By Mike Leone
August 20, 2013
(Hartford, OH)…Sharon Speedway hosted the fifth annual “Lou Blaney Memorial” on a beautiful Tuesday night. A big crowd turned out along with 27 “410” Sprint Cars and 39 DIRTcar Big-Block Modifieds in the Ollie’s Bargain Outlet Alzheimer’s Association Benefit Event. Celebrating in the Hovis Auto & Truck Supply victory lane were Jack Sodeman, Jr.-“410” Sprint Cars and Dave Murdick-BRP Tour Governor Insurance Agency DIRTcar Big-Block Modifieds.
Jack Sodeman, Jr. was the last track champion when the Sprint Cars ran weekly at Sharon in 2010. Last season, Sodeman won the BOSS-sanctioned event in the first ever non-wing Sprint race held on the speedway’s new 3/8-mile oval. Tuesday night, Sodeman won the biggest race of his career holding off Caleb Griffith in the 30-lap $5,000 to-win “Lou Blaney Memorial”.
“The motor started tightening up and smoking the last five laps,” acknowledged the 36-year-old North Jackson, Ohio second generation racer, who is still recovering from a broken back. “I wanted to win this. It was either pull off or win $5,000. Either way the engine was going to need rebuilt so this $5,000 can go towards that. I have to thank everyone that helps out on the car to make this possible.”
Sodeman rocketed into the lead past pole-sitter Carl Bowser on the start with Lee Jacobs getting past Dave Blaney. Sodeman quickly pulled away on lap two, while the battle was on for second with Bowser trying to fend off Jacobs. Lapped traffic came into play on lap five and two laps later Bowser closed in as did Jacobs and Griffith making it a four-car race for the lead.
Griffith, who started fifth, was able to get by Jacobs for third on lap seven. Then on lap nine he pulled alongside Bowser and made the pass for second going down the backstretch entering turn three, while Jacobs followed in third as Bowser lost his momentum after contact with the fence. Griffith looked like he was on a mission as he tracked down Sodeman on lap 11, but his momentum was stopped when C.J., Jones got upside down in turn four with 11 laps scored.
After starting third, Blaney had faded back to fifth at the start. Blaney was able to pass the fellow #10 of Bowser for fourth before the red; then when racing resumed flew around Jacobs for third. Blaney was gaining on Griffith each lap and caught him on lap 14. At this point Blaney had the fastest car on the track. On lap 16, Blaney made a bid to pass Griffith on the outside, but got too high slapping the turn one and two fence ending his night on the hook.
After new track record holder Danny Holtgraver drew an invert eight, he was quiet in the first half of the event, but entered contention when he cracked the top five getting by Bowser when racing resumed on lap 16. Griffith stayed right with Sodeman as the laps ticked off. Griffith ran the low line while Sodeman powered around the top keeping his momentum and the lead.
Lapped traffic came back into play on lap 21 as the battle heated up for third with Jacobs, Cole Duncan, and Holtgraver. Holtgraver grabbed fourth before the final stoppage of the event when Jimmy Pooler and Bob McMillin made contact on the frontstretch with a nasty flip ensuing in turn one. Both drivers were ok.
Sodeman took back off in the lead when green replaced yellow. As the laps counted down, Griffith was getting faster and looked like he was setting up for a last lap pass. On the final lap, Griffith drove hard into turns three and four and got alongside Sodeman. It was a drag race down the frontstretch with Sodeman winning out by just 0.170 of a second! The victory was the 12th of Sodeman’s career at Sharon and came in the Rudzik Excavating/Economy Tooling-sponsored #94. Sodeman also became the fifth different “Lou Blaney Memorial” winner in as many events!
Griffith, who has always liked Sharon and owns two career wins, earned $2,500 for second. “Sodeman did a hell of a job,” expressed the 25-year-old Sandusky, Ohio driver. “We hot lapped and time trialed well, but changed gear in the heats and was off. I could close in traffic, but he was real good in the open. I was just hoping for a few more laps!”
Holtgraver passed Jacobs on lap 28 to garner third, but ran out of time to make a run at the top two spots. “That was a fun race,” stated the 23-year-old Pittsburgh, Pa. racer. “This is a cool deal to come out and support this event. I had a good car all night, but came on too late at the end. It was pretty cool to set a new track record!”
Jacobs was fourth over Duncan. Brandon Spithaler came from 12th to sixth. Bowser dropped to seventh. All-time leading Sharon Sprint winner, Ed Lynch, Jr., ran the entire race without a front wing and finished eighth. After changing a motor and not qualifying, Dale Blaney charged from 24th to ninth as Caleb Helms completed the top 10.
Holtgraver established a new track record with a lap of 12.704 breaking the 12.844 previous 10-year-old record set by Danny Lasoski with the World of Outlaws on July 30, 2003. Heat winners were Dave Blaney, Sodeman, and Adam Kekich. Dave Blaney established a new track record under green flag racing with a lap of 13.160.
Dave Murdick came out on top of a wild night of DIRTcar Big-Block Modified racing for his third straight win on the circuit. Like Sodeman, Murdick became the fifth different “Lou Blaney Memorial” winner in as many Modified events and pocketed $2,000 in the 30-lap BRP Tour-sanctioned, Governor Insurance Agency feature. Murdick’s win adds to some $3,700 won last weekend at Lernerville Speedway and Mercer Raceway Park!
“I was running the bottom, but I wanted to be on top but couldn’t get the chance to get up there,” explained the 50-year-old Butler, Pa. native when asked about missing the big accident. “Low and behold it turned out to be the right spot. Racing with Lou (Blaney) was quite an honor and when you beat him you knew you beat the best, but that wasn’t very often. I have to thank my entire crew- without them none of this would be possible.”
Rob Curtis overtook Max Smoker on the start and quickly pulled away on lap two as Steve Feder moved into second. Rex King, Jr. started sixth, but was halfway to the front in three laps when he passed Smoker. “Cooter’s” father, King, Sr., followed two laps later taking fourth from Smoker.
After a pair of cautions with five laps scored, both Kings raced past Feder for second and third on laps six and seven respectively. Five more laps were completed before the race was slowed when Jeff Schaffer couldn’t make it off the speedway. All hell broke loose on the ensuing restart. The elder King dove by his son “Cooter” and tried to get by leader Curtis entering three. The two made contact and resulted in at least a 15-car pile-up. King, Sr. got the worst of it taking a series of flips for the second straight BRP Tour event. All drivers were okay.
When the carnage was cleared, Brad Rapp inherited the lead over Jimmy Holden, Murdick, and Kevin Hoffman. Back under green flag racing, the ninth starting Murdick passed Holden for second on the restart with Hoffman following in third. Rapp’s lead would only last a lap as Murdick took over on lap 12 for what would be the winning move.
Rapp remained within striking distance over the next 17 laps until a caution for Dillion Barr with 29 laps scored. BRP Tour point leader, Chad Brachmann, was involved in the big accident and worked his way back forward getting past Rapp for second when racing resumed on lap 30; however, the event’s final caution was displayed when Barr and Carl Murdick made contact setting up a five-lap shootout to the finish.
New York racers Jimmy Phelps and Justin Wright passed Rapp on laps 31 and 32 for third and fourth respectively. Murdick now had three Empire State racers that were all caught up in the big accident on his heels, but he had enough to hold off the trio in his Steve’s Auto Body-sponsored, Dunk’s Competition Engines-powered #61. It was Murdick’s second Sharon win of the season and eighth of his career, but first since May 18.
Brachmann was second in his first appearance of the season. Phelps was third in his first ever Sharon visit with 17th starting Wright and Rapp completing the top five. Sixth through 10th were Rob Kristyak, Steve Barr, Eric Gabany, Bob Warren, and Mike Turner. Heat victors were Brachmann, Jeremiah Shingledecker, Curtis, and Feder. Wright and Joe Kubiniec won the last chance B mains.
“410” Sprint Cars (30 laps, $5,000 to-win): 1. JACK SODEMAN, JR. (Rudzik 94) 2. Caleb Griffith (Davis 40DD) 3. Danny Holtgraver (Grove/Hunter 45) 4. Lee Jacobs (81) 5. Cole Duncan (22) 6. Brandon Spithaler (22) 7. Carl Bowser (10) 8. Ed Lynch, Jr. (2L) 9. Dale Blaney (Ti22 2) 10. Caleb Helms (40) 11. Adam Kekich (5K) 12. Russ Sansosti (23s) 13. Brandon Matus (13) 14. Brent Matus (33) 15. Eric Williams (7) 16. Adam Anderson (69) 17. Dan Kuriger (08) 18. Bob McMillin (5) 19. Jimmy Pooler (787) 20. Ricky Byers (1) 21. Dave Blaney (10) 22. Dennis Wagner (38) 23. C.J. Jones (10J) 24. Mike Lutz (McMillin 5M) 25. Jack Whitmore (21)-DNS 26. Gale Ruth (1R)-DNS 27. Danny Mumaw (16)-DNS.
BRP Tour Governor Insurance Agency DIRTcar Big-Block Modifieds (35 laps, $2,000 to-win): 1. DAVE MURDICK (61) 2. Chad Brachmann (3) 3. Jimmy Phelps (Heinke/Baldwin 98H) 4. Justin Wright (19W) 5. Brad Rapp (11R) 6. Rob Kristyak (00) 7. Steve Barr (25B) 8. Eric Gabany (3E) 9. Bob Warren (96B) 10. Mike Turner (96) 11. Kevin Hoffman (17H) 12. Dave Reges (27R) 13. Randy Chrysler (21K) 14. Carl Murdick (6) 15. Dillion Barr (15B) 16. Rex King, Jr. (165) 17. Jeremiah Shingledecker (37MD) 18. Joe Kubiniec (19) 19. Max Smoker (5) 20. Erik Martin (29E) 21. Jimmy Holden (28H) 22. Rob Curtis (McElhaney 6 7/8) 23. Rex King (65) 24. Steve Feder (45) 25. Jeff Schaffer (4) 26. Tom Mattocks (69). DNQ: Don Brown (71B), Rick Ryder (Snider 189), Tommy Marshall III (Hinkle 77), Mark Frankhouser (03), Ken Moy, Jr. (34), Jim McGowen (McElhaney 7), Brian Swartzlander (83), Scott Rodgers (55), Ron Cartwright, Jr. (2B), Jimmy Weller III (31), Jim Rasey (32), Kevin Green (74), Ricky Richner (26).
“410” Sprint Car Time Trials (Track record 12.844 by Danny Lasoski on 7/30/03): 1. Danny Holtgraver 12.704 (NTR) 2. Cole Duncan 12.868 3. Ed Lynch, Jr. 12.908 4. Caleb Griffith 13.016 5. Lee Jacobs 13.059 6. Caleb Helms 13.125 7. Dave Blaney 13.202 8. Jack Sodeman, Jr. 13.222 9. Carl Bowser 13.434 10. Eric Williams 13.441 11. Brandon Spithaler 13.472 12. Adam Kekich 13.511 13. Brandon Matus 13.677 14. Mike Lutz 13.701 15. Dennis Wagner 13.825 16. Russ Sansosti 13.834 17. Bob McMillin 14.133 18. Dan Kuriger 14.290 19. Brent Matus 14.336 20. Ricky Byers 14.428 21. C.J. Jones 14.883 22. Jack Whitmore 15.035 23. Adam Anderson 15.117 24. Gale Ruth 16.134 25. Jimmy Pooler 13.723 (time disallowed due to not scaling) 26. Danny Mumaw NT 27. Dale Blaney NT.
“410” Sprint Heat 1: 1. Blaney 2. Williams 3. Holtgraver 4. Griffith 5. Sansosti 6. Brandon Matus 7. Brent Matus 8. Pooler 9. Whitmore.
“410” Sprint Heat 2: 1. Sodeman 2. Jacobs 3. Duncan 4. Spithaler 5. Lutz 6. McMillin 7. Anderson 8. Byers 9. Mumaw-DNS.
“410” Sprint Heat 3: 1. Kekich 2. Bowser 3. Lynch 4. Blaney 5. Helms 6. Kuriger 7. Wagner 8. Jones 9. Ruth.
BRP Mod Tour Heat 1 (top 4 transfer): 1. Brachmann 2. Phelps 3. Rapp 4. S. Barr 5. D. Barr 6. Swartzlander 7. Rodgers 8. Cartwright 9. Wright 10. Green.
BRP Mod Tour Heat 2 (top 4 transfer): 1. Shingledecker 2. D. Murdick 3. Turner 4. Mattocks 5. Schaffer 6. Chrysler 7. C. Murdick 8. Weller 9. Rasey 10. Richner.
BRP Mod Tour Heat 3 (top 4 transfer): 1. Curtis 2. King, Jr. 3. Smoker 4. Holden 5. Warren 6. Martin 7. Ryder 8. Reges 9. Brown 10. McGowen-DNS.
BRP Mod Tour Heat 4 (top 4 transfer): 1. Feder 2. King 3. Gabany 4. Hoffman 5. Kubiniec 6. Kristyak 7. Frankhouser 8. Moy 9. Marshall.
BRP Mod Tour B main 1 (top 4 transfer): 1. Wright 2. Schaffer 3. Chrysler 4. C. Murdick 5. D. Barr 6. Swartzlander-DNS 7. Rodgers-DNS 8. Cartwright-DNS 9. Weller-DNS 10. Rasey-DNS 11. Green-DNS 12. Richner-DNS.
BRP Mod Tour B main 2 (top 4 transfer): 1. Kubiniec 2. Warren 3. Martin 4. Kristyak 5. Brown 6. Ryder 7. Marshall 8. Frankhouser 9. Moy 10. Reges 11. McGowen.
Sharon Speedway will be back in action this Saturday night with another “Steel Valley Thunder” featuring 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 the Deforest Used Parts Mini Stocks. Racing begins at 7 p.m.
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.