On a night that started with a touching tribute by Kate Blaney to her late husband, it was their son’s who would battle for a win in the sprint car portion of the sixth annual Lou Blaney Memorial at Sharon Speedway.
The older son Dave took the lead on lap five and didn’t look back, even through a couple of late race restarts, to hold off his brother and win the event for the first time.
“It feels pretty good to win this race,” Dave Blaney said in victory lane. Then he joked “I guess it took bringing Dale a second car to run to win it.”
Caleb Griffith and Caleb Helms brought the field of 21 sprint cars to the start of the 30 lap A Main and it was the outside pole sitter Helms that got out front first. Dave, who started third, quickly got around Griffith to move into the runner up spot. By lap four Helms already caught the back of the field and had to start maneuvering in lapped traffic. It didn’t take long for Dave to catch Helms and get by him.
From there the Buckeye Bullet deftly sliced through the lapped cars to build a nice cushion while Griffith got around Helms to take second on lap nine. Three laps later six starting Dale also passed Helms and take third.
The caution flew for the first time on lap 15 when CJ Jones spun in turn four. At the same time Jared Zimbardi stopped at the beginning of the backstretch. The 35z was towed to the pits ending Zimbardi’s night.
On the restart Dale got around Griffith. The race was on then between the nearly identical (Dave’s being the 98h) Global Oil and Gas Services sprinters. They battled while working through the back of the field until Jason Dollick slowed on lap 18.
With a clean racetrack ahead of him Dave pulled away on the restart and just as he would have to deal with the back of the field again early race leader Helms’s car came to a stop on lap 26. Dave didn’t have any trouble on the final restart and made it six different winners in six events.
“Honestly I am glad that Dave got one before I did,” Dale said. “It was special to run one, two. The whole day is special. It is fun to see all the people (his dad) raced with and talk with them.”
After the race Dave posed with fans in the victory lane behind the grandstands for over a half hour.
Griffith ended up third followed by fast qualifier Lee Jacobs and Rod George. Jacobs, Brandon Matus and Adam Kekich took the heat races.
In the BRP modified event Lonnie Riggs and Rex King Jr shared the front row in a stout field of cars. King took the top spot right off the bat and pulled out to a comfortable lead. Third starting Dave Murdick got by Riggs to take the runner up spot on lap five and Jimmy Weller III moved by Riggs into third on lap seven.
They would remain in that order until lap 14 when Jeremiah Shingledecker, who had moved into fourth, made contact with a lapped car and hit one of the tractor tires guarding the inside of the track. This sent the tractor tire rolling down the backstretch and brought out a yellow.
After that tire was put back into place King led the field back to green and pulled away again. This time though the lapped traffic became thick and tough for King to get through.
“The car was real good out of the gate,” King said. “The track had a good cushion you could bounce off of and keep your car straight to keep the momentum up. Around lap 25 I found the rubber on the bottom and there were lapped cars running both the top and bottom.”
This allowed Murdick and Jim Weller, Jr, who passed his son to get to third, to close in. They briefly went three wide for the lead in turn three, but Shayne Pierce slowed to a stop and the yellow flag flew.
Murdick would try to mount a charge on the restart but the driver of the 165 would not be denied his first Lou Blaney Memorial trophy. There has not been a repeat winner in the modified portion of the event either.
For the current Lernerville, Sharon and BRP points leader the amazing season continues.
“Last year we had six wins and I never thought it would get any better than that,” King said. “Now we’re at eight this year so it’s been really good.”
Last year’s winner Murdick would have to settle for the runner up spot while Weller, Jr, Weller III, and Brian Swartzlander completed the top five. Murdick, Weller, Jr and Swartzlander won the heats while Kyle Fink picked up the BMain. Over 30 modifieds were on hand for the event.
A crowd that showed up in droves despite rain falling all around the area during the day (except at the speedway) were treated to a nice evening of racing and were able to bid on all kinds of memorabilia with the proceeds going to the Alzheimer’s Association.
Sharon will return to weekly racing this Saturday with the Bill Kirila Memorial. The BRP will be back in action on August 10th at Mercer Raceway Park.