Favorites Follow Through, Claim Crow, Nelson, Miller Memorialsadmin
Meridian Speedway capped a Memorial Day weekend double-header Monday, May 28, as the NAPA Auto Parts Big 5 Latemodels contested the Bill Crow Memorial 50. The Teleperformance Claimer Stocks and Project Filter Pro-4s ran their own memorial races in memory of LeeRoy Nelson and Sean Miller respectively. The PitStopUSA.com NASCAR Modifieds joined forces with the Rebel Modifieds of Idaho to run the second PitStopUSA.com NASCAR Modified Shootout event of the season, while the High School Tuners and Junior Stingers battled for crucial early season points.
A dozen Project Filter Pro-4s joined forces for Monday evening’s Sean Miller Memorial 40. On the break Scott Shoecraft overpowered Nampa, Idaho’s Sean Young to take the early lead. First to challenge Shoecraft was Ray Bolinger, who broke free of the pack and into the top spot on lap three.
Next to emerge from traffic was Brandon McLean, who unleashed his Traditional Electric, Ken Chandler Racing machine and tracked Bolinger down. McLean worked the outside line to perfection and on lap sixteen the Meridian, Idaho racer dispatched Bolinger to take the top spot. But McLean found himself with fast company in his mirrors as inaugural Sean Miller Memorial winner Ken Chandler pulled into the lead battle.
Lapped traffic slowed McLean at the race’s halfway point, and Chandler pounced. With Chandler’s Project Filter, Fairly Reliable Bob’s racer up front and McLean in a comfortable second, the race became for third on the Pepsi-Cola scoreboard. Nampa, Idaho’s Jordan Harris wanted the final podium spot, but Alex Duda’s Boise Boys Transportation, TS Fuel and Oil machine stood in his way.
For ten laps Harris piloted his Kim’s Kars, H&H Auto machine around the high line while Duda held ground on the inside. But Harris wouldn’t be denied, and the Nampa, Idaho racer completed the pass with a scant five laps left on the Pepsi-Cola scoreboard. Though Harris closed on McLean for the runner up spot, neither could gain on Chandler, who sped to his second Sean Miller Memorial victory.
A fast field of Teleperformance Claimer Stocks rumbled onto Meridian Speedway for the LeeRoy Nelson Memorial 40. Ed Griffith III was quick out of the blocks and drove his Certified Services, Forest Management Tree Service machine to the top spot. But outside pole sitter Scott Lawson fought back on the high side to take the top spot on lap two.
Lawson’s move came in the nick of time as lap three saw Griffith III spin in turn three and collect Kendra Occhipinti and pre-race favorite Pat Tully. Occhipinti was forced to retire from the event while Tully’s Dean Wilson Racing, Dillon Performance Engines crew made quick repairs that allowed the Caldwell, Idaho competitor to rejoin the field.
On the restart Lawson bolted back to the lead while new track record holder Todd Seaver began his march forward. In third place by lap ten, Seaver followed Josh Fanopoulos around the leader, then scooted around Fanopoulos in the low line to take the lead for himself.
While Seaver set sail out front, Tully found the handle on his battered machine and began forward march of his own. From fourth spot Tully watched Nampa, Idaho’s Taylor Occhipinti try Fanopoulos’ Certified Services, A-1 Towing entry without success. As the laps wound down it looked as though the second through fourth place runners wouldn’t catch Seaver without a caution flag, and with seven to go a spin in turn two slowed the field and brought Fanopoulos to Seaver’s outside.
Seaver wasted no time and retook the lead in turns one and two on the restart with Fanopoulos, Occhipinti, and Tully in hot pursuit. Occhipinti was first to break ranks as he looked low, but this allowed Tully to his outside. After two laps of hard racing contact in turn one sent Occhipinti sliding through the grass and handed Fanopoulos one last shot at the LeeRoy Nelson Memorial 40 win.
With the green flag in the air Seaver sped back to the point with Fanopoulos and Rich Lawson in tow. Though Fanopoulos kept pace with the leader, Seaver’s car was too strong and the Meridian, Idaho driver flashed across the Caleb’s Chop Shop Victory Stripe first.
Dylan Caldwell and Dave Thomasson led an asphalt-rattling contingent of NAPA Auto Parts Big 5 Latemodels to the Bill Crow 50’s green flag. On the break Caldwell used the pole position and streaked to the lead in his racer. But on the move was Trevor Cristiani, who whipped his machine around the outside line to take third by lap two. Behind Cristiani, fellow Ukiah, California native Kyle Tellstrom followed suit, and by lap eleven the pair held first and second on the Pepsi-Cola scoreboard.
Behind the leaders, defending Bill Crow 50 champion John Newhouse worked his The Car Store entry through the field to make the lead duel a lead battle on lap twenty. A string of caution flags quelled the battle momentarily, but once the green flag waved at the race’s halfway point the war for the win was on. Newhouse drove low to take second from Tellstrom, but Tellstrom motored back around Newhouse on the high side. Back and forth the second spot went until the battle saw Newhouse spin through the infield in turns one and two.
With Newhouse relegated to the rear of the field, Justin Ellis moved his Neil Alan Fine Jewelry entry into the top three. On the restart Ellis lost ground, which allowed Morgan Rasmussen to take over third place honors. But Ellis fought back, and with ten laps left Rasmussen shot out of the groove and into the turn two concrete. The hit catapulted Rasmussen’s ride into the air before it settled into the pit entry wall. Rasmussen climbed from his demolished machine unhurt, but had to watch the final ten lap shootout from the pit area.
The benefactor of Rasmussen’s caution was Newhouse, who had picked his way back into the top five but lacked the track position necessary for one last strike at the leaders. When the green flag fell Newhouse got to the gas and immediately sliced his way to fourth place, then third. But Newhouse’s dramatic charge ran out of laps and he was forced to settle for third behind Tellstrom and Bill Crow 50 winner Cristiani.
With the Memorial Day weekend in the books Meridian Speedway sets its sights on Saturday, June 2, and EMS, Police, Fire, and Correctional Officer’s night presented by Aaron’s Sales and Lease. The PitStopUSA.com NASCAR Modifieds get two shots to take home a Maxwell Plumbing trophy, while the Pepsi Crate Cars and ISRL Super Sixes, Teleperformance Claimer Stocks, Bid Daddy’s Barbecue Hornets, and Bombers compete for hardware of their own. Plus, don’t miss the next installment of Meridian Speedway’s Spectacular Drags. General admission is free for EMS, Police, Fire, and Correctional Officers Saturday, while adults get in for $11.50, seniors $9, and kids 7-11 $6.50. Log on to meridianspeedway.com for more highlights from Monday’s action, and don’t miss out on your exclusive updates and offers by texting ‘meridianspeed’ to 84483. We’ll have a seat waiting for you this Saturday, June 2, for EMS, Police, Fire, and Correctional Officer’s Night presented by Aaron’s Sales and Lease at your NASCAR Home Track, Meridian Speedway.