by Mike Leone
Hartford, OH August 24, 2019 Early fall-like conditions graced Sharon Speedway setting the stage for a beautiful evening on Saturday night. An even 100 cars in four divisions turned out for the Menards “Super Series” event on Allegheny Tool, Graham Machine, and A&MP Electric Night. Celebrating with victories in the Hovis Auto & Truck Supply victory lane were Joe Gabrielson-Outlaw Mods (IMCA-type) for the “Bickerstaff Cup” Series, Andy Feil-RUSH Sprint Cars, Chris Schneider-Gibson Insurance Agency Stock Cars, Chas Wolbert-HTMA/Precise Racing Products RUSH Sportsman Modifieds. Also, Jacob Wolfe captured the “Wheelman” Non-Winners race presented by Ohio Intra Express and C&R Tire for the RUSH Sportsman Modifieds.
Earning track championships were Brian Ruhlman-“Bickerstaff Cup” Series for the Outlaw Mods, Curt J. Bish-Stock Cars, Kole Holden-RUSH Sportsman Modifieds, and Dustin DeMattia-Econo Mods. The “Wheelman” points will continue through the remainder of the season.
While the top was the place to be for much of the race, fifth starting Joe Gabrielson made the bottom work as he snuck under Joel Watson on lap 30 for the lead and led the final laps for his biggest career payday in the 33-lap $3,000 to-win “Bickerstaff Cup” Series finale for the Outlaw Mods. Gabrielson became the fourth different winner in as many races, while Brian Ruhlman copped the $1,000 title in the four-race Series that saw a total of 56 different cars compete! Gabrielson also added $400 for finishing third in points.
“I don’t think I’ll ever live up to my dad’s (Bill) name,” expressed an emotional 31-year-old Bristolville, Ohio winner. “He’s been gone six years now and his birthday was yesterday. This is unreal. To be able to pass Joel Watson for the win is awesome. I was worried on that red flag because previous times I’ve lost my focus and you worry about the tires. I saw Joel couldn’t hold the bottom as he drove it in, and just told myself not to abuse the tires. My dad always said since my go-kart days you have to have an egg under the gas pedal.”
Watson went third to first on the opening lap for the early lead over Dennis Lunger, Jr., Mike Kinney, Gabrielson, and Mike Altobelli. Watson began to stretch his lead on lap three, while Gabrielson and sixth starting Altobelli passed Lunger for second and third. Altobelli went around Gabrielson for second then closed on Watson on lap five. Altobelli was flying around the top and became the new leader on lap seven when he drove around Watson in turn two.
Lapped traffic came into play on lap 10, and Watson didn’t go away as he stuck with Altobelli as the two raced side-by-side for the lead on lap 11. Watson would regain the lead on the 11th circuit and quickly pulled away in lapped traffic. After dropping back to fourth, pole-sitter Lunger came forward to grab second on lap 15. Ruhlman started back in 12th and cracked the top five on lap 16 as he was the fastest car on the track taking the spot from Kinney.
Altobelli began to fade as he lost third to Gabrielson on lap 18. The only cautions of the event took place on lap 23. The first for a spin by Kinney then when racing resumed, Carl McKinney caught an infield tire and a seven-car melee ensued. After a lengthy clean-up that included burning fuel off the track, the final 10 laps went green-to-checkered.
Gabrielson had tracked Lunger down before the accident and was able to retake runner-up when racing resumed. Ruhlman continued to move forward passing Altobelli for fourth then Lunger for third on lap 26. The race for the lead then was on as Gabrielson challenged Watson. The two ran side-by-side on laps 29 and 30 with Gabrielson making the bottom stick for the lead on the 30th circuit. Gabrielson pulled away in the closing laps to score his ninth career win, but first since June 18, 2016, by 1.192 seconds in his Awesome Signs/Reese X10 Pavement Sealing/Hoosier Tire/Wedge Motorsports-sponsored #58.
Watson was second over Ruhlman, who clinched the title and also the night’s $75 Burgan Real Estate Hard Charger award. Econo Mod Champion, Dustin DeMattia, had an impressive Outlaw Mod debut getting by Altobelli and Lunger in the closing laps to finish fourth! Lunger dropped to fifth. Mike McGee went 13th to sixth . After going sixth to first, Altobelli faded to seventh over Randy Hall, Drake Troutman, and Kinney.
While Mike Potosky was a disappointing 11th, he did finish second in points for $600 and won the overall $200 Burgan Real Estate Hard Charger award! Lunger, Gabrielson, Chris Basich, and Kinney won the $25 heat races over the 32-car field, while McGee and Ty Rhoades copped the last chance B mains. Lunger also won the $100 Leonard Truck & Trailer Dash to earn the feature pole.
In a candidate for the race of the year, Andy Feil emerged victorious after a spirited side-by-side duel with Brian Ruhlman in a race that featured seven official lead changes for his first career RUSH Sprint Car win! Feil ripped the fence, while Ruhlman ran the bottom with Feil retaking the lead on the final lap of the 20-lap feature to become the season’s third different winner in four races.
“This is awesome,” expressed the 24-year-old Youngstown, Ohio racer. “I was worried at the start to get to the top right away. We (Ruhlman) both gave each other a lot of room out there- that was a lot of fun racing with Brian. I can’t thank this team enough- Jack, Tim, Jeremy, Larry, and the guys back home too along with my mom and dad- they put their blood, sweat, and tears into this car.”
Feil started on the pole, but was third after the opening lap as Ruhlman led over Brian Woodhall. Lap two was three-wide for the lead off turn two with Feil taking over. Woodhall would take second from Ruhlman on lap four before the event’s only caution when Brad Blackshear spun.
It was amazing racing as the last 16 laps went caution-free. Once again it was three-wide for the lead as Ruhlman went third to first on lap six. Feil ran the fence, brushing it several times, while Ruhlman used various lanes on the bottom and middle of the track. Everyone was mesmerized as Feil led lap eight, Ruhlman nine, Feil 10. Behind the lead duo, Brandon Blackshear and Ryan Fraley passed Woodhall for third and fourth respectively on lap 15.
The longest stretch anyone led was Feil from laps 10-16, but would got bottled up in traffic as Nolan Groves and Greg Beach were racing for position; that was enough for Ruhlman to regain the top spot on lap 17. It was only fitting in a race that changed hands so many times to have a last lap pass. The two were side-by-side as Feil hit his marks, brushed the fence off turn four and got a big run to win the drag race to the checkered flag by 0.306 seconds in the Jack Mahoney and Larry Eckart-owned, Five-Star Cycle/KTM Sales/Burkhardt Sheet Metal-sponsored #9J!
Despite the second place, it was quite the night for Ruhlman earning two podium finishes, the “Bickerstaff Cup” title, and just missing out on his first career Sprint Car win. Brandon Blackshear was third. Fraley had a great run in fourth in just his third night in a Sprint Car for the former Econo Mod racer. Woodhall, who leads the $5,000 to-win Bonnell’s Rod Shop RUSH Weekly Series standings, dropped to fifth. Completing the top 10 were 11th starting Jeremy Weaver, 14th starting Matt Sherlock III, Steve Pedley, Shawn Smith, and Arnie Kent. Feil and Ruhlman won the heat races.
Chris Schneider became the Stock Car division’s top winner as he led all 20 laps going unchallenged for his third Gibson Insurance Agency victory of the season, worth $700 due to the high car count. Schneider is now primed for two season ending events for the Penn-Ohio Series including the $10,000 “Steel Valley Pro Stock Nationals” on September 7 and the $2,000 to-win “Apple Festival Nationals” the following weekend.
“That was different with changing track conditions throughout the whole event,” explained the 40-year-old Lower Burrell, Pa. driver. “I assumed Jotham (Bish) was right on me. You just have to pick your line and hope for the best. I have to thank my whole family, all my sponsors, and Bob Walters for the engine. I want to thank all the fans for coming out- woo hoo!”
Schneider powered around pole-sitter and his SS Chassis employee, Noah Brunell, on the opening lap as Brunell, Rob Shook, Andy Thompson, and Curt J. Bish settled into the top five. Following a caution for debris, Shook and Bish overtook Brunell for second and third respectively on lap two. Eighth starting Paul Davis was halfway to the front when he passed Brunell on lap five and brought Tyler Thompson with him. Thompson, who started 14th, was on the charge as he appeared like he may make a run to front, but slowed to bring out the event’s final caution with seven laps completed.
The final 13 laps didn’t see any position changing up front. Bish, who started seventh, had taken second from Shook on lap six before the caution, but didn’t have anything for Schneider in the green-to-checkered run. Schneider’s 12th career Sharon win came by a margin of 1.679 seconds in his Nick Chevrolet/It’s All Clean Pressure Washing/SS Chassis & Supply/Hot Dog Guys-sponsored #55.
Bish’s second place finish along with a tough night for defending champion, Chris McGuire, allowed him to earn his first track championship in Bob Tarr’s #29. Shook edged out Davis by 0.165 of a second for third. Brunell dropped to fifth. Jackson Humanic went 11th to sixth over Shaun Hooks, 13th starting Jamie Duncan, Thompson, and Joe Stajnrajh, Jr. in his first start of the season. Brunell, Schneider, and Shook won the heat races over the 29-car field, while McGuire won the last chance B main.
Chas Wolbert became the speedway’s top winner after driving eighth to first to win the 20-lap RUSH Sportsman Modified feature for his fourth victory of the season. Wolbert made the winning pass on lap 11 of Rob Kristyak, and while Wolbert missed out on the track title once again he remains in the hunt for the $3,000 Hovis Auto & Truck Supply RUSH Weekly Series Championship trailing Kristyak. Wolbert earned $500 due to the high car count.
“This is great competition,” stated the 25-year-old Warren, Ohio racer. “Anyone can win on any given night in these RUSH Crate Modifieds. It was a good race between Rob (Kristyak) and I. Last week we had the wrong gear in the car, but I think we put on a heck of a show- we’re glad to be here. First off I have to thank God because without him I’m nothing along with all of my sponsors.”
Kristyak used the outside to race to the early lead over pole-sitter and rookie Clayton Deems, while Tony Tatgenhorst went fourth to second. Wolbert was already halfway to the front on lap two as he passed Deems. Wolbert took over third from Jacob Wolfe on lap three as Jim Rasey followed in fourth one lap later. A caution for debris with four laps completed followed by a caution for Wolfe on the ensuing restart were the event’s only stoppage as the final 16 went green-to-checkered.
Garrett Krummert, who entered the night winning the last two Hovis Touring Series events, started 11th and worked his way forward running the outside. Krummert overtook Rasey for fourth on lap six. Tatgenhorst would lose second to Wolbert on lap eight and third to Krummert on lap nine. Wolbert and Krummert were battling hard for second as they closed on Kristyak. Krummert was running the highline to perfection and it looked like he might be able to go around Wolbert and Kristyak both, but Wolbert moved up just in time blocking his move and would get around Kristyak off the outside of turn four on the 11th circuit for the lead.
Lapped traffic came into play on lap 18, but Wolbert was too strong earning his all-time division-leading 13th career win by 1.951 seconds in his Alcon Mechanical/Dunkin Donuts of Warren, OH/C.T. Wolbert Trucking/Walters Building Co./Ohio Intra Express/Russ King Racing-sponsored #c3. Kristyak edged out Krummert for second. Rasey got by Tatgenhorst for fourth as Tatgenhorst dropped to fifth.
Will Thomas III went from 19th to sixth. After nine straight top four finishes to start the season, Kole Holden recorded his worst finish of the year in seventh but it was good enough to earn his second HTMA/Precise Racing Products track championship in the past three years. Jacob Jordan was eighth. Brothers Clayton and Josh Deems were ninth and 10th. Heat winners over the 24-car field were Josh Deems, Wolbert, and Holden.
Jacob Wolfe became the sixth different winner in nine “Wheelman” Non-Winners races run in 2019 for the RUSH Sportsman Modified division. The 22-year-old Warren, Ohio driver started fourth and drove around race-long leader, Preston Cope, on lap seven for the winning move. Once in front, Wolfe drove away for the $75 victory sponsored by Ohio Intra Express and C&R Tire by 3.105 seconds in his Liberty Steel/Champion Day Care-sponsored #7. Cope was second for the second time this season. Tatgenhorst came from seventh to finish third over Clayton Deems. D.J. Schrader completed the top five.
Outlaw (E) Mods “Bickerstaff Cup” Series Race #4 (33 laps, $3,000 to-win): 1. JOE GABRIELSON (58) 2. Joel Watson (11x) 3. Brian Ruhlman (49) 4. Dustin DeMattia (77D) 5. Dennis Lunger, Jr. (Schwartz 71L) 6. Mike McGee (11M) 7. Mike Altobelli (95) 8. Randy Hall (Engles 68) 9. Drake Troutman (7) 10. Mike Kinney (Porter 20P) 11. Mike Potosky (m20) 12. Josh Ferry (33) 13. Chris Basich (71c) 14. Ty Rhoades (12R) 15. Troy Johnson (2J) 16. Butch Lambert (Hendrickson 6M) 17. Brandon Grossman (17G) 18. Jason Fosnaught (J19) 19. Alan Atkinson (32) 20. Scott Stiffler (14) 21. Carl McKinney (6M) 22. Gary Eicher (29) 23. Buzz Seitz (1) 24. Jack Young (21). DNQ: Jeff Johnson (27), Chris Paar (9), Mike Eschrich (9E), Dan McEwen (44), Ed Wilson (33), Casey Bowers (20), Amanda Stiffler (14A), Mark Titus (25).
RUSH Sprint Cars (20 laps): 1. ANDY FEIL (Mahoney/Eckart 9J) 2. Brian Ruhlman (49) 3. Brandon Blackshear (10) 4. Ryan Fraley (12) 5. Brian Woodhall (8B) 6. Jeremy Weaver (Hull 41) 7. Matt Sherlock III (55) 8. Steve Pedley (21) 9. Shawn Smith (36) 10. Arnie Kent (18) 11. Brian Hartzell (69) 12. Brad Blackshear (19) 13. Tyler Powell (35) 14. Nolan Groves (25) 15. Greg Beach (Clever 33x).
Gibson Insurance Agency Stock Cars (20 laps, $700 to-win): 1. CHRIS SCHNEIDER (55) 2. Curt J. Bish (Tarr 29) 3. Rob Shook (Keihl 64) 4. Paul Davis (3) 5. Noah Brunell (31) 6. Jackson Humanic (17) 7. Shaun Hooks (65) 8. Jamie Duncan (67J) 9. Andy Thompson (5) 10. Joe Stajnrajh, Jr. (04) 11. Brian Carothers (02c) 12. Leigh Wheeler (717) 13. Steve Burns, Jr. (70B) 14. Jim Fosnaught (20J) 15. Clyde Roberts (33c) 16. Bill Watson (Petsko 00) 17. Mike Miller (Thompson 81) 18. Jordan Perkins (13J) 19. Douglas Eck (4*) 20. Chris McGuire (63) 21. Tyler Thompson (T2) 22. Jason Jones (81) 23. Troy DeZarn (21) 24. Gary Robinson (34R). DNQ: Gil Demello (22), Jamie Maxwell (6), Mike Kerr (25K), Brad Shaffer (26), Jamie Scharba (11S).
HTMA/Precise Racing Products RUSH Sportsman Modifieds (20 laps, $500 to-win): 1. 1. CHAS WOLBERT (c3) 2. Rob Kristyak (00) 3. Garrett Krummert (Schaffer 10s) 4. Jim Rasey (32) 5. Tony Tatgenhorst (63T) 6. Will Thomas III (9) 7. Kole Holden (2) 8. Jacob Jordan (28J) 9. Clayton Deems (55R) 10. Josh Deems (9D) 11. Calvin Clay (12c) 12. Preston Cope (24P) 13. Kyle Martell (8) 14. D.J. Schrader (14) 15. Jacob Wolfe (7) 16. Chelsie Kriegisch (10) 17. Pat Adams (39) 18. Gary Haupt (16) 19. David Kalb, Jr. (11J) 20. Cameron Nastasi (615) 21. Greg Porter (25) 22. Teddy Williams II (818) 23. Nathen McDowell (11G) 24. Amelia Clay (16c).
Ohio Intra Express/C&R Tire RUSH Sportsman Modified “Wheelman” Non-Winners Race (10 laps, $75 to-win): 1. Jacob Wolfe 2. Preston Cope 3. Tony Tatgenhorst 4. Clayton Deems 5. D.J. Schrader 6. Jacob Jordan 7. Cameron Nastasi 8. Greg Porter 9. Amelia Clay 10. Calvin Clay-DNS 11. Nathen McDowell-DNS 12. David Kalb, Jr.-DNS 13. Teddy Williams III-DNS.
Up next is the “Battle at the Border” featuring the World of Outlaws Late Models on August 30 and 31. Friday night will feature a complete show for $6,000 to-win along with the RUSH Sportsman Modifieds for $600 to-win on Bucks Fab Night. Saturday will see the Super Late Models battle for $15,000 to-win and will be joined by the Elite Series for the Econo Mods racing for $500 to-win on Stackhouse Construction and Predator Trucking Night. Tickets are on sale at SharonSpeedway.com.
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.