Story By: MIKE LEONE / SHARON SPEEDWAY – HARTFORD, OH – Despite a persistent drizzle throughout the evening with fall-like conditions, Sharon Speedway was able to persevere and defeat Mother Nature in the second and final Cortland Mower Sales “Wednesday Night Thunder” program of the 94th anniversary season.
Celebrating in the Hovis Auto & Truck victory lane was Dave Blaney in the Hovis Auto & Truck Supply “410” Sprint Cars.
Tenth starting Blaney passed Lee Jacobs on lap 12 then held off 12th starting Dale Blaney and a furious charge by 22nd starting Brandon Spithaler over the final five laps to win a thrilling 30-lap Hovis Auto & Truck Supply “410” Sprint Car feature. After winning the $3,000 season opener and the $3,000 Western PA Speedweek event, the elder Blaney’s third victory of 2023 was worth $4,000.
“The track changed so much,” explained the 60-year-old Concord, North Carolina National Sprint Car Hall of Fame racer. “It was really sticky early. When I came out for the feature it was way slippery and I was sure I didn’t have the right setup in to even have a chance, but it went right to the front. I’m surprised, but happy so it’s a great night. I can’t believe the rain held off either just as much as me winning. Starting 10th, the first couple laps is key, and I had a really good first couple laps around the bottom to clear some guys. I saw Dale (Blaney) was behind me and didn’t know where to go on the restart or to block; I could hear him, but luckily never saw him.”
After crashing hard in the lead at the last event on July 29, Lee Jacobs took off in the lead getting by Dan Kuriger at the start of the feature with A.J. Flick and Bob Felmlee in tow. The “Buckeye Bullet” was already halfway to the front in fifth after the opening lap then passed Felmlee for fourth on lap two. One lap later, Blaney ducked under Flick for third. Up front, Jacobs had checked out from the field, while Blaney quickly caught Kuriger. On lap six, Blaney made the pass of Kuriger for second, but found himself 3.494 seconds behind Jacobs.
While all eyes were on Blaney’s charge as he closed in on Jacobs, some of the attention focused to Spithaler, who was making his way forward. Spithaler cracked the top five on lap eight then passed Flick for fourth on lap 10. Back up front, Blaney caught Jacobs on lap 11 and made what would be the winning move one lap later on the bottom of turn two.
Spithaler continued to run the fence as he drove around Kuriger for third on lap 12 then did the same to Jacobs on lap 15 for second. Spithaler was 1.520 seconds behind leader Blaney when he made his way into second. As Spithaler tried to track down the elder Blaney, he couldn’t clear the lapped car of Jeremy Kornbau with his slider as he scrubbed off a bunch of speed allowing Dale Blaney to close in. Dale Blaney seemingly came out of nowhere as he then snuck under Spithaler for second on lap 20.
A caution for All Star Circuit of Champions regular, Zeth Sabo, slowed action with 25 laps completed. Under cautions, fourth running Jacobs suffered a flat tire as it appeared he may have run over Sabo’s debris. The last five laps had fans on the edge of their seats as the lead trio ran three distinct different lines; Dave Blaney the bottom, Dale Blaney the middle, and Spithaler the top!
The trio battled hard running nearly three-wide until Dave Blaney got away on the final lap and took his 37th career Sharon “410” win by 0.704 seconds in his DRE Custom Trailers/Ryan Blaney Family Foundation/UPMC Concussion Group/Mohawk/Bill Davis-sponsored #10.
Dale Blaney came up short in his quest of beating his brother to three wins this year as Dale won the first “Wednesday Night Thunder” show on June 28 followed by a victory on July 21, but had to settle for the $2,000 runner-up in the Tiger Barris #32B.
“I’m sure he (Dave Blaney) could hear me around his right rear at least the first three after that caution,” described the 59-year-old Hartford, Ohio Nationals Sprint Car Hall of Fame racer. “I should have beat the top down here. I knew Brandon (Spithaler) was probably going to make another run, and if he cleared me he was probably going to have a shot at Dave, but he got into the wall a little and I got back in front of him. I should have been more patient in the center of the corner and caught that little bit on exit through the middle. I was really good from about lap 10 through 25 and got rolling good everywhere so I’m really happy with it.”
After crashing in his heat, Spithaler’s crew and several other teams pitched in to get his rear-end changed and his car fixed just in time to run the last chance B main where he went ninth to fourth to transfer to the feature. Spithaler then passed 19 cars in the feature to earn the $100 Summit Racing Equipment hard charger gift card in addition to a $1,500 payday.
“The car was good but first and foremost I need to thank my crew and everyone that chipped in helping to put a rear-end in- Carl Bowser, the whole McCandless crew, and Lee Jacobs,” stated the 32-year-old Butler, Pa. resident. “I hurt it pretty bad in the heat race. To come from the tail, and I had my shot at it. I didn’t know if I was going to get another one so I put my foot in it so see if I could squirt past both Blaneys in one corner. If the track was a little wider, I might have got it done.”
Carl Bowser went ninth to fourth for $1,200 as he returned to the seat of the McCandless #29, which he’ll finish the season in on the All Star Circuit of Champions. Flick was fifth. Dan Kuriger dropped from the pole to sixth at the finish. Michigan’s Dan McCarron made his first Sharon visit in nearly three years and was seventh. Adam Kekich was eighth as Felmlee dropped to ninth. George Hobaugh started 19th and came home 10th.
Henry Malcuit set fast time overall against the 29-car field in qualifying with a lap of 14.459. Heat winners were Felmlee, McCarron, and Max Stambaugh, while Hobaugh won the last chance B main.
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. Stay tuned for more details.
Hovis Auto & Truck Supply “410” Sprint Cars (30 laps, $4,000 to-win): 1. 10-DAVE BLANEY; 2. 32B-Dale Blaney; 3. 22-Brandon Spithaler; 4. 29-Carl Bowser; 5. 2-AJ Flick; 6. 08-Danny Kuriger; 7. 22M-Dan McCarron; 8. 5K-Adam Kekich; 9. 6-Bob Felmlee; 10. 40-George Hobaugh Jr; 11. 70M-Henry Malcuit; 12. 13-Brandon Matus; 13. 5M-Max Stambaugh; 14. 27K-Jeremy Kornbau; 15. 35B-Stuart Brubaker; 16. 23-Darren Pifer; 17. 47-Brett Brunkenhoefer; 18. 33-Brent Matus; 19. 86-Michael Lutz Jr; 20. 81-Lee Jacobs; 21. 97-Zeth Sabo; 22. 7T-Andy McKisson; 23. 47L-Dusty Larson; 24. 90-Jeffrey Neubert. DNQ: Andy Cavanaugh (X7), Jon Carpenter (22C), Eric L. Williams (4W), Cameron Nastasi (99), Chris Verda (3V).