By MIKE LEONE
HARTFORD, OH – After managing to complete the inaugural Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series event clear back on April 21, who would have thought one month later Sharon Speedway would still be looking to complete its first “Steel Valley Thunder” program? But that is the case after rain has washed out the first three attempts juggling the schedule and make-up features from last year around. While it looked like last Saturday was golden as sunny skies were present at race time, rain showers dropped off Lake Erie during the program forcing a rain out with rain checks to be honored. All drivers received 10 show-up points.
This Saturday night (May 20) will be take #4 for the “Steel Valley Thunder” opener on Mark Thomas Ford Night as part of the 88th anniversary season. The Hovis Auto & Truck Supply Big-Block Modifieds, E-Mods, Gibson Insurance Agency Stock Cars, Summit Racing Equipment Econo Mods, and Junior Sprints will be part of the program beginning at 7 p.m. The 2016 “Apple Festival Nationals” E-Mod make-up feature will also be on the program. Admission remains at the very low $10. The HTMA/Precise Racing Products RUSH Sportsman Modifieds will have the night off.
Last Saturday night, a big field of 50 Penn-Ohio Stocks turned out with their heat races going to Andy Buckley, Rob Shook, Curt J. Bish, Rusty Moore, and Rusty Martz. Subbing for Jimmy Weller III, Peter Britten dominated the first heat race for the Big-Block Modifieds, while Rex King won the second heat race. Rocky Kugel won the opening heat event for the RUSH Sportsman Modifieds before the rains came. There were 25 RUSH Mods on hand. The Econo Mods never hit the speedway other than their warm-ups.
Former NASCAR star, Ken Schrader, will return Saturday to compete in the rained out $3,000 to-win Renegades of Dirt Modified feature from the “Apple Festival Nationals” last September. Even though the E-Mods are not part of the weekly “Steel Valley Thunder” program, they will make monthly appearances including this Saturday night when they’ll also compete in a complete new 20-lap program. There is no registration fee. While the make-up feature field is set, new cars are permitted to run in the new program. Alan Dellinger is the track’s all-time winningest driver in the division with 87 victories. Active racers Joel Watson, Scott Stiffler, and Jeff Johnson are second through fourth on the win list with 26, 20, and 18 wins respectively. In 2016, Joe Gabrielson, an eight-time winner at the track, captured his first career track championship.
Rounding out the program are the Junior Sprints for children that compete at several different speedways throughout western Pennsylvania and Ohio. The Junior Sprints made their first ever appearance on night one of the “Apple Festival Nationals” last September and it was third-generation driver Mike Lutz, Jr. scoring the win.
Pits open at 4 p.m. with grandstands at 5, drivers meeting at 6:20, 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.
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.