By MIKE LEONE
HARTFORD, OH – With the month of April now in the rearview mirror, Sharon Speedway is hoping better weather is now here to stay as the 2018 season is set to open on Saturday night (May 5) featuring Tony Stewart’s Arctic Cat All Star Circuit of Champions Sprint Cars presented by Mobil 1 for the inaugural “Buckeye Cup”. The Summit Racing Equipment Econo Mods will battle for $500 to-win completing the event for Lincoln Electric Night. Prior to racing, fans can meet and greet Sprint Car standout Rico Abreu at his apparel van from 4-4:45 p.m. Warm-ups are scheduled for 6 p.m. followed by qualifying and racing.
Saturday’s $5,000 to-win “Buckeye Cup” will mark the first of three appearances by the All Stars and first of 10 races for the “410” Sprint Cars in 2018! The All Stars will return for their traditional Tuesday stop during Ohio Speedweek on June 19 followed by the “Lou Blaney Memorial” on July 7. Last year’s “Lou Blaney Memorial” was milestone All Star race #100 at the Hartford, Ohio oval!
Defending and six-time champion, Chad Kemenah, leads a stellar field of 2018 All Stars and several other invaders to town. Kemenah, who owns five career Sharon wins, currently leads the points with one victory in 2018. Aaron Reutzel is in his first season racing with the All Stars and is currently second in points. The Texan already has a World of Outlaws win this season and nearly pulled off the $100,000 victory at Mansfield last Saturday night finishing a close runner-up for $20,000. His co-owner, Josh Baughman, will make his season debut in the #17.
Veteran Jac Haudenschild has joined up with the All Stars in 2018 driving his own #3 entry. “The Wild Child” currently is third in points and picked up the win on April 20 at Attica. He has four career wins at Sharon. Another veteran Sprint Car racer that’s joined with the All Stars in 2018 is Sharon Speedway’s own Dave Blaney. The “Buckeye Bullet” sits fifth in points looking for his first Series win of 2018; however, did win a non-sanctioned race recently at Port Royal. Blaney sits third on the all-time Sharon “410” Sprint Car win list with 28 career wins.
Tim Shaffer made national news last weekend taking the $100,000 victory last Saturday night at Mansfield in addition to Friday’s preliminary $5,000 win. Though not competing full-time with the All Stars in 2018, the Aliquippa, Pa. driver already has two Series wins. Shaffer, who was once a Sharon regular early in his career, has four career wins at the track and is one of the favorites for Saturday’s “Buckeye Cup”.
Like Shaffer, Paul McMahan is another standout national Sprint Car racer that has split his time between the WoO and All Stars in 2018. McMahan is planning on being at Sharon Saturday in the Pennsylvania-based, Tom Buch-owned #13.
Young Parker Price-Miller and Carson Macedo are two of the future stars of Sprint Car racing. PPM spent some time racing with the All Stars in years past before hitting the road with the WoO. The Kokomo, Indiana is one of the new All Stars and is fourth in points in his first full season in the Destiny Motorsports #4. Macedo is one of the many talented California Sprint Car drivers. He’s currently seventh in All Star points and has been close to winning his first career Series race. Like Shaffer, Macedo also picked up a $5,000 preliminary win last Friday at Mansfield. Macedo drives the familiar #3G entry owned by former racers Joe Gaerte & Tim Norman.
Other All Star full-time racers expected to be on hand Saturday include Cale Conley, Caleb Helms, Carl Bowser, John Garvin, Jr., Jordan and Hunter Mackison, Brandon Spithaler, Tyler Esh, Ayrton Olsen, and Max McGhee.
Leading the local contingent is Jack Sodeman, Jr. The North Jackson, Ohio driver won the “410” Sprint Car title the last two years the Sprints ran weekly at Sharon in 2009-2010. He has 12 career Sharon wins. Danny Holtgraver is a former Sharon and All Star regular. The Pittsburgh driver has only run a limited schedule the last two years, but is planning on being at Sharon Saturday. Holtgraver has five career wins and knows his way around the 3/8-mile. Sye Lynch won the last “410” Sprint Car show run at Sharon last September as the $3,000 victory was his first ever. The third generation racer’s father Ed, Jr. won 50 times at Sharon, which is the most all-time.
Of course Rico Abreu and numerous other regional and local talent will be on hand Saturday night.
The Econo Mods will open their season for a $500 to-win special with the points chase getting underway. The division has belonged to Steve Haefke over the past two seasons. The Austintown, Ohio veteran has finished in the top two for an amazing 26 times in the last 29 races. While winning the last two Summit Racing Equipment titles, Haefke has vaulted into the number two spot on the all-time win list with 15 and trails Brandon Blackshear now by just six. The Econo Mod division debuted in 2010 part of the former bi-weekly Friday night program before moving to the weekly Saturday night lineup full-time two years later.
Pits open at 3 p.m. with the main grandstands at 4 on Saturday. Drivers meeting will be at 5:30. Grandstand admission for those 14 and over is $25. Patio seating upgrades are just $5 and fan suite seating upgrades are just $20 over the cost of general admission. These along with reserved seating can be purchased through the SharonSpeedway.com website and be clicking on “Buy Tickets” at the top through Thursday night at midnight. As always, children under 14, parking, and camping is always FREE! Pit passes are $35. Pit passes for children 12 and under are $25. Sharon has a no carry-in cooler policy.
With last Saturday’s rain out, the first Menards “Super Series” event will now take place on Saturday, May 12 for the first ever appearance by the FAST “410” Sprint Car Series. It will also be the season debut for the Gibson Insurance Agency Stock Cars and HTMA/Precise Racing Products RUSH Sportsman Modifieds. The Econo Mods will also return.
Mark your calendars for Saturday, May 19 for the annual FREE “Fan Appreciation Night” with free grandstand admission for everyone. This will now be the opener for the Hovis Auto & Truck Supply Big-Block Modifieds. The Stock Cars, RUSH Sportsman Modifieds, and Econo Mods will also be on the card.
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.