By MIKE LEONE
HARTFORD, OH – Despite rain throughout many areas last Saturday night in Ohio, Sharon Speedway was finally able to complete the first “Steel Valley Thunder” program of the season after three straight rain outs that followed the Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series event back on April 21. Sharon will look to make it two in a row this Saturday night (May 27) on Warren Diesel Performance Night as part of the 88th anniversary season. The Hovis Auto & Truck Supply Big-Block Modifieds, HTMA/Precise Racing Products RUSH Sportsman Modifieds, Gibson Insurance Agency Stock Cars, and Summit Racing Equipment Econo Mods will be part of the program beginning at 7 p.m. Power wheels races will be held for kids during intermission. Admission remains at the very low $10.
The 2016 season was definitely a struggle for Rex King being shutout of victory lane, but the all-time active leading feature winner (52) at the Speedway showed he still has what it takes to get back to victory lane as he copped the opening night win last Saturday night. The veteran Bristolville, Ohio driver now has the early Hovis Auto & Truck Supply point lead as he sets his sights on his sixth track championship. After taking much of last season off, Garrett Krummert is back and was fast with a runner-up finish. Longtime Stock Car racer, Rod Laskey, debuted in the class as a teammate to Chris Haines, who won his first career Modified feature last year. Former E-Mod and RUSH Late Model Champion, Will Thomas III finished 11th in his Big-Block Modified debut. Clyde Gumpp also made his first ever Sharon Big-Block Modified start as he’s expected to be a regular this season.
The RUSH Sportsman Modifieds had the night off last Saturday after getting rained out for their first three shows. Rocky Kugel picked up a heat race win on May 13 before rain washed out the remainder of the program with 25 cars on hand. Kugel has been the driver to beat in the class throughout the region as he’s won in both of his starts at Pittsburgh and Lernerville Speedways. Josh Seippel won on Mother’s Day at Tri-City Raceway Park. Kole Holden, who finished third in last year’s HTMA/Precise Racing Products track points with one win, is the RUSH Weekly Series point leader, which pays $3,000 to-win. A strong field of cars is expected on Saturday night.
The Stock Cars had a solid field of 24 cars on hand last Saturday night, which allowed them to race for $700 to-win, $75 to-start. Chris McGuire picked up his first career win and took over the early Gibson Insurance Agency point lead. Before the rains came on May 13, there were 50 Stocks on hand for the Penn-Ohio Series event. Penn-Ohio will return on July 22 for a complete new show plus the 2016 “Apple Festival Nationals” make-up feature.
Despite heading into the final weekend of May, the Econo Mods is the only division that has been able to complete two events this season. Brandon Blackshear, the division’s all-time winner, won back on April 21 and then this past Saturday night, Zach Myers finally was able to put together a complete feature to win his first ever at the track. After going 17 straight feature events finishing in the top two dating back to 2015, defending track champion, Steve Haefke, has yet to finish in the top two this season. Haefke was a season best fourth last Saturday night.
With less divisions on the weekly program in 2017, each division will be given five additional feature laps; 25 for the Big-Block Modifieds and 20 for the RUSH Sportsman Modifieds, Stock Cars, and Econo Mods. As always, Sharon offers a higher tiered purse structure if 24 or more cars are in action on any weekly event. New in 2017 is a non-qualifier event for any division that has 32 or more cars on a weekly show.
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.
FREE “Fan Appreciation Night” along with driver autographs is coming up on Saturday, June 10 presented by Motorcraft/Quick Lane Racing. On Tuesday, June 20 Ohio Speedweek comes to Sharon featuring Tony Stewart’s Arctic Cat All Star Circuit of Champions Sprint Cars in a $5,000 to-win event along with the Mini Stocks. The “Lou Blaney Memorial” will take place on Saturday, July 8 with a return appearance by the All Star Sprint Cars along with the Big-Block Modifieds. On Thursday, July 20, the Super DIRTcar Big-Block Modified Series will be back for the second straight year in a $6,000 to-win event plus the Mini Stocks. 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 at 3241 Custer-Orangeville Road, Hartford, OH 44424 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.