Sharon Speedway 2015 Ohio Sprint Speedweek Preview
By Mike Leone: Hartford, OH June 18, 2015 The “410” Sprint Cars will be making their first of three appearances of the 2015 season at Sharon Speedway coming up Tuesday, June 24 when Tony Stewart’s new All Star Circuit of Champions come to town for the 33rd annual Ohio Sprint Speedweek. The Deforest Used Parts Mini Stocks will also be on hand. Qualifying for Sprints will get underway at approximately 6:30 p.m. followed by racing.
The 2015 Ohio Sprint Speedweek will again feature nine straight nights of racing at eight different speedways beginning at Attica Raceway Park on Friday night with the Sharon event being stop #5 of the popular summer tradition. Sharon’s race will pay $5,000 to-win. This year’s Speedweek has renewed enthusiasm as not only the All Stars are flourishing under the new ownership of Tony Stewart, but Cometic Gaskets has stepped up as the Speedweek sponsor to offer a point fund as well as a $25,000 bonus for any driver winning five or more events!
After a five-year absence, Ohio Speedweek returned to Sharon in 2010 as Tim Shaffer topped a 42-car field for the victory. In 2011 it was hometown favorite Dale Blaney winning the Sharon leg of Speedweek over a 45-car field for his 13th career win at the track. In 2012, in a stunning turn of events, local Brandon Matus came out victorious for his first career win with both the All Stars and at Sharon. Another strong field of 43 cars was on hand. The 2013 event was rained out before a car ever hit the speedway with some 40 cars in the pit area, and last year’s event fell victim to Mother Nature before the gates ever opened.
“Sharon has always played in an important part in Ohio Speedweek history,” explained sixth year GM Dave Willoughby. “Sharon was there at the beginning, and we’re happy once again to be part of this long-running tradition. We hope the weather cooperates this year and that the fans and racers come out and support this great event so we can continue to host this event for years to come.”
Ohio Speedweek always draws in top talent from the Midwest, along with the All Star regulars which is stronger than in many years, several Australians, the best from western Pa. and usually a couple from central Pa., and always some surprises. Four of those confirmed surprises this year include former USAC Sprint Car and Midget Champion and 2015 Indy 500 starter, Bryan Clauson, last year’s USAC Sprint champion Brady Bacon, Missouri’s Brad Loyet, along with Oregon’s Roger Crockett.
Earlier last season Dale Blaney reached a monumental milestone with his 100th career All Star win eclipsing Kenny Jacobs’ prior all-time leading 99 victories. Dale has been full-speed ahead throughout the rest of last season through the early part of 2015 as that win total has now risen to 118! In addition, Dale won the Attica World of Outlaws race last month for the second straight year! Dale, who leads Cody Darrah in the All Star points, has 13 career wins at Sharon including the first two wins of his career.
Dale will once again be racing with his brother Dave, who has confirmed his participation. The elder Blaney, a former World of Outlaw champion, has 28 career wins at Sharon including last year’s “Lou Blaney Memorial” for the first time. Dave has increased his Sprint Car racing schedule without having any NASCAR commitments.
The All Stars have had 13 drivers run all of their points-paying events in 2015 with another three racers running the majority. Darrah, who is in second in points, has come off the World of Outlaws tour and is having a strong season returning to his family operation. Despite just one win, Darrah has been consistent with six top 5s and 11 top 10s.
Another former WoO racer, Chad Kemenah, is back with the All Stars, where he won four straight titles from 2002-2005. Kemenah is third in points with one win over Ryan Smith. Smith carved his teeth in the tough central Pennsylvania circuit and has hit the road for the first time in his career driving the colorful Rob Warko #94.
Ohio racers Sheldon Haudenschild and Greg Wilson have had strong seasons as they’re fifth and sixth in points. Wilson most recently won an All Stars race at Pittsburgh earlier this month.
Four-time All Star Champion Tim Shaffer has climbed the All Star win ladder as he sits in fifth all-time with 55 career victories. The Aliquippa, Pa. four-time Sharon winner won his season’s first victory over Memorial Day weekend taking $10,000 out of Fremont. Shaffer has also been dabbling in Late Model racing as he scored a runner-up finish at Pittsburgh recently. Shaffer is seventh in points as he’s once again behind the wheel of Bryan Grove’s #45.
Pittsburgh’s Danny Holtgraver has three career wins at Sharon and has really stepped up his game the last few seasons with several major wins. Holtgraver now owns nine career All Star wins. Holtgraver is in his first full season driving the Phoenix Motorsports #59 and is currently eighth in points.
Completing the top 16 in All Star points are 16-year-old Parker Price-Miller, who won an All Stars race earlier this season at Wayne County, Caleb Helms, Andrew Palker, Hall of Famer Danny Smith, Travis Philo, Paige Polyak, Cole Duncan, and Lee Jacobs.
Atop the all-time Sharon Speedway Sprint Car win list is Ed Lynch, Jr. The Apollo, Pa. driver has scaled back his operations in recent seasons predominately running special events only; however, has resumed weekly racing at Lernerville this season where he’s the track’s all-time winner as well. Lynch is expected to be in the field looking to add to his 50-win mark.
Another top local looking forward to returning to Sharon is Jack Sodeman, Jr. The North Jackson, Ohio racer won back-to-back titles when the Sprints ran weekly at Sharon 2009 and 2010 and owns 12 career wins at the Hartford, Ohio oval. Sodeman has alternated racing this year between his own #23Jr and the Jimmy Seger #25.
Several other top local talent like defending Lernerville Champion Carl Bower, defending Mercer Champion Eric Williams, recent Lernerville winner A.J. Flick, past Speedweek winner Brandon Matus, former Lernerville Champion and BOSS non-wing racer Brandon Spithaler, Mercer winner Adam Kekich, and others are expected.
The Deforest Used Parts Mini Stocks will be the only support division at the event on Tuesday. They’ll race for a season-high $300 to-win, $50 to-start in a show-up points-only event. Two-time champion, Bill Fuchs, is the current point leader.
Tickets will go on sale at 4 p.m. on Tuesday. A drivers meeting is tentatively scheduled for 5:45 p.m. with Sprint engine starts at 6, warm-ups at 6:15 with qualifying at approximately 6:30 and racing to follow. Adult admission is $20. Kids 13 and under are always free. Pit passes are $35. Advance ticket holders will be able to gain access at 3 p.m. for preferred seating.
The “410” Sprint Cars will return for the seventh annual “Lou Blaney Memorial” on Saturday, July 11 for a record $10,000 to-win feature payoff. For the first time, the event will be sanctioned by the All Stars, and 20-time World of Outlaws champion Steve Kinser will be in the field. The Hovis Auto & Truck Supply Big-Block Modifieds will also be on the card for a $2,000 to-win BRP Tour event.
The final appearance by the “410” Sprint Cars will be on Saturday, August 15 as they join a weekly “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 www.twitter.com/sharonspdwy.