Nampa’s Cristiani Dominates Jeff Russell Road to Recovery 75


Nampa’s Cristiani Dominates Jeff Russell Road to Recovery 75

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Jeff Russell was on hand to salute the fans that have aided his recovery from an October 2010 supermodified crash Saturday. Photo Credit: MS Staff

Rough mid-summer racing returned to Meridian Speedway Saturday night as six division battled on Jeff Russell Road to Recovery Night. The NAPA Auto Parts Big 5 Latemodels, Pepsi Sprintcars, Project Filter Pro-4s, Claimer Stocks, Kendall Ford of Meridian Mini Stocks, and Tates Rents Hornets went wheel-to-wheel in pursuit of the Cyclone Cycles trophy.

A battered Claimer Stock division rolled onto the track for a 12 lap shootout. When the green flag dropped Caldwell, Idaho’s Fred Nagele jumped to the lead but was soon under fire from Casey Hart’s Hart Construction, Ultimate Transmission pickup. Hart stormed around the outside of Nagele’s Knock Out Trucking machine on lap three. Next to catch the early leader was Ben Crow, who also worked the high line and took the runner up position. Now Crow set his sight on Hart and his famously sideways truck. By the halfway point Crow’s Excel Equipment Company, Main Street Motors racer was within a car length of the leader. As the checkers waved Crow ran out of time to make his move and Hart claimed the victory.

“This thing’s a little loose as you can all tell, but it’s a hoot to drive,” Hart said.

The Project Filter Pro-4s crowded the quarter-mile for a 25 lap battle. Jonathan Hull was quick to the gas pedal and took the early lead in his Diversified Carpet and Upholstery Cleaning, Elda Properties car while his brother Larry Hull III worked the high side of Ryan Bailey to claim second. The family feud broke out on lap six as Jonathan crowded older brother Larry on the backstretch before he surrendered the lead in turn three. Next to the younger Hull’s bumper was Kuna, Idaho racer Kenny Chandler. This battle went wrong in turn two when Hull and Chandler tangled and slid down the backstretch in a heap.

When the green flag came back out Joe Barton found himself on the outside of Hull III for the lead. Hull III outgunned Barton’s Tyco Structural Enterprises machine into the first turn and relegated him to the clutches of third-place Brendon Fries. Fries dispatched Barton quickly and with a dozen circuits remaining planted his Chick-Fil-A, Boise Peterbuilt racecar in Hull III’s tire tracks. Fries hunted high and low to find the fast way around the racetrack as he inched closer and closer to the race leader. While Fries was able to apply pressure to Hull III he couldn’t find his way around the Mulder Machine, Spiers Construction machine as Boise, Idaho’s Hull III picked up the Cyclone Cycles trophy.

“What a great night to pick [a win] up,” Hull III said of his Jeff Russel Road to Recovery Night victory.

Fifteen Kendall Ford of Meridian Mini Stocks mobbed the racetrack as they contested a 30 lap main event. On the start Middleton, Idaho driver Mitch Eckhardt used the high groove to rocket around Michael Capps for the top spot. Mike Davis, Mike Vester and Travis Pavlacky followed suit and soon moved to Eckhardt’s rear bumper. Davis was first to challenge Eckhardt and on lap four Davis piloted his Bigelow Teas, Evergreen Sprinklers machine to the lead.

Davis wasn’t alone as Fruitland, Idaho’s Pavlacky powered up his pickup and mounted his own charge to the lead. Pavlacky chose the high line and motored to the lead as Davis fell into a runner up battle with Jason Sanders and trophy dash winner Pat McGuire. As Pavlacky slowed to pick his way through traffic Sanders in his Valley Property Management, Printcraft car closed on the leader. As Sanders stalked Pavlacky things got physical for third as fast-qualifier Scott Shoecraft landed a flurry of blows on McGuire’s rear bumper. Shoecraft eventually found his way to the inside of McGuire and took the spot on lap fifteen.

As the laps wound down to single digits Sanders pulled to Pavlacky’s bumper and looked to make a late race pass for the win. Sanders tried to move Pavlacky out of the preferred low line to no avail. Next Sanders looked high but again was thwarted by Pavlacky’s superior drive off the corner. On the last lap traffic choked the track and allowed Pavlacky to motor into the Arctic Circle Victory Lane.

“Sanders put up one heck of a fight,” Pavlacky said post race. “That was awesome.”

A lightning-quick field of Pepsi Sprintcars were next to take on the quarter mile. On lap one of 35 Aaron McPeak used the inside line to pass Tyler Barrow’s A and R Automotive racer for the top spot. On the move early were youngsters Justin Segura and Riley Rogers who held the third and fourth positions by lap four. By lap six they held second and third respectively. Segura wasn’t done there as he went to work on McPeak, and made his Garage Graphics sprinter stick on the outside to take the lead on lap ten.

Rogers was next to try a pass for the lead as he worked the inside line. For seven laps Segura held off Rogers, but Rogers stuck with the inside and powered his Extreme Towing and Recovery sprinter into the lead. Now Rogers had his hands full with quick-time Tony Ackerland and Eric Ransom. As the laps clicked down to single digits Rogers held his line and dared Ackerland to try the outside line. Ackerland decided he wanted the inside and he fought his way to it with five laps to go.

A late race caution allowed Rogers to protect his inside line but brought Ackerland’s Banner Promotions sprinter even with the young racer. Ackerland didn’t waste the opportunity as on the restart he roared past Rogers in turn one and took the Pepsi Sprintcar victory.

Thirteen NAPA Auto Parts Big 5 Latemodel drivers thundered onto the speedway to compete for a place on the Jeff Russell Road to Recovery trophy. On the green young guns Tyler Marston-Henderson and Stafford Smith dueled for the top spot. Marston-Henderson would pilot his Maz-Tech Automotive machine into the lead on lap three and brought Justin Ellis with him to second. As Marston-Henderson cruised out front Hannah Newhouse and Trevor Cristiani picked their way through an angry pack of competitors. Cristiani was first to break into the top five, and after fifteen laps the Nampa, Idaho driver held fourth.

On a lap 16 restart Cristiani shot to second and overpowered Marston-Henderson to take the lead in his Busted Spur Welding racer. The battle in the pack was for second as Marson-Henderson fought hard to fend off an aggressive challenge from Cory Petero. After an eight lap battle Petero’s patience gave out and he moved Marston-Henderson to the infield. This placed Tyler Bailey and Newhouse in line behind Cristiani for the restart. Noah Gragson in his AlertID car and John Wood held fourth and fifth as the field roared back to speed with fifty laps remaining.

Cristiani settled into a conservative pace during the second third of the 75 lap feature. Behind Cristiani NASCAR K&N Pro Series West regulars Newhouse, Gragson, and Wood formed up to challenge the local racer. After a mid-race restart Gragson was able to close on Cristiani, but his run faltered as Cristiani turned up the wick on his machine to close out the feature.

Cristiani ran the final 25 laps of the race as if to put the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West on notice. As Cristiani walked away from the field Wurtz II in his Glen’s Towing, Curtis Clean Sweep machine went to work on Newhouse for third. The battle quickly turned physical as Wurtz II paid back some contact made in the evening’s trophy dash. Newhouse emptied her bag of defensive tricks and somehow managed to keep her ailing Boise State University, Coca-Cola car in third place behind Gragson and race dominator Cristiani.

“I’m really blessed to have my crew…they do so much for me,” Cristiani said in Arctic Circle Victory Lane. “I have a lot of fun driving it.”

The Tates Rents Hornets closed the Jeff Russel Road to Recovery event with a 30 lap main event. Josh Parkkila was first to grab the lead in his Utility Trailers, Knock Out Trucking car, but was quickly under siege from Charlie Atkinson and Eriq Arnold. Atkinson made use of the inside line and took the lead on lap four, just before the caution flag waved for a turn one pileup that left Tommy Harrod without power in turn one. On the three-wide restart James Pahl piloted his Raceway Video car—once driven by the late Art Heath—from the third row to the lead. DJ Everett also powered through the pack and claimed the runner up spot with seven laps in the books.

Now Everett went to work on Pahl for the lead. The pair sliced, diced, and bashed their way through traffic before a caution at the halfway point slowed the pace. When the race restarted Pahl found himself between Everett and Atkinson. Pahl shook off the competition and raced his way back into sole possession of the top spot. As the laps wound down Pahl navigated traffic like a veteran and opened a several second advantage over Everett. But Everett fought back and pulled his Dot’s Bingo Snacks, Discount Tire machine even with Pahl on the white flag lap. But Pahl got the launch off turn four and claimed a hard-fought victory.

Pahl celebrated by jumping to the roof of his car and saluting the crowd with a Heath-esque double fist pump.

“I’m at a loss for words,” Pahl said trophy in hand. “Art Heath up there helping me out…I’m pretty sure he’s the reason we won this race.”

With an incredible night of racing in the books Meridian Speedway turns its attention to Thursday night and the debut of Davey Hamilton’s King of the Wing Sprintcar Series at the quarter-mile. Joining the WOW Country Thursday festivities are the United States Auto Club HDP Midgets, the INEX Legends in a Regional Qualifying event, and the High School Tuners. Don’t miss your chance to see the fastest winged sprintcar competitors from across the country roar around Meridian Speedway. Tickets for Thursday night’s sprintcar shootout are just $18.25 for adults and $14.25 for kids 7-11. As always check meridianspeedway.com for the latest news from around the quarter-mile and text ‘meridianspeed’ to 84483 for exclusive updates. We’ll see you Thursday night under the big yellow water tower at Meridian Speedway.