Close Finishes Dominate CWI Community Nightadmin
A hot August evening welcomed the College of Western Idaho Community Night at Meridian Speedway Saturday, bringing with it record speeds and tight on-track battles. Taking to the speedy asphalt were the CWI Professional Truck Driving Program Street Stocks, the Pepsi Sprintcars, Budweiser Modifieds and Coors Super Stocks, Domino’s Pizza Legends, CWI Transportation Program High School Tuners, and the Junior Stingers.
The College of Western Idaho Professional Truck Driving Street Stocks took to the quarter-mile for their first of two 25 lap main events with Shaun Bush and Marv Weaver leading the pack. When the green flag fell it was Marv Weaver establishing himself the early leader while daughter and point leader Melissa Weaver worked the high side of Bush for second. Seven laps into the race Melissa pulled her Marv’s Tire Service car to the high groove in an attempt to overtake leader Marv Weaver, the trophy dash winner. Finally on lap ten the younger Weaver would storm around her father to take the top spot. Further back the battle for third heated up as Bush and Pat Tully swapped paint in turn four. Tully would claim the position, but could do little to close on the Weaver Racing cars as Melissa Weaver won another Meridian Speedway main event trophy.
The Pepsi Sprintcars zipped through a fast 25 lap feature as the sun sank behind the Westside grandstand. While Mike Anderson ducked out to an early lead the battle was back in the pack as point leader Ryan Newman in his Ashley Heating, Katco Promotions car and trophy dash winner Ryan Wiederich in his Filter Factory Outlet Store, Superior Services of Idaho racer worked their way through traffic to the front. Newman worked the high line with success, claiming a spot on the Pepsi-Cola scoreboard after only eight laps. Wiederich was unable to make progress and he would settle for an eighth place finish. As Newman charged through the field Riley Rogers and his Goodwill Finance, H&H Accounting sprinter mounted a run on leader Anderson. With ten circuits to go Rogers was right on Anderson’s bumper, trying to force a mistake. But Anderson didn’t bobble, and instead Rogers was relegated to fending off Newman and Ackerland with four to go. Rogers would surrended the second spot to Newman, who turned his sights to Anderson. But Newman would run out of time as Anderson was able to hold off the last lap challenge to claim victory in his Dermatology Laser Center of Canyon County sprintcar.
The Junior Stingers brought nine racers to their twenty lap main event. While Noah Capps wasted no time taking the early lead trophy dash winner Taylor Occhipinti knifed his way through the field to claim the lead after only two laps. Making steadier progress was new track record setter Daytona Wurtz, who used the second lane to worker her Curtis Clean Sweep, All Makes Auto Salvage car into third by lap four. With fifteen to go Wurtz made her bright red car a permanent fixture in Occhipinti’s mirror, hoping to spoil the Weaver Racing party. Traffic would thwart a number of Wurtz runs, but with five to go Wurtz would pull low on Occhipinti for the top spot, and the two would battle wheel-to-wheel and door-to-door for the rest of the race. On the final lap the race was too close to call when Wurtz slid high in turn three and allowed twelve-year-old Occhipinti to claim the win and Weaver Racing’s fifth trophy of the evening.
Not to be outdone the CWI High School Tuners ran an exciting 25 lap main event. Kendra Occhipinti in the fourth Weaver Racing entry stormed around the high groove to take the lead early while Jordan Harris and CJ Stirm battled behind her for second. Stirm would take the spot from Harris and set to work tracking down Occhipinti. Lapped traffic would unravel Stirm’s string of fast laps and allow Occhipinti to open an advantage of over two seconds. Try as Stirm might she couldn’t pilot her YMC Heating and Cooling, Lamb Race Engines past Occhipinti as Weaver Racing claimed their third main event victory of the evening.
The Domino’s Pizza Legends piled onto the asphalt for 35 laps. With the track cooled speeds picked up, so it was no surprise to see new track record setter Peyton Saxton and his on the move early. In one lap Saxton blew past a half-dozen competitors in the third lane, but he wasn’t done there. After two laps he held a spot on the Pepsi-Cola scoreboard, and the young hotshoe planted his number 10 car in the lead after just five laps. Behind Saxton the battle was on between Johnethan Davis, Mark Cirelli Jr., Casey Tillman, and Camron Madsen for second. The two-by-two parade would be joined by Aubree Wartman and Chase Gilbertson making it a six-way battle for second. Something had to give, and it was early leaders Jamie Hyde and Robert Rendo who got together in turn four to bring out a caution. When racing resumed Saxton, Tillman, and Madsen joined forces in the low groove. As this train charged past Davis and Cirelli Jr. Tillman’s Tailor Made Upholstery car came to life, keeping step with Saxton’s wicked fast machine. But as the laps wore on Saxton’s mount began to edge away from the rest of the pack.
A restart with fifteen to go would be Tillman’s best chance to take the lead and Tillman wouldn’t waste the opportunity. For two laps Tillman challenged, but wasn’t able to overcome the speed of Saxton. Tillman now pulled in behind Saxton and started to work Saxton’s rear bumper. With ten to go the two were inseparable, Tillman filling Saxton’s mirror and Saxton running faster and faster laps. Finally some breathing room emerged with seven circuits to go as Saxton drove his machine away from the field and into Arctic Circle Victory Lane.
“I was a little nervous there,” said Saxton. “But once ten to go came I just put the hammer down.”
The Budweiser Modifieds and Coors Super Stocks combined for a 35 lap battle of the beer brands. When the green flag fell Sharlet Wilson ran her Cycle City of Mountain Home entry around the outside for the lead. Behind Wilson Rick Baldwin and Scott Durbin formed up in the high groove and set to work making their way to the front. While Baldwin and Durbin moved forward Darvin Ackerland’s Music and Sons Auctioneers modified was mired in traffic at the back of the pack. After eight laps Baldwin in his Pioneer Title Company, Bloodyfine.com modified raced around the high side of Lynn Sharp’s Super Stock to take the race lead with Durbin following close behind. Still Ackerland had a hard time moving his way through heavy traffic as Rob Powers and Sharp battled for the Super Stock lead in front of him.
A dozen laps in Durbin made his move, ducking below Baldwin to claim the lead. Two laps later Powers would dispose of Sharp, opening the door for Ackerland to steam past both competitors in his quest to best Durbin. With ten to go Ackerland cleared lapped traffic, and two laps later he caught Durbin to begin the lead battle. For two laps Ackerland worked Durbin’s mirror, trying to set up the winning pass. With six laps to go Durbin encountered lapped traffic and Ackerland sailed by on the outside. But as Durbin gathered his car and tried to mount a comeback charge he and Rick Moran tangled in turn three. Durbin spun and collected Kim Bradford, sending Bradford to the pit area and tearing away Durbin’s left rear quarter panel. With just five laps to go the restart saw Ackerland push his modified to the lead and the win while Powers settled his Super Stock into the second slot and Baldwin took third place.
“What more could an old guy ask for,” Ackerland asked as his family joined him in Arctic Circle Victory Lane.
Rounding out CWI Community Night the Street Stocks wheeled four competitors onto the quarter mile to complete their twin main event night. When the green flag fell Shaun Bush in his Walker’s Suspension and Alignment, Klines Alternators and Starters entry and Pat Tully fought side-by-side for the top spot while Melissa Weaver worked her way around father Marv Weaver for third, awaiting the conclusion of the lead fight. Finally it was Bush’s superior bite off the corner that propelled him to the lead, leaving Tully to battle with Melissa Weaver for second. Tully pushed his C-F Flooring, LCA Framing machine hard trying to keep Weaver in his mirror and give Bush time to build a lead over the class dominator. Tully succeeded for five circuits, but Weaver eventually worked the high groove to take second. Now the fight for the lead was on.
With eleven laps to go Weaver got to Bush and wheeled her racer to the high groove, ready to complete the Weaver Racing sweep of CWI Community Night. But Bush wouldn’t be denied, and battled back from the low line. For two laps Weaver and Bush ran wheel-to-wheel in a dead heat around the track. Neither driver gave an inch. Two more laps passed with Weaver and Bush neck and neck. With seven to go Weaver pulled ahead when Bush got loose, but couldn’t close the door as Bush’s orange number 86 surged down the back stretch to even up the race again. Surely something would give with both racers pushing their cars so hard, but neither driver would be denied. After ten laps of evenly matched door-handle-to-door-handle action the white flag flew, leaving just a quarter mile to settle the fight. Off turn two neither driver had the advantage. Bush piloted his racer into turn three hard and slid up, but so did Weaver, leaving a drag race off turn four to settle it. While Bush roared off the corner his run would come up five one-thousandths of a second short and Weaver would walk away with the main event trophy.
“We never touched,” said an exhausted Weaver of the battle. “[Bush] did really awesome.”
It will be tough to top this week’s action, but next Saturday Meridian Speedway looks to do just that as the Intermountain Outlaw Modifieds take to the quarter-mile for the Allen Stroebel Memorial. Joining these snarling racers are the paint swapping ASA Pro Trucks, the Cast Iron 360 Winged Sprintcars, another CWI Street Stock showdown, and the return of Rookie Hornets. As always gates will open at 4 p.m. Saturday, August 23, and races take the green flag at 6:30 p.m. General admission for this full night of races is only $10.25. Visit www.meridianspeedway.com for more information or text ‘meridianspeed’ to 84483. As always the action this week was sponsored in part by Contingency Connection. For more information about Contingency Connection, see Meridian Speedway Officials.