SHARON CROWNS WELLER, LUNGER, KINNEY, CLARK, DOUBLE & CREECH AS CHAMPS AT 2013 AWARDS BANQUET; SCHRUM & VOGT INDUCTED INTO HALL OF FAME
By Mike Leone
Yankee Lake, OH February 1, 2014 Sharon Speedway celebrated the 2013 racing season with the awards banquet and dinner last Saturday night as nearly 400 people filled the Yankee Lake (OH) Ballroom. The top 10 drivers from the Governor Insurance Agency DIRTcar Big-Block Modifieds, Barris Supply RUSH Late Models, Summit Racing Equipment Modifieds, Gibson Insurance Agency Stock Cars, HTMA/Precise Racing Products Econo Mods, and Deforest Used Parts Mini Stocks were honored with cash and hardware in addition to numerous special awards being handed out.
Each year, Sharon inducts a new class into the Speedway’s Hall of Fame. The 2013 inductees were Sprint Car driver Jeff Schrum and Limited Late Model racer Bob Vogt (Sr.). The families of both recipients were present to receive the accolades for the two late drivers, who passed away in recent years from extended illnesses. Schrum was the 1989 and 1992 track champion and accumulated 21 feature wins at the Speedway, while Vogt captured the 1985 track championship and recorded 23 career Sharon wins.
Ironically, all three of the Speedway’s special driver awards went to Econo Mod drivers! Ryan Fraley earned the Most Improved Driver Award. The Wheatland, Pa. driver improved from 17th in points in 2012 to fourth in 2013 and more impressively won the first four features of his career despite not racing in the final two nights.
Ty Rhoades picked up the track’s Rookie-of-the-Year honors. Ty is the son of former standout Tim Rhoades, who owns 11-time Limited Late Model winner at the Speedway. The Guys Mills, Pa. driver stayed in the championship chase most of the year despite failing to win a feature. Consistency was the name of the game for Rhoades, who finished in the top 10 in 15 of his 19 starts in a division that featured full fields night in and night out. More impressively, Rhoades didn’t finish worse than fifth in eight straight events between May 25 and August 24!
Larry Root was given the Hard Luck Award. Despite finishing sixth in points, the West Farmington, Ohio veteran racer seemingly had just about everything go wrong for him over the course of the season including a trailer fire in the pit area. Root ran up front many nights, but was only able to record seven top 10 finishes in 19 starts; however, only had one top 10 over the balance of the season’s final seven races.
Pat Longley, who was just inducted into the Twin-State Auto Racing Club Hall of Fame as a Track Official, was awarded the Speedway’s special recognition award for his many decades of service as head scorer.
The 2013 championship crop included five new titlists out of six! Jim Weller, Jr. was the only repeat champion. Though it’s the veteran Hubbard, Ohio driver’s third DIRTcar Big-Block Modified championship, it’s his first since the 2004 season with his other title coming back in 2000 on the old half-mile. It was a tremendous season for three-time winner Weller, who had only one finish out outside of the top five in point events. Despite a career best season by Rex King, Jr., which included five feature wins, it wasn’t enough to overcome Weller as he came up 45 points shy- the maximum number of points a driver can earn in a night.
King of Bristolville, Ohio though was able to capture the second annual Lou Blaney “Drive to be a Champion” title, worth $1,010. The top 10 in these points shared an additional $2,300. Drivers’ best 10 finishes of 2013 were utilized plus all drivers received an additional 10 bonus points for competing in the “Lou Blaney Memorial”
After winning his first career Sharon feature in the 2012 finale, Dennis Lunger, Jr. decided he’d be a Sharon regular for the first time in his career in 2013. The decision certainly paid dividends as the Albion, Pa. racer captured five feature wins in route to the Barris Supply RUSH Late Model title. Lunger beat out 2012 champion Will Thomas III for the crown. Ironically, Lunger and Thomas, who both had five wins at Sharon, tied for fifth spot in the Sweeney Chevrolet Buick GMC Weekly Series Championship!
Mike Kinney came out on top of the ultra-competitive Summit Racing Equipment Modified division for his first ever championship. The Ashtabula, Ohio driver was one of 12 different winners on the season. Though he only had two victories, Kinney bagged five runner-ups and was like Weller as he only had one finish outside the top 10 in point race events! Kinney’s 61-point margin over Joe Gabrielson was the biggest by any champion.
It’s hard to believe Mike Clark entered the 2011 racing season winless in his racing career that dated back to the mid-90s. The Bristolville, Ohio driver won two races in both the 2011 and 2012 seasons then had a breakout season in 2013. Clark doubled his career win total with four victories including his biggest career win in the $1,500 “Apple Festival Nationals” on his way to the Gibson Insurance Agency Stock Car Championship!
The HTMA/Precise Racing Products Econo Mod championship battle whittled itself down to a so-called two-man championship race, but in this case it was two young boys. Seventeen-year-old Jeremy Double beat out 12-year-old Jacob Eucker by 12 points for the title. The Bristolville, Ohio champion had seven victories to Eucker’s (Hartford, OH) six.
Travis Creech was the fifth new track champion taking the Deforest Used Parts Mini Stocks, and it was pretty special for the Warren, Ohio racer as he accomplished the feat in his rookie season and in the final night of points on September 28! Creech, a six-time feature winner, edged out seven-time winner Scott Gilliland, who led the points for most of the year, by just four markers!
Sharon Speedway’s next event will be Saturday, March 22 for the “Springduro 150” Enduro paying $1,000 to-win along with an open practice for all divisions. The 2014 season will officially get underway with the first “Steel Valley Thunder” weekly program on Saturday, April 19.
FINAL Top 10 Governor Insurance Agency DIRTcar Big-Block Modifieds: 1. JIM WELLER, JR. (31) 628 2. Rex King, Jr. (165) 583 3. Dave Murdick (61) 555 4. Ricky Richner (26) 522 5. Rex King (65) 492 6. Bob Warren (96B) 407 7. Rob Kristyak (00) 379 8. Tom Glenn (83T) 365 9. Eric Gabany (3E) 351 10. Jeremiah Shingledecker (37MD) 347.
FINAL 2013 “Drive to be a Champion” DIRTcar Big-Block Modified Top 10 Points: 1. REX KING, JR. (165) 296 2. Jim Weller, Jr. (31) 282 3. Rex King (65) 276 4 Dave Murdick (61) 266 5. Ricky Richner (26) 250 6. Jeremiah Shingledecker (37MD) 236 7. Eric Gabany (3E) 218 8. Rob Kristyak (00) 186 9. Jimmy Weller III (23) 183 10. Bob Warren (96B) 181.
FINAL Top 10 Barris Supply RUSH Late Models: 1. DENNIS LUNGER, JR. (Schwartz 71L) 614 2. Will Thomas III (9) 574 3. Eric Wilson (27W) 543 4. Josh Double (38) 512 5. Jamie Wrightsman (21J) 471 6. Matt Latta (21) 408 7. Rocky Kugel (21KRT) 339 8. Ben Black (27B) 315 9. Clay Ruffo (14R) 283 10. Brian Booher (Hoover 00H) 222.
FINAL Top 10 Summit Racing Equipment (E) Modifieds: 1. MIKE KINNEY (3) 610 2. Joe Gabrielson (58) 549 3. Jeff Johnson (27) 508 4. Alan Dellinger (White 53) 498 5. Jeff Hassay (10) 426 6. Shawn Shingledecker (54s) 415 7. Gary Sullivan (47s) 358 8. Joel Watson (92) 344 9. Clayton Kennedy (9) & Trevor Herr (32) 329.
FINAL Top 10 Gibson Insurance Agency Stock Cars: 1. MIKE CLARK (7) 584 2. Brian Carothers (02c) 525 3. Paul Davis (3) 514 4. Tim Burns (66) 456 5. Jamie Duncan (67J) 419 6. Brent Coleman (01) 367 7. Bryan Wagner (56) 362 8. Ron Yarab, Jr. (Burns 70B) 352 9. Jesse Brock (22B) 293 10. Jason Stanke (44) 285.
FINAL Top 10 HTMA/Precise Racing Products Econo Mods: 1. JEREMY DOUBLE (83) 721 2. Jacob Eucker (64) 704 3. Ty Rhoades (12R) 620 4. Ryan Fraley (12) 611 5. Steve Burns, Jr. (70B) 575 6. Larry Root (22x) 495 7. Alan Atkinson (30Too) 490 8. Keith Felicetty (98) 428 9. Junior Mechling (89) 377 10. Brian Hathaway (93) 358.
FINAL Top 10 Deforest Used Parts Mini Stocks: 1. TRAVIS CREECH (75T) 754 2. Scott Gilliland (27) 750 3. Jim Haefke, Jr. (421) 687 4. Bill Fuchs (10) 659 5. Tim McAninch (43) 486 6. Ray Gregory (82R) 470 7. Geof Pinch (36) 409 8. Steve Walker II (4M) 397 9. Pat Drennan (24) 350 10. Jim Clay, Jr. (84J) 349.
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 @SharonSpdwy.