Hein Survives Rough Tom Elliott Sportsman Classic Fridayadmin
The fastest short-track racers on earth roared into Meridian Speedway Friday night for the Tom Elliott Sportsman Classic under the big yellow water tower. The Canadian-American Northwest Sprintcar Racing Association winged sprintcars, Kendall Ford of Meridian Mini Stocks, Super Sixes, Project Filter Pro-4s, and Junior Stingers crowded the quarter-mile in pursuit of the YMC Heating and Air Conditioning trophies.
Five Junior Stingers rolled to the final green flag of their 2015 season. On the green Evan Brown stormed around the high side of Shane Harris to take the lead on lap one. Noah Capps was quick to Brown’s bumper as Capps turned up the pressure on the race leader. On lap four the pressure got to Brown, who spun in turn four. Capps inherited the lead and DJ Sirani pulled to his outside for the restart.
Capps outran Sirani in turns three and four to maintain the lead, which relegated Sirani to the clutches of division championship leader Taylor Occhipinti. At the halfway point Occhipinti had the high line and second place, but wanted to cap 2015 with a victory. With a bold slide around the outside Occhipinti blew past Capps to take the lead before he set sail to yet another Arctic Circle of Meridian Victory Lane appearance. Behind Occhipinti, Sirani and Capps dueled bumper-to-bumper for the runner up spot. At the checkers Capps held onto his machine and claimed second place.
“This wouldn’t be fun without all the other racers,” Occhipinti said as he collected his YMC Heating and Air Conditioning trophy.
The Project Filter Pro-4 championship came down to the final lap of Friday’s 30 lap feature. Going into the final race Larry Hull III and Brendon Fries stood separated by just five points atop the standings. The green flag waved and Jonathan Hull shot around Wes Summers for the lead while Hull III was first of the title contenders to make it onto the Pepsi-Cola scoreboard as he held third after lap one. Hull III wasn’t content there as he hung the high line in his Diversified Carpet and Upholstery Cleaning, Elda Properties car and rocketed to the lead after four laps.
Behind Hull III, Fries sat mired in fifth place, desperate to make something happen. Finally Kenny Chandler piloted his Project Filter, Fairly Reliable Bob’s machine around Ryan Bailey and cleared the high line for Fries. By the halfway mark Fries had his racer in second and his sights set on leader Hull III.
As the laps wound down Fries pedaled his Chick-Fil-A of Meridian, Boise Boys Transportation racer hard and started to close the gap on Hull III. With five to go Fries arrived at Hull III’s rear bumper and went to work on the high side of the leader. Fries waited until turn four on the white flag lap, but couldn’t make the pass and Hull III slid across the line to victory.
“We just come out to win and put on a great show,” Hull III said.
Hull III did far more than that, as his win catapulted the Boise, Idaho driver to the Project Filter Pro-4 championship by two points over Fries.
Open-wheeled feature action started early as a hungry field of Super Sixes rumbled onto the quarter-mile for a 30 sprint. Pole sitter Kyle Burrill outran Pat Young into turn one and led the first lap in his Ditchwitch of the Rockies, Northwest Traffic machine. Young used an early restart to bolt around Burrill and take his Dick’s Chevron, LaSasco sprinter the lead on lap three. Mid-pack quick time Dean Waltman sliced and battled his way from the back of the pack to take fifth on lap thirteen.
Up front it was Drew Crenshaw on the move as he put the pedal down and piloted his Discount Tire, Bender Electric racer around Young for the lead on lap fourteen. Behind Crenshaw the quick sprinter of Paxton Kautman and Stacey Jensen hooked up and closed on the leader.
A restart with eight laps left allowed Waltman to jump to the outside and pass Jensen and Kautman to take the runner up spot for himself. With the white flag in the air Waltman pulled his Twin Falls Boledrome, Rockhound Jewelry to Crenshaw’s tail tank, but ran out of time to make a move and had to settle for second behind Crenshaw.
“Thank you all for coming out, it was awesome,” Crenshaw said as he collected the hardware.
A fast field of eighteen Kendall Ford of Meridian Mini Stocks rolled to the green for their final sprint race of 2015. On the green Pat Tully raced around Michael Capps to claim the early lead while Terrell Daffron and Travis Pavlacky continued their epic battle from last race as they settled into second and third. Daffron used the high line to power his Weiser Bowling Lanes car to the point on lap four while Pavlacky followed one lap later.
Pavlacky worked the low line on Daffron, his pickup sliding around the corners. As the laps dwindled Daffron used lapped traffic to maintain the lead until lap twelve, when Pavlacky returned the favor and trapped Daffron behind Robbie Hyde and moved to the lead. Pavlacky set sail in clear track and powered to win the final Kendall Ford of Meridian Mini Stock feature of 2015.
The Canadian-American Northwest Sprintcar Racing Association rolled 21winged sprintcars to the start of Friday’s feature. The forty lap feature kicked off with Rick Elliott being honored with the Tom Elliott Sportsman Classic trophy for his continued support of sportsmanship at Meridian Speedway.
The action started early as Scotty Aumen flashed to the top spot in his Finning Caterpillar, Upland Excavating machine on lap one. Matt Hein went on the attack early as the championship hopeful made a three-wide move on lap one and shot past pole sitter Chris Ratterree to take second. Meanwhile, point leader Andy Alberding worked cautiously through the field in his WSK Machine, Davis Auto Parts sprinter and sat seventh after lap one.
Hein and his Independent Motor Rebuilders, Long’s Building Supply racer were on leader Aumen immediately and stormed past to take the lead on lap four. Alberding had the hammer down too and roared to fourth on lap five in pursuit of his title foe.
With eleven second laps flying off the Pepsi-Cola scoreboard Hein found lapped traffic on lap ten, which slowed the leader enough for Aumen and the rest of the top five to keep pace. In the midst of traffic Alberding knifed his way under Chris Schmelze and took third. With just Aumen between Alberding and his nemesis the Roseburg, Oregon driver turned up the wick on his sprinter and steamed toward the runner up.
With a dozen laps left Alberding made his move and powered around Aumen for second, only to be greeted by a line of nine lapped sprinters between he and Hein. A caution with four laps to go slowed the field and allowed Alberding to pull within eight car lengths of Hein. The ensuing restart turned into chaos as third place Schmelze tried to duck inside Alberding. The two made contact and whipped around in front of trophy dash winner Levi Rose.
Rose hopped a wheel and cartwheeled into the catch fence in turn one. The fence did its job and kept the car on speedway property, but destroyed Rose’s Colville Aviation, Carey Auto Body sprinter. Damage to the catch fence was extensive as well, and caused the Tom Elliott Sportsman Classic to be cut four laps short with Hein declared the winner.
The Meridian Speedways season concludes Saturday night as the NSRA Sprintcars, NAPA Auto Parts Big 5 Latemodels, College of Western Idaho Professional Truck Driving Program Street Stocks, Claimer Stocks, College of Western Idaho High School Tuners, and Tates Rents Hornets take to the quarter-mile to settle their season championship battles. Gates open at 4 p.m. with qualifying at 5 p.m. and racing at 6:30 p.m. We’ll see you Saturday night for the final time in 2015 under the big yellow water tower at Meridian Speedway.