By MIKE LEONE
HARTFORD, OH – After losing the first three “Steel Valley Thunder” programs to Mother Nature, Sharon Speedway was able to complete the third straight weekly program on Saturday night. Celebrating with with wins in Hovis Auto & Truck Supply victory lane were Jim Weller, Jr.-Hovis Auto & Truck Supply Big-Block Modifieds, Carl McKinney-E-Mods, Kole Holden-HTMA/Precise Racing Products RUSH Sportsman Modifieds, Steve Haefke-Summit Racing Equipment Econo Mods and the 9/17/16 make-up, Steve Walker II-Mini Stocks, and Bill Fuchs 9/17/16 Mini Stock make-up.
Sixth starting Jim Weller, Jr. returned to victory lane in the 25-lap Hovis Auto & Truck Supply Big-Block Modified feature for the first time in nearly a year. The Hubbard, Ohio veteran took over the lead on a lap eight restart and withstood a frenzy of late race restarts to capture his first win since June 18, 2016. Weller’s 36th career win came in the Liberty Steel Industries #31. Fourth starting Australian, Peter Britten, brought the second Weller entry home in runner-up, but 2.458 seconds behind the winner. Dave Murdick, Jim Rasey, Rex King, Jr., Chris Haines, Erik Martin, Rob Kristyak, Will Thomas III, and Dave Reges completed the top 10. Haines and King, Jr. copped the heat races over the 17-car field.
When Sharon Speedway went from a 1/2-mile to a 3/8-mile in 2002 it began a streak of three straight track championships for Carl McKinney in the E-Mod division. The 45-year-old Cranberry Township, Pa. driver would add a fourth track championship seven years later. In the ensuing years, feature wins would be few and far between. On Saturday night, sixth starting McKinney snuck past leader Jacob Eucker with six laps to go to score the 20-lap feature win for the first time in over three years; May 31, 2014 to be exact. McKinney’s 10th career win came in Mike Hendrickson’s #6M. Eucker was 1.698 seconds back in runner-up. Jeremy Double, Josh Ferry, Casey Bowers, Jeff Johnson, Joe Gabrielson, Jeff Hassay, and Jim Plance completed the starting field. McKinney also picked up the heat race win over the 11-car field.
Third starting Kole Holden inherited the lead on lap eight and raced on to the 20-lap HTMA/Precise Racing Products RUSH Sportsman Modified victory. The 18-year-old Tiona, Pa. driver, who was RUSH’s 2015 “Futures Cup” Champion, captured his first overall win of 2017 on the RUSH circuit. Holden’s second career Sharon win, but first since May 28, 2016, came in the D&D Oil/Baker Motorsports #2 by 1.181 seconds over Chas Wolbert. Chelsie Kriegisch had a solid run racing from the ninth starting spot to finish third. Last week’s runner-up, Shayne Izzo, was fourth over pole-sitter Kyle Martell. Sixth through 10th were Jessica Kriegisch, Gary Haupt, Tiffany Williams, Steve Slater, and Brandon Ritchey. Of note, female racers took three of the top eight finishing positions! Rocky Kugel and Izzo were heat race winners over the 20-car field.
After a sluggish start to the 2017 season, Steve Haefke is a on a roll. The 51-year-old Austintown, Ohio veteran swept the night in the Econo Mods winning both the 20-lap Summit Racing Equipment feature in addition to the $500 September 17, 2016 “Apple Festival Nationals” make-up feature for his third straight win! Haefke has now finished in the top two positions for 20 of the last 22 feature events dating back to 2015! Ironically, all three feature wins have come over May 20 winner, Zach Myers, and both of Saturday’s wins by a similar margins. Haefke’s Tub’s Automotive/Wedge Motorsports/Davenport Performance-sponsored #41 beat Myers by 0.827 of a second in the first feature and by 0.853 of a second in the second feature for his 12th career win in the division and 13th overall at Sharon. Oddly enough, Tyler Frankenberry has finished third behind Haefke and Myers for the last three features. Ryan Fraley recorded a fourth in feature one and a fifth in feature two driving for Haley Lapcevich. Heat wins over the 20-car field went to Myers and Brandon Blackshear.
The Mini Stocks made their first appearance of 2017 and it was no surprise that three-time champion Bill Fuchs and two-time champion Steve Walker II captured the feature wins. Both drivers reside in Greenville, Pa. Walker, the 2016 champion, nailed down the win in the night’s regularly scheduled 12-lap main event, while Fuchs picked up the $300 victory in the September 17, 2016 “Apple Festival Nationals” make-up feature that was rained out three different times. The win for Fuchs in his #10 was his all-time division-leading 29th of his career at Sharon, while Walker’s #4M captured his sixth career win since the division debuted in 2010. Pennsylvania State Trooper Tim Callahan finished runner-up to Walker, while Ricky Feely was second to Fuchs as both drivers recorded their best career finishes at Sharon. Heat wins over the 20-car field went to Walker and Feely.
Hovis Auto & Truck Supply Big-Block Modifieds (25 laps): 1. JIM WELLER, JR. (31) 2. Peter Britten (Weller 23) 3. Dave Murdick (61) 4. Jim Rasey (32) 5. Rex King, Jr. (165) 6. Chris Haines (35H) 7. Erik Martin (29E) 8. Rob Kristyak (00) 9. Will Thomas III (9) 10. Dave Reges (27R) 11. Clyde Gumpp (51) 12. Rex King (65) 13. J.R. McGinley (66M) 14. Bob Warren (96B) 15. Tom Glenn (83T) 16. Kevin Hoffman (88R) 17. Shawn Kozar (3K)-DNS.
E-Mods (20 laps): 1. CARL MCKINNEY (Hendrickson 6M) 2. Jacob Eucker (64) 3. Jeremy Double (83) 4. Josh Ferry (33) 5. Casey Bowers (20) 6. Jeff Johnson (27) 7. Joe Gabrielson (58) 8. Jeff Hassay (10) 9. Jim Plance (4J) 10. Mike Potosky (m20)-DNS 11. Bob Williamson (93)-DNS.
HTMA/Precise Racing Products RUSH Sportsman Modifieds (20 laps): 1. KOLE HOLDEN (2) 2. Chas Wolbert (c3) 3. Chelsie Kriegisch (10) 4. Shayne Izzo (86) 5. Kyle Martell (8) 6. Jessica Kriegisch (63) 7. Gary Haupt (16) 8. Tiffany Williams (58) 9. Steve Slater (35) 10. Brandon Ritchey (17) 11. Jacob Jordan (28J) 12. Anthony Gillespie (Smith 3G) 13. Preston Cope (24P) 14. Michael Kristyak (404) 15. David Kalb, Jr. (11J) 16. Amelia Clay (12) 17. Don Blaney (11) 18. Jeremy Weaver (35W) 19. Rocky Kugel (83x) 20. Calvin Clay (21)-DNS.
Summit Racing Equipment Econo Mods (20 laps): 1. STEVE HAEFKE (41) 2. Zach Myers (1M) 3. Tyler Frankenberry (38) 4. Mike Hillman (29) 5. Ryan Fraley (Lapcevich 77L) 6. Brandon Blackshear (Burns 70B) 7. Jace Ferringer (Leamer 02) 8. George Vestal IV (4) 9. Buzz Seitz (1) 10. Brian Toto (8B) 11. Mark Titus (25) 12. Wayne Daniels (4) 13. Brad Blackshear (19) 14. Kyle Miller (15) 15. Gary Robinson (44R) 16. Jeff Mundell (11) 17. Dan McEwen (44) 18. Kenny Meadows (Christopher 2JR) 19. Keith Felicetty (98) 20. Mitchell Wright (M11).
Econo Mods 9/17/16 “Apple Festival Nationals” Make-Up (20 laps, $500 to-win): 1. STEVE HAEFKE (41) 2. Zach Myers (1M) 3. Tyler Frankenberry (38) 4. Ryan Fraley (Lapcevich 77L) 5. Brandon Blackshear (Burns 70B) 6. George Vestal IV (4) 7. Brad Blackshear (19) 8. Wayne Daniels (4) 9. Jeff Mundell (11) 10. Buzz Seitz (1) 11. Dan McEwen (44) 12. Kyle Miller (15) 13. Mitchell Wright (M11) 14. Josh Ferry (33)-DNS 15. Butch Lambert (Hendrickson 19)-DNS 16. Chris Clay (99)-DNS 17. Ty Rhoades (12R)-DNS 18. Ashley Rogers (60)-DNS 19. Brian Lacey (51)-DNS 20. Gary Miller, Jr. (1M)-DNS 21. Travis Creech (White 53)-DNS 22. Eric Reinwald (Clinger 222)-DNS 23. Gary Davis (42)-DNS.
Mini Stocks (12 laps): 1. STEVE WALKER (4M) 2. Tim Callahan (54) 3. Terry Feely (971) 4. Isaac Paden (24) 5. Bill Fuchs (10) 6. Jason Easler (02) 7. Kyle Adkins (311) 8. Ricky Feely (28F) 9. Tyler Fulton (09) 10. James Jones (Keney 16) 11. Joe Keney (15K) 12. Gary Drake, Jr. (34B) 13. Joe Campbell (40C) 14. Dillon Speer (07) 15. Jim Haefke, Jr. (421) 16. Melissa Miller (Maxwell 6)-DNS 17. Michael Porterfield (23MP)-DNS 18. Mike Gelhausen (4)-DNS 19. Logan Keney (21)-DNS 20. Will Aley (Root 17J)-DNS.
Mini Stocks 9/17/16 “Apple Festival Nationals” Make-Up (12 laps, $300 to-win): 1. BILL FUCHS (10) 2. Ricky Feely (28F) 3. Isaac Paden (24) 4. Steve Walker II (4M) 5. Michael Porterfield (10P) 6. Kyle Adkins (311) 7. Tyler Fulton (09) 8. Jim Haefke, Jr. (421) 9. Jason Easler (02) 10. Jason Pavlick (00) 11. Will Aley (Root 17J) 12. James Jones (Keney 16) 13. Joe Keney (15K) 14. Melissa Miller (Maxwell 6) 15. Logan Keney (Coleman 75) 16. Terry Feely (971) 17. Dan McEwen (44)-DNS 18. Pat Drennan (24)-DNS 19. Ed Roberts (11)-DNS 20. Pete Blazczak (77)-DNS 21. Dave Wagner (13)-DNS 22. Matthew Bryant (200)-DNS.
Sharon Speedway will return to action with a “Saturday Night Live” program this Saturday night (June 10) for FREE “Fan Appreciation” & Autograph Night presented by Motorcraft/Quick Lane Racing featuring the Big-Block Modifieds, Stock Cars, RUSH Sportsman Modifieds, and Econo Mods. It’s also Pittsburgh Circle Track Club Night. Pits open at 4 p.m. with grandstands at 3 and racing at 7.
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.