|Daylon Barr Photo
HARTFORD, OH — Once the checkered flag flew over Kyle Larson at Eldora last night, all eyes turned east towards Sharon Speedway. The neat and tidy facility that used to be the home to asphalt racing, owned by the Blaney family, would play host to 51 of the beasts from the north east for a scorcher of a night.
The youngster, Max McLaughlin, would lead the way in hot laps turning the temperature up just a little more blazing off a quicktime of 16.179 seconds. All of the HBR cars were fast, taking notes from teammate Dave Blaney, the hometrack favorite. The most shocking part of hot laps was the heavy penalty that was handed down to the 7 of Mike Maresca. He took an extra lap of practice after the checkered flag flew, which during the drivers meeting it was emphasized that this was not going to be tolerated. Maresca would be forced to start tail of his heat race disregarding his time in qualifying.
The speed of the HBR cars would carry over from hot laps as the Pole Position Raceway Fast Time award went to the 98H of Jimmy Phelps, just edging out Billy Decker by .02 seconds. Another local star, Rex King Jr., who also made the trip out to Eldora with the big blocks, lead the way in Group 6 setting the pace with a 16.638. A lot of speed was found right through the middle of the speedway where a heavy cushion developed early on in the evening.
After a little track maintenance during the intermission for the National Anthem smoothed out the track, clearing the way for 6 stout groups of big block modified heats. The top 2 would go to the redraw with 3 qualifying.
· Group 1 saw Jimmy Phelps set sail, winning by close to 2 seconds. Brett Hearn and Vic Coffey would follow.
· In group 2, Mike Mahaney would secure his starting spot in the top 12 by winning over Mat Williamson and Rex King.
· Billy Decker took care of business in group 3, with Ryan Susice charging from 4th to a redraw spot. Dave Blaney would also qualify.
· No surprises as Matt Sheppard walked away with group 4, taking Pat Ward to the redraw with him. Tim Fuller transferred as he got by Wight with 2 to go after he made contact with the backstretch wall.
· Group 5 was taken by Stewart Friesen after a tight battle with Max McLaughlin. Erick Rudolph took 3rd.
· Local favorite Rex King Jr. took group 6, followed by Ryan Watt and Jimmy Horton.
The redraw saw The Power House, Ryan Watt starting on the pole next to Ryan Susice on the front row of the 32 car field. Watt would give up the lead early on in the 100 lap feature, as Susice paced the field until just after a lap 10 yellow for Stewart Friesen breaking in turn 3. His night would end, taking a huge hit in the point’s standings.
On the restart, Watt and Susice would go side by side until Watt was the first across the line on lap 14. While this was happening, a 5thplace starting Jimmy Phelps would work the top side around point’s leader Matt Sheppard taking away the third spot. A fading Ryan Susice would concede two spots, slipping back to 4th on Lap 25. Bad luck was not apparent tonight, as Brett Hearn would also crack the top 5.
A restart on lap 46 would line Jimmy Phelps up on the outside of leader Ryan Watt. Phelps took advantage of the spot, powering around the top side, taking the lead, and setting sail. The yellow would fly again on lap 47 as Sheppard pulled to the pits with a broken radiator cap, relegating him to a 27th place finish.
A fourth place Decker would use a lap 65 restart to rocket into the second spot, making quick work diving through the middle from 4thposition. Jimmy Phelps ran his best lap shortly thereafter on lap 67, with Decker’s fastest lap being run on lap 70.
The final yellow on lap 96 was caused by a chain reaction after Erick Rudolph made contact on the bottom side of Blaney, cutting down a tire, and spinning out of turn 4. This sent Blaney into the outside wall, also collecting Wight and Horton. The red flag would be displayed for cleanup.
Decker, being strong all night on restarts, had one last chance to pressure Jimmy Phelps on the restart.
He would get close, bumping the 98H coming out of turn two, but that would be the closest he would get as Jimmy Phelps landed his rocket ship in Victory Lane.
Post-race, Phelps had nothing but good things to say about his car and team, finally finding his way back to Victory Lane since August of 2015. Decker, on a softer tire compound, said the yellows were what he needed; he just couldn’t get the job done.
The SuperDIRTcar Series heads to Quebec Monday and Tuesday for back to back races at Granby and Drummond respectively.