Fenton builds impressive run to Bill Crow championship at Meridian

Fenton builds impressive run to Bill Crow championship at Meridian


by Jon Brown, MERIDIAN, Idaho – While it’s undisputed that he enjoys winning memorial races, hometown racer Chris Fenton probably could do without the headache he had to endure to claim the Bill Crow Memorial 50

on Monday.

The 2010 NAPA Late Model Sportsman division rookie of the year waited through three caution flags before moving into the lead with 28 laps left when frontrunner Tyler Bailey of Middleton, Idaho, lost traction coming out of Turn 4.

The victory was hard-earned for Fenton and his pit crew, who rebuild the car from the ground up after he totaled the car in a wreck two weeks ago.

“This car was in pieces,” Fenton said. “If it wasn’t for Scott Walker, I wouldn’t be out here tonight. That guy is amazing.”

In other features on a race night sponsored by Lowe’s Home Improvement, Jeffrey Meads of Nampa, Idaho, finally found a way around Tyler Nelson to win the LeeRoy Nelson 50 for the College of Western Idaho Professiona

l Driving Street Stocks; Camron Madsen of Boise, Idaho, won the Eldon Cahill Memorial for the Domino’s Pizza Legends; and Catfish, driven by John Pinkston of Meridian, won a zany Thunder Dogs main event.

The victory in the 36th annual race to honor Bill Crow, who was a car builder, racer and promoter at Meridian, marked the third Memorial Day weekend victory for Fenton in the past four seasons. Driving an ASA Modified, Fenton won the Sean Miller 40 in 2008 and against last year.

He was left nearly speechless when he climbed out of his car after winning the track’s oldest memorial race, the perpetual trophy for which has been virtually the private property of Meridian’s John Nesmith. Nesmith had won the previous five races and had six championships to his name, but he didn’t enter this year’s race.

“I don’t even know what to say to that,” Fenton said after promoter Adam Nelson informed him that he was the latest winner of a race named for Nelson’s grandfather.

Fenton, Bailey and Star,

Idaho’s Tyler Monroe pulled away from the rest of the field early in the race and were spared any repercussions from four caution flags.

Fenton cruised most of the night as Bailey and Monroe fought over second place, and he was able to skate through unscathed as the lead pack finally caught up with slower cars with six laps remaining.

The Street Stocks feature turned out to be a multiple memorial as Meads drove a Plymouth Barracuda stock car built by the late Sean Miller to victory in a race held in memory of former Meridian promoter LeeRoy Nelson.

Meads worked hard throughout the race, chasing down Tyler Nelson, LeeRoy’s son who lives in Kuna, Idaho.

After spending several

laps ducking to the inside to find a way around Nelson’s Camaro, Meads drove his stronger Cuda to the front with seven laps to go as the front-runners exited Turn 2 and hit the backstretch.

“I don’t know how to express it,” Meads said. “It’s been such a terrible year for me. We worked on that other car so hard and couldn’t get anything to work.

“I thought I’d bring out the Sean Miller-built car, and I wish he was here tonight.”

A six-time track cha

mpion, Miller died in an ATV accident in September 2001. He also has a memorial race held in his honor each year.

Nelson took the lead from Boise’s Shawn Hansen five laps into the 40-lap event and pulled away with reigning series champion Melissa Weaver of Nampa.

After Nelson held off Weaver by a nose for several laps, Meads inserted himself into the argument and ran side-by-side with Weaver, waiting for his opportunity to challenge Nelson.

Meads got on Nelson’s bumper 15 laps into race and was latched there as Nelson steered his No. 78 through lapped traffic deftly enough to keep Meads at bay.

Once meads drove
“This was a pretty emotional one for us tonight because I didn’t think we’d even win a trophy dash this year,” Meads said. “This Cuda is awesome.” his powerful racer past Nelson, there was no stopping him as he built a three-car-length lead over the final laps.

The reigning Domino’s Pizza Legends series champion, Camron Madsen stayed one step ahead of the mayhem Monday night to win the race run in memory of a former track rookie of the year and Legends driver.

“It’s been a long winter,” the Boise, Idaho resident said, referring to inclement weather that had graced the first month or so of racing in Meridian.

There were eight caution flags in Monday’s 40-lap Legends race, but Madsen was able to maintain the lead through the final five.

The second yellow se

t up a side-by-side restart with early race leader Sara Henry of Boise, and that’s all Madsen need to get the upperhand.

Madsen built a lead o

f about two car lengths before the next caution, and then had to endure a strange finish that actually resulted in the eighth yellow.With two laps to go, the 02 car driven by Boise’s Phillip Zubizareta blew up in Turn 2, spewing oil and white smoke all over the track. He was running in third place when he pulled into the pits, only to have the racecar ignite in his pit stall. With the fire crew dispatched from the track to the emergency in the pits, a caution/checkered combo was thrown.

In the Thunder Dogs feature, Catfish was the second Thunder Dog across the line in a bump-to-pass main event, and therefore the winner after 25 laps. Catfish survived a lot of bumping and crunching and also lucked out when t
Sledgehammer was the runner-up.he race leader, Sledgehammer (Dave Jolley of Nampa, Idaho) forgot a crucial rule and took the checkered flag with plenty of room to spare. The rule –beyond bump to pass – was that the second car across the finish line on the 25thand final lap would be the winner.

For the second straight weekend,there will be two nights of racing at the speedway when the 22nd annual 96.1 BOB FM Diamond Cup attracts the best sprintcar racers in the Northwest on Friday and Saturday.

The Northwest Sprintcar R
Sharing the track with the sprintcars Friday night will be the Pepsi Sprintcars, Project Filter Pro-4s and Edmark Mini Stocksacing Association drivers, who hail from Idaho, Oregon, Washington and Canada, will run the first of two two-night shows for their 2011 season. Defending Diamond Cup champion Matt Hein of Roseburg, Ore., will get a challenge from Middleton, Idaho’s Sierra Jackson, who Saturday night won the 32nd running of the Bob and Tom Naylor Memorial Classic at Meridian Speedway, will lead the local contingent along with 2010 Mtn. Dew Winged Sprints series champion Chris Ratterree of Nampa, Idaho, and former USAC driver Mike Murgoitio of Meridian, Idaho.

Saturday’s supporting classes include the third appearance of the season for the SPI Sprintcars, the ESI Express ASA Modifieds, the College of Western Idaho Professional Truck Driving Street Stocks and the Jr. Stingers.

Gates open at 4 p.m. both nights with racing at 6:30 p.m.

Admission is $15 each night for general admission, $12.50 for senior citizens and military personnel with ID, $11 for children 7-11 and, as always, free for children 6 and younger.

A family pass is available for $46, which is good for two adults and up to four children. While supplies last, a family pass can be had for free with the purchase of 10 gallons of gas at participating Stinker Stations.

Fans can buy tickets online at www.meridianspeedway.com, print them off at home and avoid the long lines on race night.

For more information, visit www.meridianspeedway.com or call (208) 888-2813