Close Finishes Rule CWI Community Nightadmin
Under a cloudless June sky seven racing divisions took to the quarter-mile Meridian Speedway to complete the first half of the grueling 2014 racing season. Seven divisions tested their mettle, including the Pepsi Sprintcars, Budweiser Modifieds, College of Western Idaho Professional Truck Driving Program Street Stocks, Coors Super Stocks, TEAM Mazda Subaru Mini Stocks, CWI Transportation Program High School Tuners, and the Junior Stingers.
Action on College of Western Idaho Community Night kicked off with six Junior Stingers squaring off for 25 laps. Taylor Occhipinti used his outside front row starting position to break out to the early lead. Daytona Wurtz wasted no time in knifing her way to second and attaching herself to Occhipinti’s rear bumper. Wurtz tried to pounce low as the two leaders worked through lapped traffic when Bryce Edwards’ car pushed high into turn three and body slammed the second place runner. Undaunted Wurtz continued, chopping fractions of a second off of Occhipinti’s now sizeable lead. With ten to go Wurtz had pulled within striking distance of the leader. With five to go Wurtz set to working the low line to pass Occhipinti. Off turn two with four to go Wurtz claimed the top spot, but on the last lap a brush with the backstretch wall slowed her enough that Occhipinti took the lead back in the North end corners and claimed the Allison Concrete by Design trophy.
The College of Western Idaho Transportation Program High School Tuners rolled seven competitors to the track next. Again the high line prevailed early as Tayvia Morris sprung from the outside front row for the early lead. Jordan Harris and Peter Woog tracked Morris down after five laps to take the first and second slots. After falling to third Morris’ car slid sideways in turn three. After bouncing off CJ Stirm’s car Morris found herself stopped mid track. Alex Hibbert and Connor Woog piled into Morris. Connor Woog was able to drive his car, borrowed from Tates Rents Hornet competitor Rob Powers, but Morris and Hibbert were not so lucky and had to be towed off. When the action resumed Harris sprung to a comfortable lead over Peter Woog. Kendra Occhipinti and CJ Stirm battled hard for third, Stirm working high to pass lap after lap. With a dozen circuits left Woog pulled beside Harris for the lead, but Harris used the momentum of the high line to his advantage to fend off Woog’s advances. Every corner of the last ten laps was contested as Woog threw his car dead sideways below Harris, unable to move to the point. With three to go the pair started swapping paint in a door handle to door handle battle. At the line it was a photo finish that saw Peter Woog win.
“The race was just amazing,” said runner up Harris. “Nice job Peter.”
“That was the [most intense] race I’ve ever had,” said Woog.
With two last lap passes for the win the Pepsi Sprintcars had a hard opening act to follow, but the open wheelers did not disappoint. Drew Crenshaw motored past Riley Rogers for the early lead, followed by teammate Mike Anderson and Justin Segura. After just three laps Ryan Newman had worked his way into the top three, and Tony Ackerland was fifth. Segura and Newman would dispatch Crenshaw in short order and with fifteen to go the top three was Segura, Newman, and Ackerland. Colton Nelson was mired back in a heavy battle for seventh. Newman decided it was time to go with a dozen circuits remaining and removed Segura from the lead. One lap later Larry Hull III, driving a sprinter he just purchased from Josh Allen, had difficulties in turn one and buried it in the water barrels. The damage was relatively minor and Hull III walked away unhurt to make preparations for the TEAM Mazda Subaru Mini Stock main event. Hull III was racing the Mini Stock for his brother Jonathan, who relinquished the wheel to attend school after the June 14 race.
The restart saw Newman at the front of the pack, Ackerland second, and Crenshaw third. Nelson sat fourth and Anderson held fifth. Ackerland jumped low and took the top spot from Newman on the green, but it was only one lap before Tyler Barrow and Crenshaw tangled in turn two. This set up a ten lap dash for the Allison Concrete by Design main event trophy. This time Newman was ready for green and zipped around the high side to edge ahead for the lead. Ackerland would fight back low and the two spent five laps wheel to wheel before Newman surrendered with a long, sideways slide. This dropped Newman into the clutches of third place racer Nelson, who was unable to work around the point leader for second. Ackerland pulled away in the last five laps to claim victory.
“I don’t think we had the car to beat tonight, but Newman gave it away by giving me the preferred line on that restart,” said Ackerland.
The College of Western Idaho Professional Truck Driving Program Street Stocks ran a 25 lap feature as the sun sank below the West side grandstands. Destiny Huber and Shaun Bush continued a side-by-side battle they’d started in the trophy dash as the pair paced the field through the race’s first five laps. Finally Bush got the better of Huber and with Melissa Weaver hot on his heels he held the top spot for another half dozen circuits. Weaver tried to work the high side to no avail, then tried to look low. There was no room to be found until Weaver ran over Bush in turn one with ten to go. The banging continued down the back straight away until the two came to a smoking heap in the grass. Weaver pulled off with a flat tire while Bush was hauled off on a wrecker. This left Marv Weaver and Huber one-two. Melissa Weaver rejoined the race in third. On the green flag Marv Weaver outmuscled Huber into turn one for the lead with the two making contact. Now it was down to the Weavers. Melissa stalked Marv, deciding where to challenge her father for the lead. She chose the high line, but was unable to make any ground on dear old dad as Marv Weaver claimed the checkered flag. This was the first race of the season Melissa Weaver did not win.
“Sort of like a demolition, wasn’t it,” joked Marv Weaver in Arctic Circle Victory Lane. “We rolled five cars out and made a helluva mess.”
The TEAM Mazda Subaru Mini Stocks rolled an eighteen car field to the green flag for a 35 lap dogfight. On the break Antonio Ryska and Pat McGuire opened a half-second advantage on the field. Deeper in the pack Larry Hull III made good time running up to eighth after just five laps. Blake Coria also had a nice early run hanging onto a top five position in a car last seen upside down in turn one. With 22 to go Ryska’s night would end after a three-wide entry to turn one left him in the water barrels. Ryska would continue after repairs. The restart saw back-to-back main event winner Donavon Parker take the top spot from McGuire. Drew Crenshaw weaved his way to second and Hull III followed around the high side of McGuire for third. Crenshaw and Parker pulled out to a one second gap over Hull III then began their fight for the lead. Crenshaw worked high, Parker running consistently fast laps in the low line. With ten to go Crenshaw and Parker made contact in turn one, but neither lost a step. With six to go the leaders found the tail of the field and started to work their way through a congested pack. Still nothing could separate Parker and Crenshaw, but try as he might Crenshaw couldn’t find a way around the yellow and orange car of Parker, who celebrated his third main event win in a row with a burnout in front of the Stinker Sotres Family Section.
“It was good clean racing and I had a blast,” said Parker.
Saturday’s racing action concluded with a forty lap brawl featuring the Budweiser Modifieds and the Coors Super Stocks. Sharlet Wilson smoked polesitter Rick Moran off the start for the early lead. Jess Ryska, fresh off a trophy dash win held second with Randy Keckley third. Deeper in the pack point leader Rick Baldwin made careful progress during the first dozen circuits until Darvin Ackerland found himself backward in the grass. On the restart Keckley outgunned Wilson to rocket to the point. Keckley’s lead was short-lived as Rob Powers’ Coors Super Stock wrestled the lead away with 28 to go. With twenty circuits remaining Ackerland had made his way back onto the Pepsi Cola scoreboard in fourth while Baldwin battled Darrell Dolling for a top five spot. While Powers stretched his lead over Lynn Sharp and Ackerland Baldwin’s charge to the top five would stall. When the dust settled it was Powers claiming the trophy with Sharp second and Ackerland, the first Budweiser Modified, third.
“I was praying for now cautions because I knew Darvin would be right there,” said Powers of the last few laps.
Next weekend Meridian Speedway will celebrate Independence Day with a Friday-Saturday double-header. Friday features the annual Stinker Stores Firecracker 50 Sprintcar Shootout. This shootout pits Pepsi Sprintcars, CWI Super Sixes, and the Washington Econo Sprintcar Organization against one another. Also crowding the Meridian Speedway will be the Domino’s Pizza Legends in their first Regional Qualifier and the Tates Rents Hornets. Once the dust settles from the races the City of Meridian will light up the night sky with its annual fireworks spectacular.
Saturday night features the second chapter of both the Sprintcar Shootout and the Domino’s Pizza Legends, plus the CWI Transportation Program High School Tuners, Thunderdogs, and Old Fart Karts. Then, Meridian Speedway will drop the lights for an encore stadium fireworks presentation. Tickets for each night are $12.25 Friday and Saturday. Gates will open at 4 p.m. with racing action starting at 6:30.
This week’s event was a Contingency Connection event. Contingency Connection offers nearly $2000 in awards each week from NATIONAL manufacturers, which are in addition to cash purse payouts. See Meridian Speedway officials for more details.