By Mike Leone
Hartford, OH June 16, 2018 A big crowd turned on out Saturday night for the inaugural “Steel Valley Pro Stock Nationals” presented by Blue Ox Timber for the Penn-Ohio Pro Stock Championship Series. Brent Johnson will go down in the history books as the event’s inaugural winner, while Jordan Simmons captured the Junior Sprints for kids feature event as both celebrated in the Hovis Auto & Truck Supply victory lane. A practice session was held on Friday night with 80 cars participating with a few having issues and not being able to compete on Saturday. Saturday’s count was 81 with drivers from Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York, West Virginia, Maryland, North Carolina, Kentucky, and Tennessee.
After a crash that took out the top three cars including leader Chris Schneider while racing in lapped traffic with nowhere to go, Brent Johnson inherited the lead on lap 52 then held off Chris Schneider’s charge back through the field to win by just 0.118 of a second! Johnson’s 75-lap “Steel Valley Pro Stock Nationals” victory was worth $10,000 amongst a purse of $32,500- a record Stock Car payoff for the area.
“I can hear everyone with their discomfort about the whole thing but it was a heck of a battle,” expressed the 47-year-old Brookville, Pa. driver. “For $10,000 we were racing hard and that’s the way it ended up. He beat me going into (turn) one on that first restart so on the second one I jumped up into his line and we made it through. We went down into (turns) three and four and I jumped up into his line again. He went a little bit higher yet; my car drifted up, and he had the opportunity to lift the same as I did but I stayed on the throttle and so did he. I’d like to thank Nate Peterman of Peterman Chassis. He put this car together for me. I’d also like to thank Rusty Martz and his crew for donating all their used tires for us.”
After winning the dash, Andrew Gordon led the 30-lap car field to green with Johnson, Todd Weldon, Chris Schneider, and eighth starting Alan Dellinger in tow after the opening lap. Schneider raced past Weldon on the outside for third on lap two then moved into second on lap three. Schneider ran down Gordon and drove around the leader on the top in turn two on lap five.
Schneider had a near straightaway lead once he caught lapped traffic on lap nine, while Dellinger continued to move forward taking fourth from Weldon. Dellinger looked like he may have one of the fastest cars as he drove around Johnson for third on lap 10; however, heartbreak struck when Dellinger couldn’t avoid the spun cars of Nick Stone and Wayne Carbo on lap 13.
Following the caution, Weldon regained fourth then passed Johnson for third on lap 21. Weldon closed in on Gordon in the battle for second on lap 25. Meanwhile out front, Schneider continued to set a torrid pace with a comfortable lead as he caught lapped traffic on lap 30. The lead was erased after Martz slowed bringing out the caution with 32 laps completed.
A long period of green flag laps was then run as 16th starting Bobby Whitling moved into the top five on lap 49 passing Chris McGuire. The battle up front was about to heat up as Schneider was dealing with lapped traffic, which allowed Gordon to close in on lap 51. That was right before the complexity of the event changed as Tyler Thompson spun with Eddie Stewart in turn three as the top three of Schneider, Gordon, and Weldon had nowhere to getting caught up in the accident.
Johnson now inherited the lead on lap 52 with Whitling to second over McGuire and Noah Brunell. Seventeenth starting Steve D’Apolito was making his way forward as he took over fourth from McGuire on lap 53. D’Apolito ran down Brunell in the battle for third, but would spin trying to get under Brunell in turn three on lap 56.
Schneider worked his way back through the field and was up to fourth and then powered by Rob Shook for third on lap 58. Schneider caught Whitling and drove around him for second on lap 62. With the laps going caution-free, Schneider was able to cut around a tenth off Johnson’s lead each lap and by lap 70 was right on the leader. Schneider drove alongside Johnson on lap 71, but Johnson was able to maintain the lead then in lapped traffic on lap 72.
On the final lap, it appeared Schneider may have made the pass for the lead, but a spin by Shaun Hooks on the bottom of turn three brought out the caution. Johnson chose the inside for the double file restart as Schneider powered around the outside into the lead, but Randy Wyant would spun in turn one bringing out the caution once again.
This time, Johnson got a better restart and moved Schneider up out of his preferred line entering turn one. The two ran side-by-side on the final lap. Johnson ran Schneider high in turn four and the two made contact with Schneider brushing the frontstretch fence. Both drivers maintained control with Johnson crossing first by just over one tenth of a second for his first career Sharon win in his Redline Performance Machine/Petermanbuilt Race Fab-sponsored #92X.
Schneider earned $3,000 for runner-up along with $500 for setting fast time overall (18.842) and another $100 for winning the first heat race bringing his night’s total to $3,600. Whitling pocketed $1,500 for third. Shook, who started 11th, was fourth. Brunell had a great run in fifth driving Schneider’s back-up car. Two-time and defending track champion, Paul Davis, came from 18th to sixth over Kyle Couchenour, McGuire, Jackson Humanic, and Gordon from the tail.
In addition to Schneider, earning $100 heat race wins were McGuire, Johnson, Martz, Gordon, Weldon, Couchenour, and Dellinger. The E main was won by Josh Seippel, the D main by Tim Deutsch, the C main by William Hurrelbrink, and the B main by Eddie Stewart. Hurrelbrink picked up a $100 bonus by going from the C to the B to the A where he finished 14th.
Trophies for the event were presented by Gary Smith Racing with special awards made by Wrapz by Reiser. Additional sponsors for the event included Blue Ox Timber, E & K Equipment, Wedge Motorsports, Robinson Automotive, ITC Crane, RCR Automotive, Oniboni Construction, SS Chassis & Supply, Slider Race Cars, World of Wheels, NorthStar Unlimited llc., Mills Automotive & Off Road, Les Frickshun, Shaffer’s Auto & Exhaust, Bish Heating & Cooling, R & R Enterprise Auto Sales & Garage, RK Virgile Scrap Metals, Gravatt’s Electric & Generators, Crawford Custom Consulting, Close Racing Supply, Zimmer’s Service Center, Inc., May’s Towing, C & R Tire, M & T Allison Construction, Schwartzmiller Ground Maintenance, Alternative Power Source, The Dirt Network, and Shingledecker’s Welding.
Penn-Ohio Series “Steel Valley Pro Stock Nationals” (75 laps, $10,000 to-win): 1. BRENT JOHNSON (92X) 2. Chris Schneider (55) 3. Bobby Whitling (7w) 4. Rob Shook (Keihl 64) 5. Noah Brunell (Schneider 55N) 6. Paul Davis (3) 7. Kyle Couchenour (299) 8. Chris McGuire (63) 9. Jackson Humanic (17) 10. Andrew Gordon (25A) 11. Alan Dellinger (Bish 1B) 12. Mike Miller (T6) 13. Shaun Hooks (65) 14. William Hurrelbrink (c8) 15. Brian Carothers (02c) 16. Tyler Thompson (T2) 17. Jason Fosnaught (Tristani 73) 18. Randy Wyant (11T) 19. Rusty Martz (16M) 20. Wayne Carbo (54) 21. Rod Laskey (1R) 22. Terry Wheeler (2W) 23. Steve D’Apolito (84) 24. Todd Weldon (45) 25. Nick Stone (27) 26. Ryan Newman (12) 27. Eddie Stewart (119) 28. Curt J. Bish (Tarr 29) 29. Bryan Wagner (56) 30. Jeff Broniszewski (08).
DNQ through the B main: Tim Bish (11B), Dar Diegelman (15*), Jamie Duncan (67J), Bob Rosman (48R), Bob Sloss (44B), Dave McManus (114), Bobby Heim (92), Brad Davis (88H), Jim Fosnaught (20J), Bryan Mitchell (M1), Calob McLaughlin (08M), Mike Clark (7), Jarod Larson (47), Rusty Moore (17M).
DNQ through the C main: Nick Kocuba (10), Steve Burns, Jr. (70B), Paul Kot (36K), Andy Buckley (965), Rusty Wheeler (44), Andy Thompson (5), Corey McPherson (c33), Leigh Wheeler (717), Curt Bish, Jr. (00), Greg Beach (33x), Charlie McMillen (61M), Allen English (64E), Luke Rutsky (22R), Brent McDonald (25), Jamie Scharba (11S), Tim Deutsch (20).
DNQ through the D main: Gary Fisher (99F), Ron Boardman (50), Dustin Smith (88), Josh Seippel (84), Danny Rich (67X), Troy Norman (19N), Pat Fielding (23), Jason Black (5B), Dave Baker (94B), Shane Applebee (30), Russ Coyne (8c), Robbie Perkins (460), Chris Withers (21W), Jamie Barber (415), Paul Petrovich (74)-DNS, Jason Longwell-DNS.
DNQ through the E main: Bill Slade (A22), Gil Demello (22), Jason Jones (81J)-DNS, Jacob Billyk (4)-DNS, Bruce Hartzfield (101)-DNS.
Coming up this Tuesday (June 19) is Ohio Speedweek for the All Star Circuit of Champions Sprint Cars in a $5,000 to-win event along with the HTMA/Precise Racing Products RUSH Sportsman Modifieds. Advanced and reserved tickets are on sale by going to SharonSpeedway.com and clicking on ‘Buy Tickets’ at the top left.
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.