Las Vegas, Boise Drivers Scrap for Domino’s Legends Winadmin
Summer descended on Meridian Speedway as Emergency Medical Service, Police, Fire and Correctional Officers Night roared onto the quarter mile. The beating and banging started early as the Grand American and Budweiser Modifieds, Pepsi Sprintcars, Domino’s Legends, Collegeo of Western Idaho Transportation Program High School Tuners, Junior Stingers and Tates Rents Hornets jockeyed for mid-season victories.
The Junior Stingers battled for eighteen laps to open main event action. Fast dash winner Evan Brown was quick out of the blocks and made his way around Garden Valley, Idaho driver Bryce Edwards for the lap one lead. Brown and his Pro Power Clean, Tates Rents machine wasn’t the only one making fast progress as DJ Sirani and Nampa, Idaho’s Taylor Occhipinti hooked up and stormed to the first and second positions on lap three. Now Occhipinti stalked Sirani, eager to make his way around the Oasis, Idaho driver. With ten to go Occhipinti battled his way inside Sirani and took the top spot. Further back Edwards and Austin Wiederich jockeyed for the fourth spot. Wiederich emerged from that battle with his Filter Factory Outlet car in fourth, but spun with three laps remaining to give the spot right back. On the restart Sirani caught Occhipinti asleep at the wheel of his Marv’s Tire Service, Bearclaw Graphics machine and made his way to the point. But Occhipinti was able to dig out of the hole as he battled from the low line to pass Sirani for the win.
The Domino’s Pizza legends already had tensions brewing by the time their thirty lap feature rolled onto the quarter-mile. In the evening’s preliminary heat races Peyton Saxton of Las Vegas, Nevada and Boise, Idaho’s Phyl Zubizareta beat and banged down the back stretch for the top spot before bringing out a caution flag. Zubizareta headed to the pit area as a result of the contact while Saxton continued to claim a top five finish.
When the green flag fell on the feature Darin Turpen sprang to the top spot in his Rocky Mountain Supply, Turpen Motorsports racer while Zubizareta tried several three-wide moves to make his way toward the front while Saxton was mired in traffic. A grinding, lap three crash involving Jamie Hyde, Ken Frickey, Daytona Wurtz, and Delaney Blume shuffled the field and allowed Zubizareta to move himself into the fast high line for the restart.
Saxton also chose the outside line and with the green flag in the air he worked his way to the front of a fast field. Up front Meridian, Idaho’s Ethan Jones raced around leader Turpen to claim the top for himself. This left the door open for Zubizareta, who sliced his way to second. Zubizareta wasted no time in the runner up spot as he pulled his Advanced Transmissions, R2 Custom Paint car to Jones’ outside and snatched the lead on lap seven. Now Saxton found clean racetrack and zoomed his way past Aubree Wartman and Jones to second.
Now it was the Domino’s Legend division lap record holder Saxton who closed on Zubizareta and pulled to the high side. Zubizareta used the opportunity to knock Saxton into the backstretch wall. Saxton was undaunted and worked again to Zubizareta’s outside. Landing some blows of his own Saxton fought to pull even with Zubizareta until a hard slam relegated Saxton to second again. The constant run-ins allowed Casey Tillman to pull his YMC Inc., Identify Sign Works racer into the brawl and make it a three-way battle for the top spot on the Pepsi-Cola scoreboard. The only thing that cooled the tempers of Saxton and Zubizareta was Johnethan Davis’ fiery blown engine on the front stretch. Davis jumped uninjured from his burning hot rod as it came to rest in turn one. The Carl’s Cycle Sales Fire Crew was on the scene and had the fire out quickly.
Flagman Austin Hager spent a considerable amount of the ensuing red flag period discussing on-track conduct with Zubizareta and Saxton, who traded pleasantries as they sat parked on the front straightaway. The discussion ended with Zubizareta being black flagged and sent to the pits for the rest of the evening due to his unsportsmanlike conduct.
Racing resumed with Saxton, Tillman, and Zach Blume in the lead battle. Saxton put the pedal down first and raced away from the field while Blume started to harass Tillman for second. The challenge was short lived as Tillman pulled away from Blume in the closing laps to finish runner-up to Saxton.
“That was one heck of a legend car race,” Saxton said in Arctic Circle Victory Lane. “I’ve been in a lot of them, but this is definitely one of the wildest ones.”
Fifteen College of Western Idaho Transportation Department High School Tuners battled through a thirty lap main event Saturday, their longest of the season. On the green Will Ostrum overpowered Allie Orlando to take the early lead in his Diversified Carpet and Upholstery Cleaning car while James Pahl and Cody Garrett stormed their way to the front. The ensuing battle for the lead went sour on lap two when Ostrum broke loose under Pahl and both cars shot to the turn two concrete. All drivers were okay and all but Ostrum continued, though Pahl’s Raceway Videos car was badly hampered.
When racing resumed Garrett dashed to a commanding lead in his Ray Auto Care machine while quick-qualifier Jordan Harris and division dominator Kendra Occhipinti ran him down. By lap eight Harris had his Kims’ Kars racer on Garrett’s rear bumper, and by lap ten Occhipinti joined in her Marv’s Tire Service, Bearclaw Graphics car to make it a three-way fight for first. Occhipinti was first to go to work as she passed Harris for second with a bold inside move, complete with some contact.
Traffic kept Occhipinti at bay for five laps, but once the lead duo found open racetrack Occhipinti dove to the low side of the racetrack. With one last burst of speed she slid up in front of Garrett and took the lead for good. This was Occhipinti’s third straight CWI High School Tuner race victory. Garrett, CJ Stirm, Harris and Connor Woog rounded out the top five.
The Pepsi Sprintcars continued the theme of physical racing as a dozen fast competitors clashed for thirty circuits. Drew Crenshaw used his outside pole position to race around Aaron McPeak and claim the early lead. Crenshaw had no time to enjoy his advantage as immediately Justin Segura and Tony Ackerland pulled free of the pack and mounted a charge to the front. Segura pinned his sprinter low and used a wild, wheel-to-wheel bump in turn one to take the lead. Crenshaw took abuse as he yielded second to Ackerland as well when the Nampa, Idaho driver was squeezed into the front stretch concrete.
At the halfway point Ackerland stuck his Banner Promotions racer under Segura going into turn one. The two made contact and Segura slid his Garage Graphics racer backward into the wall. Though Segura’s stricken racer rolled out of control through the pack no one else was collected. Segura stopped for repairs, Ackerland was sent to the back of the pack, and Crenshaw found himself and his Bender Electric, Discount Tire sprinter out front once again, pursued by heavy hitters Ryan Newman and Riley Rogers.
Newman and Rogers teamed up on the high side of the race track to overpower Crenshaw when the green flag fell. With Ackerland stuck behind battles for position it was up to the young lead duo to settle the last dozen laps. Rogers did his best to pull even with Newman, but wasn’t able to negotiate lapped traffic and had to settle for second behind the Newman Motorsports, Ashley Heating machine.
“I thought I picked the wrong lane early, but we were able to work our way back up front,” Newman said as he collected his Disaster Kleen-Up trophy.
The Grand American and Budweiser Modifieds joined forces for a 35 lap shootout. On the green Kuna, Idaho’s Darrell Dolling muscled his way under Pete Trammell to take the Grand American Modified lead while Cade Hollon piloted his River Adventures racer around Gene Stroebel to take the Budweiser Modified lead. Hollon wouldn’t enjoy the top spot for long as first Josh Jackson went to work on his rear bumper and then Darvin Ackerland ducked below the young competitor and took the Budweiser Modified lead in his Ackerland Construction modified.
Back up front in the Grand American Modified division Dennis Wurtz II used the high line and a well-handling Curtis Clean Sweep, All Makes Auto Salvage racecar to his advantage as he roared around Doling for the lead. Within laps Wurtz II had a half straightaway lead over now-second place Brent Collins and Jay Cook for the Grand American lead.
The man on the move was Ackerland, who took his Budweiser Modified not only to the division lead, but then began to pass Grand American Modifieds as well. With fifteen laps to go Ackerland had put half the supposedly faster Grand American field behind him and went to work on Nampa, Idaho’s Cook for third overall. That battle ended swiftly and left Ackerland with ten circuits left to track down second-place Collins. Ackerland would run out of time and settle for third overall behind Collins and overall winner Wurtz II.
The Tates Rents Hornets ran a different kind of race Saturday as they lit the fuse on a second-place wins feature. Al Russell shot out to the early lead while James Pahl and Bill Allen, who celebrated his 52nd birthday pre-race, charged toward the front of the pack. Pahl and his repaired Raceway Videos car met resistance with Nampa, Idaho’s Skeeter Stewart as the two fought bumper and fender for the last podium position.
Up front Aaron Harris tightened his belts and passed Russell for the lead, but held the top spot for just half a lap before Bill Allen rocketed around the Nampa, Idaho driver to take the top spot. Allen did not relent in his quest for a birthday victory as he steamed through traffic in his Disaster Kleen-Up, Meridian Police Employee Association racer. Allen yielded the lead to the surging Thomas Harrod when he got pinned behind lapped traffic with fifteen circuits to go. Allen fought back and wrestled second from Harris, but had just eleven laps to track down leader Thomas Harrod.
A caution with nine laps to go gave Allen a chance to position himself for the run to a second-place victory. When the green flag waved Harrod and Harris jumped to the front, but Allen hung back waiting for the last lap to make his move. Another restart dropped Allen to sixth place and made his run to the checkers that much more difficult.
When the green flag waved pandemonium ensued. James Pahl raced his way around the high side to pull even with but not ahead of Harrod while Ron Compton and Allen bashed to maintain third. The brakes glowed as a three-wide front row was shoved across the finish line by the three abreast second and third rows. Pahl’s brakes gave out first after a furious pushy by Stewart and he crossed the line first. With Pahl across the line Compton nailed the gas and took second place and the victory.
“What an honor,” Compton said. “I want to thank the fans. Without them we’re just running around here in a big old circle.”
With another physical chapter written in the Meridian Speedway history books fans can look forward to next Saturday and Aaron’s Sales and Lease Fan Appreciation Night. The CT400 Winged Spritncars, SPI Super Sixes, Project Filter Pro-4s, Coors Super Stocks, College of Western Idaho Professional Truck Driving Street Stocks and Claimer Stocks take the track to battle for the Racing for Smiles trophy. Admission is just $10.25 for adults, $7.75 for seniors and military members. Visit meridianspeedway.com for advance tickets and text ‘meridianspeed’ to 84483 for special information throughout the week. As always we’ll have a seat for you Saturday at Meridian Speedway.