Nampa Drivers Dominate Military Appreciation Nightadmin
Meridian Speedway honored the United States Armed Forces as it hosted Military Appreciation Night at the quarter-mile oval Saturday. Helping the packed grandstands pay tribute to our nation’s military were the Project Filter Pro-4s and their first Project Filter Twin 25 event of the 2015 season, Pepsi Sprintcars, Coors Super Stocks, College of Western Idaho Professional Truck Driving Program Street Stocks, Kendall Ford of Meridian Mini Stocks, College of Western Idaho Transportation Program High School Tuners and the Junior Stingers. These seven competitive divisions didn’t disappoint as they battled for victory.
Main event action started early Saturday as the first leg of the Project Filter Twin 25s started the action on a hot, slick race track. When the green flag fell pole sitter Joe Barton edged ahead of Kenny Chandler Jr. on the low side of the racetrack in his Tyco Structural Enterprises car. Chandler’s fall was far from over as, hung in the greasy high groove, he watched as driver after driver streamed past his Project Filter, Fairly Reliable Bob’s machine. Ten laps into the twenty-five lapper Chandler’s race went from bad to worse as a the Kuna, Idaho driver’s machine spat a shower of debris onto the racing surface and lost fire. With Chandler out the fight was on for second and third as Ryan Bailey tried to ward off the advances of Jonathan and Larry Hull. The battle would go bad in turn three on lap fourteen as the Hull brothers and Bailey tangled and spun. This incident put the familiar pair of Barton and Brendon Fries on the front row for the restart. Fries prevailed with as strong run down the backstretch. Try as Barton might to get back around Fries’ Chick-Fil-A, Boise Boys Transportation machine Fries proved too strong and wheeled his Project Filter Pro-4 into Arctic Circle Victory Lane. Fries’ win earned him a trophy, but also a back of the pack starting spot for the second Twin 25.
“It’s definitely a great car,” Fries said of his ability to sweep the Project Filter Twin 25s, “but 25 laps is short, so we’ll see.”
The Junior Stinger division brought nine competitors to the green flag. As soon as the race began the youngsters sprang to action, dueling four-wide through turns one and two. Somehow everyone made it through the first hectic lap which saw Evan Brown and DJ Sirani break away from the pack. Oasis, Idaho’s Sirani passed Brown on lap three to take the lead as Brown turned his attention to defending the second spot from Taylor Occhipinti. Brown’s defense wasn’t enough as Occhipinti dove his Marv’s Tire Service, Bearclaw Graphics racer to the inside and took the runner up spot. Now Occhipinti tracked down Sirani and methodically searched for an opening. With Seven circuits remaining Occhipinti used the ailing car of Garden Valley, Idaho racer Bryce Edwards as a pick and snatched the lead. As Occhipniti pulled away from the field the battle heated up for third and fourth as fast dash winner Caitilin Sharp in her A-1 Chem Dry, La Sierra Tire and Wheel car battled Brown’s Pro Power Clean, Adrenaline Truck Performance entry. This battle was cut short when Sirani got loose in turn one and collected Austin Wiederich. Both Wiederich and Sirani would retire from the event. When racing resumed Nampa, Idaho’s Occhipniti picked up right where he left off and ran away for the Junior Stinger victory.
The College of Western Idaho High School Tuners made their debut on the quarter-mile Saturday with Drex Liffick and Tayvia Morris on the front row. When the green flag fell Liffick jumped his way around Morris’ Kim’s Kars sponsored automobile for the early lead. Kendra Occhipinti was the woman on the move early as she ducked to the low side of the track and found room to move forward. Occhipinti’s run was blunted when Peter Woog and Liffick tangled in front of her and made her brush the turn one concrete. With this scare in her rearview mirror Occhipinti set her sights on Morris and Woog for the top spot. On lap nine Woog worked his way under Morris for first. Two laps later Occhipinti followed suit. With seven to go Occhipinti had closed the gap on Woog to less than one car length. As Woog ran high and Occhipinti looked low Jordan Harris joined the fight. When the leaders found open racetrack with four laps to go the shootout commenced. Occhipinti made the first move and dove beneath Woog to take the top spot. With the white flag in the air Woog piloted his car hard into turn three in one last ditch effort to claim victory, but came up short as Nampa, Idaho’s Occhipinti claimed the Busted Spur Welding and repair trophy just three days before her 16th birthday.
The conclusion of the Project Filter Twin 25s came as the sun set behind the Stinker Stores Family Friendly Section in turn four. As the green flag waved Boise, Idaho’s Larry Hull III and Ryan Bailey went door-to-door for the top spot. The low line prevailed as Hull III pulled his Diversified Carpet and Upholstery Cleaning, Mulders Machine racer to the early lead. Now Bailey’s Les Schwab Tire, Everman Mediation and Law machine fell into the clutches of first-leg winner Fries. Fries, who had steamed around the bulk of the Project Filter Pro-4 field in just three short laps, pinned his racer to the high side and around Bailey on lap five. Now there was just Hull III between Fries and the Project Filter Twin 25 sweep. While Fries stalked Hull III the battle for third raged as Joe Barton worked around the outside of Bailey. Barton prevailed just in time as a caution slowed the field with ten laps remaining. When the action restarted Fries went back to work in the high groove. Hull III was able to hold off Fries’ fast racer, but the battle slowed both competitors so that Barton was able to turn the lead duo into a trio. Now third-place Barton went to work on the rear bumper of Fries. Fries held off that attack and cooled his tires enough to mount a late-laps charge on Hull III. Again Fries wasn’t able to make the high line work to take the lead and Hull III won his second-straight Project Filter Twin 25.
Hull III used his time in the Arctic Circle Victory Lane to thank all the service men and women in attendance for their service.
Twenty Kendall Ford Mini Stocks roared into the clutches of the concrete jungle to battle for thrity laps. Boise’s Mike Davis was fast out of the blocks as he powered his Bigelow Teas, Nampa Valley Helicopter car around CJ Stirm’s Boise Spring Works entry and took the early lead. Boxed in at the back of the pack was early favorite Ray Bolinger, who fell to thirteenth before he was able to get to the preferred high groove and move his Best Heating, Mulder’s Auto Machine car forward. Back up front second-place runner Rick Brees worked Davis over for the lead and on lap seven. Hard charging Jayson Wardle and Blake Coria followed Brees by Davis to take second and third respectively. At the halfway point fast-qualifier Scott Shoecraft went to work on Davis’ rear bumper to break into the fifth spot on the Pepsi-Cola scoreboard. With ten laps to go Shoecraft made his move to fifth and set his sights on catching the front-runners.
Up front Kuna, Idaho’s Wardle mounted a hard charge on Brees for the lead. Wardle gave Brees a warning shot in turn three with seven circuits left and he never dropped further than half a car length back in his pursuit of the victory. Finally with three to go Wardle pinned Brees in lapped traffic and shot to the lead. Brees wouldn’t have a chance to retake the spot as a last-lap spin brought out the caution flag and the checkered flag waved over Wardle and his Discount Tire, Volt Vapes racer.
“All you guys come out and support us every week,” Wardle said to the Meridian Speedway fans in victory lane. “Thank you so much.”
The Coors Super Stocks and College of Western Idaho Professional Truck Driving Street Stocks combined for a thirty lap brawl for it all. On the green Super Stock competitors Jess Ryska and Josh Jackson battled for the top spot as the field stayed double file for two full laps. Jackson would eke out an advantage over Ryska while mid-pack Shaun Bush took the Street Stock lead. That lead was short-lived as Nampa, Idaho drivers Marv and Melissa Weaver worked their way under Bush for the top Street Stock spot. Back at the front of the field Jackson had to fend off a hard battle from Lynn Sharp, who jabbed his A-1 Chem Dry, LaSierra Tire and Wheel Super Stock low in turn three on lap fourteen. Sharp got into Jackson and spun to the grass while the field thundered past. No other cars were collected, but the scrum allowed Melissa Weaver to race her way around her father Marv for the Street Stock lead.
On the restart Ryska jumped back outside Jackson, and again Jackson prevailed. This time Ryska was freight-trained by Gale Carter and Ray Bolinger. The next lap Ryska spun in turn one and was collected by Jason Reed. After a lengthy cleanup in turns one and two Carter pulled his Associated Pacific Movers, Oregon-Idaho Torch and Regulator Repair of Nyssa car up to challenge Jackson for the Super Stock lead. On the same lap Bush used the high side of the racetrack to take the Street Stock lead. On the restart Carter overpowered Jackson, but the two made contact on the front straightaway and spun in front of the field. Somehow the pack drove through the spinning leaders without further incident. When the smoke cleared Bolinger emerged as the race leader with Bush in his Marsing Yacht Club, Bush Excavation car to his outside in the Street Stock lead. Bush rocketed around the high side of track in an attempt to pass Bolinger, but it was no use as after a two-lap battle Bush fell back into the clutches of Marv Weaver. The elder Weaver worked his way into the Street Stock lead and now Bush battled Melissa Weaver for second place. Though Bush was fighting a losing battle he manhandled his racer until with three to go he tagged the front stretch wall and lost enough momentum that Melissa Weaver pulled clear and raced her way into the Street Stock runner up position. One lap later the caution flag flew and bunched the field for a green-white-checkered finish.
Bolinger took the green flag first and pulled his Best Heating, Mulder’s Auto Machine racer away from the Weaver racing teammates on the green flag lap. On the white flag lap Daniel Johnson tried to muscle his Darlene’s Printing, Dillon Toyota Lift car three wide beneath Marv and Melissa Weaver both. Johnson and Marv Weaver made contact and slid sideways, but both drivers gathered their vehicles and stayed in the race. The damage was already done as the bump allowed Melissa Weaver to work her way past both of them to take the Street Stock win. Bolinger held on to win the Super Stock race.
“I had a lot of strong competition tonight, so that was great,” said Melissa Weaver beside her Marv’s Tire Service, Dillon Performance Engines car in Arctic Circle Victory Lane.
The Pepsi Sprintcars closed the Military Appreciation Night festivities with a quick thirty lap feature. From the front row Nampa, Idaho competitor Ryan Wiederich shot to the lead while last week’s winner Riley Rogers was black flagged on lap three for leaking fuel. Ryan Newman and Tony Ackerland worked in tandem to tear through the field as lap five saw both of these sprintcar competitors make their way into the top five. Ackerland was first to slice his way into the top three as he worked over Larry Hull III on lap fifteen, then Justin Segura on lap eighteen. Now Ackerland had a dozen laps to race his Banner Promotions sprinter closer to Wiederich. It took Star, Idaho’s Ackerland only two circuits to erase the gap and he immediately went to work on the inside of Wiederich. Wiederich refused to yield the spot and slammed the door on Ackerland at both ends of the speedway with five to go. Try as Ackerland might he couldn’t race his way around Wiederich’s Filter Factory Outlet Store, Superior Services of Idaho machine as the veteran campaigner held onto the top spot to the checkers.
“Oh man,” a staggered Wiederich managed as he collected his main event trophy. “It’s been a long time coming. This is pretty awesome.”
With competition already in mid-season form book your tickets now for next Saturday’s action as Meridian Speedway hosts the River Adventures Raft Race Night. Roaring around the quarter-mile Saturday, May 16 are the Grand American Modifieds, Budweiser Modifieds, Domino’s Legends, Claimer Stocks, Tates Rents Hornets, and the always entertaining Thunder Dogs. Saturday will also feature the first Clarity Credit Union Penny Gold Rush 4 Kids and your chance to win the second installment of double Race-O. Tickets for the River Adventures Raft Race Night festivities are just $10.25 for adults, $6.25 for kids 7 to 11 and as always race fans 6 and under get in free. Be sure to check meridianspeedway.com for all the latest news and notes from under the big yellow water tower and text ‘meridianspeed’ to 84483 to receive special info. We’ll see you Satruday for another epic night of racing at Meridian Speedway.