Fast Features Provide Fireworks on Memorial Day Saturday

Fast Features Provide Fireworks on Memorial Day Saturday


LeeRoy Nelson’s son Brock paced the Pepsi Sprintcar field to the green flag Saturday as they competed for the LeeRoy Nelson Memorial Trophy. Photo Credit: MS Staff

Four Meridian Speedway legends were honored Saturday as Les Schwab Tire Race Night featured the Sean Miller 50 for the Intermountain Outlaw Modifieds, LeeRoy Nelson 40 for the Pepsi Sprintcars, and the Austin Christopherson and Eldon Cahill 50 for the Domino’s Legends.  Joining these competitive divisions on the quarter-mile were the Kendall Ford Mini Stocks and the Junior Legends.  These fast five divisions provided plenty of action on the first of two Memorial Day weekend races.

Youngsters Daytona Wurtz and Adam Lloyd showed their skills in an eight lap exhibition race for the Domino’s Junior Legends.  When the green flag fell Star, Idaho’s Daytona Wurtz put the pedal down and raced her way ahead of Lloyd.  Lloyd worked hard to reel in the lady racer, but Wurtz and her Ada County Sherrif’s Employee Association, All Makes Auto Salvage racer were too powerful and claimed the victory.

The Kendall Ford Mini Stocks mobbed the concrete jungle as 25 racers rolled into a 35 lap main event.  On the green Boise, Idaho drivers Brandon Shira and Les Schwab Tire Race winner Mike Davis pulled the inside line free from the pack.  Behind the leaders Twin Falls, Idaho’s Trey Manker and Robbie Hyde tangled in turn four.  As the pack jammed up Davis pulled his Bigelow Teas, Valley Helicopter machine to the outside of Shira’s Jimmy John’s Freaky Fast entry.  These two were soon joined by Ray Bolinger, Travis Pavlacky and Scott Shoecraft.  This five-way battle for the lead went sour on lap eleven when traffic forced the leaders four-wide in turn one.  On the losing end of the ensuing wreck was second-place Bolinger and lapped car Dianne Ursini, who both ended up pointed in the wrong direction.  Ursini would retire from the event while Bolinger and his Best Heating, Mulder’s Auto Machine racecar restarted at the back of a crowded pack.

The action didn’t skip a beat on the restart as Shoecraft lost ground behind Davis’ ailing machine, leaving Shira and Alex Duda to duke it out for the top spot on the Pepsi-Cola scoreboard.  Duda prevailed as Caldwell, Idaho’s Jason Sanders charged his Valley Property Management, Xoel Concrete Construction car through traffic to second, followed by Shoecraft and Jayson Wardle.  Further back in the field Bolinger was stymied behind several battles for position.  Now it was Sanders’ turn to go on the offensive.  Just twelve laps in Sanders piloted his car to the outside of Duda.  The battle would be over in three short laps as Sanders overpowered Duda’s Boise Boys Transportation, Shave Shop machine to take the lead.

Sanders had no time to get comfortable up front as Shoecraft pounced on the low line and went to work on the leader.  Traffic aided Shoecraft as he was able to pick Sanders off on the slower Aluminum Irrigation Pipe Repair racer of Benson Atkinson.  But a caution with just ten laps to go brought Sanders to Shoecraft’s outside and set up a sprint to the finish.  Sanders rocketed off the line to lead the first two circuits after the yellow, but Shecarft came storming back to sail around the outside and reclaim the top spot.  With the upper hand Shoecraft opened a wide margin over Sanders and the third place battle between a fading Blake Coria, Jayson Wardle and a resurgent Ray Bolinger.  As the checkers waved Shoecraft claimed the win, followed by Sanders, Wardle, Bolinger, and Mike Vester in his front-wheel drive Discount Tire, All Metal Classics machine.

“It’s different,” Shoecraft said of his fast 208 Picker, B&W Wrecker Service sponsored Kendall Ford Mini Stock.  “Woo-hoo.”

Thirteen Pepsi Sprintcars ran in memory of long-time Meridian Speedway promoter LeeRoy Nelson Saturday.  The 40 lap affair began as Mike Anderson stormed his way around the outside of Aaron McPeak and took the lead in his Bender Electric, Idaho Plumbing Company sprinter.  On the move early was Ryan Newman, who knifed his Ashley Heating, Port-O-Subs machine to third on lap three and set to work tracking down the leaders.  On lap six second place Justin Segura worked his way under Anderson for the lead.  Newman followed Segura through to second and immediately started searching for a way around the Caldwell, Idaho driver.  Just seconds later Newman made his move to the lead as he worked to add his name a second time to the LeeRoy Nelson Memorial trophy.  Newman completed his move to the lead in the bottom groove on lap ten.

As Newman settled into the lead Star, Idaho’s Tony Ackerland, Riley Rogers, and Eric Ransom worked their way through the field.  Lapped traffic forced Ackerland’s Banner Promotions, YMC Heating sprinter to slow and allowed Rogers and Ransom to make their way around Ackerland in turn one.  Frustrated, Ackerland went to work climbing his way back into contention.  With fifteen circuits left Ackerland positioned himself under Rogers’ Extreme Towing and Recovery machine for fourth, but didn’t leave the young racer enough room to operate off of turn four.  Rogers popped the wall just before the flag stand and rode the concrete all the way into the turn one water barrels.  Rogers was okay, but his sprinter was out of the running for the LeeRoy Nelson 40 victory.

When the green flag waved again Ransom pulled to the outside and mounted a challenge on Newman.  Newman used the inside line to run out to the lead as Ackerland used a Ransom bobble to make it up to second.  With a dozen laps left Ackerland tracked down Newman and began his siege on the Caldwell, Idaho driver.  After several bouts of bumper-to-bumper contact slowed the lead duo Ransom pulled into the fray and it was a three-way fight for the LeeRoy Nelson 40 Memorial Trophy.  With five to go Ackerland jumped to the outside and overpowered Newman the top spot and motored away for the win.  Newman held off a furious charge by Ransom to claim second place.

“Everybody was driving their guts out,” said Ackerland in Arctic Circle Victory Lane “It’s a bittersweet honor to win this trophy.  I knew [LeeRoy Nelson] since I was this big.”

Meridian Speedway Racing for Smiles of the Northwest participant Austin Christopherson and long-time push truck and Domino’s Legend competitor Eldon Cahill were honored with a hard-fought 50 lap Domino’s Legends main event.  Payette, Idaho racer Cody Hollis jumped to the early lead while deep in the pack Chance Davis got crossed up in turn one.  Two-time defending AC/EC 50 champion Phyl Zubizareta made the most of the Davis jam up as he, teamed with Casey Tillman and Las Vegas, Nevada native Peyton Saxton, worked the high line and steamed up to Hollis.  Zubizareta’s run stalled as soon as he pulled abreast of Hollis, and for ten laps the top six ran two-by-two-by-two as nobody could claim an advantage.  Tillman provided Zubizareta plenty of incentive to make the pass as the Kuna, Idaho driver laid numerous blows on Zubizareta’s rear bumper.  Something had to give, and it was Eagle, Idaho’s Zach Blume who lost patience fist and took the leaders three-wide down the front stretch.

Suddenly Zubizareta’s Advanced Transmissions, R2 Custom Paint car came to life, as he dispatched Hollis and battled Blume for the top spot.  Blume was too strong for Zubizaret and took the top spot, bringing with him quick-time Saxton.  Saxton wasted no time in the runner up spot and powered his way to the lead with thirty circuits remaining.  With Saxton out front and running away Zubizareta carried speed around the outside line to take second from Blume.  At the halfway point fourth place runner Tillman’s YMC Inc., Taylor Made Upholstery car lost power and he pulled to the pit area.  Two laps later Blume would leave the race with an oil leak, but a caution kept him on the lead lap while he made repairs in the pit area.

On the restart Saxton got a good jump on the field and opened a four car-length advantage over Zubizareta, who had fallen into the clutches of Chance Davis, Johnethan Davis, and Ethan Jones.  Try as Zubizareta may to make good on his claim from the May 16 event that he’d win his third-straight AC/EC Memorial Trophy, it was not meant to be as he fell to Saxton’s dominant car.  Meanwhile, Blume was able to claw his way from the back of the pack to fifth.

“I love racing out here,” Saxton said as he collected the AC/EC Memorial Trophy.  “It’s a blessing to be racing out here on Memorial Day weekend.  It’s cool to be a part of it.”

Six-time track champion Sean Miller was memorialized with a 50 lap Intermountain Outlaw Modified main event to close Saturday’s portion of Meridian Speedway’s Memorial Day Weekend events.  With weather threatening the green flag waved over sixteen ground-pounding racers.  Neal Latham outdueled Josh Jackson in turn one to grab the early lead while Rosalee Weller bottlenecked the field from the fourth spot after contact sent her modified skidding in turn two.  On lap five three-time defending Sean Miller 50 champion Shelby Stroebel was collected in a Chris Fenton spin and pulled to the pits with a flat left rear tire.  Stroebel would restart the race buried deep in the competitive pack.

The restart saw Kyle Latham work his Silverhawk Aviation Academy, Latham Auto Care modified into second place while Dennis Wurtz II took advantage of some open racetrack to grab seventh spot as he marched his Glen’s Towing, Curtis Clean Sweep machine through the field.  Also on the move was Stroebel, who forced his way out of traffic on lap thirteen and mounted a run toward the front in the high line.  Both Wurtz II and Stroebel were mired behind the fight for third place between Caitlin Stroebel and Brent Collins.  By halfway that battle had worked itself out and Shelby Stroebel was able to push his Loan Mart, Trinity Construction racer around the high side to third.

Now the fight for first heated up as Tony Ackerland worked Neal Latham over for the top spot.  Ackerland completed the pass in his Ackerland Construction, Precision Framing machine with 20 circuits to go and had a comfortable lead until a caution brought now-second place runner Shelby Stroebel and lightning-fast Chris Fenton to his back bumper.  Stroebel was in the gas immediately on the restart and rocketed to the high line.  Ackerland moved to blunt this attack and was able to hold off Stroebel.  Stroebel then lost second to Fenton, who went to work on Ackerland.  For the second time Saturday night Ackerland crowded the racer to his outside, and this time it was Fenton who found himself in the front stretch concrete.

Ackerland was moved to the back of the pack for his involvement in the incident, leaving Shelby Stroebel in command of the field.  Quickly Devin LaHorgue made his move to the runner up position.  With the fast qualifier on his tail Stroebel had to get the restart perfect.  He did, and motored away from LaHorgue.  Now Gentry Pisca raced his way to second and set up a ten lap brawl for the Sean Miller Memorial Trophy.  Pisca held his own against Stroebel for five laps, but couldn’t maintain the leader Stroebel’s pace as for a fourth time Stroebel took his machine to Arctic Circle Victory Lane on Memorial Day weekend.

“I remember sittin up in the stands watching Sean Miller when I was just a buck,” said second place Pisca.  “He was something else.”

“This win just kind of fell in our lap,” Stroebel admitted.  “It’s an honor to be on Sean’s trophy again.”

The Memorial Day weekend double-header concludes Sunday as Meridian Speedway hosts the Bill Crow 50 NAPA Big 5 Latemodel race and the Naylor Memorial Mountain Dew Winged Sprintcar feature.  Joining these memorial races are Project Filter Pro-4s and Northwest Pro-4 Alliance racers as they settle the Project Filter 75, the College of Western Idaho High School Tuners, the Tates Rents Hornets, and the return of the Idaho Tile and Granite Bike Races for Kids.  Admission to Sunday’s events is just $10.25 for adults.  Don’t miss your chance to honor the memories of the legendary Crow and Naylor racing families Sunday under the big yellow water tower at Meridian Speedway.

Meridian Speedway

Saturday’s Unofficial Results-

Les Schwab Tire Race Night