by Mike Leone
Hartford, OH September 20, 2019 Sharon Speedway kicked off the first of two days of the “Apple Festival Nationals” on a beautiful Friday evening. Celebrating in the Hovis Auto & Truck Supply victory lane on the next-to-last event of the 90th anniversary season were Rex King, Jr.-Hovis Auto & Truck Supply Big-Block Modifieds, Chad Ruhlman-RUSH Sprint Cars, and Teddy Williams II-Sportsman Dwarf Cars. A record 19 Junior Sprints for kids turned out with Kalen Jackson winning the 9HP feature, while Sammy Darby won the open feature. Heat races were contested for the Penn-Ohio Stock Series, RUSH Sportsman Modified Touring Series, and the Econo Mods with the remainder of their events on Saturday night.
Rex King, Jr. won the last two track championships and three of the last four for the Hovis Auto & Truck Supply Big-Block Modifieds at Sharon Speedway. The youngest of the King Family of racers copped the $2,000 “Lou Blaney Memorial” back on July 6, and on Friday night made it two-for-two in 2019. King, Jr. benefitted from a restart with 13 laps completed by taking the lead away from Garrett Krummert and racing on for the $1,500 Hovis Auto & Truck Supply victory.
“They scheduled a race the day before our wedding so we have to race,” joked the 28-year-old Bristolville, Ohio standout. “The real win will come tomorrow but tonight was a good prelude. The track was really good and racey. I was glad to see that caution. Garrett (Krummert) messed up and chose the outside line, but if I was in his position I may have done the same thing because that’s where he was running. It seems like it’s better to start off the bottom when the track is like this. I have to thank all of my sponsors and everyone that has been with me.”
Jim Rasey and Krummert led the field to green for their 25-lap feature with Krummert powering around the top for the early lead over Rasey with King Jr., King Sr., and Jeremiah Shingledecker filing out the top five. King, Jr. drove under and past Rasey for second on lap two. Shingledecker snuck around the elder King with a big move off the outside of turn two on lap six. Shingledecker looked strong as he ran down Rasey and drove under him in turn four to grab third on lap 11.
The complexion of the event changed when Rasey lost power running fourth to bring out the event’s first and only caution with 13 laps scored. The caution wasn’t what Krummert wanted and possibly not Shingledecker either. Krummert chose the outside for the double file restart and that may have been the wrong decision as King, Jr. took the lead in turns one and two. The top three of King, Jr., Krummert, and Shingledecker distanced themselves from the field in a couple laps.
King, Jr. was too strong over the final 12 non-stop laps as he recorded his 27th career win in the King Bros. Ready Mix Concrete/King Sanitary/Bristol Disposal/Reese Services-sponsored #165. Krummert held off Shingledecker for second with King and Will Thomas III completing the top five. Kevin Hoffman went 10th to sixth over 12th starting Skip Moore. John Mollick spun on the final lap, but was scored in eighth as the last car on the lead lap. Brandon Michaud and Bill Adams rounded out the top 10. Heat winners were Rasey and Krummert over the 16-car field.
Chad Ruhlman has been the driver to beat in the two-year history of the non-wing RUSH Sprint Cars. Start him on the pole and he’s nearly impossible to beat. Though Chad would lead all 20 laps, his brother Brian didn’t make it easy as he stuck with him throughout the duration and really closed in at the end as Chad held on to his third win of the year, worth $500.
“I think we had a pretty good hot rod,” expressed the 42-year-old Bemus Point, NY native, who now calls Erie, Pa. home. “Whoever did this track did an amazing job. This is so fun to run here. I was glad to see them take the cushion down so we could get really get close to the fence. Beautiful place, very racey, and of course I love having that #49 (Brian Ruhlman) behind me. You could go all over the track. Here I like the momentum and to be up on top. If I have to I can use self-control around the bottom, but I don’t like to use self-control.”
While Chad Ruhlman took off in the lead, Brian Ruhlman passed rookie Matt Sherlock for second. Jeremy Weaver and Sherlock traded third back and forth with Weaver taking the spot from him for good on lap three. Brian Woodhall started sixth and had the outside working as he drove around Shawn Smith and Sherlock for fourth on lap four. Zach Morrow, who pulled Chad Ruhlman the number one pill while pulling the number eight for himself, was on the move as he cracked the top five on lap five.
While the Ruhlman brothers were out front setting the pace, a heated battle ensued for third with Weaver trying to fend off Woodhall, Morrow, and a fast closing Brad Blackshear, who started 10th. The Ruhlmans were in lapped traffic on lap 12 when the first and only caution was displayed when Brad Blackshear got too high and rapped the fence ending his charge.
Back under green, Woodhall and Weaver traded slide jobs for third with Woodhall getting the spot for good on lap 16, while Morrow got by Weaver with a slider for fourth on lap 18. Brian Ruhlman really closed on Chad, but ran out of laps as Chad took his fourth career Sharon win by 0.480 of a second in his Callahan Weber Hydraulics/Wicked Wrenches/Kelly Frederes Auto Repair/Close Racing Supply/North Star Unlimited/5th St. Sunoco/Jen’s Pink Zebra/Ruhlman Race Cars/Premier Communications-sponsored #87R.
After finishing a hard fought second to Andy Feil in the last race at Sharon on August 24, Brian Ruhlman was second for the second straight race as he continues to be close to his first career Sprint Car win for the Michigan racer, who won the 2019 “Bickerstaff Cup” Series title at Sharon for the Outlaw Mods. Woodhall, who won his first career RUSH race on June 22 at Sharon, was third over Morrow and Weaver. Completing the top 10 were Brandon Blackshear, Feil from 11th, Smith, Steve Pedley, and Sherlock. Heat winners over the 17-car field were Smith and Weaver.
Last year at the “Apple Festival Nationals” it was Ted Williams picking up his first career Sharon win in the Sportsman Dwarf Cars. This year, it was his son Teddy II driving his father’s car to earn his first career Sharon win. Williams, who has been running a RUSH Sportsman Modified this year, started back in ninth, but had the lead on lap two and never looked back for the 15-lap, $500 victory.
“I have thank my dad for letting me run his car- he won last year so it’s good to keep it going,” explained the 24-year-old Leavittsburg, Ohio driver. “Sometimes slow is fast. I was on the brakes and didn’t get back on it until I got off the corners. These cars definitely have a getup and go. I want to thank my mom, dad, grandparents, and all of the fans for coming out tonight.”
Pole-sitter Terry Ohl led the opening lap, but on lap two it was four-wide for the lead with Williams taking over with Jacob Eakin moving to second and seventh starting Angie Grzelak to third. Grzelak then grabbed second on lap five before her brother Joe Grzelak, Jr., who had moved up to fourth, spun to bring out the caution with eight laps scored.
When racing resumed, Williams continued to lead, while the battle raged for second as Grzelak was trying to fend off Eakin, Steve Mix, Jr., and Amelia Clay. Eakin would retake second driving around Grzelak off turn four on lap 13 before the event’s final caution when four cars tangled in turn one. The final seven caution-free laps saw Williams become the 11th different Dwarf Car winner in 21 career races run at Sharon in the #48. Eakin, Angie Grzelak, Mix and Clay were second through fifth. Williams, Clay, and Angie Grzelak captured the heat race wins over the 23-car field.
Forty-one Gibson Insurance Agency Stock Cars were on hand for the Penn-Ohio Series event with Alan Dellinger, Rusty Moore, Shaun Hooks, Curt J. Bish, and Rod Laskey winning the heat races. The HTMA/Precise Racing Products RUSH Sportsman Modifieds had 32 cars compete in their Hovis Auto & Truck Supply Tour heats with wins to Tony Tatgenhorst, Will Thomas III, Eric Gabany, and Rob Kristyak. Andy Buckley and track champion Dustin DeMattia won the Summit Racing Equipment Econo Mod heats over the 16-car field.
Sharon will conclude the 90th anniversary season tonight (Saturday the 21st) with the “410” Sprint Cars ($3,000), “Mark Marcucci Memorial” for Mod Lites ($1,000), and Junior Sprints racing in a complete show along with the remainder of the program for the Stocks, RUSH Modifieds, and Econo Mods. Pit passes go on sale at 3 p.m., grandstands open at 4 p.m. with Sprint Car qualifying at 6 p.m. followed by racing. Grandstand admission is $15. Kids 13 and under are free. Pit passes are $35.
Hovis Auto & Truck Supply Big-Block Modifieds (25 laps, $1,500 to-win): 1. REX KING, JR. (165) 2. Garrett Krummert (29) 3. Jeremiah Shingledecker (37MD) 4. Rex King (65) 5. Will Thomas III (9) 6. Kevin Hoffman (00) 7. Skip Moore (17M) 8. John Mollick (4J) 9. Brandon Michaud (132) 10. Bill Adams (717) 11. Mike Turner (96) 12. Rick Regalski, Jr. (Kay 55) 13. Clyde Gumpp (51) 14. Mark Frankhouser (03) 15. Jim Rasey (32) 16. Kevin Green (74).
RUSH Sprint Cars (20 laps, $500 to-win): 1. CHAD RUHLMAN (87R) 2. Brian Ruhlman (49) 3. Brian Woodhall (8B) 4. Zach Morrow (27) 5. Jeremy Weaver (Hull 41) 6. Brandon Blackshear (10) 7. Andy Feil (Mahoney/Eckart 9J) 8. Shawn Smith (36) 9. Steve Pedley (21) 10. Matt Sherlock III (55) 11. Ryan Fraley (12) 12. Brian Hartzell (69) 13. Greg Beach (Culver 33x) 14. Dave Hawkins (27) 15. Arnie Kent (18) 16. Tyler Powell (35) 17. Brad Blackshear (19).
Sportsman Dwarf Cars (15 laps, $500 to-win): 1. Teddy Williams II (48) 2. Jacob Eakin (14) 3. Angie Grzelak (57) 4. Steve Mix, Jr. (85) 5. Amelia Clay (16c) 6. Mark Biskup (33) 7. Brandon Smith (13) 8. Art Williams (1) 9. Michael Keefe (99K) 10. Taylor Suchan (44) 11. Kelly Teeters (69) 12. Charlie Biskup (09) 13. Tiffany Williams (Smith 58) 14. Mark Suchan (66) 15. Larry Rhoads (33L) 16. Jerry Langley, Jr. (23L) 17. Chase Nichols (Keefe 14s) 18. Greg Davis (34) 19. Terry Ohl (9) 20. Michael Heverly (99B) 21. Joe Grzelak, Jr. (888) 22. Steve Mix (3) 23. Drew Hannay (14A).
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.