One Race, One Win: Winter, Lawson Score in Speedway Debuts

One Race, One Win: Winter, Lawson Score in Speedway Debuts

First-time winners dominated the ATS Inland Season Opener, the first event of Meridian Speedway’s 69th season.  The Intermountain Outlaw Modifieds and NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Modifieds double headlined the Saturday, April 13, event, while the Project Filter Pro-4s, Factory Motor Parts Mini Stocks, Teleperformance Street Stocks, and Big Daddy’s Barbecue Hornets provided race fans with a full night of racing thrills and spills. 

A dozen Teleperformance Street Stocks rumbled to green for a 25 lap feature.  Marsing, Idaho racer Rich Lawson sped to the early lead from the pole position while Kendra Occhipinti and Josh Fanopoulos surged forward.  It took just five laps for the pair to work from the back of the pack into the top five.  Three laps later Occhipinti and Fanopoulos worked the high groove to take the top two spots on the Pepsi-Cola scoreboard.   

Fanopoulos wasn’t satisfied with second, and so he set to work on Occhipinti.  Lap after lap Fanopoulos worked his Certified Services, A-1 Towing machine around the inside line, but lap after lap Occhipinti’s momentum kept her and her Marv’s Tire Service, Dillon Performance Engines racer up front.  The battle raged until a caution waved with eight laps left and set Fanopoulos even with Occhipinti for the restart. 

Door-to-door the lead pair hustled through turns one and two before they came together on the back stretch.  The contact cut Occhipinti’s left front tire and sent her to the pit area.  In the skirmish Meridian Speedway newcomer Jesse James Lawson maneuvered his machine into second. 

The final green flag waved with seven circuits remaining, and Lawson jumped out front to lead them all en route to his ATS Inland Season Opener win. 

The resurgent Big Daddy’s Barbecue Hornet division brought twenty racers to their first green flag of 2019.  First-time driver Casey Winter of Meridian, Idaho positioned himself perfectly for the division’s second-across-the-line-wins finish.  Winter sat third on the last lap behind seasoned Boise, Idaho racers Cody Garrett and Nick Durbin.   

Both Garrett and Durbin slammed on their brakes coming out of turn four as they tried not to cross the finish line.  Garrett slid across the Caleb’s Chop Shop Victory Stripe first, which relegated him to a fifth place finish.  With Durbin hard on the binders Winter floored the gas pedal and flashed across the line mere inches ahead of Durbin for the win. 

With the ATS Inland Season Opener settled Meridian Speedway turns its attention to this Saturday, April 20, and the Sprintcar Opener.  The Speed Tour Regional Sprint Car Series, Pepsi Crate Cars and Idaho Sprintcar and Roadster League, Coors Super Stocks, Domino’s Legends, Factory Motor Parts Mini Stocks, and Firehouse Pub and Grill Bombers kick off their seasons on $2 Keystone Light Night at the quarter-mile asphalt oval.  General admission to this celebration of speed are just $12 for adults, $10 for seniors and military members, and $7 for kids 7-11.  Gates open at 4:45 p.m. with racing at 6:45 p.m.  Stay up to speed with your favorite drivers by visiting and don’t forget to text ‘meridianspeed‘ to 84483 to receive exclusive updates from the Concrete Jungle.  We’ll see you this Saturday, April 20, for the Sprintcar Opener on $2 Keystone Light Night at your NASCAR Home Track, Meridian Speedway.