SATURDAY’S “JOHNNY ZDELAR MEMORIAL” AT SHARON TO PAY BIG-BLOCK MODS $3000 TO-WIN; FREE PIT PASSES FOR COMPETING RACERS IN ALL 7 DIVISIONS
By Mike Leone
Hartford, OH August 6, 2014 Mother Nature certainly hasn’t been kind to Sharon Speedway. The last three Saturday nights have been rained out, and the only completed event since July 5 was the midweek “Lou Blaney Memorial” on July 30 that was run under very threatening weather.
Sharon is hoping for better weather for this Saturday’s (August 9) “Steel Valley Thunder” program, which is the inaugural “Johnny Zdelar Memorial”. The program will feature the Hovis Auto & Truck Supply DIRTcar Big-Block Modifieds along with the Barris Supply RUSH Late Models, Summit Racing Equipment Modifieds, Gibson Insurance Agency Stock Cars, HTMA/Precise Racing Products Econo Mods, Deforest Used Parts Mini Stocks, and the Sweeney Chevrolet Buick GMC RUSH Sportsman Modifieds. Race time is 7 p.m.
Saturday is the first ever Driver Appreciation Night as competing racers in ALL of the seven divisions will be admitted FREE into the pit area! Also, there are no registration or entry fees! Rain checks from July 26 can be used for the remainder of the season at face value.
The DIRTcar Big-Block Modifieds will be in the spotlight as they will race for $3,000 to-win in the “Johnny Zdelar Memorial”. The entire purse has been increased thanks to family, friends, and many great supporters of the racing community with a minimum of $175 to start for the 30-lap event. If 24 or more cars are present, an even higher purse structure throughout the field is being offered with $185 to-start. The complete payoff is posted below.
Johnny Zdelar was a loving husband, dad, brother and son. Zdelar lost his life in a tragic automobile accident last November. He spent most of his time working on his family’s farm. When he wasn’t planting soy bean or bailing hay he was attending Brookfield sporting events. He loved watching not only his kids play, but the rest of the Brookfield team succeed. Zdelar spent almost 30 years of his life at the race track; 20 of those years he was crew chief for King Brothers. He loved every minute at the race track. Everyone loved Johnny. He was a person that could hold a conversation with anyone for even two seconds and that person would just fall in love with his personality, and he would consider them a friend. Johnny has been given the name “Heaven’s Pit Crew Chief”!
Rex King, Jr. has been having a career year with a division-high five victories including the $2,000 “Lou Blaney Memorial” that drew 31 cars for the BRP Tour event. King, Jr. leads the Hovis Auto & Truck Supply DIRTcar Big-Block Modified points in search of his first championship. King, Jr. also has four wins at Lernerville Speedway. Rex King, Sr. is just six points back in second. Jim Weller, Jr., Jim Rasey, and Ricky Richner complete the top five. So far this year, Brian Swartzlander is the only driver not named King or Weller to win a big-block feature.
The last time the RUSH Late Models competed at Sharon on July 5 it was Rick Singleton winning his first ever at the speedway in the Sweeney Chevrolet Buick GMC Touring Series event joining Alan Dellinger as the only drivers to beat the last two champions in Dennis Lunger, Jr. and Will Thomas III. Thomas has a comfortable 42-point lead on Lunger in search of his second title. The ever-improving Russ Byler is third in the Barris Supply points over sophomore Late Model racer Jamie Wrightsman and “Futures Cup” contender Clay Ruffo.
The Sweeney Chevrolet Buick GMC RUSH Sportsman Modifieds will be making their fourth appearance of the season on Saturday night. Jordan Eck won the Series’ inaugural event in April. New York’s Greg Martin won his first ever RUSH even in May. Rocky Kugel became the third different winner in June with his first career win in a Northeast-style Modified and first ever at Sharon. At the last event, a record 11 cars were in competition. Buffalo, New York’s Adam Hilton is the Series’ point leader with four victories; however, has been yet to win at Sharon to date.
It’s been six weeks since the Modifieds have hit the track at Sharon as they weren’t on the July 5 schedule, no racing took place on July 12, and the races were rained out the last three Saturdays. The drivers in the Summit Racing Equipment-sponsored division will be geared up to get back on the 3/8-mile track. The championship chase is tight as Joel Watson leads his good friend and defending champion Mike Kinney by just seven points. Steve Dixon is a Sharon regular for the first time in his career and the two-time winner is only 15 points out of the top spot. Carl McKinney and Russ Dunn complete the top five.
Like the Modifieds, the Stock Cars haven’t hit the Sharon dirt in six weeks either. Mike Clark is looking to repeat his Gibson Insurance Agency title as he leads the way with three wins and has the point lead, but two-time winner Paul Davis is only five points back in second. Bryan Wagner has had a good season with a pair of victories and is still in the title hunt in third, 25 points back. Fourth and fifth place point men Brian Carothers and Brent Coleman have been close to victory this season.
Jeremy Double reclaimed his point lead in the Econo Mods at the last event. The defending HTMA/Precise Racing Products titlist enters Saturday night with a 23-point lead over the division’s all-time winner, Brandon Blackshear. Ty Rhoades is third still looking for that elusive first career win. Jason Longwell, who won the last time the Econo Mods competed on July 5, is fourth in points. Two-time winner Steve Burns, Jr., who also won the event at the Trumbull County Fair, is fifth in points.
A lot has changed in the Mini Stocks in the last two events. Point leader and dominator Travis Creech missed the June 28 event and in the meantime rookies Adam Little and Joe Campbell captured their first career wins. The division’s all-time winner, Bill Fuchs, has taken over the point lead by 35 over Creech. Fuchs’ last championship came in 2011. Third through fifth in the Deforest Used Parts points are Jamie Maxwell, Jim Haefke, Jr., and Tim McAninch as all three racers look to break into victory lane for the first time.
Hovis Auto & Truck Supply will again award six complimentary pit passes for the following week; a pair going to the hard luck driver in DIRTcar Big-Block Modifieds, a pair to a lucky driver in the division that competes first, and a pair to a lucky fan. Summit Racing Equipment will award $25 gift cards to the hard charger in the Modified, Stock Car, and Econo Mod divisions. Sweeney Chevrolet/Pace Performance will award $50, $25, and $25 certificates to the top three GM 602 crates in the Econo Mods that have been purchased through them or have secondary seals. HTMA/Precise Racing Products will award a free tire to the driver chosen that suffered that hardest luck.
DIRTcar Big-Block Modified Payoff (less than 24 cars): 1. $3000 2. $950 3. $700 4. $475 5. $425 6. $375 7. $350 8. $335 9. $315 10. $300 11. $275 12. $250 13. $240 14-23. $175.
DIRTcar Big-Block Modified Payoff (24 or more cars): 1. $3000 2. $1050 3. $800 4. $525 6. $400 7. $375 8. $345 9. $325 10. $310 11. $285 12. $260 13. $250 14-24. $185. $75 to non-qualifiers
Pits open at 4 p.m. with grandstands at 5, drivers meeting at 6:30 and heat races slated for 7. Admission for those 14 and over is $13. Pit passes are $30. As always, children under 13, parking, and camping is always FREE!
Added on August 16 is “Fan Appreciation Night II”. Grandstand admission for those 14 and over will be just $5 to see a full “Steel Valley Thunder” program.
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.