By Mike Leone
(Hartford, OH)…After a week of off and on heavy rain, a cold front came through early in the morning and cleared skies for a beautiful evening of racing on Saturday night at Sharon Speedway. It was the fourth straight completed event as the 92nd anniversary season begins to wind down. Celebrating wins in the Hovis Auto & Truck Supply victory lane were Carl Bowser-Hovis Auto & Truck Supply “410” Sprint Cars, Chris Schneider-Gibson Insurance Agency Pro Stocks, Jarod Larson-Terry Bowser Excavating-RUSH Sprint Cars, and Chas Wolbert-HTMA/Precise Racing Products RUSH Sportsman Modifieds. Eighty-nine cars were in the pit area for the four-division “Super Series” program.
They say the first one is always the hardest and that was case in point for Carl Bowser. One week after winning his first career Sharon feature in his 17th season of racing “410” Sprint Cars, Bowser went back-to-back with another $3,000 victory. Bowser made a breathtaking three-wide move in traffic at the halfway point getting past leader Adam Kekich and then kept Ohio invader Cole Duncan at bay to become the first “410” repeat winner of 2021.
“Confidence is a hell of a thing and that’s all that move off turn four was,” explained the 34-year-old Butler, Pa. resident. “When Adam got around me I knew he was going to be tough to get so when he got to lapped traffic I knew I had to force the issue, and it worked out. This is pretty cool. The race track was beautiful; hats off to Dave Willoughby. This place is hands down the best track I’d argue on the East Coast. Anyone can go fast when it’s track record speeds, but there’s always a top and you can make the bottom work here; when you have that you can just work on your race car and move around. That’s what we’ve been working on here the last couple years and it’s really paying off. I’ve run second to Dave (Blaney) here and I’ve run second to Dale (Blaney) here. Last week when I got back to my trailer Dale told me it was a good thing he wasn’t here so I might have to rub it in his face a little.”
Bowser actually started on the pole, but it was fourth starting Kekich blowing into the lead. Kekich, who won his first career Sharon feature just three weeks prior, looked good out front. Duncan, who started fifth, passed central Pa. invader Jason Shultz on the opening lap then drove by Dan Kuriger on the backstretch on lap two for third. Sixth starting Brandon Matus followed in fourth one lap later.
Kekich had a straightaway lead built up when he caught lapped traffic on lap six, but Bowser now had his hands full with Duncan in the battle for second. Bob Lime, a one-time winner on the old half-mile track, came to a stop to bring out the first caution with eight laps completed. When racing resumed, Kekich maintained his lead over Bowser and Duncan. After dropping from third to seventh by lap nine, Shultz began charging forward. Shultz got back into the top five on lap 13 getting by Kuriger.
Back up front, Kekich caught lapped traffic on lap 15. Bowser saw the opportunity as he got a big run off turn four and snuck past Kekich and lapped traffic with a three-wide move right as the halfway signal was given. Shultz advanced one more spot to fourth past Matus on lap 17. By lap 20, Bowser began to stretch out his lead as Shultz closed in on Kekich and Duncan. Kekich got into the fence in turns one and two on lap 27 and came to a rest. The red had to be displayed for fire on Kekich’s car; Kekich was able to exit his car and was okay, but done for the event.
Bowser was able to fend off the two invaders in Duncan and Shultz denying them a chance to become the season’s 10th different winner in 10 races. Bowser’s Turner’s Premium Tea/Precise Tool & Die/Dirty Mouth Communications/Reeseman Body Shop/Krill Recycling-sponsored #11 crossed the finish line 2.389 ahead of Duncan with Shultz right in Duncan’s shadow.
Matus was fourth over a quiet fifth for seventh starting George Hobaugh. Bob Felmlee was sixth. Southern Ohio’s Nate Reeser made his first appearance and had a good run in seventh after starting 10th. Kuriger fell to eighth over Dan Shetler in his first appearance since June 26. Brent Matus completed the top 10. Felmlee set fast time overall against the 19-car field in qualifying with a lap of 14.433. Heat winners were Bowser and Shultz.
Chris Schneider led wire-to-wire in the 20-lap Gibson Insurance Agency Pro Stock feature. And while it was just his second win of the year, both were big ones. Schneider won the $10,000 “Steel Valley Pro Stock Nationals” on June 12 and on Saturday night banked $1,000 thanks to sponsorship from Curt J. Bish/Tarr Motorsports and Matt Bernard as $700 was put into the full field payoff.
“Normally we get a lot of clean racing here- I don’t know what was happening tonight,” stated the 42-year-old Lower Burrell, Pa. standout on the caution-filled event that had several lengthy stoppages. “I guess everyone else in the back was a little off-key, but hey you have those nights. I was glad to start up front. When you’re on the front row you should win. The mid to highline was good. I watched Carl Bowser run up there so that was the place to go. Normally I run middle to bottom, but it was a little higher tonight.”
Schneider raced past Jason Fosnaught on the start. Last week’s first time feature winner, Coleton Longwell, started sixth and was already up to third on lap four. Longwell and Davis swapped third back and forth over the next couple laps before Longwell took control, while seventh starting Bobby Whitling moved to fourth on lap six. Whitling looked like he was going to make a run for the lead as he shot past Longwell for third on a restart on lap nine and nearly took second from Fosnaught. Whitling though would backpedal from the halfway point on as Longwell regained third on lap 10 with Bish moving to fourth on lap 12.
Following a caution with 13 laps scored, Bish passed Longwell for third before the event’s final stoppage with 14 laps completed. When racing resumed for the final time, Bish drove around Fosnaught for second. Bish though was never able to seriously challenge Schneider, who captured his 15th career win by 1.448 seconds in his SS Chassis & Supply/Total Landscaping/Butler Truck Parts-sponsored #55.
Fosnaught, who arrived late when the first Pro Stock heat was on the track shortly after 7 PM, was able to round out the podium. Longwell was fourth ahead of Steve D’Apolito in his first start since June 12. Whitling dropped to sixth. Completing the top 10 were Jamie Duncan, Scott Stiffler, 16th starting Gary Fisher, and Chris McGuire, who had a tough night. Jason Johns, McGuire, and Whitling won the heat races over the 26-car field.
Seven-time “410” Sprint Car track champion Jarod Larson returned to victory lane for the first time since his last championship in 2006 capturing his first Terry Bowser Excavating RUSH Sprint Car win at Sharon. Larson traded slide jobs with Gale Ruth, Jr. before getting back by on lap four then set sail and was never challenged over the remaining laps of the 20-lap feature. Larson, who had one prior RUSH Sprint Car win last year at Raceway 7, was making just his second start of 2021 and sixth ever in the division.
“It’s been a long, long time since I stood here and it feels good,” expressed the happy 53-year-old Jefferson, Ohio veteran. “I love the race track and I love Sprint Car racing. This is a whole different ballgame for me, but we’re enjoying it and having a good time. I didn’t know if I was going to clear him (Ruth). I was trying to give him a lane; once I got up there I was like ‘I’m committed now’ but I thought I was past him far enough anyhow. It was a little risky, but sometimes that’s what you have to do.”
An invert zero from the heat races allowed Larson to race into the early lead, while Ruth passed Blaze Myers for second. Ruth then put a slide job on Larson in turn two on lap two to take the top spot. Ruth has 11 career RUSH Sprint Car wins on the circuit including five this season, but had never won at Sharon before. Larson though wasn’t about to let that happen on this night. The two raced side-by-side for the lead on lap three and four before Rod George slowed to bring out the caution with three laps scored.
When green replaced yellow on lap four, Larson put a big slider on Ruth in turn four and made the pass stick. While Ruth tried to keep pace with Larson, an excellent battle took place behind the lead duo as Myers and Brandon Shughart raced side-by-side for third from laps 6-12 before Myers finally got some breathing room. Larson opened up his lead on lap 14, while Myers and Shughart closed on Ruth on lap 14 and by lap 16 it was a three-car battle for second. Myers pulled alongside Ruth and the two raced side-by-side on laps 18 and 19 before Russ Sansosti, who was doing double duty also running a “410”, spun with 19 laps completed.
Larson was able to withstand the final lap shootout as his 27th career Sharon victory came in his Larson Trucking/Clemson Excavating/Trevis Craft/Palmer Farms/Townsend Machine-sponsored #47. Ruth was second as he pulled within one-point of Chad Ruhlman in the battle for RUSH’s $5,000 to-win Equipment Rental Options Weekly Series Championship. Myers was third for his fifth top four finish in six races at Sharon.
Shughart spun on the final lap after the checkered flag had waved ruining his excellent run, which allowed ninth starting John Mollick to finish a season best fourth. Tyler Newhart came from 13th to a career best fifth. Arnie Kent, Ricky Tucker, Jr., Brad Blackshear, Amelia Clay, and Brian Cressley completed the top 10. Heat winners over the 20-car field were Larson and Ryan Fraley, who was unable to start the feature due to a medical emergency with his father. After going 20th to victory at the last RUSH Sprint event on July 31, Ruhlman was unable to fire the Engles Motorsports #68 all night long.
Chas Wolbert matched Econo Mod racer Will Thomas III as the top feature winner in 2021 at Sharon. Wolbert started fourth and took the lead from Tony Tatgenhorst on lap three and kept Garrett Krummert at bay in the final laps to capture his fourth win of the season in the HTMA/Precise Racing Products RUSH Sportsman Modifieds. Wolbert earned $500 with a full field of cars on hand, and also clinched his first track championship.
“We all come here to be able to stand here at the end of the night,” expressed the 27-year-old Warren, Ohio driver. “I’m just blessed to be able to stand here. You have to be patient and see how everything plays out. The single file restarts worked to my advantage and I’ll take every bit of it.”
Brandon Ritchey led the opening lap before Tatgenhorst nosed ahead on lap two. Ritchey spun on the following lap, which moved Wolbert to second on the restart. Back under green on lap three, Tatgenhorst went to the top in turns one and two, which allowed Wolbert to race past on the bottom. By lap five, Wolbert stretched out his lead, while Tatgenhorst had his hands full with Ben Easler, seventh starting Krummert, and Jacob Wolfe. At the halfway point, Wolbert caught lapped traffic and his lead was a full straightaway before a pair of cautions slowed action.
Back under green on lap 11, Krummert passed Easler for third then drove by Tatgenhorst down the backstretch for second on lap 13. Krummert’s deficit was a straightaway, but then got a caution he needed for five cars that tangled in turn one. Krummert tried powering around the outside over the final seven laps, but was unable to make a serious bid for the lead. Wolbert’s all-time division-leading 19th career win came in his Alcon Mechanical/Dunkin Donuts of Warren, OH/C.T. Wolbert Trucking/Walters Building Co./Ohio Intra Express/Russ King Racing/BCT Construction-sponsored #c3 by1.539 seconds over Krummert.
Tatgenhorst was third for the fourth time in eight races this season. Fourteen-year-old Easler finished fourth for his fourth top five of the season. Wolfe was fifth. Rob Kristyak went 13th to sixth over J.C. Boyer, 12th starting Kyle Martell, and Chelsie Kriegisch, who had advanced from 11th to battle for sixth early on. Ritchey came back from his early spin to complete the top 10. Heat winners over the 24-car field were Boyer, Wolfe, and Wolbert.
Coming up next Saturday (August 21) will be the World of Outlaws Late Models racing for $10,000 to-win plus the Whelen Econo Mods in their final night of points. Advance tickets are on sale for reserved, general admission, patio, and fan suite tickets at the following link http://www.sharonspeedway.com/fans/tickets/.
Hovis Auto & Truck Supply “410” Sprint Cars (30 laps, $3,000 to-win): 1. CARL BOWSER (11) 2. Cole Duncan (22) 3. Jason Shultz (Ritter 35) 4. Brandon Matus (13) 5. George Hobaugh (40) 6. Bob Felmlee (6) 7. Nate Reeser (83x) 8. Dan Kuriger (08) 9. Dan Shetler (7K) 10. Brent Matus (33) 11. Cameron Nastasi (99) 12. Jared McFarland (250) 13. George Englert (11x) 14. Russ Sansosti (23s) 15. Eric L. Williams (4w) 16. Steve Bright (13B) 17. Adam Kekich (5K) 18. Bob Lime (901). DNS: David Kalb, Jr. (11J).