Press Release by Mike Leone, Provided by Sharon Speedway
Despite thunderstorms being in the forecast all week for Saturday, sunshine was present for much of the day and the storms held off until well after the completion of the eighth straight racing event at Sharon Speedway. It was a good night to be #27 as the first three feature winners of the night carried the number! And all six winners resides in Trumbull County, Ohio! Celebrating in the Hovis Auto & Truck Supply victory lane were Jim Weller, Jr.-Governor Insurance DIRTcar Big-Block Modifieds, Eric Wilson-Barris Supply RUSH Late Models, Joe Gabrielson-Summit Racing Equipment Modifieds, Bruce Redman-Gibson Insurance Agency Stock Cars, Jacob Eucker-HTMA/Precise Racing Products Econo Mods, and Scott Gilliland-Deforest Used Parts Mini Stocks. Malory Harper of Hubbard, OH and Jeremy Weaver of Sandy Lake, PA were the bike giveaway winners courtesy of King Bros. and Sharon Speedway.
There’s little doubt Jim Weller, Jr. isn’t questioning his move to Troyer Chassis this year. On May 4, Weller won his first feature at Sharon since 2010. After letting one slip by last Sunday night, Weller still entered the night as the point leader and he’ll stay that way after leading all 20 laps of the Governor Insurance Agency DIRTcar Big-Block Modified feature for his second win of the season!
“Starting position means a lot that’s for sure,” stated the Hubbard, Ohio veteran. “The track is excellent. It’s not because (Dave) Willoughby is standing there, but there’s no track that’s as good as Sharon Speedway. I was a little loose getting in the corner and that’s why the top worked better. I have to thank John Corbin of course, my son John, the guys from Troyer, and Carlon Hine and his guys.”
A heads-up start put Weller on the pole and he quickly took the advantage over Eric Gabany’s “358” small-block. Dave Murdick and Rex King were able to get by Gabany on the opening lap for second and third respectively. Sunday’s winner, Rex King, Jr., started back in seventh and he was on the move as he cracked the top five on the opening lap then passed Gabany for fourth on lap two.
King slipped high in turn two on lap five allowing his son “Cooter” to slip past for third. By lap seven, Weller opened up a straightaway lead on Murdick, while King, Jr. closed in. Unlike last week when he saw the win slip away, Weller maintained his advantage throughout and took the checkered flag first by 3.799 seconds in the Zip Motorsports-owned, Liberty Steel Products #31. The victory was his milestone 25th of his long career at Sharon.
The battle for second ensued as King, Jr. got alongside Murdick on several occasions, but couldn’t make the pass stick. Murdick came home second by just two tenths of a second. King, Jr. was third to maintain runner-up in points beating his father, who came home fourth. Gabany held on to fifth. New Yorker Ricky Richner continued his perfect streak of all finishes this season between fourth and sixth position with a sixth place effort after getting caught up in an opening lap accident. Seventh through 10th were Bob Warren, rookie Rick Regalski, Jr. from 13th, Kevin Green, and Carl Murdick. Heat winners were Weller and Gabany.
Two weeks ago Eric Wilson was overcome by defending champion Will Thomas III. On Saturday night, Wilson was able to hold off Thomas for his first win of the season in the Barris Supply RUSH Late Models. The 16-year-old Wilson has now won one a feature in each of his first three seasons of Late Model racing at Sharon! Wilson became the sixth different winner of the season in eight races. The non-stop event was timed in 5:47.445.
“We had the car for it,” stated the Cortland, Ohio teen when asked about the non-stop event. “I looked up and saw Tyler Barris jumping up and down like a monkey and I assumed that Will (Thomas) was close so I went down to the bottom and threw a block. I’ll do whatever it takes to win. It was fast-paced. I’m a young guy and can keep up with it. Some of those old geezers are back there breathing hard. I have to thank my dad, my grandpa, Mike Ingram with the motor.”
Clay Ruffo raced to the early lead, while Wilson took second from Shaun Hooks on the initial lap. Dennis Lunger, Jr. started fifth and was able to pass Lauren Longbrake and Hooks for third on lap one. Wilson would make what would turn out to be the winning move on lap two when he ducked under and past Ruffo in turn two on lap two.
Thomas, who started sixth and was racing with an injured wrist after a nasty accident last Saturday, entered the top five on lap two when he passed Longbrake. Lap three saw Lunger and Ruffo race side-by-side for second and Thomas and Hooks right behind in a side-by-side battle for fourth. Thomas made the pass on lap three and Lunger on lap four.
The battle then heated up for second as Thomas caught Lunger on lap six. After a two-lap battle, Thomas drove under and by Lunger in turn four for runner-up. Wilson had a half-straightaway lead, but by the halfway point of the 20-lap affair, Thomas closed in. On lap 16 he was right on the “Futures Cup” contender and on lap 18 and pulled alongside. Wilson though kept the door shut to impede Thomas’ strong runs on the bottom of the speedway as he held on to win by 0.429 of a second in his Brother’s Pizza of Cortland/Champion Vehicle Wraps/Speed Bear Fasteners/FK Rod Ends-sponsored #27W.
Point leader Lunger was third as he’s yet to finish outside the top four in a regular event this season. Josh Double came from ninth to place fourth for his best finish of the season. Sixth through 10th were Longbrake, Matt Latta, Jamie Wrightsman, Brian Booher, and Hooks. Ruffo and Thomas were heat race winners.
Joe Gabrielson scored an emotional victory as he won his first Modified feature since his father and mentor Bill Gabrielson passed away over the offseason. Gabrielson led all 15 laps holding off a stout field of competitors in the Summit Racing Equipment feature, and celebrated with a “Polish Victory Lap”. Gabrielson became the sixth different winner of the season in the competitive division.
“The first thing I’ve always done is thank my mom and dad,” acknowledged the 25-year-old Bristolville, Ohio racer. “They got me started in this and it was a dream come true to start with and I’m very happy we’re still able to do it. I really didn’t know what we were going to do when he passed away, but I just knew he’d be so pissed if this race car was sitting on jack stands and there was racing going on! That’s what everyone said and Smitty and Fred stuck with me. That’s who was with him in all of his racing and that’s who is with me now.”
Gabrielson used the outside to power around Kinney on the cushion for the lead. Evan Taylor and Alan Dellinger swapped third and fourth back and forth. Sixth starting Jeff Johnson then entered the battle for third as he passed Dellinger for fourth on lap three. Up front, Gabrielson pulled away on lap four from Kinney. A caution for Steve Haefke and Wayne Tessean bunched up the field with eight laps scored.
On the ensuing restart, Johnson was able to overtake Taylor for third. Three more laps were run before the final caution of the event slowed action and it was a big one that collected Clayton Kennedy, Shawn Shingledecker, Tessean, Jonathan Taylor, and Jeff Hassay. After a lengthy clean-up, the last four laps went caution-free and Gabrielson went unchallenged until Kinney closed on the final lap, but came up 0.427 of second shy.
Gabrielson’s victory was the fifth of his career and came in his Awesome Signs & Shirts/Integra Racing Shocks/Reese Services/X-10 Pavement Sealing/Wedge Motorsports/Willy’s Carb & Dyno Shop-sponsored #58. Johnson was third over Dellinger and Mike Potosky, who recorded his best finish of the season in just his third start. Completing the top 10 were Haefke, Gary Sullivan, newcomer Ed Wilson, Larry Kugel, and Hassay. Heat races were won by Kinney and Gabrielson.
While several regulars were off competing in a big race at Pittsburgh, Saturday’s Stock Car event was a non-point affair and left things wide open. Bruce Redman made his season debut a successful one as he captured his first win since April 9, 2011. And like Thomas and Gabrielson, became the season’s sixth different winner of the division.
“It’s been too long,” said the 44-year-old Cortland, Ohio driver. “This one was ready to go and I didn’t have time to keep them both going (Econo Mod). I had no idea it would run this good the first time out. I have to thank my mom and dad, girlfriend Debbie, daughters Ashley and Allison, and everyone that helps out on this car.”
Lap one was an exciting one as it was three-wide for the lead between Shaun Hooks, Jason Stanke, and Bruce Redman. Stanke came out on top to lead over Hooks and Redman. Lap two saw Stanke get sideways and it was a side-by-side battle between Hooks and Redman with Redman getting the nod for the lead over Hooks. Mike Clark started back in eighth and was halfway to the front after one lap then got by the sideways Stanke for third on lap two.
Clark then ran down Hooks on lap six in the battle for second, while Redman pulled away. Redman’s big lead though shrank in a hurry as he caught lapped traffic on lap 12. Hooks was right on Redman on lap 13, but spun in turn three ending his bid for the victory in the Greg Fornataro-owned #USA1 and necessitated the event’s only caution.
Redman held off Clark over the final three laps by a margin of 0.555 of a second for his 10th career win his Hovis Tire/GNC Well Service/Debbie’s Pet Salon & Pet Parlor-sponsored #27. Charlie Jasinski, Rod Laskey, and ninth starting Brian Carothers were third through fifth. Heat winners were Hooks and Stanke.
Two weeks ago, Jacob Eucker shocked the racing community as he became the youngest winner in the 84-year history of Sharon Speedway at age 12. On Saturday night, Eucker proved it was no fluke as he passed last year’s Western PA Rookie-of-the-Year, Casey Bowers, and held off division standout Jeremy Double for his second win in the 15-lap HTMA/Precise Racing Products Econo Mod feature. Eucker’s win came on his great grandfather and former standout racer Dale Johnson’s 90th birthday!
“He’s pretty fast and he’s a good clean racer,” stated the Hartford, Ohio winner about runner-up Double. “I’d like to wish my great grandfather a happy 90th birthday. I have to thank my new sponsor Tom’s Sewer & Drain and all of my other sponsors. I could have never imagined this.”
Bowers, who swept last year’s “Apple Festival Nationals”, jumped into the lead from the pole as Eucker passed Larry Root for runner-up. Eucker was all over Bowers on lap two with Bowers holding on until the event’s first caution was displayed. On the ensuing restart, Eucker used the outside to drive by Bowers in turns one and two on the outside for the lead with fifth starting Ryan Fraley following in second.
Meanwhile, Jeremy Double started back in 12th and was on the move. Double passed Root for third on lap five before a pair of cautions on laps six and seven. Back under green flag conditions, Double got by Fraley for second on lap nine. Two laps later, Double was pressuring the pre-teen for the lead and that continued until the final caution of the race with 12 laps scored.
The last three laps featured a side-by-side battle for the lead between the two minors. The duo put on clean battle for the win right down to the checkered flag that had the fans on the edge of their seats. At the finish, Eucker held on by just 0.123 of a second! Eucker’s popular win came in the Matt Eucker-owned, Tom’s Sewer & Drain/Ohio Commerce Center/Dr. John Eucker/Damon Race Engines/Altitude Adjustment/Danski Dyno & Performance/Close Racing Supply-sponsored #64.
Double leads the points by just one over Fraley, who finished third, and Eucker has closed to within six in third spot! Ty Rhoades finished fourth with Root dropping to fifth. Heat races were claimed by Rhoades and Fraley over the 19-car field.
Scott Gilliland became the third #27 to win on the night as his dominance of the Mini Stocks continued. Gilliland won for a track leading fifth time of the season in the 12-lap Deforest Used Parts feature. “The 75 and 82 were going at it,” said the 45-year-old Warren, Ohio. “I just kind of picked my spot and went around it. I heard Travis (Creech) behind me a couple times. He’s running really strong so I didn’t know if I was going to hold him off or not. That’s #5! We’ve never raced for points before. We started out so well and we’re leading the points so I’ll show up every week until we’re not. We’re going to win the championship this year!”
Ray Gregory jumped to the early lead in search of his first career win. Rookie Travis Creech, who had been hot winning two of the last three features, moved to second on lap four past Gilliland and Tim McAninch. Creech ran side-by-side with Gregory on laps five and six. Contact was made between the leaders on lap six, which allowed Gilliland to fly by into the lead.
With the last nine laps going caution-free, Gilliland went on for his second straight win and ninth of his career in his Lawn Wizard/NRC Management/VP&R/Inventive Sign & Design-sponsored #27. Gilliland has now moved into sole possession of third place on the division’s all-time win list after more than doubling his career win total this season. Creech held off fifth starting Bill Fuchs for runner-up as Haefke and McAninch completed the first five. Fuchs won the lone heat race.
Governor Insurance Agency DIRTcar Big-Block Modifieds (20 laps): 1. JIM WELLER, JR. (31) 2. Dave Murdick (61) 3. Rex King, Jr. (165) 4. Rex King (65) 5. Eric Gabany (3E) 6. Ricky Richner (26) 7. Bob Warren (96B) 8. Rick Regalski, Jr. 9. Kevin Green (74) 10. Carl Murdick (6) 11. Tom Glenn (83T) 12. Chris Haines (35H) 13. Rob Kristyak.
Barris Supply RUSH Late Models (20 laps): 1. ERIC WILSON (27W) 2. Will Thomas III (9) 3. Dennis Lunger, Jr. (Schwartz 71L) 4. Josh Double (38) 5. Clay Ruffo (14R) 6. Lauren Longbrake (27) 7. Matt Latta (21) 8. Jamie Wrightsman (21J) 9. Brian Booher (00H) 10. Shaun Hooks (65) 11. Lon Emerick (3)-DNS.
Summit Racing Equipment (E) Modifieds (15 laps): 1. JOE GABRIELSON (58) 2. Mike Kinney (3) 3. Jeff Johnson (27) 4. Alan Dellinger (White 53) 5. Mike Potosky (M20) 6. Steve Haefke (41) 7. Gary Sullivan (47s) 8. Ed Wilson (33) 9. Rocky Kugel (Petsko 00) 10. Jeff Hassay (10) 11. Chuck Recker, Jr. (17R) 12. Dustin Fraley (127) 13. Evan Taylor (7) 14. Shawn Shingledecker (54s) 15. Jonathan Taylor (5) 16. Wayne Tessean (10) 17. Brian Douglas (214) 18. Clayton Kennedy (9)-DSQ (unsportsmanlike conduct).
Gibson Insurance Agency Stock Cars (15 laps): 1. BRUCE REDMAN (27) 2. Mike Clark (7) 3. Charlie Jasinski (5J) 4. Rod Laskey (1R) 5. Brian Carothers (02c) 6. Dan McEwen (95) 7. Shaun Hooks (Fornataro USA1) 8. Jamie Scharba (00s) 9. Ron Yarab, Jr. (Burns 70B) 10. Jason Stanke (44) 11. Jesse Brock (22B) 12. Tony Bruno (97).
HTMA/Precise Racing Products Econo Mods (15 laps): 1. JACOB EUCKER (64) 2. Jeremy Double (83) 3. Ryan Fraley (12) 4. Ty Rhoades (12R) 5. Larry Root (22x) 6. Alan Atkinson (30Too) 7. Steve Burns, Jr. (Redman 27) 8. Casey Bowers (20) 9. Brian Hathaway (93) 10. Josh Ferry (33) 11. Mike Hillman (29) 12. George Vestal IV (4) 13. Keith Felicetty (98) 14. Brian Foley, Jr. (16JSR) 15. Junior Mechling (89) 16. Gina Thompson (Webber 25) 17. Kevin Robinson (24R) 18. Bob Williamson (8) 19. Jeff Mundell (11).
Deforest Used Parts Mini Stocks (12 laps): 1. SCOTT GILLILAND (27) 2. Travis Creech (75T) 3. Bill Fuchs (10) 4. Jim Haefke, Jr. (421) 5. Tim McAninch (43) 6. Pat Drennan (24) 7. Geof Pinch (36) 8. Jeff Little (42) 9. Ray Gregory (82R) 10. Ken Koby II (11).
Sharon Speedway will be back in action next Saturday, June 9 with another “Steel Valley Thunder” program featuring the above six divisions. Race time is 7 p.m. Coming up on Wednesday, June 12 is the Pay It Forward Foundation “Summer Bash” featuring NDRL’s ULMS Super Late Models ($3,000 to-win), UEMS Mods ($2,000 to-win), and the HTMA/Precise Racing Products Econo Mods ($350 to-win).
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.