HARTFORD, Ohio – After losing two months of the season due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Sharon Speedway was finally able to swing open its gates with eager race fans on Saturday night for the 2020 season opener.
Despite a high likelihood of thunderstorms throughout the afternoon and evening, all of the storms stayed south allowing the 91st anniversary season opener to go off without a hitch.
Celebrating in the Victory Lane were Dave Blaney (410 Sprint Cars), Jeremy Weaver (RUSH Sprint Cars), Chas Wolbert (RUSH Sportsman Modifieds) and Dustin DeMattia (Econo Mods). The new infield fan zone debuted to rave reviews.
Driving a tribute throwback scheme to his father’s (Lou) No. 10 care in his first 410 Sprint Car start of 2020, Dave Blaney shot from the third starting spot into the lead on the opening lap past Michael Bauer and A.J. Flick and never looked back in winning the 30-lap feature.
The 57-year-old hometown Hartford, Ohio, native and co-owner of the track, set a blistering pace – lapping up to the fifth-place car to earn the $3,000 payday. The National Sprint Car Hall-of-Famer’s 32nd career 410 win and 35th overall at Sharon was preparation for the two-day All Star Circuit of Champions “Lou Blaney Memorial” and Justin Snyder “Salute to the Troops” events on July 11-12 that will close out Ohio Speedweek.
Trailing Blaney by 5.816 seconds was fourth-place starter George Hobaugh, who got past Flick at the finish after a race-long battle for second place. Ironically, two years ago at the “Lou Blaney Memorial,” Hobaugh finished runner-up to Blaney for his best career All Star finish.
Flick was third with Brandon Spithaler advancing four spots to finish fourth. Carl Bowser raced from eighth to fifth place.
On July 2, 2018, Weaver won his first career Sharon RUSH Sportsman Modified feature. Two years later, the second-year RUSH Sprint Car racer put on a dominating performance in winning his first ever Sharon non-wing Sprint victory by a comfortable 6.257 seconds margin in the 20-lap feature. Like Blaney, Weaver went from the third starting spot into the lead on the opening lap and never looked back.
Weaver now has two career RUSH Sprint Car wins as he won the 2019 season finale at Pittsburgh. The soon to be 19-year-old Stoneboro driver’s win came just a couple days after car owner Cal Hull’s 90th birthday.
Multi-division standout and last year’s Jim Bickerstaff Memorial Cup Outlaw Mod champion Brian Ruhlman continues to be the bridesmaid in RUSH Sprint Car action. He ended last year finishing second in the season finale at Lernerville, which came after a pair of back-to-back runner-up finishes at Sharon. He’s still looking for his first career RUSH Sprint win.
Brandon Blackshear finished third with fourth place going to Zach Morrow. Steve Pedley crossed the finish in fifth, but failed to scale which moved Andy Feil into the top five.
Last season, Wolbert won four feature events to become the all-time winningest driver in the six-year history of the RUSH Sportsman Modified division at Sharon. On Saturday, he got the 2020 season off to a fine fashion by winning the 20-lap feature race. It was the 25-year-old Warren, Ohio, racer’s 14th career Sharon win.
Twenty-seven time Sharon Big-Block Modified winner Rex King, Jr. finished second in his only other RUSH start in last season’s Lernerville finale and finished second on Saturday ahead of Friday’s Raceway 7 winner Garrett Krummert.
DeMattia won two of the final six Econo Mod races in 2019 in route to track championship. On Saturday night, the third-year racer showed he’s the driver to beat to beat as he captured the opening night honors. The 22-year-old Montville, Ohio, driver started third and made the winning pass on lap 10 taking the lead from Nate Young.
• 410 Sprints: 1. Dave Blaney; 2. George Hobaugh; 3. A.J. Flick; 4. Brandon Spithaler; 5. Carl Bowser; 6. Michael Bauer; 7. Dan Kuriger; 8. Adam Kekich; 9. Brent Matus; 10. Brandon Matus.
• RUSH Sprint Cars: 1. Jeremy Weaver; 2. Brian Ruhlman; 3. Brandon Blackshear; 4. Zach Morrow; 5. Andy Feil; 6. Alan Dellinger; 7. Brian Woodhall; 8. Brian Hartzwell; 9. Brad Church; 10. Nolan Groves.
• Rush Sportsman Modifieds: 1. Chas Wolbert; 2. Rex King Jr.; 3. Garrett Krummert; 4. Rob Kristyak; 5. Tony Tatgenhorst; 6. Josh Deems; 7. David Kalb Jr.; 8. Jacob Wolfe; 9. Jim Rasey; 10. Kole Holden.
• Econo Mods: 1. Dustin DeMattia; 2. Matt Alexander; 3. Brian Toto; 4. Mitchell Lam; 5. Keith Felicetty; 6. Jason Fosnaught; 7. Todd Miller; 8. Gary Olson; 9. Nate Young; 10. Todd Canter.