Sprint Cars scheduled at Sharon on Tuesday; first of 4 appearances

HARTFORD — The 410 Sprint Cars will be making the first of four appearances in the 2017 season at Sharon Speedway on Tuesday, when Tony Stewart’s Arctic Cat All-Star Circuit of Champions come to town for the 35th annual Ohio Sprint Speedweek presented by Cometic Gasket.

The Mini Stocks will also be in action that night. Warm-ups for Sprints will get underway at 6:20 p.m. followed by qualifying and racing. Reserved and advanced tickets are on sale at SharonSpeedway.com.

The All-Stars will return two and a half weeks later on July 8 for the Lou Blaney Memorial, along with the Big-Block Modifieds. The 410 Sprint Cars final two appearances will be non-sanctioned events on Aug. 12, then again Sept. 8-9 for the Apple Festival Nationals.

The 2017 Ohio Sprint Speedweek features eight nights of racing at eight different speedways over nine nights beginning at Attica Raceway Park on Friday night.

The Sharon event is stop number five of the popular summer tradition. Sharon’s race will pay $5,000 to-win.

The All Stars continue to flourish under the third year of ownership by Stewart. Cometic Gasket is again presenting Ohio Speedweek, and will offer a $3,000 point fund. In addition, multiple win bonuses will be up for grabs on behalf of Cometic Gasket. The total bonus for any one team winning two events: $500; three events: $3,500, four events: $7,500; five events: $12,500.

“Sprint Car racers and fans alike look forward to Speedweek each and every year. It’s grueling. It’s long. It takes a lot of sweat, hard work and dedication, but I’m sure the racers wouldn’t have it any other way,” Stewart said. “I want to thank all of the tracks and other organizations for helping us put this together, especially Cometic Gasket. The amount of support Ohio Sprint Speedweek attracts is overwhelming. I’m confident this will be around for another 35 years.”

After a five-year absence, Ohio Speedweek returned to Sharon in 2010 as Tim Shaffer topped a 42-car field for the victory. In 2011, it was hometown favorite Dale Blaney winning the Sharon leg of Speedweek over a 45-car field. In 2012, in a stunning turn of events, local racer Brandon Matus came out victorious for his first career win with both the All-Stars and at Sharon. Another strong field of 43 cars was on hand.

The 2013 event was rained out before a car ever hit the speedway, and the 2014 event fell victim to Mother Nature before the gates ever opened. In 2015, Blaney won his second Speedweek race in three events at Sharon over another strong 42-car field. Last year, Bryan Clauson topped a huge 51-car field winning his first career All-Star race before tragically losing his life in a racing accident later in the summer

“Sharon has always played an important part in Ohio Speedweek history,” eighth-year track GM Dave Willoughby said. “Sharon was there at the beginning, and we’re happy once again to be part of this long-running tradition. The early outlook is calling for great weather.

“We hope that trend continues so the fans and racers come out and support this great event so we can continue to host this event for years to come. We’re really excited about having Sprints on the new red clay surface.”

Ohio Speedweek always draws in top talent from the Midwest, along with the strong core of All-Star regulars, several Australians, the best from western Pennsylvania, usually a couple from central Pennsylvania, and always some surprises. Currently, Rico Abreu has the Sharon event on his schedule before he heads back to California to race.

Chad Kemenah enters Speedweek as not only the defending Speedweek champion, but the five-time Series defending champion and current point leader. The Alveda, Ohio, driver is fresh off his third victory of the season last weekend and currently has a commanding 180-point lead over Caleb Armstrong. Kemenah also owns five career All Star victories at Sharon.

The All Stars have one of its largest followings with 17 member drivers. The saying “you never know who’s going to win an All-Stars race” continues to be true, as there’ve been 12 different winners in 17 events this season entering Speedweek.

Ed Lynch Jr. is the all-time winningest Sprint Car driver at Sharon with 50 victories. Brothers Dave and Dale Blaney own 28 and 14 Sprint Car wins, respectively, at their home track. The top active local Sprint Car winner at Sharon is Jack Sodeman Jr. The North Jackson racer has 12 victories along with the 2010 track championship, the last year Sprints ran weekly.

The Mini Stocks will be the only support division at the event on Tuesday. They’ll race for $300 to-win, $50 to-start. Past champions Steve Walker II and Bill Fuchs have been victorious in the only two Mini Stock events to date this season. The Mini Stocks will return on July 20 for the Super DIRTcar Big-Block Modified Series invasion.

Grandstand admission tickets are $25. Reserved and advanced tickets are available online at SharonSpeedway.com. Children 13 and under are free. Pit passes are $35. Pits open at 3 p.m. with grandstands at 4. Parking and camping are free. Sharon has a no carry-in cooler policy.