Story By: MIKE LEONE / SHARON SPEEDWAY – HARTFORD, OH – After a weekend off, Sharon Speedway will roar back into action this Saturday night (July 9) as the second half of the 93rd anniversary season gets underway.
The Hovis Auto & Truck Supply RUSH Late Model Flynn’s Tire Touring Series, Hovis Auto & Truck Supply UMP Modifieds, Terry Bowser Excavating RUSH Sprint Cars, Gibson Insurance Agency Pro Stocks, and the HTMA/Precise Racing Products RUSH Sportsman Modifieds will be on the special five-division program.
The night is being presented by the Forney Family, A&MP Electric, and Cortland Mower Sales. Late Model warm-ups begin at 6:30 p.m. followed by qualifying and racing.
The RUSH Late Models will be making their first and only appearance of the 2022 season on Saturday night in the second annual “Bill Forney Memorial” paying $3,199 to-win for the Flynn’s Tire Touring Series. Bill Forney, who was one of the greatest racers to ever wheel a Late Model in the region, passed away on August 10, 2019 at the age of 92. Forney made famous the candy-striped #199 Late Model, thus the additional $199 added in Memory of Bill from Bill’s children, Mike Forney and Anita Carson. The inaugural event was scheduled for 2020; however, was cancelled due to COVID-19 restrictions. Last year, Chub Frank made a last lap pass of Joe Martin to win a thriller over the 33-car field.
Forney was a fixture at both Canfield and Sharon Speedways. Forney’s racing prowess earned him the Late Model track championship at Sharon in 1964, and an unprecedented seven championships at Canfield (1959-1960, ’61, ’63, ’65-66, ’68) – a track that had a national reputation for tough as nails competition. All totaled, Forney had hundreds of feature wins, many at these two tracks. Forney was inducted into the inaugural Twin State Auto Racing Club’s Hall of Fame in 2010, and is also a member of the Cloverleaf Speedway (Cleveland) Hall of Fame.
The Sharon/Canfield/Expo Speedways Drivers Reunion will be held in conjunction with the “Bill Forney Memorial” on Saturday night. Drivers that competed on the dirt at these speedways from 1949-1975 were invited to the event free of charge.
Virginia racer Logan Roberson has a 17-point lead on Joe Martin in the Flynn’s Tire RUSH Touring Series points. Brady Wonderling is up one-point on his brother Jeremy, who is a three-time Series champion, in the battle for third. Matt Latta is fifth. Completing the top 10 in points are Breyton Santee, Andy Michael, Ashton Briggs, Canadian Brandt Graham, and Jonathan Stockdale. There have been seven different winners in the first nine races as Roberson is the only multiple winner with three victories. Other winners include Joe Warren, Chad Homan, John Waters, Mark Whitener, and Michael Norris. The Series has averaged more than 36 cars per event.
Will Thomas III leads the division’s all-time win list at Sharon with 15 victories. Other active racers with multiple wins include Dennis Lunger, Jr. (12), Martin (6), and Latta (4). There have been 24 different winners in 86 races run all-time at Sharon.
The Hovis Auto & Truck Supply UMP Modifieds will be making their second appearance of the season, and will be battling for a $1,000 top prize. The April 23 show was rained out; however, former Econo Mod Champion, Dustin DeMattia, won his biggest career race on June 18 taking the $1,500 Renegades of Dirt Series event over the 30-car field.
The UMP Modifieds, formerly known as E-Mods, have completed 324 shows in their history at Sharon. Alan Dellinger is the all-time division win leader with 87 victories. Joel Watson, who still competes full-time in the division and is an expected entrant on Saturday night, is second with 28 wins.
The Terry Bowser Excavating RUSH Sprint Cars return for their fifth race of the season. The non-winged racers were finally able to hit the Hartford, Ohio on June 4 as Ryan Fraley of nearby Brookfield won his first career Sprint Car race over an all-time division record 24 cars. Chad Ruhlman picked up the $700 victory during Ohio Speedweek over a career best finish by Brian Hartzell. On June 28, Gale Ruth, Jr. finally won his first ever Sharon RUSH Sprint feature to become the third different winner in as many races. Ruth then backed it up winning the following week for $700.
The RUSH Sprints have competed 12 times this year around the circuit. Two-time 2022 winner Blaze Myers, who has never won at Sharon in a Sprint Car, currently leads the $5,000 Equipment Rental Options Weekly Series Championship points. Ruth has the most Series wins at five, while three-time champion Chad Ruhlman is next with three victories.
The Gibson Insurance Agency Pro Stocks will be competing in just their third race of 2022 and final tune-up before next Saturday’s “Steel Valley Pro Stock Nationals”. The Stocks were finally able to complete their first show of the year on June 18 after several rain outs. Chris McGuire returned to prominence as he ran his famed high line around the fence to pass 32-time Sharon winner Steve D’Apolito for the victory. It was the seventh career win for the 2018 champion, who loves to make the trip down from Erie, Pa. to race. Then on June 25, Curt J. Bish stole a win away from 70-year-old Larry Kugel with a turn four, last lap pass for his seventh career win as well for the 2019 and 2021 champion.
The HTMA/Precise Racing Products RUSH Sportsman Modifieds will round out the five-division card in their fourth show of 2022. The RUSH Mods have averaged a full field of cars as they have every year since 2016. There have been three different winners in as many races with Tony Tatgenhorst, Justin Shea, and Ben Easler victorious; the wins for Tatgenhorst and Easler were the first Sharon wins of their career, while Shea’s ended nearly a five-year winless drought. Two-time track champion, Kole Holden, leads the $3,500 to-win Hovis Weekly Series points, while Easler sits atop the $1,000 to-win Wedge Motorsports “Route 7 Rumble” Series points.
Summit Racing Equipment will present the hard charger award on Saturday night to the UMP Mod division. The driver that passes the most cars in the feature will receive a $100 Summit gift card. In the event of a tie, the tiebreaker will be the driver that finished highest in the feature.
There is no Sharon registration fee. One-way driver radios are mandatory; channel 454.000. AMB/MyLaps transponders are required; rentals available for $25. If you have yet to register for the 2022 season, please bring the registration form with you completed http://sharonspeedway.myracepass.com/downloads/get.aspx?i=713060
Fans can not only experience viewing from the frontstretch and backstretch grandstands, but also from the infield fan zone. The fan zone, which includes concessions and restrooms, debuted in 2020 during the COVID-19 shortened season. Sharon is the only track in the area to have viewing from the unique infield perspective. There will be times throughout the night when fans can cross on the frontstretch back and forth.
The pits will be open throughout the afternoon with passes going on sale at 4 p.m., while general admission opens at 5. Sprint motor heat will be at 6:15 p.m. with RUSH Late Model warm-ups at 6:30 followed by their qualifying and heat races.
Grandstand/fan zone admission for those 14 and over is $20. Patio seating upgrades are just $10 and fan suite seating upgrades are just $20 over the cost of general admission. These can be upgraded on race night at the track office. As always, children under 14 and parking are always FREE. Pit passes are $35. As a reminder, coolers nor outside food or beverages are not permitted.