HARTFORD, Ohio – Mother Nature tried to intervene like she’s done so many times this season, including washing out the prior two Ollie’s Bargain Outlet All Star Circuit of Champions events, but on Saturday night Sharon Speedway stole one back.
A hard mid-afternoon rain storm only temporarily dampened the spirits of race goers for the 11th annual Lou Blaney Memorial presented by Ollie’s Bargain Outlet, with Dale Blaney ultimately picking up the victory.
One year ago, it was Dave Blaney becoming the first repeat winner of the Lou Blaney Memorial winning the 10th edition of the race. On Saturday night, brother Dale Blaney put on a dominating performance by leading all 30 laps to win his first Lou Blaney Memorial.
The win for Dale Blaney came in the event’s 11th edition, behind the wheel of car No. 11.
For Dale Blaney, the All Star Circuit of Champions victory was worth $6,000 as he became the event’s 10th different winner in 11 years. Blaney also became the fourth different 410 sprint car winner in as many events at Sharon with his 16th career 410 victory at the track.
“Before I was done, I knew I had to win this race,” acknowledged the 55-year-old Hartford, Ohio winner. “To win it back-to-back with Dave is really special. It’s weird, I’ve started on the front row of this race before. I always wore my dad’s retro uniform for this race and never did very good so I just went with the old Penske (Shocks uniform) and sure enough it worked.
“The 11th year of this race, we’re No. 11 this year … we got it done.”
Blaney followed up his victory in dash number two by powering into the lead from his outside pole starting spot on the opening lap over Sye Lynch, Brock Zearfoss, Skylar Gee, and Cory Eliason.
Seventh-starting Jordan Ryan was rolling around the bottom as he cracked the top five on lap two driving for Jim Chappel, who won the 2010 event with Mike Lutz driving.
Blaney was flying around the fast three-eighths-mile as he caught lapped traffic on lap six with a straightaway lead. While Blaney was working traffic, Zearfoss began to put the pressure on Lynch, a two-time winner at Sharon, on lap eight.
Gee was hitting his marks perfectly running the extreme high line as he closed in making it a three-car race for the runner-up spot on lap 10. Zearfoss finally worked around Lynch for second on lap 11, but Gee probably surprised Lynch and Zearfoss as he blew around both to take second at the start-finish line.
Ryan’s fine run ended when he clobbered the fence and brought out the caution with 15 laps scored, which erased a huge 5.135 second lead for Blaney.
Back under green, Eliason drove around Lynch for fourth on lap 17. It looked like Gee may have something for Blaney, but he got too high racing off turn two and got into the fence, allowing Zearfoss to get by.
Eliason then threw a big slider on Gee in turns three and four to take third on lap 20.
Gee’s night then would end as he got into the fence again, this time cutting down a tire and bringing out the event’s second caution with 21 laps scored.
When racing resumed, Blaney took off over Zearfoss, while a great battle ensued for third between Eliason, Cole Duncan, Lynch, and Aaron Reutzel.
Duncan made the pass of Eliason for third before the final stoppage of the event occurred with 25 laps scored when Justin Peck suffered a flat tire.
The caution would allow Blaney clean air for the final five circuits as he went unchallenged in the Sam McGhee Motorsports/Mike McGhee & Associates No. 11 for his third All Star win of the season and all-time leading 137th of his career.
“I was really good down on this end (turns one and two) and I felt like I was losing ground on the top so I cut the corner and drove across to it and felt like I carried more speed,” noted Blaney. “Brock (Zearfoss) is a really good racer. I kept looking on the board for the 87 (Reutzel) because I knew he’d be coming up there.
“Sam and Mike (McGhee) have given me a great car. Last year was a tough year and I didn’t get to race much, but I’ve felt like we’ve gained a lot on it lately and I’m really looking forward to the rest of the year.”
Zearfoss was able to fend off Duncan in the closing laps for his best career Sharon finish, followed by Duncan in third. Eliason was fourth and Aaron Reutzel salvaged his night with a fifth place effort from the 13th starting spot.
Reutzel had set fast time in his qualifying flight, but failed to scale, which relegated him to the ninth starting spot of his heat race. Reutzel charged from the tail to finish third, then advanced eight spots in the feature to maintain his points lead.
1. 11-Dale Blaney ; 2. 70-Brock Zearfoss ; 3. 22C-Cole Duncan ; 4. 26-Cory Eliason ; 5. 87-Aaron Reutzel ; 6. 42-Sye Lynch ; 7. 13-Paul McMahan ; 8. K4-Chad Kemenah ; 9. W20-Greg Wilson ; 10. O7-Gerard McIntyre ; 11. 23JR-Jack Sodeman Jr. ; 12. 7K-Dan Shetler ; 13. 97-Max Stambaugh ; 14. 11B-Carl Bowser ; 15. 22-Brandon Spithaler ; 16. 3C-Cale Conley ; 17. 4N-Jim Morris ; 18. 23S-Russ Sansosti ; 19. O8-Dan Kuriger ; 20. 40-George Hobaugh ; 21. 70X-Justin Peck ; 22. 99-Skylar Gee ; 23. 13M-Brandon Matus ; 24. 8-Jordan Ryan