By Matt Wertz & Mike Leone
Hartford, OH June 21, 2014 Sharon Speedway completed the fifth straight Saturday night of short-track auto racing excitement as part of the “Steel Valley Thunder” 85th anniversary season. Celebrating in the Hovis Auto & Truck Supply victory lane on Lincoln Electric Night were Brian Swartzlander-Hovis Auto & Truck Supply DIRTcar Big-Block Modifieds, Dennis Lunger, Jr.-Barris Supply RUSH Late Models, Dwayne Clay-Summit Racing Equipment Modifieds, Paul Davis-Gibson Insurance Agency Stock Cars, Brandon Blackshear-HTMA/Precise Racing Products Econo Mods, and Travis Creech-Deforest Used Parts Mini Stocks. It was a night for the veterans as the average age of the winners was over 42 years of age. The entire program was done shortly after 10 PM.

Brian Swartzlander claimed his first feature win of the year at Sharon in the DIRTcar Big-Block Modifieds after it appeared Jim Weller Jr. had the race locked up. The 54-year-old Leechburg, Pa. driver was making just his second start of the season at Sharon and ended the domination by the Kings and Weller this season.

Weller paced the 20-lap Hovis Auto & Truck Supply feature field to the green flag and immediately took control of the event. Swartzlander advanced into second on lap three, but Weller was in control. Rex King, Jr. moved to third from sixth, over Rick Regalski, Jr. and Rex King Sr., up from 10th starting slot. It appeared the race was going caution-free until Chris Haines stopped on turn two with only two laps remaining. Haines was awarded the Hard Luck and received two pit passes for next Saturday compliments of Hovis Auto & Truck Supply.

Weller chose the inside lane on the restart, and with both inside and outside grooves working well at the track, Swartzlander used the outside to his advantage taking the lead on the restart. Swartzlander held off Weller by just 0.620 of a second in his McCutcheon Enterprises/Precise Tool & Die/Fox Shocks/Peace Contracting-sponsored #83 for his 13th career win.

Weller, King, Jr. and King, Sr. were third through fifth as they continue to battle tooth and nail for the championship. Ricky Richner was fifth for the third time in the past four races. Regalski, Jimmy Weller III, Jim Rasey, Carl Murdick and Bob Warren completed the top 10. Heats were won by King, Jr. and Weller, Jr.

After missing a week, defending champion Dennis Lunger, Jr. of Albion, Pa. has stormed back with a vengeance winning for the second straight week and division-leading fourth time of the season in the RUSH Late Models. The Barris Supply feature saw 18 cars take the green for the 20-lap feature, which matched a season high car count.

Alan Dellinger grabbed the lead from his pole starting position as Lunger quickly moved up from sixth to second. Lunger was soon on Dellinger’s tail and challenging for the lead when the duo quickly approached the about to be lapped car of Jeff Haynes on lap 13 on the backstretch. Dellinger was running low and Lunger high in a three-wide battle. Dellinger remained on point, but a yellow on lap 18 for a Nico Dabecco spin on turns one and two changed the complexion of the race.

Dellinger chose the inside lane on the restart, which played into Lunger’s hand as the outside was to his liking. Lunger took the lead on the restart from the outside. Two cautions with two and one laps remaining for spins involving Wendell Pinckney, Jamie Wrightsman and Eric Andrus did little to thwart Lunger, but saw Will Thomas III gain positions and edge Dellinger for second. Lunger’s 10th career win, which have all come since the season finale in 2012, came in the Reuben Schwartz-owned, Schwartz Construction/English Tire/Carter Lumber/State Farm/Edward Jones Financial Advisor/Beacon Lubricants/Kabanatime.com/Ron and Don North-sponsored #71L.

Josh Double was fourth over “Futures Cup” racer Clay Ruffo, who was back after missing a week due to a severe crash on June 7. Canadian Jorden Peters was sixth. Dabecco came back to finish seventh over Ben Black, Andrus, and newcomer Justin Lamb. Heats winners were Russ Byler and Double.

Dwayne Clay swept to the lead at the outset of the Summit Racing Equipment Modified feature from his outside pole position to lead the entire 20 laps. It was his first win at Sharon since 2010 in the Econo Mod division for the 49-year-old Mineral Ridge, Ohio racer.

Clay had the advantage over pole-sitter Clayton Kennedy, and maintained a strong lead until the first caution flag flew on lap six for a Paul Davis spin. Clay kept the point as Shawn Shingledecker, four time winner Joel Watson up from seventh, and Carl McKinney from eighth, were all serious about mounting a challenge as they diced with each other.

The second yellow on lap 15 for a slowing Steve Dixon with a flat right rear tire closed the field for the five-lap showdown. A torrid battle between Watson, Shingledecker and McKinney was all Clay needed to keep the lead to himself until the final yellow came out with one lap to go as Kennedy, Jeff Johnson and Russ Dunn got collected in a spin on turns three and four.

The last lap dash to the checkered saw Clay eek out his win under a blanket over McKinney and Watson by just 0.942 of a second. Clay’s seventh career Mod win and 38th overall at Sharon came in his Deforest Used Parts/Clay Bros. Transportation-sponsored #007. Shingledecker and Mike Kinney rounded out the top five. Completing the top 10 were Joe Gabrielson, Larry Kugel, Kennedy, Dixon, and Dunn. Heats went to McKinney and Kinney.

The Stock Cars may have had the smallest field registered at the track, but their 15-lap Gibson Insurance Agency feature was one of the best of the evening, as 53-year-old Paul Davis of Fowler, Ohio captured his second feature win of the season after a see-saw battle with three-time winner Mike Clark.

Brain Carothers and Clark paced the field at the green, but the two came together at the start in turn two, forcing Clark to restart at the tail. Davis, who originally started third, was now on the point at the start, and immediately took the early lead. The second and final caution appeared on lap four as Dave Myers slowed on the track. On the restart it was Davis, Brent Coleman, Bryan Wagner and Clark, with Clark quickly getting up to second by lap five.

Clark reeled in Davis with the two running side-by-side and delighting the fans. Clark got the lead on lap eight with an outside pass down the frontstretch as the two still battled in tandem on lap nine. On lap 10, Clark still had the lead by inches, but the following lap Davis regained control with an inside pass, again on the frontstretch. The two finished under a blanket as Davis’ 14th career win came by just 0.321 of a second in his Hover Racing/GCM Enterprises/Don Williams Excavating/Advance Auto Parts/Tub’s Automotive-sponsored #3. Last week’s winner, Wagner, was third over Coleman and a career best finish by the rookie Myers. Clark won the heat race.

Brandon Blackshear became just the second driver of the season to repeat in the Econo Mods. The 23-year-old Brookfield, Ohio driver dominated the HTMA/Precise Racing Products 15-lap feature. Josh Mueller and Steve Burns, Jr. paced the field before Mueller got control of the lead on lap two. The first and only caution appeared on lap three as Burns lost a wheel in turn three in a tangle with Casey Bowers. By this time, Blackshear had powered up to second from his eighth starting slot, and at the drop of the green on the restart, Blackshear assumed control of the event.

Blackshear pulled away and cruised to his all-time division-leading 13th career win in his Tubs Automotive/Clay Bros. Trucking/Deforest Used Parts/Intense Fabricating/Blackshear Racing Engines-sponsored #10 by 2.393 seconds. Alan Atkinson and Jeremy Double waged a spirited duel for second with Double inching ahead at the finish line under a blanket as Atkinson recorded a career best Sharon finish of third. Mueller and Ty Rhoades followed in fourth and fifth. Heat winners were Mueller and Rhoades.

Travis Creech continued his two-year domination of the Mini Stocks claiming his track leading sixth feature win of the year. Shane Smith took the lead at the outset of the feature from his outside pole starting slot, but Creech quickly sped forward from sixth. The 26-year-old Niles, Ohio driver got by Smith on lap three for the lead with an inside pass on the backstretch.

Once in front, Creech controlled the event in his May’s Towing/Elite Coleman/JLB Trucking-sponsored #75T. Creech has already matched last year’s win total with the season not even at the halfway mark. His 12th career win ties him for second on the division’s all-time win list with Mike Scharba and Scott Gilliland. Bill Fuchs was second. Rookie Adam Little was third for the second straight week matching a career best finish. Steve Walker II and Jamie Maxwell completed the top five. Fuchs and Smith won the heat races.

Hovis Auto & Truck Supply DIRTcar Big-Block Modifieds (20 laps): 1. BRIAN SWARTZLANDER (83) 2. Jim Weller Jr. (31) 3. Rex King Jr. (165) 4. Rex King (65) 5. Ricky Richner (26) 6. Rick Regalski, Jr. (13) 7. Jimmy Weller III (23) 8. Jim Rasey (32) 9. Carl Murdick (6) 10. Bob Warren (96B) 11. Tom Mattocks (69) 12. Jamie Duncan (18) 13. Tom Glenn (83T) 14. Chris Haines (35H).

Barris Supply RUSH Late Models (20 laps): 1. DENNIS LUNGER, JR. (Schwartz 71L) 2. Will Thomas III (9) 3. Alan Dellinger (Williams 8) 4. Josh Double (38) 5. Clay Ruffo (14R) 6. Jorden Peters (11P) 7. Nico Dabecco (Karalagas F1) 8. Ben Black (27B) 9. Eric Andrus (54) 10. Justin Lamb (93x) 11. Bobby Pifer III (6P) 12. Wendell Pinckney (11) 13. Lon Emerick (3) 14. Jamie Wrightsman (21J) 15. Chuck Medved (2M) 16. Jeff Haynes (27J) 17. Russ Byler (Hoover 00H) 18. Daryl Charlier (88).

Summit Racing Equipment (E) Modifieds (20 laps): 1. DWAYNE CLAY (007) 2. Carl McKinney (Hendrickson 6M) 3. Joel Watson (92) 4. Shawn Shingledecker (54s) 5. Mike Kinney (3) 6. Joe Gabrielson (58) 7. Larry Kugel (0) 8. Clayton Kennedy (9) 9. Steve Dixon (Engles 68) 10. Russ Dunn (white 53) 11. Mike Bambarger (B2) 12. Amanda Stiffler (14A) 13. Jeff Johnson (27) 14. Jacob Eucker (64) 15. Bob Williamson (93) 16. Greg Beach (33x) 17. Paul Davis (3D).

Gibson Insurance Agency Stock Cars (15 laps): 1. PAUL DAVIS (3) 2. Mike Clark (7) 3. Bryan Wagner (56) 4. Brent Coleman (01) 5. Dave Myers (Burns 70B) 6. Jamie Gibbs (98) 7. Mark Hopkins (69H) 8. Brian Carothers (02c) 9. Dan Fedorchak (Bruno x7).

HTMA/Precise Racing Products Econo Mods (15 laps): 1. BRANDON BLACKSHEAR (10) 2. Jeremy Double (83) 3. Alan Atkinson (32) 4. Josh Mueller (01) 5. Ty Rhoades (12R) 6. Steve Haefke (41) 7. Mike Hillman (29) 8. Brian Foley, Jr. (16JSR) 9. Jason Longwell (7s) 10. Junior Mechling (89) 11. Ryan Fraley (12) 12. Steve Burns Jr. (70B) 13. Casey Bowers (20) 14. Jeff Webber (25).

Deforest Used Parts Mini Stocks (12 laps): 1. TRAVIS CREECH (75T) 2. Bill Fuchs (10) 3. Adam Little (99) 4. Steve Walker (4M) 5. Jamie Maxwell (6) 6. Jim Haefke, Jr. (421) 7. Tim McAninch (43) 8. Rick Wilson (55) 9. Pat Drennan (Sirrine 24) 10. Geof Pinch (36) 11. Shane Smith (299) 12. Joe Campbell (40c).

Coming up this Tuesday (June 24) is Ohio Speedweek for the All Star Circuit of Champions Sprint Cars plus the TUSA Mod Lites. Gates open at 4 with time trials at 6:30. Advance ticket holders will be able to get in one hour earlier at 3 p.m. for preferred seating.

Coming up this Saturday night, June 28 is another “Steel Valley Thunder” program featuring the DIRTcar Big-Block Modifieds, Modifieds, Stock Cars, Econo Mods, and Mini Stocks plus the third appearance by the RUSH Sportsman Modifieds. The RUSH Late Models will have the night off then return on July 5 for the Sweeney Tour “Bill Emig Memorial”. Pits open at 4 p.m. with grandstands at 5 and racing at 7.

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.