- Aug. 13 - Sharon Speedway by Sam Holbrooks


O'Reilly All Stars: Last Lap Pass Yields $4,000 Win For Blair at Sharon Speedway

Mike Leone

HARTFORD, Oh. - Aug. 13. Robbie Blair bided his time and was there when it counted to win Saturday's O'Reilly All Stars even at Sharon Speedway. The defending All Star Super Late Model champion wasn’t a factor for the first half of the race, but found himself third after a mid-race accident that took out the second, third, and fourth place cars. Blair then went on to pass Matt Lux and race-long leader Dave Hess, Jr. with two laps to go to win the 40-lap feature, worth $4,000.

A pair of cautions for Bryan Casey and Derek Frank slowed action before a lap was completed, but once green flag racing got underway, the first 21 laps went non-stop. Hess took off in the lead with Jared Miley, Donnie Moran, Matt Lux, and Russell King filling the top five. King drove under Lux to take fourth on lap two.

Hess caught traffic on lap nine as the top four broke away from the field. On lap 10, the lapped car of Russ Frohnapfel allowed Miley to really put the pressure on Hess, while King tried everything to get past Moran. Miley pulled alongside Hess for the first time on lap 14 as he dove low, while Hess fought the lapped car of Brent Rhebergen.

Hess continued to lead, but Miley once again pulled even with the leader on lap 15, but was unable to lead the lap. Hess got a little breathing room, but on lap 18, caught a swarm of lapped cars that included Garrett Krummert, George Lee, and Mike Blose. Miley tried to make the pass on lap 21 as he again raced side-by-side with Hess, but just couldn’t make it stick.

On lap 22, King made a dive bomb move through the bottom of turns three and four to get past Moran for third, but drove into Miley, forcing all three cars to spin. It was a heartbreaker for Miley, who was fresh off his first Lernerville Speedway win in dominating fashion the night prior. Miley and Moran would restart at the tail, while King was done for the night.

The accident moved Lux to second and Blair to third, with Ryan Markham and Dennis Lunger, Jr. now into the top five. Lunger’s strong run ended on lap 26 when he brought out the race’s fourth caution. At this point, everyone noticed Hess’ car appeared to have an issue. At first, Hess thought he had a right rear tire going down, but would later realize he broke the right rear shock.

Six more laps were run before the race’s final caution was displayed for Miley. Back under green flag racing, Blair passed Lux for second with an inside move in turn three. Blair then caught Hess on lap 35. Blair ducked under Hess in turn four on lap 37, but Hess had the momentum to lead the lap; however, one lap later Blair made the pass stick with the slider in turn four.

Blair immediately pulled away and stretched his lead and margin of victory to a straightaway in his Specialty Products/Bossard’s Used Auto-sponsored #W11. Hess was second after leading the first 37 laps. Lux was a solid third with Markham fourth and John Garvin, Jr. coming from 11th to finish fifth.

Former Super Late Model racer George Kowatic made the move to the FASTRAK Late Models in 2011. Kowatic won a Weekly Series event earlier this season at Tri-City Speedway for his first ever FASTRAK win, but outside of a fourth on the Touring Series opener on April 30 at Roaring Knob, Kowatic hadn’t finished better than 12th in Touring Series competition.

That all changed on Saturday, as he took full advantage of his pole position and went out and led all 30 laps of the July 23 make-up feature for the $2,000 victory. The win was from easy as he had to hold off fifth starting Josh Holtgraver (a two-time Sharon Touring Series winner) and 23rd starting Doug Horton for the victory. Kowatic became the eighth different Northeast Touring Series winner of the season and the 11th different Sharon winner this season.

“I was ready to run this race weeks ago,” exclaimed the 28-year-old Aliquippa, Pa. driver. “We were having a little bit of motor issues that night, but I think we would have been alright. We came back tonight and we were still having some motor issues, but it’s a big thing to start up front here and on the Touring shows. I didn’t know (Doug) Horton got to third. He could have got behind me and held everyone back. That would have worked out better. I’m glad my family is here- that doesn’t always happen and they make everything possible.”

Kowatic took off in the lead with Kyle Lukon, Damian Bidwell, Sharon point leader Josh Volpe, and Holtgraver trailing. Rookie Matt Latta got into the fence bringing out the first caution with one lap scored. On the ensuing restart, Holtgraver powered by Volpe for the fourth spot. As the laps ticked off caution-free, Holtgraver pressured Bidwell before making the pass for third in turn four on lap nine.

By lap 10, Kowatic and Lukon distanced themselves from the field, while Bidwell worked his way back past Holtgraver for third. Lukon was really turning the heat up on Kowatic on lap 14 before the second and final caution of the event was displayed for Billy Cunningham with 14 laps scored. Holtgraver got a great restart taking back third from Bidwell then dove under Lukon to take second in turn four.

Horton, who came from the back of the B main to transfer to the feature, had been picking off cars left and right running the extreme bottom of the speedway. After starting 23rd, Horton had made it up to seventh for the restart. When green replaced yellow, Horton advanced three more spots and was running fourth on lap 15. On lap 19, Lukon slipped high in turn four allowing Horton to take third allowing Bidwell to gain fourth back and 14th starting Mike Pegher, Jr. into the top five.

Kowatic continued to lead, but in turn four on lap 23 got high, allowing Holtgraver and Horton to close. Holtgraver and Horton were all over Kowatic looking for a way by, but without the help of traffic or cautions just couldn’t find a way by as all 19 finishing cars were on the lead lap with only two cautions! Kowatic’s margin of victory was 0.591 seconds in the MCB Motorsports, High Gear Speed-sponsored #5 Warrior Chassis.

After two top three finishes to start the season off, Holtgraver had been unable to return to the top five since in Touring Series action. On Saturday night though, Holtgraver turned in second at the track where he owns his only two career Touring Series wins one day shy of his 23rd birthday. Horton was another half-second back in third in his first Touring Series start since in the National Event at Mercer Raceway Park on July 3, 2010. Bidwell matched his career best Touring Series effort in fourth. It was actually his third fourth place finish in the past six races! Pegher, who won the night’s regularly scheduled Weekly Series event, was fifth over Volpe.

Aug. 13 - ORAS at Sharon Speedway
1. Robbie Blair, 2. Dave Hess, Jr., 3. Matt Lux, 4. Ryan Markham, 5. John Garvin, Jr., 6. Garrett Krummert, 7. Rick “Boom” Briggs, 8. Donnie Moran, 9. John Mollick, 10. George Lee II, 11. Brent Rhebergen, 12. Dennis Lunger, Jr., 13. Terry Porter, 14. Jared Miley, 15. Russell King, 16. Russ Frohnapfel, 17. Mike Bores, 18. Mike Blose, 19. Derek Frank, 20. Bryan Casey, 21. John Volpe




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