Hartford, OH (July 29,2017) Outstanding weather and a pit area jam packed with 109 cars greeted fans on Saturday night at Sharon Speedway as the weekly Steel Valley Thunder series returned to action following a lengthy layoff. And once everyone got settled into their seats, they were kept on the edge of them as five action packed features gave everyone in attendance reasons to cheer, grimace and partake in their favorite nervous habits.
Chris Schneider schooled the visiting Homak Penn-Ohio Pro Stocks in their make up show which dated back to September of 2016 while the scheduled touring event honors went to Chris McGuire. In the Big Block Modifieds, Rex King Jr. captured his second feature win of the season, overcoming a strong running Garrett Krummert in the process. Chas Wolbert was the class of the field in the RUSH Sportsman Modifieds while Steve Haefke came from downtown to score his fourth victory in a row in Economod action.
Schneider Puts On Clinic En Route to $2,000 Victory
Chris Schneider might have swept the fields in both Penn-Ohio feature events on Saturday night, had it not been for a flat tire in feature one. The veteran pilot was one of the fastest cars of the night and put on a clinic in the $2,000 to win make up feature, coming from the 11th starting spot with precision and purpose.
Brian Carothers and Andy Buckley started out on the front row and Buckley put his car in front from the drop of the green flag. Buckley looked to be in command early on while Randy Wyant and Rusty Moore took up positions directly behind the leader as Carothers began to fall back to the mid pack. Buckley looked strong out front in the opening portion of the race and began to encounter lapped traffic at the 10 lap mark while Wyant looked for his opportunity to take advantage of Buckley maneuvering around the lappers.
Meanwhile, Schneider had been making steady and smooth progress through the field, using all three grooves on the racy surface. Wyant began taking looks underneath Buckley for the lead while at the same time, Schneider was making his move around him. Schneider made his way around Wyant with nine laps to go and for the next three laps there was a blanket over the top three running cars.
Schneider emerged from the trio with the lead passing Wyant and Buckley at the 20 lap mark and never looked back, capping a masterful performance which fans had been accustomed to seeing from him over the years, one that has become synonymous with big money races. Paul Davis rounded out the podium after a solid performance.
"I have to thank these guys for such a nice racetrack," Schneider said. "I've got a lot of experience on this red clay, it's similar to what Lernerville has, It's tricky, you have to learn where to go, where the grip is and where it's not. It's been a rough year, I rolled the car here and we had a motor issue and there's been a lot of rain outs but his is the one I wanted to win."
Feature Finish- Penn-Ohio Pro Stocks $2,000 to win Makeup From September 2016
1. Chris Schneider 2. Randy Wyant 3. Paul Davis 4. Rusty Moore 5. Steve D’Apolito
6. Jackson Humanic 7. Andy Buckley 8. Bobby Whitling 9. Chris McGuire 10. Curt J. Bish
11. Brian Carothers 12. William Hurrelbrink 13. Garrett Calvert 14. Jamie Duncan
15. Rob Shook 16. Rod Laskey 17. Joe Stajnrajh, Jr. 18. Jacob Billyk 19. Mike Clark
20. Brian Rhed 21. Dan Fedorchak 22. Jamie Scharba 23. Mike Miller 24. Bob Schwartzmiller 25. Ryan Newman 26. Brett McDonald 27. Shaun Fawcett
King Jr. Cruises To Second Win
Rex King Jr. proved to be too much for the field on hand to handle in the 25 lap Big Block Modified feature as he notched his second feature victory of the season and extended his point lead on Saturday night.
Garrett Krummert and Dave Murdick brought the field to the green flag and early on, Krummert looked as if he had the car to beat, taking the early lead. It took just two laps for King to make his way around Dave Murdick for the second spot and once around he found himself immediately on Krummert's rear bumper. However, Krummert would throw the kitchen sink at the current track champion as King took looks underneath for the lead while Krummert slammed the door in the early portion of the race. The two would race side by side with Krummert holding a slight advantage as the halfway point of the race approached.
King was able to make his way underneath in turns three and four on lap nine, but before he could put separation between himself and the field, the caution flag came out with 12 laps down as King was just about to enter heavy lapped traffic. King elected the outside on the restart and when action resumed he pulled away while behind him, Jim Weller Jr. began to apply pressure to Krummert for the second spot. Krummert slammed the door once again and put distance between himself and Weller in the waning laps but was not able shave distance from King's lead out front as he cruised to a comfortable victory.
“I have to thank Sharon Speedway," King remarked in victory lane. " It’s a great facility and was a good race track tonight. I have to thank my sponsors, also everyone on my end for donating to Guy Griffin. Guy is a hell of a person and we hope the best for him.”
Feature Finish-25 Laps
1. Rex King Jr. 2. Garrett Krummert 3. Jim Weller, Jr. 4. Jim Rasey 5. Dave Murdick
6. Rick Richner 7. Will Thomas III 8. Justin Rasey 9. Erik Martin 10. Rod Laskey
11. Bob Warren 12. Tom Mattocks 13. Dave Reges 14. Colton Walters
Wolbert Wires RUSH Sportsman Modifieds
Chas Wolbert left no doubt as to who had the fastest car on Saturday night. Wolbert bolted out to the early lead from his front row starting spot and from the get go, had to deal with a red hot Rocky Kugel who stalked him for the lead after getting around several cars on the opening lap.
Kugel would have multiple chances to make his way around Wolbert as Don Blaney and Tiffany Williams brought out cautions in the early going of the 20 lap main event. Meanwhile, Josh Deems was making his way forward with abandon, moving forward from his eighth starting spot and throwing himself into contention for a podium position by the halfway point.
As the second half got underway Wolbert seemed unfazed by the action behind him and put down fast, consistent laps, not earning much in the way of separation, but at the same time, making it difficult for Kugel and Deems to mount challenges without the benefit of lapped traffic to stalk with. Deems was able to make his way around Kugel in impressive fashion following a lap 16 restart, but ran out of laps in his pursuit of Wolbert who found victory lane at Sharon for the third time in his career while Chelsie Kriegisch and Brandon Ritchey rounded out the top five.
"I saw Josh Deems and Brandon Ritchey sneak in on the bottom a few times and it was fun," Wolbert said. "This new surface is great. I’m glad after almost two months we’ve been able to come back and run."
Feature Finish- 20 Laps
1. Chas Wolbert 2. Josh Deems 3. Rocky Kugel 4. Chelsie Kriegisch 5. Brandon Ritchey
6. Kole Holden 7. Kyle Martell 8. Shayne Izzo 9. Gary Haupt 10. Jeremy Weaver
11. Jacob Jordan 12. David Kalb, Jr. 13. Don Blaney 14. Michael Kristyak 15. Tiffany Williams 16. Jordan Ehrenberg 17. Jessica Kriegisch 18. Anthony Gillespie 19. Steve Slater
Haefke Comes From The Back To Make It Four In A Row
Steve Haefke's job wasn't easy coming into the 20 lap Economod feature. Having won three consecutive features, Haefke started from the tail of the main event and picked off cars at a stout pace en route to a fourth straight win.
However, Brandon Blackshear would not make Haefke's job any easier as he got out to the early lead while behind him, Eric Wilson and Ty Rhoades were in an intense battle for the second spot from the drop of the green flag. Out front, Blackshear worked the bottom of the surface with precision until he managed to start a spin in turns three and four on lap 7. He was able to gather the car back together and kept his forward motion going in impressive fashion while Wilson could not make up much in the way of ground due to Blackshear's slip.
Following two mid race cautions, Blackshear once again set out to put distance between himself and the rest of the field. But on the final restart, Haefke made his way to third and was beginning to take looks underneath Wilson who closed the door. Haefke then moved topside and a door to door battle for the spot ensued which Haefke won as he began to look underneath Blackshear with two laps to go.
Heading into turn one on the final circuit, Haefke made slight contact with Blackshear in a bid for the lead, while minimal, the contact helped open the door just enough for Haefke to slide underneath coming out of turn two as he won the race to the checkered flag.
“I needed that caution because I didn’t know where we were at as I was too busy watching cars and didn’t have time to look at the scoreboard to keep this thing underneath me,” Haefke said following his fourth win in a row. “I didn’t drive it in any harder that last lap. It just stuck and we kind of bumped. It wasn’t intentional, but he wasn’t going to give me any room either, and I don’t blame him because I wouldn’t have either. That was great racing for the fans."
Feature Finish: 20 Laps
1. Steve Haefke 2. Brandon Blackshear 3. Eric Wilson 4. Ty Rhoades 5. Kyle Miller
6. Gary Robinson 7. Jace Ferringer 8. Brian Toto 9. Dan McEwen 10. Jeff Mundell
11. Eric Reinwald 12. Haley Lapcevich 13. Wayne Daniels 14. Buzz Seitz 15. Rick Wilson, Jr.
16. George Vestal IV 17. Mike Hillman 18. Brent Coleman 19. Tommy Davis
Gordon And McGuire Battle To The Wire
Perhaps the most spirited battle for the win on Saturday night came in the first feature. Northern tier driver Chris McGuire and Andrew Gordon put on a show at the front of the Penn-Ohio Pro Stock feature that was a clean and hard as any fan could ask for.
McGuire and Rusty Martz started on the front row where McGuire quickly assumed the early lead. Gordon then went straight to work, moving under Martz on lap three in turns one and two, and by lap five, he had set his sights on the leader and the battle was underway. Behind them, Chris Schneider was making his way forward from deep in the field at a fast clip, picking off cars one at a time, while out front McGuire was entering lapped traffic on lap nine.
By lap 12, the top two contenders were door to door for the lead until McGuire used a lapped car to stave off Gordon's charge. The caution flag then waved on lap 14 for a spin in turn two, re-stacking the field. Following three straight restart attempts, McGuire kept the lead with a good jump while Schneider looked to make it a three car battle for the win. Out front, Gordon pulled door to door with the leader and the two managed to stay that way for three straight laps with neither car yielding an inch. Schneider fell victim to a flat tire in the waning laps, ending his bid to perhaps take a sweep of the evening's festivities.
Gordon was able to pull past McGuire on the front stretch on lap 21 just before a final caution reset the stage where Gordon was able to pull away in the final laps en route to what looked to be a victory. But Gordon's performance was thwarted once officials determined that an illegal suspension had been used, which disqualified him for the night while McGuire received credit for the hard fought victory.
Feature Finish- Penn-Ohio Pro Stocks $1,000 to win- 25 Laps
1. Chris McGuire 2. Bobby Whitling 3. Paul Davis 4. Jason Fosnaught 5. Rusty Martz
6. Jamie Scharba 7. Mike Miller 8. Bobby Heim 9. Rusty Moore 10. Steve D’Apolito
11. Fuzzy Fields 12. Shaun Hooks 13. Rob Shook 14. Andy Thompson 15. Leigh Wheeler
16. Bob Schwartzmiller 17. William Hurrelbrink 18. Curt J. Bish 19. Brett McDonald
20. Chris Schneider 21. Tim Deutsch 22. Nick Kocuba 23. Randy Wyant 24. Mike Clark
25. Brian Rhed 26. Andrew Gordon DQ