Close Racing, Tight Point Battles Frame Full Night of Racing Actionadmin
History and history makers took to Meridian Speedway Saturday as Tates Rents Fan Appreciation night rolled onto the asphalt quarter-mile. The Pepsi Sprintcars looked to settle a championship battle as the Idaho Sprintcar Racing League Super Sixes, Kendall Ford of Meridian Mini Stocks, Claimer Stocks, and College of Western Idaho High School Tuners raced to position themselves for their own championship nights. Even the West Coast Vintage Sprintcars crowded the speedway on a full night of racing action.
The College of Western Idaho High School Tuners brought ten fast cars to their twenty lap main event. Cody Garrett motored around Katie Lober’s Shear Madness Hair Salon, SL Painting car on lap one to take the lead as chaos broke out mid-pack. When the smoke settled Tayvia Morris’ Kim’s Kars, Challenger Transport machine lay in a heap at the end of the front stretch. Morris was okay after a hard hit to the concrete. The incident spurred a full restart with Lober and Bethany Harrod on the front row.
When the green flag fell Kendra Occhipinti dove below Lober and Garret raced high through turns three and four. Nampa, Idaho racer Occhipinti was first across the line and took full control of the lead on lap two. Garrett was unable to mount a charge on Occhipinti as Jordan Harris was quick to put the pressure on the second place runner. On lap six Harris used the low line to work his way around Boise, Idaho’s Garret and take the runner up spot in his Kim’s Kars racer.
At the race’s halfway point Harris arrived at Occhipinti’s back bumper and pulled to the outside to challenge for the lead. After two side-by-side laps Harris’ left front tire shredded as the top duo screamed into turn one. Harris kept control of his racer, but had to retire from the event. With Harris in the pit area Occhipinti put her Marv’s Tire Service, Bearclaw Graphics machine on cruise control and sped to another Arctic Circle of Meridian Victory Lane appearance.
Nine Claimer Stocks roared onto the asphalt for an eighteen lap main event dash. On the green Tyler Barrow drove around Steve Hansen Jr. to take the early lead as point contenders Tim Shelton and Casey Hart fought to clear traffic. On lap six Kuna, Idaho’s Shelton tried an outside move on Ray Otis, but didn’t see Hart’s Hart Construction, Ultimate Transmissions pickup and the pair made contact. Hart slammed the wall and brought out the caution, which relegated both he and Shelton to the back of the pack.
When the green flag came back out second place runner Brian Hyde pulled to Barrow’s outside in a bid for the lead. Barrow’s car was too strong on the bottom and he held onto the top spot. Business picked up mid-pack as Hart slung his big pickup around the high side and marched toward the front. Hart took third with eight laps to go, but was stuck behind Hyde. Four laps later Hyde surprised Barrow in turn four and raced his way to the lead. Hart followed Hyde around Barrow for second and with one lap to go was within striking distance of the leader. Hyde fended off Hart’s strong turn three and four run to collect the Hunziker Racing 98 trophy in his first appearance of the season.
“We got a trophy on top of it tonight,” Hyde said post race.
A stacked field of Kendall Ford of Meridian Mini Stocks rolled onto the speedway for a thirty lap feature. On the green Boise, Idaho’s Alex Duda pushed Mike Davis’ Bigelow Teas, Evergreen Sprinklers car to the lead. Further back, point leaders Travis Pavlacky and Scott Shoecraft hooked up to make their way to the top of the Pepsi-Cola scoreboard.
As the two title contenders worked traffic Terrell Daffron powered up his Weiser Bowling Lanes machine and raced around Davis for the lead. Rick Brees followed Daffron, which opened the door for Pavlacky’s pickup, Jayson Wardle’s Discount Tire, Volt Vapes racer, and Shoecraft’s 208 Picker, Kenny’s Rod Shop machine to join the lead battle.
With a dozen laps left Pavlacky and Shoecraft moved to second and third and turned up the pressure on Daffron. Pavlacky worked the low line on Daffron, but Daffron kept the momentum up on the high side and held off the quick pickup. Pavlacky wasn’t deterred as he continued to scratch and claw for the lead on the inside. With five to go Pavlacky peeked ahead at the line, but Daffron matched his move and kept up on the high side. Pavlacky never gave up the challenge, but didn’t have enough to overcome Daffron, who held on for his first division feature win.
The Pepsi Sprintcars settled their season-long championship battle with a forty lap main event featuring the tough competitors of the Idaho Sprintcar Racing League. Eighteen sprinters shook the stands as the green flag waved. Aaron McPeak was first to the gas pedal and sprang to the led while the pack fought to sort itself out behind him.
With the field sorted Dean Waltman went to work on McPeak for the lead. Waltman took the top spot in his Twin Falls Boledrome, Rockhound Jewelry on lap seven. As Waltman took the lead point leaders Tony Ackerland and Caldwell, Idaho’s Ryan Newman worked their way forward. Ackerland was first to fight his way to the front and he piloted his Banner Promotions, YMC Inc. sprinter to the lead on lap thirteen. Meanwhile Newman scrapped with Steve Howell over the fourth position. A front stretch tangle involving Meridian, Idaho’s Riley Rogers and Bob Bachman slowed the action and stacked the field two-by-two for a restart with 25 laps remaining.
Ackerland resumed his lead while Newman finally made his way past Howell’s Dick’s Chevron, Performance Cylinder Heads machine and into the runner up spot. Newman’s Ashley Heating, Katco Promotions sprinter couldn’t hang with Ackerland and the young driver settled into second while the battle for third heated up between Howell and Pat Young. Young slid his Dick’s Chevron, LaSasco machine sideways to get under Howell, but couldn’t make the move stick and he fell into the clutches of Paxton Kaufferon and Dean Waltman. Out front Ackerland was in a class all his own and the Star, Idaho driver rocketed to Arctic Circle of Meridian Victory Lane.
“All year long we’ve had a lot of success,” Ackerland said as he collected his main event trophy. “Man my guys are awesome.”
Ackerland was also crowned the 2015 Pepsi Sprintcar champion. Post race Ackerland said this was his final full season behind the wheel of a Pepsi Sprintcar as he will move to the growing CT400 Winged Sprintcars full-time in 2016.
Championship season is just beginning at Meridian Speedway. Next week the Coors Super Stocks, Budweiser Modifieds and Domino’s Legends settle their seasons on Jack Link’s Snack Attack night. The College of Western Idaho Professional Truck Driving Program Street Stocks, Tates Rents Rookie Hornets, and Junior Legends also compete Saturday. Log onto meridianspeedway.com to purchase advance tickets and be sure to text ‘meridianspeed’ to 84483 to keep up with all the latest news from around the quarter mile. We’ll have a seat for you under the big yellow water tower Saturday night at Meridian Speedway.