Cristiani Dominates 6th Annual Treasure Valley 125admin
MERIDIAN, Idaho—A strong field of NAPA Auto Parts Big 5 Latemodels rolled into the Meridian Speedway for their longest test of the 2014 season Saturday, the NAPA Auto Parts Treasure Valley 125. While all of the fifteen racers that made the marathon main event wanted to win, this seemed almost a secondary concern to simply finishing the race. Even former track champion Dennis Wurtz II voiced his concern pre-race.
“This is a lot of laps for this place,” said Wurtz II. “The biggest thing is to try and finish this thing.”
Current NAPA Auto Parts Big 5 Latemodel driver Lee Hackney was just looking to bring his car home in one piece. Shortly after eight o’clock engines fired and it was young Tyler Marston and Justin Ellis that led the field to green.
On the start Ellis roared around the outside of Marston for the lead. Also utilizing the high groove were Hackney and early season winner Chris Fenton, who worked their way onto the Pepsi-Cola scoreboard in just five laps. Mired in traffic were last year’s winner Trevor Cristiani and Wurtz II. Cristiani would be the first to make contact with the top five as he took the fifth spot from Fenton on lap ten. Cristiani wouldn’t stop there as he stormed around the rest of the top five to take the lead three laps later. Cristiani now set a comfortable pace in his Fast Lube Plus entry out front while fourth place runner Hackney worked the inside of Rob Powers for third. With one hundred to go Hackney and second place Ellis came together in turn three. While both cars pitched sideways both drivers were able to gather their machines and continue. Four laps later the field would slow when Tyler Monroe went around in turn three, collecting Tyler Bailey. Both drivers would return to the action, though damaged, for the final 96 laps.
The restart saw Cristiani’s car out front, Hackney’s Walker’s Suspension and Alignment racer second and Ellis’ YMC, Dillon Performance Engines entry third. Wurtz II ran fourth and Fenton sat fifth, waiting on his car’s setup to come in. Cristiani and Hackney pulled away from the field once the green flag came back out, but the battle was on for third as Wurtz II and Fenton traded the final podium position three times before the fight went bad in turn one. Wurtz II pushed up into Fenton, who spun and tagged the outside wall. Fenton’s Latemodel would leave the track under its own power for repairs while Wurtz II was relegated to the tail end of the field. Try as he might Wurtz II wouldn’t be able to regain the track position lost, and he would bring the Glen’s Towing car home seventh.
With 89 circuits remaining the green flag fell again and Cristiani went back to his dominating ways, pull out to a one and a half second lead on the battle for second between Hackney and Travis Anderson. But as the laps ticked away Hackney started to close the gap. With 75 circuits left the gap between first and second had been cut by a third, but then Cristiani put his right foot down and in six laps had used lapped traffic to distance Hackney by over three seconds. Defending Meridian Speedway Latemodel champion Anderson ran third, Powers fourth and Bailey fifth.
As the laps wound down Cristiani continued his blistering pace. Not even lapped traffic fazed the defending race champion as he effortlessly piloted his machine around car both high and low. Only a caution with 41 laps to go could cut into Cristiani’s lead.
Even with Cristiani’s advantage cut to just car lengths Hackney couldn’t mount a charge on the point man, falling instead into the clutches of Anderson’s Block and Head Shop-sponsored machine on the restart. Hackney would navigate lapped traffic to pull away from Anderson. With 100 laps in the books Anderson would lose another spot to Cameron Cotta, whose Twin Peaks of Boise car came alive with 25 to go. Now Cotta was hot on Hackney’s trail for second. Again lapped traffic came to Hackney’s rescue, allowing him to pull away from Cotta ever so slightly. With five laps left Cotta got to Hackney’s bumper but ran out of time and settled in behind Hackney and the first two-time winner of the NAPA Auto Parts Treasure Valley 125 Cristiani.
“Man that was awesome,” said Cristiani. “We had a lot of fun tonight.”
Pepsi Sprintcar action saw heat race winner Tyler Barrow charge his A and R Automotive car around the outside of polesitter Mike Anderson for the early lead. Also on the move from the green flag was Colton Nelson, who wasted only two laps working his LFC Cleaning racer to second place and pressuring Barrow for the top spot. As Nelson worked for the lead point leader Ryan Newman knifed his way up to third, with weekly contender Tony Ackerland in tow. Newman would work past Nelson on the low side after an early caution flag bunched the field, but while he tried to work Barrow over for the lead his sprinter got hung up in the slick high groove, allowing Ackerland to pull his Banner Promotions car beside Newman as it became a three way fight at the front. Finally with a dozen circuits remaining Newman was able to take the lead in his Ashley Heating entry, but Ackerland came with him and immediately set to claiming another main event victory. Ackerland sat patiently on Newman’s bumper, waiting for the young driver to make a mistake he could take advantage of. With four to go Ackerland could wait no more and ducked to the outside, but his run was slowed by a three-car wreck involving Justin Segura, Nelson, and Ryan Wiederich in turn one. This left only four laps for Ackerland to make his move, and he would use his outside restart spot to do just that. But Newman’s racer would dig in on the low side and pass Ackerland back coming to the white flag and hold the top spot for the final lap.
“I was glad to start side-by-side with [Ackerland] at the end and beat him fair and square,” said Newman in Arctic Circle Victory Lane.
The College of Western Idaho Professional Truck Driving Program Street Stocks brought six competitive racers to their thirty lap main event. Again the low lane prevailed as Josh Hale sprang to the early lead. That lead would last until lap twelve when Melissa Weaver stormed around the high side of Hale’s racer to take the top spot. Shaun Bush’s Walker’s Suspension and Alignment car held second and Melissa’s father Marv Weaver held third. Bush would use an early restart to jump to the outside of Melissa Weaver, but after some casual contact in turn four Bush broke loose and slid back to third. The last half of the race belonged to the Weaver Racing stable as Melissa stretched a comfortable margin over Marv, but the finish was far from ordinary as coming to the white flag Destiny Huber got into Marv on the front stretch and spun him across the finish line. This would drop Marv to fifth, last on the lead lap, and lead to a pointed victory lane interview with Melissa.
“It’s pretty good when you get taken out by a lapped car, isn’t it,” said Melissa.
The Tates Rents Hornets rounded out the evening’s action as 23 cars mobbed the quarter-mile for a forty lap feature. Neil Evans was the first to jump out to the lead in his Middleton Baptist Church, Piatt Excavating car, but heat race winner Michael Capps would hook the low line and zip around Evans for the lead on lap three. Behind Capps and Evans it was Bill Allen and his Disaster Kleen-Up car on the move, charging through the field three and four wide to claim third after only five laps. Allen’s run would stall as Charlie Atkinson now bobbed and weaved his way up to leader Capps’ rear bumper. After fifteen laps Capps would reestablish himself as the leader as Kodi Newberry, Atkinson and Cody Brizendine battled hard for second. Newberry would fling his racer low to take the runner up slot, then pulled the same move in lapped traffic to wrestle the top spot from Capps.
A caution at the halfway point of the race allowed Capps to pull his Boise Bath and Kitchen Company racer beside leader Newberry on the front row. When the green flag fell Newberry got the jump, but Rob Powers now made his move, surging to third and working over Capps’ bumper. Finally Powers would pull low on Capps and pilot his Vapology car to second. With eight to go the veteran Powers pulled abreast of leader Newberry after a bobble in turn four, but Newberry fought back on the outside, opening a car length lead. With four laps to go Powers would slide low on Newberry again, this time successfully. But Newberry wouldn’t be denied as with another three-wide move Newberry charged to the lead for what appeared to be the final time. But in turn three on the last lap Newberry slid wide, allowing Powers to duck low and outrun Newberry to the finish line.
“I wanted [Newberry] to win that race, but we kept hanging around and got him at the end,” said Powers of the race.
Next week Meridian Speedway does something a little bit different as it hosts the sixth annual Eve of Destruction. Starring in this fan favorite event will be Meridian Speedway’s World Famous Boat Racing, and a post-race fireworks display. Joining the more daring activities on the night are the Coors Super Stocks, TEAM Mazda Subaru Mini Stocks, Project Filter Pro-4s, Tates Rents Hornets, and Thunderdogs. Tickets to the Eve of Destruction will go fast at $12.25, so be sure to log onto www.meridianspeedway.com for advance tickets. Gates will open at 4 p.m. with racing set to take off at 6:30 p.m.
As always this weekend’s action was supported by The Contingency Connection. Each week Contingency Connection offers nearly $2000 in awards from NATIONAL manufacturers. For more information on Contingency Connection, see Meridian Speedway officials.