Newhouse, Marshall Junior Duel for Jeff Russell 85 Checkers

Newhouse, Marshall Junior Duel for Jeff Russell 85 Checkers

The NAPA Auto Parts Big 5 Late Models crowded the quarter-mile Saturday, August 15, for the Jeff Russell Road to Recovery 85 on Aaron’s Sales and Lease Night at Meridian Speedway.  Alongside these fast, full-bodied stock cars, the Teleperformance Street Stocks, Mulder Engineered Race Engines Junior Late Models, Mini Stocks, High School Tuners, and Firehouse Pub and Grill Bombers did battle for their own Powers Transport Feature Flags. 

The NAPA Auto Parts Big 5 Late Models followed point leader Randy Marshall, Junior and Thane Alderman to green for Saturday’s Jeff Russell Road to Recovery 85.  Marshall, Junior got to the gas pedal first and shot to the lead in his blue and orange Kustom Fab, TSI number 25 machine.  But in his tire tracks was Meridian Speedway veteran John Newhouse and his neon yellow and black PFC Brakes, Prax Air car. 

As Newhouse closed on Marshall, Junior, the rest of the field jockeyed for position.  The hardest battle came for fourth and fifth as T.J. Monroe and Neil Latham traded mid-race jabs.  Latham lined up the nose of his Impact Motorz, Conrad and Bischoff racer with Monroe’s rear bumper, and began to pound on the Star, Idaho racer.   

Lap after lap Latham tried to move Monroe’s Torch Towing and Transport racer, and lap after lap Monroe kept control to maintain fourth place on the Pepsi-Cola scoreboard.  This fight grew more and more aggressive until Latham and Monroe made contact in turn two, causing Monroe to spin and bring out a yellow flag with 24 circuits to go. 

During the caution third place runner Nick Gibson’s Karcher Auto Body, Gibson Diesel Performance racer slowed out of turn two, the victim of an apparent mechanical failure. 

On the restart Marshall, Junior again got the hole shot and took the lead with Newhouse a close second.  But the drama remained between Latham and Monroe, and within three laps of the restart Latham found himself backward in turn four.   

With the Monroe-Latham feud settled, the race went green for one final 22 lap dash to the checkers.  As was the case all night Marshall, Junior took off fast and held Newhouse at bay to claim his second main event victory of the season.  Tyler Bailey, Latham, and Monroe rounded out the top five. 

“It’s awesome to race in front of fans!  We don’t do that back in Washington,” Marshall, Junior said.  “I love coming here.” 

Josh Fanopoulos, behind the wheel of a backup car borrowed from Lee Hackney, pushed past Kendra Occhipinti to claim his second feature win of the year.  Occhipinti crossed the line third behind her younger brother Taylor Occhipinti, and ahead of Troy Evans and Pat Young. 

“We lost a motor [last week].  We were going to scramble and put something together, but Lee reached out and offered up his car,” Fanopoulos said as he collected his Powers Transport Feature Flag.  “To put someone in your car, that’s huge.  I greatly appreciate it.” 

Ashton Cristiani raced his way to the Mulder Engineered Race Engines Junior Late Model victory Saturday night.  Behind Cristiani, a strong female contingent of Kylie Ith and Jody Moen, youngest driver in the field Anthony Latham, and early season winner Nevaeh Hull rounded out the top five. 

Mini Stock racer Ron Wilbur made the most of his visit to the Concrete Jungle as the Lacey, Washington racer outdueled Mike Davis to cross the Caleb’s Chop Shop Victory Stripe first.  However, Wilbur missed his post-race turn in technical inspection and forfeited the win to Sandhollow, Idaho’s Davis.   

Mountain Home, Idaho’s Jim Budine maneuvered his machine through the Firehouse Pub and Grill Bomber pack to score his first victory on the year in only his second feature. 

After an electrical issue showered the youngster with sparks pre-race and a spin left him in the turn three concrete, Dylan Wardle gathered up his TraBar Custom, Generic Brand racer and was still able to race his way through High School Tuner pack to a main event victory over Riley Bradford and his Thomasson Racing, Andy’s Sharpening machine. 

The thrills and spills continue next Saturday, August 22, as Meridian Speedway plays host to the Hot August Race for Hunger presented by ATS Inland Northwest.  The Big Daddy’s Barbecue Hornets run the night’s title race, a 125 lap feature to benefit the Boise Rescue Mission, while the Pit Stop USA NASCAR Modifieds, Project Filter Pro-4s, Coors Super Stocks, and Junior Stingers go wheel-to-wheel for their Neil Alan Fine Jewelry Feature Flags.  General admission to the Hot August Race for Hunger presented by ATS Inland Northwest is just $12 for adults, $10 for seniors and military members, $7 for kids 7-11, and, as always, kids 6 and under get in free.  Gates open at 4:45 p.m. Saturday, with racing at 6:45 p.m.  Tickets are available through the ticket portal at  Live coverage of the Hot August Race for Hunger presented by ATS Inland Northwest is available via pay-per-view at  We’ll see you this Saturday, August 22, under the big yellow water tower at your NASCAR Home Track, Meridian Speedway.