By MIKE LEONE
HARTFORD, OH – Mother Nature has continued to wreck havoc on the 2018 racing season. Last Saturday night saw part of the heat races completed before rain washed out the remainder of the program. Outside of a successful May 5 event for the All Star Circuit of Champions Sprint Cars, Mother Nature has claimed the Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series event, three Menards “Super Series” events, “Fan Appreciation Night” along with two practice nights.
A more promising forecast appears to be taking shape for this Saturday night (June 2) for the fourth attempt at completing a Menards “Super Series” event. The Hovis Auto & Truck Supply “410” Sprint Cars will be the featured attraction along with the first ever appearance by the RUSH Sprint Cars. The HTMA/Precise Racing Products RUSH Sportsman Modifieds and Summit Racing Equipment Econo Mods will round out the program on Diamond Steel Night. Race time is 7 p.m.
The “410” Sprints are just one of two divisions that have completed a feature to date this season. The “410s” were in an All Star Circuit of Champions event on May 5 that saw Texan Aaron Reutzel capture his first career Series and track win over a stellar 43-car field. The “410s” were set to return on May 12 for the first ever FAST-sanctioned event at Sharon. Well over 30 Sprints were expected with many on the grounds or on their way when rain cancelled that program. FAST will return on August 18.
Saturday will be highlighted by a $3,000 to-win, $250 to-start feature event utilizing Attica Raceway Park’s hot lap/group qualifying format that was used at last August’s “410” event and was prepared to be used on May 12. Two to three cars will qualify at a time only amongst their heat race group. The fastest four in each heat will be inverted with the top three redrawing plus the fastest transferring non-top three finisher if there are three heats or the top two plus the two fastest transferring non-top two finishers if there are four heats. Heat and B main finish(es) will complete the 24-car starting lineup.
A strong field of local and regional talent is expected. Last year saw Danny Holtgraver and Sye Lynch pick up the non-sanctioned victories. Jack Sodeman, Jr. won the last two track titles when the “410” Sprint Cars last appeared weekly in 2009 and 2010. Ed Lynch, Jr. is still the track’s all-time winningest driver with 50 victories.
A total of 10 “410” Sprint Car events were scheduled for 2018. The next Sprint Car show will take place on Tuesday, June 19 when Ohio Speedweek makes a stop for the second of three appearances by the All Star Circuit of Champions with the final visit on Saturday, July 7 for the 10th annual “Lou Blaney Memorial”. Tickets for both of these events are on sale at SharonSpeedway.com and by clicking the ‘Buy Tickets’ link at the top left of the homepage.
Completing the Sprint Car doubleheader on Saturday will be the new RUSH Sprint Car Series in their first of two appearances of 2018. These traditional non-wing Sprints feature the Chevrolet Performance 602 crate engine, $135 sealed/spec Bilstein Shocks, spec Hoosier Tires, and the new RUSH “Visual” Methanol. The RUSH Sprint Cars have 27 events scheduled at 10 different tracks throughout the region in 2018; however, due to Mother Nature, only two events have been completed. Those two events featured excellent racing with Arnie Kent winning the opener at Lernerville on May 16 by just 0.139 of a second over Gale Ruth, Jr. At the second event at Old Bradford Speedway on May 20, Late Model standout made his Sprint Car debut a winning one holding off a furious challenge by Ruth. The RUSH Sprint Car drivers are competing towards a $5,000 to-win championship
The HTMA/Precise Racing Products RUSH Sportsman Modifieds will attempt for the sixth time to kick-off their season as they begin their fifth year of competition at Sharon and fourth as a weekly division. The RUSH Mods were on the track for their first of three heat races when rain hit. A solid field of 27 cars were on hand. 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 at Tri-City.
The Summit Racing Equipment Econo Mods opened their season on May 5 as Brad Blackshear took the $500 top honors, but have been rained out ever since. 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 9 will be the ULMS Super Late Models for $3,000 to-win plus Big-Block Modifieds, E-Mods in a UEMS-sanctioned event plus Junior Sprints for kids.
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.