King Upsets Speed Tour Modified Field for ATS Opener Winadmin
After a long off-season, Meridian Speedway welcomed a full grandstand or race fans to the ATS Inland Season Opener on Saturday, April 10. The Speed Tour Modifieds presented by Pit Stop USA anchored a full night of hard-hitting, side-by-side racing alongside the Bud Light NASCAR Modifieds, Mulder Engineered Race Engines Junior Late Models, Pauly’s Bar Room Street Stocks, and Domino’s Legends.
Kasey Kleyn and Nevaeh Hull dueled for the Mulder Engineered Race Engines Junior Late Models victory after mechanical issues and incidents sidelined the majority of the field. Hull got the early jump in her Diversified Carpet Cleaning machine when Quincy, Washington’s Kleyn got sideways coming to the green flag. After a big front stretch slide, Kleyn gathered his Thaemert Farms, Sporty’s Steak House racer and sped past Hull to take the season’s first Feature Flag.
The Bud Light NASCAR Modifieds brought thirteen competitors to bear on their first 25-lap feature of the year. On the break Rus Ward drove to the top spot, followed by Chuck Youngblood, Colton Nelson, and defending division champion Brendon Fries.
Fries took over the lead on lap eight and quickly worked to open a gap between his ATS Inland Northwest, Academy Mortgage by Ryan Shelby modified and the quickly advancing Josh Fanopoulos. Lapped traffic helped Fries’ cause, and with a handful of laps left on the Pepsi-Cola scoreboard Fries held a nearly three-second lead over the second place runner.
With the race well in hand Fries charged headlong toward a cluster of back markers as they collided in turn one. With three cars sliding sideways in front of him, Fries had no choice but to check up, which allowed Fanopoulos to the leader’s rear bumper.
A late caution flag stalled Fanopoulos’ challenge for the lead, but his outside front row position on the restart proved valuable, as he piloted his Allan Marsh Travel Center, Certified Services racer around Fries and roared across the Caleb’s Chop Shop Victory Stripe first.
“Man, that was a blast,” Fanopoulos said. “That was some good, clean, fun racing with Brendon [Fries] there.”
The Domino’s Legends had 25 laps to find a feature winner for the ATS Inland Season Opener. Young Courtney Weller charged to an early lead with Ryan Martin in tow. By lap three Martin had his The TI Company, American Family Insurance by Sandy Poe mount up front with Brok Kidd in the runner up spot.
Back in the pack, contact sent Joe Daily’s Daily Fit Body, Iron Body Fitness racer around in front of the field. In the resulting jam up, Ken Frickey hopped a tire and his Snake River Legends, Les Schwab of Nampa machine nearly somersaulted into the front stretch wall. Frickey emerged from his wild ride sore, but uninjured.
When the green flag flew again, defending Domino’s Legends champion Jerry Davis went to work, and moved his GCAT Towing, Interstate Batteries machine from eighth to the lead in just ten circuits.
The Pauly’s Bar Room Street Stock feature was slowed early by a spectacular crash involving Neal Latham. After suffering right front suspension failure, Latham pounded and climbed the turn one concrete, before blasting into and over the turn one water barrels. After his short flight, Latham emerged from his wrecked racer okay.
Once racing resumed, defending Street Stock champion Josh Fanopoulos stormed to the front of the pack and capped his dream season opener with a victory.
“What a great start to the season,” Fanopoulos commented in the Caleb’s Chop Shop Winner’s Circle.
The Speed Tour Modifieds presented by Pit Stop USA rumbled to green on their season-opening 65 lap feature. Outside pole sitter Wyatt King wasted no time racing his way to the top spot while Zach Telford and quick qualifier Shelby Stroebel fought each other as they worked forward from their mid-pack starting spots. The Telford, Stroebel battle raged until lap nine, when the pair tangled in turn one to bring out the caution flag.
The race restarted with King and Dalton Cristiani on the front row. Once again, King showed off the power of his Major Tire and Hitch, YMC Mechanical modified and flashed back to the top spot.
Back in the pack, Stroebel pushed hard to get his Gibson Diesel Performance, K13 Mortgage machine to the front. By the race’s halfway point, Stroebel had worked his way back to fourth, but faced a nearly five second gap to King.
As the laps wound down, Dylan Caldwell got his Hot Box Farms, Conrad and Bischoff modified in a groove and dispatched Cristiani for second. With his sights now set on King, Caldwell sped to the leader’s rear bumper. High and low Caldwell searched for a way around King, but ran out of laps to make his move as King started his 2021 Speed Tour Modified presented by Pit Stop USA season off with a victory.
“I saw Dylan [Caldwell] clear Dalton [Cristiani] and I said ‘I gotta get going,’” King said.
Next Saturday, April 17, the fastest short track machines on the planet descend on Meridian Speedway for the Burnt River Farms Speed Tour Sprint Car Opener. The fire-breathing, pavement pounding Speed Tour Sprint Cars kick their season off in the Concrete Jungle, joined by the Speed Tour Modifieds, Project Filter Pro-4s, Big Daddy’s Barbecue Hornets, and Firehouse Pub and Grill Bombers. General admission to Saturday’s jam-packed night of short track racing is just $15 for adults, $13 for seniors and military members, $7 for kids 7-11, and free for kids 6 and under. Gates open at 4:45 p.m. on Saturday, with opening ceremonies at 6:30 p.m. Log on to www.meridianspeedway.com to purchase your advance tickets now, and text ‘meridianspeed’ to 84483 to receive exclusive text updates from around the quarter-mile. We’ll see you this Saturday, April 17, for the Burnt River Farms Speed Tour Sprint Car Opener under the big yellow water tower at your NASCAR Home Track, Meridian Speedway.