NASCAR National Divisions Shine on Whelen Night at the Racesadmin
Meridian Speedway’s four national NASCAR racing divisions took the spotlight Saturday on Whelen Night at the Races presented by the College of Western Idaho Professional Truck Driving Program. The NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Modifieds, Pepsi Crate Cars, College of Western Idaho Super Street Stocks, Kendall Ford of Meridian Mini Stocks, and College of Western Idaho High School Tuners all crowded the quarter-mile to kick off the second half of the racing season.
The College of Western Idaho Super Street Stocks kicked off main event action with a twenty lap shootout. On the green Nampa, Idaho’s Jordan Harris stormed around pole sitter Pat Young to put his Kim’s Kars machine in the top spot. Harris opened a two-second lead over the pack in the race’s first five laps as Melissa Weaver-Arte made her way through the field to second. With fifteen laps left Weaver-Arte cleared Meridian, Idaho’s Todd Seaver and unleashed her Marv’s Tire Service, Dillon Auto Craft Performance Engines entry. It took four laps for Weaver-Arte to arrive at Harris’ rear bumper, and just one to complete the pass for the lead.
Now the battle was on for fourth as Boise, Idaho racer Gale Carter went to work on Nampa, Idaho’s Kurt Oberdorf. Carter drove his Associated Pacific Movers machine past Oberdorf with six circuits remaining, then relieved Seaver of third one lap later. But up front it was all Weaver-Arte, who cruised to the checkers.
The Whelen All-American Series Modifieds rumbled onto the quarter-mile for a thirty lap main event. Nampa, Idaho racer Beau Gillogly shot to the early lead, with fellow Nampa, Idaho natives Jordan Kirkland and Trevor Cristiani in tow. Gillogly wheeled his Razor’s Edge Window Cleaning, Quick Silver Embroidery machine hard to keep Kirkland at bay, but Kirkland put his Simple Harvest, R&R Truck Repair modified in the low line and took the lead on lap four. Gillogly fought his way back to the top spot one lap later as Kirkland went for a wild slide through turns one and two. This left Rus Ward and Cristiani to battle for second. Cristiani motored around the high side of Ward, then moved to the low line in his bid for the lead. Cristiani claimed the top spot at the race’s halfway point, but struggled to clear Gillogly, who hung tough in the outside line.
New track record holder Colton Nelson was able to muscle his Integrity Pools, YMC modified past Gillogly with twelve laps left, then pulled even with Cristiani with ten laps to go. Nelson dug hard in the low line, but Cristiani refused to give up the top spot as the laps wound down. For three laps the pair dueled until Nelson completed the pass. The strain on Cristiani’s machine proved too much and a mechanical failure put the second place driver hard in the turn one wall.
On the restart Ward worked to move his Boise Spring Works, River Adventures entry around Nelson, but the point leader was too strong and Nelson ran away with the evening’s first NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Modified main event.
Eight College of Western Idaho High School Tuners took the green flag for their twenty lap main event. Nampa, Idaho’s Tayvia Morris pushed her Northwest Auto Service machine hard to claim the race’s early lead, but Meridian, Idaho racer Connor Woog used the high line to came away with the top spot on lap two. On lap four Kendra Occhipinti used a wild three-wide pass to work her Marv’s Tire Service, Bearclaw Graphics car into second, followed by Meridian, Idaho’s Alex Hibbert and her brother Taylor Occhipinti. Two laps later Kendra Occhipinti passed Woog’s Discount Tire, Les Schwab entry for the top spot and drove her racer away from the pack.
Occhipinti was right to run as new track record holder Riley Rogers cleared Woog for second and started to close in on the leader. Lap after lap Rogers shortened the distance between his H&H Accounting, Goodwill Finance racer and Occhipinti until he drew even on the white flag lap. Rogers rocketed around the outside of turns three and four, but Occhipinti got her car through the corner first and beat Rogers to the finish line. However, due to her three-wide pass, Occhipinti was penalized two positions, handing the win to Rogers.
“The race was a lot of fun,” Occhipinti said. “He put up some great competition.”
“I think she deserves to win the trophy,” Rogers said. “She put up a heck of a race.”
Upon a further review of the race, Kendra Occhipinti was awarded the victory.
The Kendall Ford of Meridian Mini Stocks crowded the quarter-mile with thirteen machines for their 25 lap main event. Eagle, Idaho’s Alex Duda put his Boise Boys Transportation, Mark Source Mortgage racer to the early lead followed closely by Mike Vester and Robbie Hyde. Vester was first to make a move as he put his Discount Tire, Guardian Alarm machine in the high line to take the point on lap six. Hyde followed Vester past three laps later, and brought Kuna, Idaho’s Jayson Wardle and Boise, Idaho’s Donovan Johns with him.
Wardle was on the attack and he slung his Blohm’s Family Deli, Perfectly Posh racer to the outside of Hyde and took the runner up spot with a dozen circuits remaining. Wardle and Johns stormed to Vester’s rear bumper and a three-car battle broke out for the top spot. The fight was short-lived as contact sent Wardle spinning from second with ten laps remaining.
The restart brought Johns to Vester’s outside, with Garry Hussey and Hyde in row two. Johns piloted his Volt Vapes, March Insurance Group entry to the top spot while Hussey blasted past Hyde’s Guppies Hot Rod Grille, MC Promotions machine. With a head of steam Hussey poured into turn three too fast and tagged Vester, who spun in front of the field. When the smoke cleared Vester and Luke Wolverton’s Hart Construction, I&N Cleaning machine sat in a heap. Hussey was sent to the back of the pack and Hyde drew even with Johns for a seven lap shootout.
When the green flag waved Johns shot back to the lead while Nick Daffron jumped three-wide and into a battle with Hyde for second. Only a tap from Blake Coria could stop Daffron’s advance and give Hyde the runner up spot. But all the action happened behind Johns, who raced to his first ever Kendall Ford of Meridian Mini Stock main event victory.
“Man, that’s an amazing fun run,” Johns said in the Caleb’s Chop Shop Winner’s Circle. “We have an amazing group of people to race with.”
A fast field of Pepsi Crate Cars roared through their 25 lap main event. On the green Boise, Idaho’s Aaron McPeak motored to the top spot followed by Brandal Glenn, Justin Segura, and Riley Rogers. Segura made his way past Glenn’s Boise Metal Works, Big Nasty Hillclimb machine just before Glenn and Rogers tangled and spun in turn four. Both drivers were able to continue, but had to restart at the tail end of the field.
On the restart Segura blew past McPeak’s Hugo’s Deli entry, followed closely by Boise, Idaho’s Tyler Barrow. Barrow struggled to keep pace with Segura, and as the laps wound down Barrow fell into the clutches of a resurgent Rogers. With a dozen laps left Rogers put his Extreme Towing and Recovery, Wildside Wraps machine on Barrow’s tail tank. Rogers made the pass stick with six laps left on the Pepsi-Cola scoreboard, but didn’t have enough to close on main event winner Segura’s Garage Graffix, Mac Tools entry.
The College of Western Idaho Super Street Stocks rolled back onto the quarter-mile for their evening’s second main event. Pole sitter Pat Young raced his Bell’s Automotive, Snap-on Tools machine into the early lead while Kurt Oberdorf and Gale Carter hooked up to race their way forward. This tandem tangled on lap three to bring out the race’s first caution flag.
On the restart hard-charging Melissa Weaver-Arte tore around the outside to take the lead, followed by Todd Seaver and Jordan Harris. With Weaver-Arte closing in, the battle for fourth heated up as Young fought hard to stay ahead of Ben Crow, Oberdorf, and Carter.
Crow was first to make a move and he put his Excel Equipment Company, Trenching Services, Inc. machine into the high line for fourth spot. Young battled back from the inside line before the pair made contact. Young’s car vaulted over Crow’s hood before it landed and spun. Oberdorf, Carter and leader Weaver-Arte somehow picked their way through the melee.
On the restart Weaver-Arte lost the top spot to Harris for a moment, but recovered to put her racer back in the lead with five circuits remaining. This proved to be the winning pass as Weaver-Arte motored to her second main event victory of the night.
The NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Modifieds closed main event action with a 35 lap feature. On the green Larry Hull III roared past Dylan Caldwell’s Roadrunner Glass Company, Redline Recreational Toys machine to lead lap one. On lap six Caldwell snuck underneath Hull III to take the lead.
While the top two fought amongst themselves, Rus Ward sliced through the pack. Ward drew even with Hull III’s Diversified Carpet Cleaning racer on lap twelve, but couldn’t complete the pass before Colton Nelson joined the scrum. Nelson pushed Ward past Hull III, then settled in behind Ward as the two worked lapped traffic on their way to Caldwell’s rear bumper.
Unhappy with Ward’s progress Nelson made a move with twelve laps to go. Ward used lapped traffic to fend off Nelson’s advances, but with eleven laps to go lapped traffic spun in front of the pair and put Ward in the back stretch wall. On the restart Nelson drove under Caldwell and led the race’s final ten laps to claim his second main event victory of the night and sixth of the season.
“It’s a big weekend for the state points championship,” Nelson said. “It’s pretty exciting.”
The short track racing action continues this Thursday, July 21 as Davey Hamilton’s King of the Wing Sprintcar Series invades Meridian Speedway for the second annual Pink Lady Classic presented by Pepsi and WOW Country 104.3. The Domino’s Legends, College of Western Idaho Super Street Stocks, TATES Rents Hornets, and Honda Performance Development Midgets round out a full night of racing. General admission for the biggest winged sprintcar event of the Meridian Speedway season is just $18.50 for adults, $6.50 for kids 7-11, and as always kids 6 and under get in free. Saturday night the Outhouse Grand Prix presented by Idaho Central Credit Union takes to the concrete jungle. The NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Modifieds, Pepsi Crate Cars, Project Filter Pro-4s, Kendall Ford of Meridian Mini Stocks, Teleperformance Claimer Stocks, and rookies of the TATES Rents Hornets division all take the track for the second race night in three days. We’ll see you this Thursday and Saturday under the big yellow water tower at Meridian Speedway.