by Mike Leone
Hartford, OH July 6, 2019 Mother Nature tried to intervene like she’s done so many times this season including washing out the prior two Ollie’s Bargain Outlet All Star Circuit of Champions events, but on Saturday night Sharon Speedway stole one back. A hard mid-afternoon rain storm only temporarily dampened the spirits of race goers for the 11th annual “Lou Blaney Memorial” presented by Ollie’s Bargain Outlet as all of the other storms stayed just south of the speedway allowing Dale Blaney-All Star Sprints and Rex King, Jr.-BRP Modified Tour to celebrate in the Hovis Auto & Truck Supply victory lane. The event once again benefitted the Alzheimer’s Association. Rain did force the live auction to be postponed to an online version with a date and time TBA.
One year ago it was Dave Blaney becoming the first repeat winner of the “Lou Blaney Memorial” winning on year number 10. On Saturday night, brother Dale Blaney put on a dominating performance leading all 30 laps to win his first “Lou Blaney Memorial” on year number 11 ironically driving car #11. For Dale Blaney, the All Star Circuit of Champions victory was worth $6,000 as he became the event’s 10th different winner in 11 years. Blaney also became the fourth different “410” Sprint Car winner in as many events in 2019 at Sharon with his 16th career “410” victory at the Hartford, Ohio oval.
“Before I was done I knew I had to win this race,” acknowledged the 55-year-old Hartford, Ohio winner. “To win it back-to-back with Dave is really special. It’s weird, I’ve started on the front row of this race before. I always wore my dad’s retro uniform for this race and never did very good so I just went with the old Penske (Shocks uniform) and sure enough it worked. The 11th year of this race, we’re number 11 this year- we got it done.”
Blaney followed up his victory in dash number two by powering into the lead from his outside pole starting spot on the opening lap over Sye Lynch, Brock Zearfoss, Skylar Gee, and Cory Eliason. Seventh starting Jordan Ryan, was rolling around the bottom as he cracked the top five on lap two driving for Jim Chappel, who won the 2010 event with Mike Lutz driving.
Blaney was flying around the fast 3/8-mile as he caught lapped traffic on lap six with a straightaway lead. While Blaney was working traffic, Zearfoss began to put the pressure on Lynch, a two-time winner at Sharon, on lap eight. Gee was hitting his marks perfectly running the extreme high line as he closed in making it a three-car race for the runner-up spot on lap 10. Zearfoss finally worked around Lynch for second on lap 11, but Gee probably surprised Lynch and Zearfoss as he blew around both to take second at the start-finish line. Ryan’s fine run ended when he clobbered the fence and brought out the caution with 15 laps scored, which erased a huge 5.135 second lead for Blaney.
Back under green, Eliason drove around Lynch for fourth on lap 17. It looked like Gee may have something for Blaney, but he got too high racing off turn two and got into the fence allowing Zearfoss to get by. Eliason then threw a big slider on Gee in turns three and four to take third on lap 20. Gee’s night then would end as he got into the fence again, this time cutting down a tire and bringing out the event’s second caution with 21 laps scored.
When racing resumed, Blaney took off over Zearfoss while a great battle ensued for third between Eliason, Cole Duncan, Lynch, and Aaron Reutzel. Duncan made the pass of Eliason for third before the final stoppage of the event occurred with 25 laps scored when Justin Peck suffered a flat tire. The caution would allow Blaney clean air for the final five circuits as he went unchallenged in the Sam McGhee Motorsports/Mike McGhee & Associates #11 for his third All Star win of the season and all-time leading 137th of his career.
“I was really good down on this end (turns one and two) and I felt like I was losing ground on the top so I cut the corner and drove across to it and felt like I carried more speed,” explained Blaney. “Brock (Zearfoss) is a really good racer. I kept looking on the board for the 87 (Reutzel) because I knew he’d be coming up there. Sam and Mike (McGhee) have given me a great car. Last year was a tough year and I didn’t get to race much, but I’ve felt like we’ve gained a lot on it lately and really looking forward to the rest of the year.”
Zearfoss was able to fend off Duncan in the closing laps for his best career Sharon finish in runner-up. “This traveling series deal for the points is tough and you have to stay out of trouble and finish races,” stated the Jonestown, Pa. racer. “We’ve definitely had speed, but I haven’t been getting it done on my end and finishing races- same as last night; we drove up to third and spun out. That’s on me as a driver and have to get better at it. If we’re going to points race, we need to be in contention at the end and we were tonight. Shane and Tye came back and gave me a hell of a car again. I thought I might have a chance on that last restart. I stayed with Dale, but he was just pretty damn good tonight. Congrats to those guys.”
Duncan, who has had a tough 2019 season, has been impressive nonetheless at Sharon with a FAST win on May 11, a runner-up in last Saturday’s non-sanctioned “410” event to Dave Blaney, and a solid third with the All Stars on Saturday night.
“We needed this,” expressed the 27-year-old Grove City, Ohio racer. “It’s been a horrible year- I can’t say it any other way. We did get a win here. It’s mostly been my fault. We had fresh race cars to start the year. I crashed a couple cars and we had some motor issues that we got resolved. It feels good. I can’t thank all of my guys enough and my sponsors that stick behind me. It has to be frustrating for them to watch us struggle when they help us so much. Thank you to you guys if you’re watching tonight we really appreciate it. And thank you to this great crowd for coming out- it ended up being a great night. Congrats to Dale, Sammy, and Mike- they deserve this.”
Eliason was fourth. Aaron Reutzel salvaged his night with a fifth place effort from the 13th starting spot. Reutzel had set fast time in his qualifying flight, but failed to scale which relegated him to the ninth starting spot of his heat race. Reutzel charged from the tail to finish third then advanced eight spots in the feature as the defending All Star champion was able to maintain his points lead.
Lynch dropped to sixth at the finish as Paul McMahan, Chad Kemenah, Greg Wilson, and Gerard McIntyre, Jr. completed the top 10. For the second straight night, Wilson was the hard charger as he raced from 20th to ninth. On Friday night at Lernerville, he went 20th to third. Ryan set fast time overall against the 37-car field with a lap of 14.568. Heat winners were Duncan, Gee, Jack Sodeman, Jr., and Zearfoss. George Hobaugh won the last chance B main.
Rex King, Jr. joined Jim Rasey as a repeat winner of the Big-Block Modified portion of the “Lou Blaney Memorial”. King, Jr., who won the event for the first time in 2014, led all 35 laps holding off his father and hard charging Jeremiah Shingledecker for the BRP Tour-sanctioned $2,000 win.
“My oldest son Carson drew me a good pill so I was lucky,” explained the 28-year-old Bristolville, Ohio driver. “We’ll start up front as much as we can. I knew it was going to be tough to pass so dad would’ve had to bonsai me on the top on the last restart. I don’t know how big of a lead we had at the end. I think my brother was messing with me because he signals for me and my dad. One lap he was saying he was close and the other far away. This is the biggest race Sharon puts on other than the Lucas, World of Outlaws, and Super DIRT. The Lou Blaney is such a big race. I think all of the cars here and in the parking lot show it.”
Like Blaney, King, Jr. used the outside to take over the lead on the opening lap from Rick Regalski, Jr. The race got off to a slow start with a trio of cautions in the first three laps. The elder King passed Regalski for second on lap two with seventh starting Brian Swartzlander moving into third on lap four. Lapped traffic came into play on lap 12 as King closed in on his son in the race for the lead just before a caution for Chad Brachmann. The New York standout started 20th and was charging through the field on the outside before getting into the fence after contact with Steve Feder.
Back under green flag conditions, it appeared Swartzlander had the pass made of King for second on lap 14, but was unable to complete it at the start-finish line. As King, Jr. continued to lead and Swartzlander and King raced hard side-by-side for second again on lap 17 and 18 the front trio were able to distance themselves from the field. King, Jr. had a half of a straightaway advantage built back up when he caught lapped traffic on lap 25. Swartzlander again pulled alongside King for second on lap 29, but a caution for Kyle Fink wouldn’t allow Swartzlander to complete the pass.
When green replaced yellow on lap 29, 11th starting Jeremiah Shingledecker cracked the top five for the first time. Shingledecker had found the highline to his liking as he drove around Dave Murdick for fourth on lap 30. Shingledecker was closing fast on King and Swartzlander . It was a three-car battle for second on lap 33. It looked like Shingledecker was going to go around both until Swartzlander spun in turn one with 33 laps scored. King was just ahead of Shingledecker at the start-finish line before the caution so he kept the runner-up position.
The caution was a killer for Shingledecker as King, Jr. was able to keep his father and Shingledecker at bay in the final two-lap dash to the checkered as he actually pulled away to take his 26th career win at Sharon by a margin of 1.108 seconds in the KMB Inc.-owned, Jim Brown Seed Sales/King Bros. Ready Mix Concrete/King Sanitary/Bristol Disposal/Reese Services-sponsored #165.
Will Thomas III was fourth. Brad Rapp raced from 17th to fifth. Murdick, Rasey, Colton Walters, Regalski, and Chas Wolbert rounded out the top 10. Wolbert came from 23rd to 10th with a RUSH-legal GM 602 crate engine. Heat winners over the 34-car field were King, Jr., Jimmy Holden, King, and Swartzlander, while Lonny Riggs won the last chance B main.
All Star Circuit of Champions Sprint Cars “Lou Blaney Memorial” (30 laps, $6,000 to-win): 1. DALE BLANEY (McGhee 11) 2. Brock Zearfoss (Grove 70) 3. Cole Duncan (22) 4. Cory Eliason (Rudeen 26) 5. Aaron Reutzel (Baughman 87) 6. Sye Lynch (42) 7. Paul McMahan (Buch 13) 8. Chad Kemenah (Garvin K4) 9. Greg Wilson (w20) 10. Gerard McIntyre, Jr. (Coldren 07) 11. Jack Sodeman, Jr. (23Jr) 12. Dan Shetler (7K) 13. Max Stambaugh (Seeling 97) 14. Carl Bowser (11) 15. Brandon Spithaler (22) 16. Cale Conley (3c) 17. Jimmy Morris III (Stafford 4N) 18. Russ Sansosti (23s) 19. Dan Kuriger (08) 20. George Hobaugh (40) 21. Justin Peck (Grove 70x) 22. Skylar Gee (99) 23. Brandon Matus (13) 24. Jordan Ryan (Chappel 8).
DNQ for the feature: Michael Bauer (46), Dave Blaney (98H), Lee Jacobs (Lewis 81), Darren Pifer (23), Andy Priest (McCandless 7N), Jared Zimbardi (35), Dan McCarron (22M), Jeremy Kornbau (27K), Brett Brunkenhoefer (Kish 47), Gale Ruth (1R), Brent Matus (33), Frankie Nervo (21N), Andy Feil (08).
BRP Mod Tour for the Hovis Auto & Truck Supply Big-Block Modifieds “Lou Blaney Memorial” (35 laps, $2,000 to-win): 1. REX KING, JR. (165) 2. Rex King (65) 3. Jeremiah Shingledecker (37MD) 4. Will Thomas III (9) 5. Brad Rapp (11R) 6. Dave Murdick (61) 7. Jim Rasey (32) 8. Colton Walters (18) 9. Rick Regalski, Jr. (13) 10. Chas Wolbert (c3) 11. Brian Swartzlander (83) 12. Kevin Hoffman (00) 13. Jimmy Holden (28H) 14. Steve Feder (45) 15. Chris Haines (35H) 16. Steve Slater (29) 17. Bob Warren (96B) 18. J.R. McGinley (66M) 19. Steve Barr (25B) 20. Kyle Fink (66F) 21. Skip Moore (17M) 22. Ralph McBride (R13) 23. Chad Brachmann (3) 24. Garrett Krummert (29) 25. Lonny Riggs (Black 58) 26. Tyler Willard (777).
DNQ for the feature: Chris Rudolph (25), Max Smoker (93x), Dillon Barr (15B), Rocky Kugel (Green 74), Mark Frankhouser (03), Don Blaney (11B), Scott Kay (55), Tom Glenn (83T).
There will be no racing on July 13 due to the Trumbull County Fair. Racing returns on Saturday, July 20 for another Menards “Super Series” event featuring the third “Bickerstaff Cup” Series event for the Outlaw Mods (IMCA-type) along with the RUSH Sprint Cars, Gibson Insurance Agency Stock Cars, HTMA/Precise Racing Products RUSH Sportsman Modifieds, the Summit Racing Equipment Econo Mods, and the Jr. Sprints for kids. Pits open at 4 p.m. with grandstands at 5 and racing at 7.
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.