Meridian Racer Battles for Diamond Cup Titleadmin
The fastest racers in the Northwest and Canada gathered at Meridian Speedway Friday for the first race of the two-day BOB FM Diamond Cup presented by Star Diamonds. Competing for the weekend championship were the Royal Purple Northwest Sprintcar Racing Association winged sprintcars. The Meridian Speedway Pro Trucks, running their own double-header Friday and Saturday, Pepsi Crate Cars, and Kendall Ford of Meridian Mini Stocks joined the fun for a full night of thrills.
The Pepsi Crate Cars finally got to run a main event after their first two race nights fell victim to rain. Eleven cars rumbled to the green flag, with Tyler Barrow taking the early lead. On the move early was quick-qualifier Justin Segura, who stormed his way to second place on the Pepsi-Cola scoreboard on lap five. Barrow wheeled his Valley Auto Alignment and Repair machine hard, but surrendered the top spot to Segura with eighteen circuits remaining.
Now Barrow had his hands full with Ryan Newman for second place. Newman was able to make the pass stick at the halfway point and set his sights on Segura’s Garage Graffix, MAC Tools machine. Lapped traffic halted Newman’s progress with six laps to go, and put the Caldwell, Idaho racer under attack from Mike Anderson. Newman was able to hold on to the runner up spot, but nobody had an answer for Segura who ran away with the victory.
“These guys work their butts off setting up my car,” Segura said of his team. “This car has been perfect all day.”
The Kendall Ford of Meridian Mini Stocks packed the concrete jungle with fifteen racecars to start their forty lap main event. Billy Shipp motored his way to the top spot on lap one while Michael Capps and Luke Wolverton dueled for second. Wolverton won that battle in his Hart Construction, I&N Cleaning racer and pulled Blake Coria with him around Capps for third. Coria wasn’t content to wait in third and stormed his way to the lead on lap seven.
First to challenge Coria’s Cutter’s Grand BBQ, BC Towing entry was Mike Vester, who used a lap fifteen caution to pull to Coria’s outside for the top spot. Next to emerge from the snarling pack was Robbie Hyde, who put the gas pedal in his Guppie’s Hot Rod Grille, M.C. Promotions machine down to take third at the race’s halfway point. A late race caution put Hyde in second below Vester for the final twelve lap sprint to the finish.
Hyde blasted to the lead on the green while Vester fought to keep his Discount Tire, All Metal Classics race in second as Jason Sanders entered the lead fight. While the top three stacked up Brandon Hild flung his Allison’s Concrete, Big O Tires car around the high line and took third, then bashed Vester’s rear bumper in a challenge for second. Hild won the battle for second and immediately pulled to the outside of Hyde. As the white flag flew the two racers were even at the start finish line and something had to give. It was patience that failed in turn three and four when Hyde and Hild slammed each other first, then the front stretch concrete. Sanders found himself in the right place at the right time, and sailed by the melee to claim his third straight main event trophy.
“I hate it for those two guys, they were racing their hearts out,” Sanders said in the Caleb’s Chop Shop victory lane. “When they got to banging on one another I thought ‘this is going to get crazy.’”
The Pepsi Crate Cars made an encore appearance on the quarter-mile for their second main event of the evening. Riley Rogers motored around Jimmy Gross to lead lap one while Ryan Wiederich piloted his System Kleen, Filter Factory Outlet Store machine around Tyler Barrow for third. On lap seven Gross’ Fast Track Auto Sales, Hookie Graphics racer was sent to the pit area, leaving Wiederich to cut into Rogers’ two and a half second lead. Wiederich’s attention soon turned to first main event winner Justin Segura, who searched high and low for a way to take second place. With six laps remaining Segura made it to second and quickly chopped Rogers’ lead in half. With one lap left Segura pulled to the outside and looked like he would storm around Rogers, but Rogers got on the gas pedal hard in turn four and drove his Extreme Towing and Recovery, H&H Accounting machine to victory.
“Justin’s one of my best friends,” Rogers said. “It was awesome to run against him.”
The Meridian Speedway Pro Trucks roared to life as fifteen drivers contested the Champion Produce 75 presented by Mike Minegar’s Auto Body. Quick off the line was Trevor Arnold, who dug hard on the inside line to keep his Arnold Construction, Blue Mule Auctions truck in the top spot. Arnold’s efforts would fail on lap five as Alan Larson powered around the high side to the lead. Deep in the pack Hannah Newhouse, John Wong, and Johnny Pierre went three wide for fourth place. After some casual contact Newhouse claimed the spot, with Wong settling in fifth and Pierre sixth.
A lap seven restart saw Buhl, Idaho racer Casey Pehrson blow past Larson for the lead with Newhouse in hot pursuit. Newhouse continued to challenge Pehrson until lap fourteen, when Pehrson took the Twin Falls, Idaho racer to the front stretch wall. Newhouse lost her momentum and the runner up spot to her father John Newhouse ten laps later.
Now the elder Newhouse made his move for the lead as he drove his The Car Store machine around the low line. With one third of the race in the rearview mirror John Newhouse took the lead while Hannah Newhouse also slid by Pehrson to run second.
Now the battle was on for fifth as Pierre, Wong, and Tyler Bailey went bumper to bumper for the last spot on the Pepsi-Cola scoreboard. Pierre got the best of that battle, but was followed by Bailey, whose truck shed a body panel with forty laps to go. John Newhouse was first to run through the debris, and cut a right front tire. A quick pit stop kept him in the race, but he was forced to the back of the pack.
With her father in the pit area Hannah Newhouse and her The Car Store, Elbach Springs entry inherited the top spot, with Pehrson, Pierre, and Newhouse’s younger brother Mason on her rear bumper. Pehrson muscled his way back to the top spot in the high line on the restart while Pierre dove to the low line to take second away from Hannah Newhouse, then to take the top spot with thirty-five laps to go.
Pierre and his D.L. Evans Bank, Elite Heating and Cooling truck came under heavy fire from Mason Newhouse, but was somehow able to keep his truck steady despite a constant flurry of body blows from the runner up. With 29 laps to go Mason Newhouse pulled to Pierre’s outside, but his run was stymied by Pierre out of turn two. Now it was Hannah Newhouse on the move as she blasted around her brother to take the runner up spot with twenty-five circuits left.
Hannah Newhouse held second until a mechanical issue sidelined her with eighteen laps remaining. With open track in front of him Mason Newhouse once again stepped up to again challenge Pierre. With a dozen circuits left Mason Newhouse gave Pierre a shot in the bumper, then another, and another. While Pierre wasn’t able to pull away from Newhouse, Newhouse wasn’t able to pull even with the leader either. With one last ditch dose of contact Newhouse slid his truck into turn three, but the effort wasn’t enough as Pierre powered to the victory.
“It was an awesome race,” Pierre said. “Mason ran me hard again…he raced me clean.”
The Royal Purple Northwest Sprintcar Racing Association Winged Sprintcars capped the first night of BOB FM Diamond Cup racing action. Eighteen of the fastest machines in the Northwest shook the asphalt quarter-mile. Bryan Warf was quick out of the gates and put his Allan Marsh Travel Center, Dave’s Quick Lube machine up front on lap one while quick-qualifier Matt Hein worked to move up from his seventh place starting spot. Meridian, Idaho’s Warf made the most of the open track while he had it as he carved out a two second lead for himself before he encountered lapped traffic.
The battle for second heated up as Kyle Alberding got caught out in traffic and watched his father Andy Alberding make his way to second. Next to challenge the younger Alberding was Hein, who stormed around the young racer three-wide to take third.
The race got interesting for Warf when a lapped car tangled with the leader on lap eighteen. Warf somehow controlled the slide to maintain the lead, but lost a good chunk of his lead in the exchange. Andy Alberding also encountered problems with traffic, which brought Hein to within striking distance of the second place runner.
With thirteen laps left Warf ran up on a hornet’s nest of traffic. Warf picked his way through, ducking high and low in an attempt to keep Andy Alberding behind him. Waft finally cleared the field and spent his final four circuits on cruise as he took night one of the BOB FM Diamond Cup presented by Star Diamonds. The forty lap race took just eight minutes.
“I’ve just go to thank this team,” Warf said. “It’s been an incredible week, week and a half. We’re three for three right now.”
Warf carried the momentum from his strong Friday night showing, and a four point Diamond Cup championship lead, into Saturday’s action.
The race for the Diamond Cup presented by Star Diamonds concluded Saturday with a fifty lap feature for the Royal Purple Northwest Sprintcar Racing Association winged sprintcars. The Meridian Speedway Pro Trucks, College of Western Idaho Super Street Stocks, TATES Rents Hornets, and Junior Stingers also brought their machines to the quarter-mile asphalt to wrap up the two-day event.
Three Junior Stingers motored through a twelve lap feature to start main event action. Boise, Idaho’s Shane Harris was quick out of the blocks as he motored around Lotus, Idaho driver Alyse Schildhauer’s CCT machine to take the early lead. Harris had just two laps to enjoy his Kim’s Kars machine out front before DJ Sirani made his way to Harris’ passenger’s side door. Side-by-side the lead pair battled all the way through the last lap, when Oasis, Idaho’s Sirani stormed around Harris in turn three to claim the checkers.
The College of Western Idaho Super Street Stocks rolled onto the quarter-mile for a 25 lap main event. On the green Todd Seaver overpowered Tim Shelton to take his Lucas Oil, Loan Mart racer to the lap one lead while quick-qualifier Kurt Oberdorf of Nampa, Idaho roared to third on the Pepsi-Cola scoreboard. Boise, Idaho’s Gale Carter was next to take the top spot and set sail from the pack in his Associated Pacific Movers, Steve Bosselman racer.
While Carter padded his lead Jordan Harris and Melissa Weaver-Arte battled for the third spot. With a dozen circuits to go Nampa, Idaho racer Weaver-Arte closed to Harris’ rear bumper. As the battle for third raged both Harris and Weaver-Arte were able to close to Oberdorf’s rear bumper as a caution flag bunched the field for a three lap dash for the hardware.
On the green Carter blasted back into the lead, but opened the door for Weaver-Arte to make a move in her Marv’s Tire Service, Dillon Auto Craft Performance Engines machine on the white flag lap. Weaver-Arte tried to work the outside, but contact from Oberdorf in turn three stalled her progress and she settled for second behind Carter.
The TATES Rents Hornets brought thirteen rough and tumble competitors to a 25 lap main. Brandon Kelley blasted from his second row starting spot to challenge Thomas Harrod for the top spot on lap one. Kelley completed the pass in his Kelley Rooter, Krung Thai Restaurant racer two laps later and worked to open a lead over Harrod, Josh Parkkila and Pat Hellickson. Hellickson wasn’t content with fourth, and with ten laps down muscled his Hungry Onion machine to second place. But as the laps wound down Nampa, Idaho’s Kelley kept a comfortable margin over Hellickson, Sean Young, and Parkkila to take the win.
“This is a difficult race,” Kelley said in the Caleb’s Chop Shop winner’s circle.
The Meridian Speedway Pro Trucks roared to the green flag of the Champion Produce 75 presented by Mike Minegar’s Auto Body. Trevor Arnold out of Idaho Falls, Idaho held off Casey Pehrson to lead lap one, with Twin Falls, Idaho driver Sam Harris in hot pursuit. Quick qualifiers Trevor Cristiani and Tyler Bailey didn’t waste a lap before they started carving their way through the field. Christiani moved his Sharp Transportation, Sharp Motorsports entry into the top five on lap eight with Bailey’s Project Filter, Broadway Automotive truck in his tire tracks. A three-wide scuffle in turn two allowed both Cristiani and Bailey to advance. With some clear track Cristiani motored to the runner up spot as Bailey got jammed up in traffic.
Lap 27 saw Cristiani dive below Arnold’s Arnold Construction, Trade and Loan Pawn for the top spot and run away from a physical battle between Jason Quale and Bailey for second place. Bailey got on the gas pedal hard and took second place just before the race’s halfway point.
With thirty laps to go Bailey arrived at Cristiani’s bumper as the pair encountered a cluster of lapped traffic. As Bailey worked to tiptoe through the traffic something under the hood let go, and the Meridian, Idaho racer was sidelined at the race’s two thirds point. This left second place in the hands of Jerome, Idaho’s Drew Reitsma, who had John Newhouse, Quale, and Johnny Pierre in his rearview mirror.
Reitsma pushed his Reitsma Holsteins, Action Auto Body truck hard to catch Cristiani, but that aggression proved too much and he socked the front stretch wall to bring out the race’s only caution with sixteen laps left. With the field bunched Boise, Idaho’s Cristiani led Newhouse, Quale, Pierre, and Scott Luttmer to a quick sixteen lap shootout.
Cristiani got the jump on Newhouse, but Newhouse battled back on the outside in his The Car Store truck to pull even with Cristiani. For six laps the lead pair ran door-to-door with neither driver gaining an inch. Finally Cristiani found something in turn two and sprung ahead of Newhouse with eight circuits left. This would prove to be the winning move as Cristiani powered away from the pack to take the checkered flag.
“Whew! I’m out of breath,” Cristiani said of the tough racing.
With their own two-day championship point total tallied, Meridian Speedway Pro Trucks competitors John Newhouse and Johnny Pierre were named co-champions after both scored 151 markers each over the course of the weekend’s action.
“It’s a testament to how close this racing series is,” said Meridian Speedway Pro Trucks series director Randy Kerr.
The Royal Purple Northwest Sprintcar Racing Association winged sprintcars thundered to the green flag of their fifty lap feature. Matt Hein of Roseburg, Oregon blasted to the lead on the green flag while Meridian, Idaho’s Bryan Warf went to work on Langley, British Columbia racer Aaron Willison for third place, desperate to make up the points necessary to take home the Diamond Cup championship.
Warf couldn’t make a move in his Allan Marsh Travel Center, Rex Hutchinson Race Engines entry early in the going and settled into fourth spot on the Pepsi-Cola scoreboard in the hopes his setup would come in and allow him to make time later in the event. Out front Hein was a blur as he passed sprintcars like they were standing still until lap fifteen, when Hein’s Independent Motor Rebuilders, Coast-Line West Insulation sprinter raced into an eight car wad of lapped traffic.
Hein navigated the crowd with precision while runner up Robbie Price, Willison, and Warf continued their rolling brawl for position. In and out of slower cars poured the second place trio. With twenty laps left Warf pounced on Willison for third, then flung his sprinter inside Price for second. Price used traffic to fend off Warf’s attack, but came under siege again with seven laps left. Warf tangled with traffic in the exchange and Willison passed the Meridian, Idaho competitor back for third. Warf wouldn’t stand for that and power his way back to the final podium spot the next lap. But Warf was out of time to track down Price, who settled for second place behind runaway winner Hein.
“These guys are so fast you have to be perfect,” Hein said. “We love coming to Meridian to race with you guys.”
With ninety straight green flag feature laps in the books, Hein and Warf awaited the point tabulation which would crown one of them the Diamond Cup champion. Once the points were tallied Hein was awarded the Star Diamonds ring by a margin of just seven markers. It was Hein’s third Diamond Cup championship.
“I get this one all to myself,” Hein said in reference to his 2011 tie with Sierra Jackson. “This is awesome. This is what we come over here for.”
With summer at the quarter-mile officially under way focus shifts to Saturday, June 11 as Aaron’s Sales and Lease Night bring the Pepsi Crate Cars, Steve Ward Peterson Super Sixes, Domino’s Legends, Project Filter Pro-4s, College of Western Idaho Super Street Stocks, and Teleperformance Claimers together for a full night of hard racing. General admission to Saturday night’s action is just $10.50 for adults, 6.50 for kids 7-11. Be sure to check meridianspeedway.com for all the latest news from around the quarter-mile and text ‘meridianspeed’ to 84483 for exclusive updates. We’ll see you Saturday night under the big yellow water tower at Meridian Speedway.