Family Feud Settles Jeff Russell Road to Recovery 85 at Meridian Speedway

Family Feud Settles Jeff Russell Road to Recovery 85 at Meridian Speedway

Five fast racing division stormed Meridian Speedway for the Jeff Russell Road to Recovery 85. The NAPA Auto Parts Big 5 Latemodels, NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Modifieds, College of Western Idaho Super Street Stocks, CT400 Winged Sprintcars, and College of Western Idaho High School Tuners braved the triple-digit heat to honor former speedway standout Jeff Russel with a full night of action.

The NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Modifieds kicked off main event action with an early evening clash. Pole sitter Hunter Gates sprang to the early lead in his YMC, Banner Promotions entry, followed closely by Beau Gillogly and Doyle Moen.  Gillogly was first to make a move as the Nampa, Idaho driver put his Razor’s Edge Window Cleaning, Quick Silver Embroidery machine first below, then to the high side of Gates.  On lap eight Gillogly made the outside work, but the new leader came immediately under fire from Boise, Idaho’s Rus Ward and Colton Nelson.

Gillogly worked both high and low grooves to maintain the lead while Nelson pulled even with Ward’s Boise Spring Works, A-1 Heating and Air Conditioning modifed as they battled for the runner up spot. With ten laps left Nelson cleared Ward and stuck his bumper inside of Gillogly.  Gillogly pedaled hard, but didn’t have enough to keep Nelson’s Integrity Pools, Mobile Dent Specialists racer at bay.  Once Nelson took the lead he was able to knife through lapped traffic and the Meridian, Idaho racer claimed the evening’s first feature victory.

Riley Rogers and Stacey Jensen dueled for the CT400 Winged Sprintcar hardware. Meridian, Idaho racer Rogers used the high line to blast to the early lead, but Jensen battled back to put his YMC, Westside Body Works sprinter up front at the race’s halfway point.  Rogers wheeled his machine hard to keep pressure on the leader, but the young driver didn’t have enough to make the winning pass and Buhl, Idaho’s Jensen took the checkers.

“Man, that was awesome,” Jensen said.

The NASCAR Whelen All-American Modified Series retook the speedway for their final thirty lap feature of the evening. Kuna, Idaho driver Jerry Green blasted to the lead in turn one, but contact between he and Nampa, Idaho’s Josh Jackson sent the leader sliding sideways in front of the pack.  In the jam up Paul, Idaho racer Jeff Wade and Boise, Idaho’s own Larry Hull III found a hole and punched their way through the pack into the top two spots at the end of a tumultuous first lap.

With the field sorted, main event number one winner Nelson worked his way from the back of the pack forward. By the race’s halfway point Nelson’s Integrity Pools, YMC modified was firmly planted in Wade’s rearview mirror.  Lapped traffic slowed Nelson’s progress, but with a dozen laps left the lead duo hit open racetrack.

Wade made his Gaylon’s Auto Body, Southwind Farms machine as wide as possible and forced Nelson first to the wall, then to the infield. Nelson remained patient as lap after lap Wade slammed the door on the Meridian Speedway point leader.  Nelson tried everything he could to make the pass, but Wade’s car was too wide and Nelson settled for a runner up finish.

“I didn’t know if I could hold him off any longer, but I did,” Wade said.

Nine College of Western Idaho High School Tuners took the green flag of their 25 lap main event. Nampa, Idaho’s Tayvia Morris put her Northwest Auto Service machine in the early lead with fellow Nampa, Idaho racers Jordan Harris and Taylor Occhipinti in tow.  The hard charger early was Meridian, Idaho’s Riley Rogers, who took just five laps to make his way to fourth on the Pepsi-Cola scoreboard.

On lap six Occhipinti put his Marv’s Tire Service, Bearclaw Graphics entry below Morris and scooted his way to the lead, and Rogers followed suit to take second with nineteen circuits remaining. Five laps later Rogers stuck his H&H Accounting, Wildside Wraps machine under Occhipinti, but a wild slide in turns three and four sent Rogers back three car lengths with ten laps left.

With seven laps to go Rogers pulled back to Occhipinti’s bumper, then drew even with his nemesis one lap later. With four laps to go the lead battle was a dead heat.  On the white flag lap the leaders hit lapped traffic, and Occhipinti was able to pick Rogers off and motor to his first College of Western Idaho High School Tuner main event victory.

“If he can beat me like that…you’re an amazing driver,” Rogers said of Occhipinti’s run to the Caleb’s Chop Shop Winner’s Circle.

The College of Western Idaho Super Street Stocks had 25 laps to settle on a main event winner. On the green Dan Lowther overpowered Kurt Oberdorf to take the early lead.  Gale Carter and Jordan Harris followed Lowther forward, and on lap four Carter piloted his Associated Pacific Movers machine to the lead.

Carter had just two laps to enjoy the top spot before Harris pulled his Kim’s Kars racer to the outside to challenge the veteran campaigner. Harris led lap eleven, but had Carter racing hard on his inside and Melissa Weaver-Arte all over his rear bumper.  Lap after lap Harris and Carter ran door-to-door, which kept Weaver-Arte’s Marv’s Tire Service, Dillon Auto Craft Performance Engines machine penned in third place.

After more than a dozen wheel-to-wheel laps something had to give, and with the white flag waving Harris and Carter came together on the front stretch and spun, giving the victory to Weaver-Arte.

“Heartbreaking for those two guys,” Weaver-Arte said as she picked up the main event hardware.

The NAPA Auto Parts Big 5 Latemodels honored former Meridian Speedway racer Jeff Russell with the Road to Recovery 85 Saturday. The event is held to assist Russell as he recovers from a near-fatal Super Modified crash at The Bullring at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.  Russell has made great strides in his recovery, which he showed by walking the entire starting grid and greeting each and every driver that took the green flag in his honor.

“Thank you, Meridian,” Russell said as he was named the Grand Marshall for the evening’s 85 lap feature.

Meridian, Idaho’s Dave Thomasson and Boise, Idaho’s Tyler Marston-Henderson led the field to green. Marston-Henderson jumped the lap one lead, with Boise, Idaho racers Camron Madsen and Justin Ellis in tow.  Madsen dove his West Side Body Works, Mulder’s Auto Machine entry beneath Marston-Henderson’s Maz-Tech Automotive, C/Driven CAD Services, Inc. machine on lap three, but Marston-Henderson shut the door hard.  Three laps later Madsen delivered another blow to Marston-Henderson’s rear bumper.  The brawl for the lead continued until lap eight, when Madsen and Marston-Henderson tangled in turn two, and both racers shot nose first into the outside wall.

Marston-Henderson’s car shot straight up and came to rest in a heap on the driver’s side door behind Madsen’s demolished machine. Though the damage to both cars was extensive, both Madsen and Marston-Henderson emerged from their wrecked racers okay.

Justin Ellis found himself in the lead on the restart, with Twin Falls, Idaho’s Hannah Newhouse and Kuna, Idaho racer Craig Bell in his tire tracks. Bell sprang ahead of Newhouse to put his Bell’s Automotive machine in second, then went to work on Ellis’ Neil Alan Fine Jewelry, GlasSmith racer for the lead.  Bell stalked Ellis as Hannah Newhouse and her father John Newhouse pulled into the lead battle.

On lap 25 Hannah Newhouse decided it was time to go and she rapped on Bell’s rear bumper. Bell kept his car straight until a long side into turn one four laps later allowed the lady racer to drive her Boise State University, The Car Store machine to the runner up spot, then the lead one lap later.

As Hannah Newhouse set sail from the pack her father John worked Bell over for the third position. Lapped traffic calmed this duel before a mid-race caution saw Bell pull into the pit area, leaving Ellis in between leader Hannah and third place John Newhouse.  Ellis put up a valiant fight on the restart, but the elder Newhouse was too strong and claimed the runner up spot for himself.

Lap after lap the Newhouse family drew closer, with John chopping into his daughter Hannah’s lead. With 25 laps left the elder Newhouse arrived at the younger’s rear bumper and the family feud began.

John’s opening gambit was heavy pressure from the high line, but Hannah ignored her mirrors and remained solid in the top spot. Next John worked to position himself best in lapped traffic, but it was Hannah who found the quickest way through and managed to increase her lead.  This advantage was negated by a caution with fourteen laps left that bunched the field for one last restart.

When the green flag waved Hannah Newhouse was first to the gas pedal and maintained her lead. John wheeled his racer hard, but wasn’t able to make time on Hannah, who sped her way into the Caleb’s Chop Shop Winner’s Circle.

“When I heard he was racing…I knew it was going to be a long night,” Hannah said as she collected congratulations from her father.

Next Saturday, August 6, Meridian Speedway plays host to the eighth annual Eve of Destruction. Along with the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Modifieds, Teleperformance Claimer Stocks, Pepsi Crate Cars, and the TATES Rents Hornets, action will include the World Famous Boat Races, Hornets versus the Gauntlet, a reverse race, and The Beast Jet Dragster Hornet Car Meltdown.  General admission to Saturday’s full night of destruction and fireworks is just $12.50 for adults, $6.50 for kids 7-11 years old.  Gates will open at 4 p.m. Saturday with races taking the green flag at 6:30.  Skip the line at the door and get your advance tickets online at and be sure to text ‘meridianspeed’ to 84483 to stay up to speed with your NASCAR Home Track.  We’ll see you Saturday, August 6 for Eve of Destruction 8 under the big yellow water tower at Meridian Speedway.