By Mike Leone
Hartford, OH July 11, 2020 The Ollie’s Bargain Outlet All Star Circuit of Champions Sprint Cars presented by Mobil One opened the first two-day Series event at Sharon Speedway for the first time since 2001 on Saturday night in the running of the 12th annual “Lou Blaney Memorial” presented by Premier Pallet & Recycling that was also round eight of Ohio Speedweek. Heavy rain off and on for over 24 hours that didn’t end until after 1 p.m. created for fast conditions as Cale Conley (Sprints) and Erick Rudolph (BRP Modified Tour) were victorious in the annual event that benefits the Alzheimer’s Association.
It’s been an Ohio Speedweek to remember for Cale Conley. Conley entered Saturday night with six top eight finishes in seven nights and led the first 27 laps of the feature on Monday at Wayne County before finishing a career best runner-up. On Saturday night, Conley led the entire way in a lengthy 30-lap feature for his first career All Star victory worth a hefty $7,500. Conley became the amazing 11th different winner in 12 “Lou Blaney Memorial” events with his first career Sharon win!
“That was a long race,” said Conley, who is married to Lou Blaney’s granddaughter Emma. “It was hot out there and I was just ready to see the laps wind down. It took us a while, but I’m so happy to win here during the Lou Blaney Memorial. It’s such a special night for my wife’s family. Our little boy’s name is Louie, so this is really cool. To get my first All Star win in front of such an awesome crowd is cool. I was just asking God on those restarts to help me focus because I had some really good guys behind me. I was just trying to hang on for dear life.”
“This race car was so good, and it’s the first night out for this car; it’s a brand new car,” the 28-year-old Vienna, WV racer added. “We tore one up last night at Portsmouth, so we had to put together a whole new car. That just goes to show how lucky I am to get to work with Brian Kemenah. This is just unreal. Brian always finds ways to make my job really easy. I really can’t show how appreciative I really am.”
A pair of #3’s shared the front row after their dash wins with Conley racing out to the early lead over Brock Zearfoss with Rico Abreu, Gerard McIntyre, Jr., and Paul McMahan in tow. Conley had built up a half-straightaway lead when he caught lapped traffic on lap four. His lead began to shrink before a pair of cautions for a slowing Dan Kuriger and Cole Macedo.
When racing resumed on lap six, McMahan passed McIntyre for fourth. As green flag laps clicked off, Zearfoss began to put the heat on Conley in traffic before two more cautions slowed action with 10 laps scored. The first for a hard charging Cap Henry, who got into the fence in turn two and the second for McMahan, who stopped.
Five laps after racing resumed, Conley was again in lapped traffic, but the pace was slowed when All Star and Ohio Speedweek points leader Aaron Reutzel brought out the caution as spun backwards in turn two with 17 laps scored. After another caution for Macedo, racing resumed on lap 19 with eighth starting Cory Eliason moving past Abreu for third.
Zearfoss was putting on a show running above the cushion tracking down Conley as the fans were on the edge of their seat. On lap 26, Zearfoss though would get upside down in turn two due to right front suspension damage that would end his night. He was okay.
That would be the final stoppage as the final five laps went green-to-checkered. Conley pulled away and went unchallenged winning by a comfortable 3.579 seconds in his Ravici Racing/PMC/Brilex/Merchant Services-sponsored #3C. But what a battle took place behind Conley as California racers Eliason and Abreu swapped the runner-up spot four times over the final five laps with Eliason taking the spot on the final lap. Abreu was third with a bent front wing.
Tim Shaffer finished fourth. Danny Dietrich raced from 17th to fifth. Brandon Spithaler was the top local racer finishing an impressive sixth after starting 13th. Adam Kekich of nearby Hermitage, Pa. finished seventh after starting 14th. McIntyre dropped to eighth. Skylar Gee came from 23rd to ninth as McMahan made it back up to 10th.
Abreu set fast time overall against the 44-car field in qualifying with a lap of 13.720 just missing the track record of 13.704 set by Danny Holtgraver in 2013. Zearfoss, Dan Kuriger, Zeb Wise, Shaffer, and Michael Bauer won the heat races. Gee won the last chance B main.
Fresh off a $5,000 sweep of the Lernerville and Tyler County Speedway events one week ago, Erick Rudolph added another $2,000 payday for his third straight BRP Modified Tour win. Rudolph became the 10th different winner in 12 “Lou Blaney Memorial” Modified events following his impressive 35-lap win from the 11th starting spot.
“We have a little bit different of a track here tonight with the rain,” explained the 27-year-old Ransomville, NY driver. “Regardless we were able to make the proper adjustments and do what we needed to do out there. We’re glad to have the opportunity to come down here. This car was on rails from the drop of the green tonight. About halfway through I lost brakes. I hate to see what happened to Mikey (Maresca)- I got into him a little bit and I owe him an apology for that. I’m really happy with my team how they worked and gelled today. I’d like to thank the fans for coming out and all of the names on the car.”
Brian Swartzlander used the outside to power into the early lead past Eric Gabany, while Mike Maresca moved from fifth to third and Garrett Krummert from seventh to fourth on the opening lap. Krummert then overtook Maresca for third on lap two. Rudolph started 11th, but quickly cracked the top five on lap three moving past Big-Block Modified rookie Steve Slater.
By lap four, the top five began to distance themselves from the field. Krummert continued to move forward taking second from Gabany on lap five. While Swartzlander caught lapped traffic on lap seven, Maresca and Rudolph went to work on Gabany and dropped him back two more spots. Gabany fell from the lead pack as it was now a four-car race for the lead before a caution for Colton Walters with 12 laps scored. Under caution, Maresca exited the event moving Rudolph to third.
When racing resumed on lap 13, Krummert overtook Swartzlander for the lead and one lap later Rudolph dropped Swartzlander to third before a pair of cautions slowed action with 16 and 17 laps scored respectively. When green replaced yellow on lap 18, Krummert’s lead would last only one more lap as Rudolph powered around the cushion in turns one and two to drive by the Bedford BRP Tour season opening winner.
One more caution was all that slowed Rudolph’s #25 from his third career Sharon win. Rudolph took the checkered flag by a margin of 1.061 seconds over Krummert. Swartzlander was third. Rex King, Jr. battled his way from 14th to fourth as 12th starting Brad Rapp completed the top five. Sixth through 10th were Jim Rasey from 20th, Ryan Susice from 16th, Greg Martin from 21st, Rex King, and Phil Vigneri III from 23rd. King, Rudolph, Chad Brachmann, and Krummert won the heat races over the 39-car field. Martin won the last chance B main.
Sharon will return to action tonight (Sunday, July 12) with Justin Snyder’s “Salute to the Troops” paying $6,000 to-win for the All Star Sprints in the finale of Ohio Speedweek. The fastest qualifier will receive $500 in memory of Richard Murcko, provided by his brother Reggie Murcko. The non-wing RUSH Sprint Cars will also be on the card racing for $600 to-win. Gates open at 3 p.m. with warm-ups at 6 followed by qualifying and racing at 7. General admission for those 14 and over is $25, which includes the infield fan zone. All veterans of war receive $10 off general admission. Kids 13 and under are free. Pit passes are $35.
All Star Circuit of Champions Sprint Cars (30 laps, $7500 to-win): 1. CALE CONLEY (3C) 2. Cory Eliason (Rudeen 26) 3. Rico Abreu (24) 4. Tim Shaffer (Grove 28) 5. Danny Dietrich (Kauffman 48) 6. Brandon Spithaler (22) 7. Adam Kekich (5K) 8. Gerard McIntyre, Jr. (Coldren 07) 9. Skylar Gee (99) 10. Paul McMahan (Buch 13) 11. Dan Shetler (7K) 12. Sye Lynch (Grove 70) 13. Brent Matus (33) 14. Brock Zearfoss (3z) 15. Zeb Wise (McGhee 11) 16. Josh Baughman (17) 17. Cole Macedo (Kiser 23) 18. Aaron Reutzel (Baughman 87) 19. Michael Bauer (46) 20. Cap Henry (Lane 4) 21. Dave Blaney (10) 22. Dean Jacobs (McClure 9) 23. Darren Pifer (23) 24. Dan Kuriger (08).
DNQ for the Feature: Jack Sodeman, Jr. (23Jr), George Hobaugh (40), Greg Wilson (w20), R.J. Jacobs (18J), Frankie Nervo (21N), Gary Kriess, Jr. (Frederick 55), Russ Sansosti (23s), Leyton Wagner (38), Jeremy Hill (14H), Trey Jacobs (3J), Carl Bowser (11), Lee Jacobs (Lewis 81), Henry Malcuit (70), Jeremy Kornbau (27K), Jeffrey Neubert (21J), Steve Haefke, Jr. (19), Jordan Ryan (Prosser 19), Brandon Matus (Frederick 13), Stuart Brubaker (35), Broc Martin (83M).
BRP Big-Block Modified Tour (35 laps, $2000 to-win): 1. ERICK RUDOLPH (25) 2. Garrett Krummert (29) 3. Brian Swartzlander (83) 4. Rex King, Jr. (165) 5. Brad Rapp (11R) 6. Jim Rasey (32) 7. Ryan Susice (38) 8. Greg Martin (4) 9. Rex King (65) 10. Phil Vigneri III (44V) 11. Dave Murdick (61) 12. Chad Brachmann (3) 13. Rick Regalski, Jr. (13) 14. Steve Feder (45) 15. Rick Richner (26) 16. Steve Slater (35) 17. Steve Barr (25B) 18. Mark Frankhouser (03) 19. Dave Reges (27R) 20. Jeremiah Shingledecker (37MD) 21. Kevin Hoffman (00) 22. Rodney Beltz (64) 23. Eric Gabany (Ryder 18) 24. Michael Maresca (247) 25. Colton Walters (18) 26. Chris Rudolph (32).
DNQ for the Feature: D.J. Schrader (6PK), Max Smoker (5), Tony Pangrazio (41), Brandon Michaud (132), J.R. McGinley (66), Shawn Kozar (3K), Don Blaney (11B), Randy Chronister (71), Dillon Barr (15B), John Venuto (13V), Ryan Riffe (1x), Paul Kot (Stine 7s), Russell Morseman III (44R).
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.