From Tyler Altmeyer
HARTFORD, Ohio (July 11, 2020) — Officially etching his name into the Series’ history book, Vienna, West Virginia’s Cale Conley is now an Ollie’s Bargain Outlet All Star Circuit of Champions presented by Mobil 1 main event winner, accomplishing his storied feat during Lou Blaney Memorial competition at Sharon Speedway in Hartford, Ohio, on Saturday, July 11. The win, Conley’s seventh top-ten finish of Cometic Gasket Ohio Sprint Speedweek presented by Hercules Tires, was worth $7,500.
Although forced to withstand pressure from the likes of Rico Abreu, Brock Zearfoss and Cory Eliason during the 30-lap contest, Conley would prevail, eventually leading every lap while remaining patient on an ultra-quick and choppy surface that proved relentless for much of the field. In total, eight caution periods were recorded inducing three red flag stoppages, one for fuel on lap 19.
Conley’s campaign at the front of the field commenced right from the drop of the initial green, getting the early jump over fellow front row starter, Brock Zearfoss, as well as Rico Abreu and Gerard McIntyre. It would not take long for the leaders to reach the back of the field, already getting trapped behind slower cars on lap four. A caution on lap five, and again on lap six, would prove to save the day for Conley, negating any chance for a battle in traffic on a narrow groove.
A similar situation would arise on lap 11, and again on lap 18, as cautions would end the potential for a battle among slower cars. Still in command, Conley’s biggest threat occurred after a red flag incident on lap 26, ultimately giving St. Helena, California’s Rico Abreu and Rudeen Racing’s Cory Eliason an opportunity to pounce with only five circuits remaining. Fortunately for Conley, a battle between Eliason and Abreu would break out allowing the West Virginian to escape unscathed in clean air.
Eliason would get by Abreu to secure second on the final circuit, followed by Abreu, Tim Shaffer and a hard-charging Danny Dietrich, who advanced 12 spots to finish fifth.
Brock Zearfoss, who was racing in the runner-up spot at the time, was the reason for the red flag stoppage on lap 26, as right-front suspension damage caused the familiar No. 3Z to dig itself in and end up upside-down in turn two; Zearfoss walked away from the incident.
“That was a long race,” Conely said out of breath in Sharon Speedway victory lane, driver of the Ravici Racing No. 3C. “It was hot out there and I was just ready to see the laps wind down. It took us a while, but I’m so happy to win here during the Lou Blaney Memorial. It’s such a special night for my wife’s family. Our little boy’s name is Louie, so this is really cool. To get my first All Star win in front of such an awesome crowd is cool. I was just asking God on those restarts to help me focus because I had some really good guys behind me. I was just trying to hang on for dear life.
“This race car was so good, and it’s the first night out for this car; it’s a brand new car,” Conley continued, who is married to the granddaughter of Lou Blaney, Dave Blaney’s daughter, Emma. “We tore one up last night at Portsmouth, so we had to put together a whole new car. That just goes to show how lucky I am to get to work with Brian Kemenah. This is just unreal. Brian always finds ways to make my job really easy. I really can’t show how appreciative I really am.”