by Mike Leone
Hartford, OH August 30, 2019 Sharon Speedway kicked off night one of the two-night inaugural “Battle at the Border” on a beautiful Friday evening. Celebrating wins in the Hovis Auto & Truck Supply victory lane on Buck’s Fab Night were Brandon Sheppard-World of Outlaws Morton Buildings Late Models and Josh Deems-HTMA/Precise Racing Products RUSH Sportsman Modifieds. Also, Clayton Deems rounded out the night winning the “Wheelman” Non-Winners race presented by Ohio Intra Express and C&R Tire for the RUSH Sportsman Modifieds.
Brandon Sheppard continued his dominance of the World of Outlaws Late Models capturing his amazing 18th win of the season in just 33 starts! Sheppard came out on top of a fast-paced 25-lap thriller that saw two, three, and even four-wide racing for most of the feature as Sheppard made the wining pass of Ricky Weiss on lap 24 for the $6,000 preliminary night win. Sheppard matched his career best win mark from 2017, which tied the all-time high season win standard first established by Josh Richards in 2016. Friday’s race marked the return by the WoO to Sharon for the first time in nine years as Sheppard became the eighth different winner in as many races run all-time at the Hartford, Ohio 3/8-mile oval.
“The track was really awesome and we’re glad to be here,” said the 26-year-old New Berlin, Illinois racer. “It’s one of the better tracks we’ve been on all year, so we’re definitely looking forward to tomorrow night. I was definitely trying to keep an eye out on where those guys were racing, where they were messing up, and where the lapped cars were going to go. I kind of got bottled up with a lapped car in turns one and two, so I had to go around him in the middle and go back down to the bottom. At that point, the bottom was where I wanted to be. Once I got to second and Ricky (Weiss) was leading, he slipped up one time and I was able to get in there and show him my nose, getting close enough to him into turn one that he couldn’t get back down. That’s basically what won the race.”
The event’s only caution was for Boom Briggs when he got into the turn one fence at the start of the 25-lap main event. From then on it was hammerdown over the next 25 caution-free laps that had fans on the edge of their seats. It was instantly three-wide for the lead with Shane Clanton leading over Weiss, and Chase Junghans, while Sheppard moved from his sixth starting spot into fourth.
Lapped traffic came into play on lap eight and two laps later Weiss closed in on Clanton. Sheppard caught Junghans at the halfway mark as it would now be a four-car race for the win over the second half of the event. Junghans would move past Weiss on lap 14 for second then went after Clanton. It was side-by-side for the lead on lap 16 in traffic with Clanton holding off Junghans, Weiss, and Sheppard. Three and even four-wide racing took place in lapped traffic on lap 19 as Junghans snagged the lead away as Weiss and Sheppard also got by Clanton for second and third.
Junghans lead was short-lived as Weiss took over on lap 20, while Sheppard followed in second on lap 21. Weiss and Sheppard then went at it over the final laps as the two raced side-by-side for the win. Every time it looked like Sheppard was going to make the bottom work and take the lead, Weiss’ momentum propelled him to continue to hold P1, but coming down for the white, Sheppard made the bottom stick as he’d lead the final two laps for his first career Sharon win in the Mark Richards-owned, Rocket 1 Racing/Valvoline-sponsored #1.
Weiss once again came up short of his first career WoO win in second. “I don’t know if we knocked the toe out, but I just couldn’t seem to hold the bottom anymore so I started floating the middle and Sheppard got me down low,” Weiss explained. “I just kind of Hail Mary-ed it at the end and thought maybe I could get back on the top, but he was just too strong down there.”
Junghans was third and said, “Today was the first time I’ve ever seen this place, and it was fun- a lot of fun to race on. When they were packing the track before hot laps, I got a look at it and thought ‘this place is going to be fun’! I saw the gap and was like ‘well shoot, I’ve got to go’ so I just shot the gap. We were racing all over that place, slicing and dicing, lapped cars and stuff.”
Clanton dropped to fourth at the finish over Darrell Lanigan, who won the last WoO race at Sharon back in 2010. Local Michael Norris, who just came off the road subbing for Don O’Neal in the Clint Bowyer ride, went 10th to sixth as Chub Frank, Cade Dillard, Brent Larson, and Dennis Erb, Jr. completed the top 10. Briggs set fast time in qualifying over the 24-car field with a lap of 15.823, while Clanton, Sheppard, and Junghans won the heat races.
The 2019 season hasn’t been what Josh Deems had hoped for. Last year, Deems had 10 podium finishes throughout the RUSH Sportsman Modified circuit including six at Sharon; however, this year Deems, has only made the podium once and that was a third place finish at Lernerville with a fourth place being his best at Sharon. On Friday night though, Deems ran a tremendous race out-dueling former two-time RUSH Late Model and E-Mod track champion, Will Thomas III. Deems passed Thomas for good on lap eight for the 20-lap $600 victory as he became the fifth different HTMA/Precise Racing Products feature winner of 2019.
“I can’t even feel my legs I’m so worked up- that was crazy,” said the emotional 29-year-old Volant, Pa. winner, who was pounding on the steering wheel as he crossed the finish! “I can’t believe it stuck there- I’m beyond words. It’s been a really rough year. The car has been giving us fits, but this is amazing. I have to thank the good Lord about first and my wife for staying home and watching our kids so I could come here and play. Also have to thank my parents, my uncle Ron, and brother Clayton for helping on the car.”
A heads up start from the heat races put the pair of #9’s on the front row as Thomas took the early lead over Deems and track champion Kole Holden. Following a caution for Jacob Jordan, Thomas and Deems were side-by-side for the lead with Deems making the outside work to lead lap three, while eighth starting Chas Wolbert was halfway to the front.
Thomas didn’t go away on the bottom as he regained the lead on lap four before a caution for Holden who busted his front end and came across the track without anyone making contact. That would be the last stoppage as the final 16 laps went caution-free. Thomas and Deems would resume their battle as they were side-by-side again for the lead on laps seven and eight. Deems made the pass on the outside work racing off turn four to lead once again, this time on lap eight.
Thomas hounded Deems for several laps before Deems was finally able to open up some ground later in the event. Wolbert and Garrett Krummert made inside passes of Tatgenhorst for third and fourth on laps 13 and 15 respectively. Deems was in traffic on lap 16 and made the right moves, while Thomas had his hands full with the fast closing Wolbert and Krummert.
Deems’ took his second career Sharon win in his unsponsored #9D by 1.974 seconds. Wolbert got by Thomas off turn four, albeit with some contact, to take second at the finish, while Thomas was able to hold off the 23rd starting Krummert for third. After getting up to third, Tatgenhorst dropped to fifth at the finish. Rob Kristyak and Gary Haupt were sixth and seventh respectively. D.J. Schrader raced from 14th to eighth over Calvin Clay and Clayton Deems. Thomas, Deems, and Holden won the heat races over the 25-car field.
August 30, 2019 will be a night the Deems Family will never forget. After Josh won his first feature of 2019, his brother Clayton went out and led all 10 non-stop laps of the “Wheelman” Non-Winners race presented by Ohio Intra Express and C&R Tire. Clayton drove his unsponsored #55R to the $75 win holding off three-time “Wheelman” winner and points leader, Tony Tatgenhorst.
“I’m ecstatic- loss for words,” acknowledged the 24-year-old Volant, Pa. rookie. “I saw him (Tatgenhorst) once or twice and knew I couldn’t give him an inch. He’s won a few of these . I have to thank God first of all for a beautiful night of racing. My brother has put hours into this car, and probably would have won before if it wasn’t for that.”
Clayton ran the same line his brother Josh used to win the feature as he became the seventh different winner in 10 “Wheelman” races run in 2019! Tatgenhorst’s seventh top four finish propelled him into the points lead for the first time this season with one event remaining. After a good run in the feature, fifth starting D.J. Schrader took third matching his best finish of the year. Brandon Albert, another rookie, also matched his best “Wheelman” finish in fourth. One-time “Wheelman” winner and early points leader, Amelia Clay, was fifth.
World of Outlaws Morton Buildings Late Models (25 laps, $6000 to-win): 1. BRANDON SHEPPARD (1) 2. Ricky Weiss (7) 3. Chase Junghans (18) 4. Shane Clanton (25) 5. Darrell Lanigan 6. Michael Norris (02) 7. Chub Frank (1*) 8. Cade Dillard (97) 9. Brent Larson (B1) 10. Dennis Erb, Jr. (28) 11. Matt Lux (111) 12. Dan Angelicchio (14) 13. Ken Schaltenbrand (29) 14. Andrew Wylie (84) 15. Charles Powell, Jr. (94) 16. Joel Watson (92) 17. Tyler Dietz (77) 18. Blake Spencer (6) 19. Breyton Santee (9) 20. Steve Kania (76) 21. Colton Flinner (48) 22. Corey Conley (14) 23. Boom Briggs (99B) 24. Doug Eck (20).
HTMA/Precise Racing Products RUSH Sportsman Modifieds (20 laps, $600 to-win): 1. JOSH DEEMS (9D) 2. Chas Wolbert (c3) 3. Will Thomas III (9) 4. Garrett Krummert (Schaffer 10s) 5. Tony Tatgenhorst (63T) 6. Rob Kristyak (00) 7. Gary Haupt (16) 8. D.J. Schrader (14) 9. Calvin Clay (12c) 10. Clayton Deems (55R) 11. Brandon Albert (30) 12. Amelia Clay (16c) 13. Steve Slater (29) 14. Kyle Martell (8) 15. Greg Porter (25) 16. Teddy Williams II (818) 17. Cameron Nastasi (615) 18. Preston Cope (24P) 19. Gage Priester (71) 20. Mike Smith (0) 21. Nathen McDowell (Sarcinella 11G) 22. Kole Holden (2) 23. Jacob Jordan (28J) 24. Jacob Wolfe (7)-DNS 25. David Kalb, Jr. (11J)-DNS.
Ohio Intra Express/C&R Tire RUSH Sportsman Modified “Wheelman” Non-Winners Race (10 laps, $75 to-win): 1. Clayton Deems 2. Tony Tatgenhorst 3. D.J. Schrader 4. Brandon Albert 5. Amelia Clay 6. Teddy Williams II 7. Cameron Nastasi 8. Preston Cope 9. Greg Porter 10. Nathen McDowell 11. Calvin Clay-DNS 12. Gage Priester-DNS 13. David Kalb, Jr.-DNS 14. Jacob Jordan-DNS 15. Jacob Wolfe-DNS.
Night two of the “Battle at the Border” is tonight (Saturday the 31st) featuring the World of Outlaws Late Models for $15,000 to-win. The Elite Series for the Econo Mods will be racing for $500 to-win, $100 to-start on Stackhouse Construction and Predator Trucking Night.
Next weekend will feature an open practice on Friday night, September 6 along with a King of the Hill for the Stock Cars paying $500 to-win and $200 for second place. Pits open at 5 p.m. with practice from 7-10. Pit passes are $20. Then on Saturday the 7th, will be the $10,000 to-win “Steel Valley Pro Stock Nationals” for the Penn-Ohio Series along with the Econo Mods racing for $2,000 to-win.
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.