by Mike Leone
Hartford, OH September 21, 2019 Sharon Speedway wrapped up the 90th anniversary season on Saturday night in night two of the “Apple Festival Nationals”. In a year that was a constant battle with Mother Nature, it was no surprise that a rain cell popped up right over the speedway during Sprint Car qualifying despite less than a 20% chance of rain. The rain shower caused nearly a two-hour delay. Special thanks to the more than 20 drivers that came out and helped run the track back in.
Celebrating in the Hovis Auto & Truck Supply victory lane were Trevor Baker-Hovis Auto & Truck Supply “410” Sprint Cars, Alan Dellinger-Penn-Ohio Series for the Gibson Insurance Agency Stock Cars, Eric Gabany-RUSH Touring Series for the HTMA/Precise Racing Products Sportsman Modifieds, Rod Jones-“Mark Marcucci Memorial” for Mod Lites, and Ty Rhoades-Summit Racing Equipment Econo Mods. Also, Jim Bryce won the Ohio Intra Express/C&R Tire RUSH Sportsman Modified “Wheelman” Non-Winners race, and picking up Junior Sprint wins were Sammy Darby (open) and Randy White (9HP).
On a fast track, Trevor Baker ripped the fence for the entire 30-lap “410” Sprint Car feature and was able to keep Carl Bowser at bay for duration to earn his first career Sharon Speedway victory as he became the season’s seventh different winner in nine races. It was just the third year racer’s second career “410” victory after winning in his rookie 2017 season at Ohio’s Wayne County Speedway.
“I was really glad the caution came out because I lost all of my brakes and that gave them a chance to cool off,” explained the 23-year-old Shreve, Ohio racer. “I was able to take back off and the brakes worked again. I knew Carl (Bowser) races here a lot and this is just my third year and second win ever- they don’t come easy in a ‘410’. I just told myself to drive every lap perfect. This is only my second weekend together with Richard. He put a great car underneath me. I’m thankful for everyone that stands behind this car- it means a lot to me.”
Baker drew the pole position and him and Bowser nearly made contact as Baker tried to get to the top just before turn one on the opening lap, while Dan Kuriger, Jimmy Morris III, and Jack Sodeman, Jr. filled out the top five. Sixth starting Sodeman was subbing for Sadie Siegel and was able to pass Morris for fourth on lap three. Baker caught traffic on lap six and got a caution when Steve Haefke, Jr. slowed with seven completed.
Baker took back off when racing resumed in clean air, but within five laps Bowser close back in and was right on the leader on lap 14. The two battled hard side-by-side on laps 16 and 17 trading slide jobs; Baker was able to maintain the lead and once again got a much-needed caution when Sodeman blew his right rear tire running fourth with 17 in.
The final 13 circuits went caution-free. Bowser was able to close back in during the final laps, but never got quite close enough to make a move as Baker took the win by 0.753 of a second in the T-Rev Performance-owned, Baker’s MHT/Exodus Cycles/Coblentz Trucking/H&S Concrete/Amsoil-sponsored #45. Kuriger was in contention early on, but lost pace with the front duo settling for third. Seventh starting Michael Bauer held off a hard charging Dan McCarron for fourth. Twelfth starting Adam Kekich came on late for sixth as he was challenging Bauer and McCarron at the finish. Morris dropped to seventh over Frankie Nervo, Darren Pifer from 14th, and Jeremy Kornbau. Heat winners were Nervo and Bowser.
It’s hard to believe it’s been five years since Sharon’s all-time winningest Stock Car and E-Mod racer, Alan Dellinger, had made it to victory lane at the Hartford, Ohio oval. The versatile racer jumped in Jason Longwell’s #7s Stock Car for the first time this season and scored his first victory at the track since a RUSH Late Model win nearly five years to the day on September 20, 2014. Dellinger passed back standout Chris Schneider on lap 11 and raced on to the $2,000 Penn-Ohio Series victory in the 25-lap Gibson Insurance Agency feature. Dellinger upped his all-time Sharon win total to 165, which have come in five different divisions!
“I’m not much for keeping track of stats and racing for points- I just like to race,” stated the 55-year-old Hermitage, Pa. great. “I thought I was real good the first six laps or so, but I don’t know if the middle of the track went away or what, but he got by me and I figured I was done. So I went to the bottom and thought ‘here I go and I’m alright’. My car owner here Jason called me Monday and we kind of put this deal together with some tinkering- this is a nice hot rod.”
Shaun Hooks took off in the early lead looking for his first win of the year, while Dellinger went fourth to second on the opening lap. Hooks’ lead was short-lived as Dellinger drove around Hooks for the lead off turn four on lap three. Three cautions slowed action on lap five that bunched up the field. When racing resumed, Schneider passed Hooks for second. Schneider then went after Dellinger and made the pass for the lead off the bottom of turn four on lap eight.
Dellinger changed his line and three laps later made the identical pass of Schneider in which he lost the lead from. Lapped traffic came into play on lap 21 before Rod Laskey went up in smoke slowing action for the final time with 21 laps scored. That setup a four-lap dash to the checkered flag. Dellinger was too strong as he fended off Schneider by 0.489 of a second for his 66th career Stock win at the track.
Noah Brunell came on late from his 10th starting spot to pass Chris McGuire on lap 22. McGuire, who started eighth, was fourth. Andrew Gordon had a good run in Jeff Broniszewski’s #08 racing from 15th to fifth. Front row racers Randy Wyant and Hooks dropped to sixth and seventh as Rusty Moore, 21st starting Bobby Whitling, and September 7 $10,000 winner Curt J. Bish rounded out the top 10. Dellinger, Moore, Hooks, Bish, and Laskey won the heat races on Friday night over the 41-car field, while Rusty Martz and Whitling won the last chance B mains.
After 20 non-stop laps, Eric Gabany made a big move on a race-long leader Rob Kristyak with five laps to go following the race’s only caution to capture his first career RUSH Sportsman Modified and Sharon Speedway victory. Thirty-five drivers attempted to qualify for the Hovis Auto & Truck Supply Touring Series 25-lap HTMA/Precise Racing Products feature that awarded $800 to Gabany.
“I was thinking at first (Rob) Kristyak is gone then we got that caution and my tires worked better after that restart and my car handled perfect,” explained the 34-year-old Mercer, Pa. racer. “This is awesome. It probably took me a little longer to win than I expected, but there’s some stiff competition in this class. I have to thank Jerry Schaffer. I hadn’t been racing for awhile and he gave me this car and said I belong out on the race track- good stuff.”
Kristyak used to the outside to power around pole-sitter Jacob Jordan for the early lead, while Josh Deems passed Gabany for third. Gabany then got to the top and drove around Deems and Jordan for second on lap three. Deems seemed to lose power as he faded back through the field and pulled off allowing Tony Tatgenhorst and Garrett Krummert to move into third and fourth.
By lap seven, the battle was on for second as Gabany had his hands full with Tatgenhorst, and Krummert; meanwhile, up front Kristyak had stretched his lead to a straightaway when he caught lapped traffic on lap 11. Kristyak fought through heavy traffic on lap 13 that slowed his momentum and allowed Gabany to cut into the lead.
A caution for Jim Bryce bunched up the field with 20 laps completed. Kristyak chose the outside, but Gabany put a slide job on Kristyak entering turn one and got to the top in turn two. The two battled hard for the rest of the lap with leading Gabany taking over on the 21st circuit. Gabany was able to stretch out his lead over the final four laps and took the checkered flag first by 1.429 seconds in the Jerry Schaffer-owned, Turn 4 Toilets/Atlantic Timber Farms-sponsored #4s. Gabany became the 18th different RUSH Sportsman Modified winner in the six-year history of the division.
Kristyak was able to fend off ninth starting Krummert to take third. Will Thomas III and Jim Rasey were fourth and fifth. Rookie racer, Clayton Deems, who won the “Wheelman” Non-Winners race on August 30, turned in his best career feature finish in sixth. Tatgenhorst dropped to seventh. David Kalb, Jr. went 13th to eighth. Brandon Ritchey made his first Sharon appearance since May 11 and finished ninth after starting 18th. Kyle Martell completed the top 10. Tatgenhorst, Thomas, Gabany, and Kristyak won Friday night’s heat races, while Rodney Beltz and Gary Haupt won the last chance B mains.
Jim Bryce closed out the season winning the 10-lap “Wheelman” Non-Winners race presented by Ohio Intra Express and C&R Tire. The 49-year-old Harmony, Pa. driver led the entire distance holding off fourth starting Clayton Deems for the $75 victory. Bryce became the eighth different winner of the season in 11 “Wheelman” races in the Jerry Schaffer-owned, Turn 4 Toilets/Fombell General Store-sponsored #44. Three-time winner, Kalb, was third over D.J. Schrader and Amelia Clay. Cameron Nastasi finished eighth, but held on by just two points over Clay to win the $300 RUSH championship.
After spinning on lap three, Rod Jones charged back through the field and passed race-long leader Richard Demo, Jr. on lap 11 and then cruised to the $1,000 victory in the second annual “Mark Marcucci Memorial” 20-lap feature for Mod Lites. The top five racers were represented by three different states and one Canadian province!
“This is easily the happiest I’ve ever been to win a race,” expressed the emotional 43-year-old West Middlesex, Pa. racer. “I didn’t care if this paid $4- this means everything to me. None of the Mod Lites are used to racing on a surface like this. It’s extremely technical for what we’re used to. Even for me it takes a lot to get used to. I think that’s why we had so many cautions. These cars are 60″ inches wide by 74″ long- that’s almost square. There’s 200 horsepower- they get it. First and foremost I have to thank Mark (Marcucci), Jones Performance, and Darrel Lewis for putting me in this awesome ride.”
The event was slowed nine times by caution including a big flip on the opening lap by Mark A. Marcucci, who was okay. Jones’ victory came by a margin of 2.981 seconds in the Darrel Lewis/NXS Motorsports-owned, Sarchione Chevrolet/BSB Shocks/Jones Performance-sponsored #820. Rod’s daughter Vivian Jones passed Demo on the final lap for second. New York’s Demo dropped to third. Canadian Jeff May was fourth over Ohio’s Jeff Teeters. The heat races for the 27-car field were won by Demo, Rod Jones, and Vivian Jones.
They always say the first win is the toughest. It took Ty Rhoades years to finally break into victory lane at Sharon Speedway on July 28, 2018. Rhoades would add another victory in the season finale last year. Fast forward to 2019 and Rhoades was in victory lane Saturday night for the second straight Summit Racing Equipment feature and third time of the year. Rhoades has now won $2,750 in the last two races! In fact, Rhoades has now won five of the last 14 Econo Mod features.
“Dave Willoughby and his crew give us such an excellent track to race on,” stated the 28-year-old Guys Mills, Pa. resident, who now calls Pittsburgh home. “My guys him-hawed about what I should do and just said do what you know works and it worked. This car is just amazing. I can’t thank Lethal Chassis, Dan Davies, and David Stremme for all their support. They coached me through driver errors early in the season. My crew is second to none and I couldn’t do it without them. I’m so fortunate too with all of my sponsors- my car is like a billboard.”
Rhoades started on the pole and led the entire distance as just one caution would slow his run in his Bloom Machineworks/Trace Lawn & Landscaping/A&MP Electric/Talbar Inc./Dirt Rhoades Logging/Village Auto/Smokey Martins BBQ/Weldbark Energy-sponsored #12R by 2.516 seconds. Jeremy Double ran second for the majority of the race other than losing it briefly to Butch Lambert before gaining it back for good on lap 15. Lambert was third. Track champion Dustin DeMattia and Andy Buckley were fourth and fifth and also won Friday’s heat races.
The 2019 season is now completed. Thank you to the fans, racers, sponsors, and track employees for making the 90th anniversary season a success. Stay tuned throughout the off-season for updates on 2020.
Apple Fest Nationals
Saturday September 21, 2019
Winged 410 Sprint Cars
1. 45-Trevor Baker
2. 11-Carl Bowser
3. 8-Dan Kuriger
4. 46-Michael Bauer
5. 22M-Dan McCarron
6. 5K-Adam Kekich
7. 4N-Jimmy Morris III
8. 21N-Frankie Nervo
9. 23-Darren Pifer
10. 27K-Jeremy Kornbau
11. 12-Darin Gallagher
12. 23s-Russ Sansosti
13. 4w-Eric L. Williams
14. 1R-Gale Ruth, Sr
15. 42-Sye Lynch
16. 91-Jack Sodeman, Jr
17. 98H-Dave Blaney
18. 12X-Steven Haefke
DNS. 901-Bob Lime