By Mike Leone


(Hartford, OH)…The next event on tap at Sharon Speedway has become one of the region’s most popular and highly-anticipated racing events. Sharon Speedway will host the fourth annual “Lou Blaney Memorial” on Tuesday, July 10 featuring “410” Sprint Cars and DIRTcar Big-Block Modifieds. The year’s event presented by Ollie’s Bargain Outlet will again benefit the Alzheimer’s Association and feature NASCAR’s Tony Stewart, Kasey Kahne, and Dave Blaney racing Sprint Cars.

The Sprint Cars will race for a record $5,000 to-win! The feature will pay $300 to-start. In addition, Kate Blaney has gathered over $10,000 in product contingency awards for the Sprint Car racers! The Governor Insurance Agency DIRTcar Big-Block Modified will once again pay $2,000 to-win, $200 to-start.

Tickets are on sale by calling 330-772-5481 or by going to SharonSpeedway.com. The direct link to the order form is www.sharonspeedway.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/05/Lou-Blaney-Mem-2012-Ticket-Form.pdf. Advance ticket holders will be granted admission one hour earlier at 3 p.m. for preferred seating. Gates will open for all others at 4 p.m. Racing will begin at 7 p.m. Adult grandstand admission is $20. Kids 13 and under are free. Pit passes are $35.

Three-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Champion, Tony Stewart, was the event’s inaugural Sprint Car winner in 2009 and finished fifth and ninth in the 2010 and 2011 events respectively. His popular 2009 victory marked his first career “410” winged feature win. Stewart nearly won the Ohio Speedweek event on June 26 leading the first 26 laps only to suffer a flat tire. Stewart will look to regain his winning form on July 10 when he climbs behind the wheel of his #14 Sprint Car. 

Kahne meanwhile, winner of 13 career NASCAR Sprint Cup events, is looking to earn his career first win at the Hartford, Ohio oval. Kahne has competed in all three prior “Lou Blaney Memorials” with finishes of sixth, seventh, and twelfth respectively. 

Dave Blaney, winner of 27 Sprint Car features at Sharon in addition to two Modified mains, would certainly love to add his name as a winner to this prestigious event, as would his brother Dale. The youngest of Lou’s sons has 13 career Sprint Car feature wins at Sharon including last year’s Ohio All Star Speedweek event. Dale recently won a pair of Ohio All Star Speedweek events at Fremont bringing his career All Star win total to 90!

Besides Stewart’s 2009 victory, local racer Mike Lutz and Texan Sam Hafertepe, Jr. have captured $3,000 “Lou Blaney Memorial” victories on the Sprint Car side. Lutz recently returned to the seat of the Jim Chappel #8 and picked up the win Saturday night at Mercer Raceway Park. Ed Lynch, Jr. is the speedway’s all-time leading Sprint Car winner at 50 and is expected to be part of the field. Brandon Matus was the Ohio Speedweek victor for his first career Sharon win. 

Pittsburgh’s Danny Holtgraver is a local racer that has caught fire over the last month. Holtgraver captured his first career All Star victory worth $6,000 at Attica during Speedweek, a $3,000 Midwest All Star win Sunday at Pittsburgh, another $3,000 victory at Mercer for the Auto Racers for Kids Charities along with regular event wins at Mercer and Lernerville. 

The “Lou Blaney Memorial” will be the second of just three scheduled for the Sprint Cars at Sharon in 2012. The BOSS Wingless Sprint Series will make their inaugural stop on Saturday, July 14. Sharon Speedway will be dark this Saturday, July 7.

There has yet to be a repeat winner in the Modifieds with New York legend Jack Johnson taking the 2009 race, while local Ohio drivers Jim Rasey and Rob Kristyak stole the thunder the past two seasons. The Modified field has been very competitive this season with six different winners in eight races. Only point leader Rex King and veteran Kevin Bolland have been able to repeat, while Brian Swartzlander, Jeremiah Shingledecker, Dave Murdick, and Rex King, Jr. have also copped victories.

The DIRTcar Modified portion of the event will be part of the “Drive to be a Champion” Series, which looks at Modified racers best 10 finishes of the season. There will be an extra incentive with 10 bonus points for all competing racers. 

Friends of Lou Blaney will again attend the Memorial Event to help celebrate the life and accomplishments of the Hall of Fame driver, who won more than 600 feature victories during a five-decade career. The legend has at least 121 Modified wins and another 11 documented in a Sprint Car at Sharon alone. Blaney passed away in 2009 after battling Alzheimer’s. 

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.