Story By: MIKE LEONE / SHARON SPEEDWAY – HARTFORD, OH – After a successful “Bill Gabrielson Memorial”, Sharon Speedway returns to action this Saturday night (August 26) looking to complete the second straight event of the 94th anniversary.
The Hovis Auto & Truck Supply Big-Block Modifieds return, while the Gibson Insurance Agency Pro Stocks will compete in “Ray’s Race” presented by R&R Enterprises and Virgile Iron & Scrap.
Also on the “Steel Valley Thunder” card on Mark Thomas Ford and Hovis Auto & Truck Supply Night will be the HTMA/Precise Racing Products RUSH Sportsman Modifieds and the Whelen Econo Mods. Group qualifying for the Pro Stocks will get underway at 6:40 p.m. followed by racing. It’s Twin-State Auto Racing Club Night.
The Hovis Auto & Truck Supply Big-Block Modifieds presented by Alcon Mechanical, Autism Awareness, King Bros. Ready Mix Concrete, King’s Sanitary Services, and Russ King Racing will headline Saturday’s show for the their third appearance of 2023. The ground pounders will battle for $1,500 to-win, $200 to-start (complete payoff below) in a tune-up before Wednesday’s $2,000 to-win show.
Back on June 17, Garrett Krummert ended a near eight-year winless drought in the division to take the $1,500 main event over the 20-car field. On July 8, the BRP Tour made their only appearance of the season and it was Canadian invader Mat Williamson earning his first career Sharon victory, worth $2,500, as there were 40 cars on hand! The July 15 show was rained out.
The Big-Block Modifieds were a weekly attraction at Sharon from 1981-1992 then again from 1996-2017 and have since made limited appearances each year. There have been 635 races run with 95 different winners. The late Lou Blaney leads the all-time win list with 121 victories over Rex King, who has 54 checkered flags. Rex King, Jr. has the most wins as an active racer with 27 followed by veterans Jim Rasey (19), Brian Swartzlander (14), and Dave Murdick (9). Other active Modified winners include Erick Rudolph (4), Jeremiah Shingledecker (4), Peter Britten (2), Brad Rapp (2), Steve Feder (2), Garrett Krummert (2), Chad Brachmann (1), Kyle Fink (1), Lonny Riggs (1), Mark Frankhouser (1), Mike Maresca (1), Ryan Susice (1), and Mat Williamson (1).
For the first time, “Ray’s Race” will take place at Sharon for the Gibson Insurance Agency Pro Stocks. “Ray’s Race” honors the late Ray Virgile of Oil City, Pa., who was a longtime supporter of auto racing in the region. The sixth annual event will pay $2,000 to-win, $150 to-start for the Gibson Insurance Agency Pro Stock division. The race was initially scheduled for August 12, but was rained out.
There has yet to be a repeat winner in the five previous events. Past “Ray’s Race” winners include Andrew Gordon (2018 at Tri-City), Tim Bish (2019 at Mercer), Noah Brunell (2020 at Tri-City), Curt J. Bish (2021 at Tri-City), and Chris Schneider (2022 at Tri-City). Will there be a sixth different winner on Saturday!?
The only repeat winner in nine features at Sharon this season has been Tim Bish! Bish won the opener for his first career Sharon victory and also won the first twin feature on July 21. Jordan Perkins, Jackson Humanic, and most recently Cody Koteles have also been first time Sharon winners this season. Standouts Curt J. Bish and Chris Schneider won their first feature events of the season during the “Steel Valley Pro Stock Nationals”, while Jason Fosnaught ended a five-year winless drought winning one of the $3,500 features on July 22. And last time out on August 5, Bobby Whitling won his first of 2023.
The HTMA/Precise Racing RUSH Sportsman Modified division has produced five different winners in seven races as only Ben Easler is a multiple winner. The 2022 RUSH Weekly Series Champion won the season opener then followed it up with a victory on June 17 and most recently returned to Hovis Auto & Truck Supply victory lane last Saturday night. Ayden Cipriano, Garrett Krummert, JC Boyer, and Rob Kristyak have also been victorious. Two-time track champion, Kole Holden, has won seven races around the circuit; however, is still searching for his first Sharon win of 2023. Cipriano leads RUSH’s $3,500 to-win Weekly Series Championship, while Easler has a six-point advantage on Cipriano in the Wedge Motorsports “Route 7 Rumble” Series.
Rounding out the four-division program will be the Whelen Econo Mods, who have had five different winners in six races! 2019 champion, Dustin DeMattia, returned to the class and won the May 13 opener. Jeremy Double upped his all-time career win total to 19 following his $800 victory on May 27. Will Thomas III collected his ninth career win in the division on June 3. Jacob Eucker topped a season high 24-car field on July 29 then went back-to-back winning on August 5 for his 16th career win in the division. Last Saturday night saw Garrett Calvert win his first of the season over a 23-car field.
Summit Racing Equipment will present the hard charger award to the RUSH Sportsman Modified 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.
Big-Block Modified Payoff: 1. $1,500 2. $1,000 3. $750 4. $550. 5. $500 6. $425 7. $375 8. $300 9. $275 10. $250 11. $225 12. $220 13. $215 14. $210 15. $205 16-24. $200. Tow $75.
“Ray’s Race” Pro Stock Payoff: 1. $2,000 2. $1,000 3. $550 4. $450 5. $350 6. $250 7. $225 8. $215 9. $205 10. $200 11. $195 12. $190 13. $185 14. $175 15. $170 16. $165 17. $160 18-24. $150. Tow/Non-Qualifiers $75.
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 2023 season, please bring the registration form with you completed https://www.sharonspeedway.com/downloads/get.aspx?i=785729
Fans can not only experience viewing from the frontstretch and backstretch grandstands, but also from the infield fan zone, which includes concessions and restrooms. 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.
Pit passes will go on sale at 4 p.m., while general admission opens at 5. Group qualifying for the Stocks will be at 6:40 p.m. with racing to follow.
Grandstand/fan zone admission for those 14 and over is $15, while senior admission is $10. 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 $30. As a reminder, coolers nor outside food or beverages are not permitted.
Racing returns to Sharon four days later on Wednesday (August 30) as it’ll be the second installment of “Wednesday Night Thunder” presented by Cortland Mower Sales as the “410” Sprints will race for $4,000 to-win, while the Big-Block Modifieds return for $2,000 to-win.
There will be no racing over Labor Day weekend. The next events will be September 8-9 for the “Apple Festival Nationals”. The UMP Mods and Pro Stocks will run a complete show on Friday night, while heat races will be contested for the Big-Block Modifieds, RUSH Sprint Cars, RUSH Sportsman Modifieds and Econo Mods. On Saturday night, the “410” Sprint Cars will run a complete show for $3,000 to-win, while the classes that ran heat races only on Friday will run their remainder of their show.