Tour, check out their website at www.themodifiedtourinc.com.
After rainouts on April 28, May 12, and May 19, the Stock Cars will attempt to get their season underway on Saturday night. After Mike Clark won three consecutive Gibson Insurance Agency titles (2013-2015), veteran Paul Davis not only put a stop to the streak in 2016 but repeated the feat in 2017. Davis is now up to 22 career Stock Car wins at the track, while Davis has 17; however, it’s still Steve D’Apolito leading the active win list. D’Apolito owns 32 career wins and four track championships at the Hartford, Ohio oval, and in recent years has been competing with a GM 604 crate engine. The Stock Cars should have a strong field of cars as drivers are running out of time to get tuned up for the $10,000 to-win Penn-Ohio “Steel Valley Pro Stock Nationals” on June 16.
The HTMA/Precise Racing Products RUSH Sportsman Modifieds will attempt for the fifth time to kick-off their season as they begin their fifth year of competition at Sharon and fourth as a weekly division. Car counts have grown each year with an average count of 24 last year. Only on one night in each of the last two seasons has there been less than 20 cars. Greg Martin, Brandon Ritchey, and Kole Holden are past track champions. Top racers Alan Dellinger, Garrett Krummert, and Rob Kristyak will be new weekly competitors in 2018 along with several other newcomers like Tony Tatgenhorst, who raced at Sharon in Mod Lites, RUSH Late Models, and E-Mods. Only two RUSH Sportsman Modified events have been completed region-wide to date this season with Ritchey winning at Pittsburgh and Krummert last Sunday at Tri-City.
The Summit Racing Equipment Econo Mods opened their season on May 5 as Brad Blackshear took the $500 top honors. Blackshear was the inaugural champion back in 2010 and then ended a near six-year winless drought at Sharon with his fifth career win on Saturday night. Defending two-time champion, Steve Haefke, was battling for the victory when he spun on the final lap.
For all regular events, Sharon will continue to offer a higher purse structure if 24 or more cars are on hand for any of the weekly divisions and a non-qualifier if there are 32 or more cars.
Pits are open throughout the day with pit passes going on sale at 4 p.m., while the main grandstands open at 5. Pill cutoff is 6:20 p.m. and racing at 7. Grandstand admission for those 14 and over is $13. Seniors 62 and over are $10. 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 14, parking, and camping is always FREE! Pit passes are $30. Pit passes for children 12 and under are $20. Sharon has a no carry-in cooler policy.
Coming up on Saturday, June 1 will be a Sprint Car doubleheader in another Menards “Super Series” event. The “410” Sprint Cars return for a $3,000 to-win show and will be joined by the first of two appearances by the new non-wing RUSH Sprint Cars. Also racing will be the RUSH Sportsman Modifieds and Econo Mods on Diamond Steel Night.
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.