By Mike Leone
July 22, 2023
(Hartford, OH)…Sharon Speedway completed the two-night fifth annual “Steel Valley Pro Stock Nationals” on Saturday night as it was the 11th completed event of the 94th anniversary season. Celebrating in the Hovis Auto & Truck Supply victory lane were Jason Fosnaught and Chris Schneider in the Homak Penn-Ohio Championship Series for the Gibson Insurance Agency Pro Stocks and Bud Watson in the Hovis Auto & Truck Supply UMP Modifieds presented by A&MP Electric. A total of 79 cars were in the pits for the two-day show.
Jason Fosnaught passed Shaun Hooks on lap two and kept Hunter Exley at bay to win the first 35-lap Gibson Insurance Agency Pro Stock feature by a margin of 0.500 seconds. Fosnaught ended a five-year victory drought at Sharon with just his second career win as his first came on June 30, 2018. Fosnaught earned a career best $3,500, which came in his B.T. Truck & Auto Service-sponsored J19.
“After losing heat races to guys running the outside and watching the E-Mod races I rethought my decision to not run the outside,” explained the 44-year-old Tarentum, Pa. driver. “Hunter (Exley) and I have become more friendly over the years. Him and I tied for the Penn-Ohio Championship in 2019 and it seems like when we’re good, they’re good and when something bad happens, it happens to both of us. He rolled over his Sprint Car earlier this year and I rolled over my E-Mod the same night- we’re connected somehow and as much as I’d like to see him win we’re going to take this one. This car wasn’t even together yesterday morning. We were putting the spoiler and decals on around 11 a.m. We loaded up and got here. We were good in the heat race both nights and led laps last night so I knew we had the right car.”
Exley passed Hooks on lap 11 and went on to finish a season best second. Cody Koteles was third for his best career Sharon finish. Tim Bish, who is this season’s only repeat Pro Stock winner, raced from 10th to 4th. Hooks dropped to fifth at the finish. Rounding out the top 10 were Brett Hutira, Scott Stiffler from 20th, Jackson Humanic, Josh Seippel, and Jake Dietz.
Chris Schneider always has a knack for winning big races throughout the region. On Saturday night in the second 35-lap Gibson Insurance Agency feature, Schneider became the second repeat winner of the “Steel Valley Pro Stock Nationals”. Schneider passed Andrew Gordon on lap 29 for the lead. Schneider then fended off Curt J. Bish, the event’s only other repeat winner, on a late race restart and pulled away to win by 2.577 seconds. Schneider became the season’s sixth different winner in seven races as his 18th career win came in his Butler Truck Parts/IC Mechanical/Total Landscaping/ABT Landscaping/It’s All Clean Mobile Pressure Washing/Hot Dog Guys-sponsored #55.
“She was on a rail and dialed in,” acknowledged the 44-year-old Lower Burrell, Pa. standout. “I really didn’t even have to steer- just drive around. I had to be patient and bide my time. I knew my car was pretty much good everywhere. Earlier on I may have been a little slow, but once we got heat in the tires she started rolling. I didn’t want to see that last caution. I was leery where I wanted to restart at. Jotham (Curt J. Bish) is like the best restart’er in western Pa. so I was really nervous. My crew was telling me low, but I had already chosen the outside and there’s grip up there. All we really did was change gear on the car and didn’t adjust anything so we didn’t have to work a whole lot. These are the same tires from last night’s feature on the car.”
Bish, who won the 2019 and 2022 events for $10,000, settled for second. Brett McDonald had a career best Sharon run in third as Bobby Whitling and Jonathan Davis completed the first five. Sixth through 10th were Rod Laskey, Benny Gordon, Nick Kocuba, Andy Buckley, and Trevor McCann.
Heat winners over the 50-car field were Hooks, Randy Wyant, Koteles, Andrew Gordon, Schneider, and Chris McGuire.
Bud Watson withstood the challenges of central Pa. invader George Dixon over the course of the final 16 laps to capture his elusive first career Sharon Speedway win in the 20-lap Hovis Auto & Truck Supply UMP Modified feature presented by A&MP Electric. Watson led the entire distance with his margin of victory 0.329 seconds in the Spencer Motorsports, Evergreen Lake Park/Great Lakes Speed Shop/Spencer’s Farm/SW&E Electric/ML Performance/955 Automotive/Chief’s Garage/Randolph Family-sponsored #225 for the $1,000 victory. Watson became the 61st different UMP Mod winner in 328 races run all-time.
“I’ve been trying to win at this race track for 10 years and have run second here like 20 times but finally got one,” expressed the jubilant 30-year-old Kingsville, Ohio driver. “The bottom felt good early, but my buddy Justin signaled for me to move to the top and it was really good. I thought it was going to go away in one and two, but I didn’t want to move and get passed. My cousin Joel (Watson) has won like a million races here, and I always hear about it so now I can say I finally won here. I love Sharon Speedway and wish we could race here every week.”
Dixon, who started fifth, was second in his first ever visit to Sharon. Nate Young, who captured his first DIRTcar Summer Nationals victory less than a week ago, was third. Michigan invader, Brian Ruhlman, who has wins at Sharon in both the UMP Mods and RUSH Sprint Cars, went 12th to 4th as veteran Brent Rhebergen rounded out the top five.
Mike McGee was sixth. Jack Young dropped from second to seventh. Joel Watson, who has 30 career wins at Sharon, went 15th to 8th as Joe Gabrielson and 17th starting Dustin DeMattia completed the top 10. After earning the final feature transfer spot in the B main, Brandon Grossman rallied to 14th at the finish to earn the $100 Summit Racing Equipment Hard Charger gift card. Heat winners over the 29-car field were Chris Basich, Dixon, and Nate Young, while Jason Gracey copped the last chance B main.
Coming up next Saturday (July 29) will be the Hovis Auto & Truck Supply “410” Sprint Cars racing for $3,000 to-win along with the Gibson Insurance Agency Pro Stocks, HTMA/Precise Racing Products RUSH Sportsman Modifieds, and the Whelen Econo Mods. Race time is 7 p.m.
Gibson Insurance Agency Pro Stock Feature 1 (35 laps, $3,500 to-win): 1. J19-JASON FOSNAUGHT; 2. 23HJR-Hunter Exley; 3. 1K-Cody Koteles; 4. 11B-Tim Bish; 5. 23-Shaun Hooks; 6. 4-Brett Hutira; 7. 14-Scott Stiffler; 8. 17-Jackson Humanic; 9. 84S-Josh Seippel; 10. 27-Jacob Dietz; 11. 94B-David Baker; 12. 8C-Russ Coyne; 13. 55C-Brandon Connor; 14. 11S-Jamie Scharba; 15. 05-Ed Bolyard II; 16. 12M-Scott Malone; 17. 49-Kole Stelmack; 18. 77-Rusty Wheeler; 19. 77H-Heath Close; 20. 11T-Randy Wyant; 21. 61M-Charlie McMillen; 22. 04-Joe Stajnrajh. DNS: Chase Lambert (22), Chris Withers (21W), Tyler Wyant (24).
Gibson Insurance Agency Pro Stock Feature 2 (35 laps, $3,500 to-win): 1. 55-CHRIS SCHNEIDER; 2. 29-Curt J Bish; 3. 25M-Brett McDonald; 4. 7W-Bobby Whitling; 5. 8-Jonathan Davis; 6. 1R-Rod Laskey; 7. 66-Benjamin Gordon; 8. 10-Nick Kocuba; 9. 965-Andy Buckley; 10. 12T-Trevor McCann; 11. 67J-Rocky Kugel; 12. 310-Dale Tuche; 13. 7B-Matt Bernard; 14. 39B-Joshua Blum; 15. 25-Andrew Gordon; 16. 63-Chris McGuire; 17. 13J-Jordan Perkins; 18. 51-Michael Miller; 19. 26-Mike Bordt; 20. 44-Jacob Wheeler; 21. 28-Kyle Deneen; 22. 50-Ron Boardman; 23. 81J-Jason Jones. DNS: Steve D’Apolito (84), Marty Spade (18S).
Hovis Auto & Truck Supply UMP Modifieds presented by A&MP Electric (20 laps, $1,000 to-win): 1. 225-BUD WATSON; 2. 77-George Dixon; 3. 42-Nate Young; 4. 49-Brian Ruhlman; 5. 07R-Brent Rhebergen; 6. 11M-Mike McGee; 7. 67-Jack Young; 8. 92-Joel Watson; 9. 58-Joe Gabrielson; 10. 77D-Dustin DeMattia; 11. 9T-Mason Canter; 12. M20-Mike Potosky; 13. 17-Jason Gracey; 14. 17G-Brandon Grossman; 15. 4J-Jim Plance; 16. 32-Alan Atkinson; 17. 16C-Amelia Clay; 18. 71D-Dan Davies; 19. 71C-Chris Basich; 20. 311-Kyle Adkins; 21. 12R-Ty Rhoades; 22. 83-Jeremy Double; 23. 6-Chad Wright. DNS: Mason Lobb (28). DNQ: Eric Nellis II (15), Keith Felicetty (98), Jeremy Holbrook (51), Gary Olson (23), Brian Pyler (18P).
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.
Article Credit: Mike Leone