HARTFORD, Ohio – After miserable weather throughout the month of April and most of May, Sharon Speedway was blessed with a second straight warm and sunny Saturday.
A great crowd watched the following drivers celebrate in the Hovis Auto & Truck Supply victory lane: Jim Weller, Jr.-Hovis Auto & Truck Supply DIRTcar Big-Block Modifieds, Will Thomas III-Barris Supply RUSH Late Models, Carl McKinney-Summit Racing Equipment Modifieds, Greg Martin-Sweeney Chevrolet Buick GMC RUSH Sportsman Modifieds, Brandon Blackshear-HTMA/Precise Racing Products Econo Mods, and Travis Creech-Deforest Used Parts Mini Stocks.
For the second time in three events, Jim Weller, Jr. stopped the Kings from another victory in the DIRTcar Big-Block Modifieds. Weller stormed into the lead on the opening lap and was never challenged throughout the 20-lap Hovis Auto & Truck Supply event. It marked the second straight week the feature went caution free, and the non-stop time was 5:59.713. After five events this season, there has yet to be anyone other than the Kings or Weller to record a feature win.
“We were pretty good,” said the Hubbard, Ohio veteran. “You have to just go for it on the start. That’s the best time to pass three or four cars real quick. The green-to-checkered is good when you’re leading, but last week I didn’t like it so much. I think this is third feature we’ve had go non-stop this year. This is a great division and you have good drivers. The guys that are learning are out of the way and hold their line. It’s a lot of fun.”
Starting fourth, Weller powered past Jim Rasey, his son Jimmy III, and pole-sitter Tom Glenn for the lead. Rex King started fifth alongside his son Rex, Jr. (“Cooter”) and didn’t waste any time passing four cars to grab second after the first lap. “Cooter” filled out the top five after the opening lap then three laps later followed Rasey past Glenn for fourth. “Cooter” used the inside of turns one and two to slip past Rasey for third on lap eight.
UIp front it wasall Weller as even the lapped cars didn’t slow him from taking the checkered flag first by a margin of 2.420 seconds for his 28th career win in his Zip Motorsports-owned, Liberty Steel Products-sponsored No.31. King’s runner-up left him tied with Weller atop the standings.
Will Thomas III has been on a mission the past two weeks in the RUSH Late Models. Last week, Thomas charged back through his heat from the tail after a pit stop to make the invert then ran down Super Late veteran Mark Banal and drove off for a convincing win. On Saturday night, Thomas started in seventh, drove to the front, and left the pack for a second straight dominating win in the 20-lap Barris Supply feature.
“It’s been a really tough year,” acknowledged the 38-year-old Sharpsville, Penn. resident. “We lost my dad in April. We’ve had a great car all year, but just haven’t been able to get it done until last week. My racing was such a big part of mine and my dad’s life and it was something we always did together. When I lost my dad, I worried if I’d ever win again without him, but I think we’ll probably win more now that he’s up there looking out after us.”
Clay Ruffo took off in the lead, while Russ Byler and fifth starting Alan Dellinger passed Bobby Pifer III for positions two and three respectively on the opening lap. Thomas worked his way to fifth after lap one then passed Pifer for fourth on lap two. Following a spin for Eric Andrus, leader Ruffo exited the event moving Byler, Dellinger, and Thomas into the top three spots. An accident on the ensuing restart collected Jamie Wrightsman, Andrus, and Pifer.
Up front, Thomas increased his lead every lap and took the checkered flag first by a huge margin of 6.794 seconds in his Colonial Metal Products/Barris Supply/King Sanitary/All Star Performance/Motorstate/Sweet Manufacturing/Russ King Racing-sponsored car. The win was Thomas’ 11th of his career, which is tops all-time in the division.
Debuting a new motor, Carl McKinney was fast out of the box on Saturday night and was rewarded with his first win at Sharon since Sept. 14, 2012. McKinney passed Mike Kinney on lap eight and held off a hungry pack of Modified racers for the 20-lap Summit Racing Equipment victory.