Physical Battles Highlight Meridian Speedway’s Season Opening Raceadmin
MERIDIAN, Idaho—The roar of race engines broke the long winter silence at Meridian Speedway Saturday night as the NAPA Auto Parts Big 5
Latemodel series rolled onto the quarter-mile for a 100 lap battle. The Grand American Modifieds, Coors Super Stocks, Budweiser Modifieds, College of Western Idaho Street Stocks, and Tates Hornets also tested their mettle on the speedway Saturday. The excitement of a new season was on ready display as the competitors prepared for their main events.
“Just get me back on the track,” said NAPA Auto Parts Latemodel competitor Dylan Caldwell. “I’m ready to go.”
The CWI Street Stocks and the Coors Super Stocks combined their main events into one 30 lap brawl. When the green flag fell Lynn Sharp and Ray Bollinger dueled side-by-side for the top spot. In turn three the battle got ugly as Bollinger and Sharp both spun in front of the field. The resultant jam up would knock Street Stock competitor Daniel Johnson from the race after he piled into Shaun Bush. On the restart Bollinger jumped out to the Super Stock lead while Bush and Melissa Weaver worked their way through the Street Stock pack. Six laps in Bush would wrestle the lead from Shawn Hanson. One lap later Weaver would work her Marv’s Tire Service, Dillon Performance Engines car to the outside of Bush and steam past her competition to take the lead. At the halfway point the Super Stock ranks had closed with Bollinger, Gale Carter, and Sharp stacked nose-to-tail as they worked through traffic.
As the laps wound down Carter pulled to the high side of Bollinger. Bollinger withstood the battle as Carter’s car began to fade. Carter would exit the racetrack with just twelve circuits remaining as oil trailed from his racer. This left Bollinger to fend off the Street Stocks of Weaver and Bush. Again Bollinger would pull to the overall lead, but Weaver made short work of Bush and set her sights on another main event victory. Weaver laid down a bevy of scorching laps as she chased down Bollinger, but they wouldn’t be enough to pass the Super Stock leader. At the checkered flag Bollinger claimed a two car-length victory over Weaver.
“It’s about time I beat Melissa,” Bollinger joked in Arctic Circle Victory Lane. “I just needed a different car.”
The Grand American and Budweiser Modifieds also combined their main events Satruday. As the green flag waved Pete Trammel in his Grand American Modified jumped to the lead. Trammel’s turn at the top spot would be short lived as Dennis Wurtz II worked the high line in his Glen’s Towing, Curtis Clean Sweep machine on his way to the top spot on lap four. Tony Ackerland latched onto Wurtz II and followed him to the front. Behind the Grand American pack Scott Gilligan piloted his Budweiser Modified to the early class lead. Gilligan would hold the top spot until Josh Jackson raced his way around the high line to the point. Jackson pulled away from Gilligan’s machine until an engine problem forced Jackson to the infield grass and brought out a caution flag.
With the field bunched up Ackerland made his move for the lead as he pulled to the outside of Wurtz II. After a three lap back-and-forth fight Wurtz II prevailed, and rocketed his way to the Grand American Modified victory. Gilligan would restart the race with Randy Keckley’s Pegasus Towing, Advanced Transmissins modified and Robert Rendo in tow. Gilligan got off to a fast start and pulled away from his Budweiser Modified competitors to claim victory in that division.
The Tates Rents Hornets rolled 26 hungry competitors onto the track for their 35 lap sprint to the checkers. From the sixth starting position Cody Garret flew to the outside in his Ray Auto Care, Stamper Auto Works car and took the lead on lap one. His lead was short lived as Charlie Atkinson worked his way around the young competitor on lap two. Making time early on was James Pahl, who sliced his way into the top five in his Raceway Video racer. Pahl’s march to the lead continued as on lap fifteen he took second place from Bill Allen’s Disaster Kleen-Up, Meridian Police Employee Association racer. As Pahl and Allen battled for second Lynn Sharp joined them, and then pushed his way into the runner up spot. Drew Crenshaw followed Sharp in his Discount Tire machine as both racers joined the lead scrum. As the leaders ducked and weaved through lapped traffic Crenshaw was able to slice his way to the lead. Sharp ran second on the Pepsi-Cola scoreboard, followed by Rod Sturman, Pahl, and Allen. Crenshaw and Sharp would hold station over the final laps taking first and second, but it was Pahl who battled best through the lapped traffic to take third from Sturman.
With the sun down and the lights on the NAPA Big 5 Latemodels mobbed Meridian Speedway’s tight confines for 100 laps of ground-pounding action. As the green flag fell 15 Latemodels thundered into turn one. Tyler Monroe emerged with the lead while deep in the pack fast qualifier Chris Fenton was stymied behind a battle between Hannah Newhouse and Tyler Bailey. Newhouse would take her Boise State University sponsored around Bailey for the spot while up front Cameron Cotta pulled to the outside of Monroe for the lead. Cotta would fail to make good on his challenge and fell back to second as a lap twelve caution slowed the field.
On the restart Rob Powers got loose out of turn two. As the pack scattered to avoid the sideways racer local favorites Dennis Wurtz II and Lee Hackney piled into each other and received heavy front end damage. Bailey’s Project Filter car would be shuffled into the outside wall. Wurtz II returned to the action, but 2014 NAPA Big 5 Latemodel champion Hackney would retire his Westside Body Works, CarQuest machine for the evening.
“I looked up and there was a car sideways in the air,” said Bailey after the race. “Before I knew it I just piled in.”
The next restart was less destructive as Fenton piloted his Fenton Trucking, CF Floor Covering machine to the runner up spot behind Monroe. For five laps Fenton and Monroe played a cat-and-mouse game before Fenton powered around the outside of Monroe to take the lead.
Now Cotta went to work again on Monroe from the outside line. Cotta took the second spot from Monroe and set his sights on Fenton. Further down the running order Wurtz II had man-handled his wrecked All Makes Auto Salvage, Glen’s Towing racer back into the top five. That run would end on lap 34 as Monroe crowded Wurtz II into the backstretch concrete. Wurtz II retaliated in turn three and the pair slammed into the outside wall. Monroe jumped from his demolished car and ran to Wurtz II’s window. After some heated words Monroe walked to the pit area as the crash was cleared.
Fenton bolted to the lead on the restart as Cotta and Powers dueled for second. Powers hooked the low line and dispatched Cotta, a move that brought Jimmy Tremewan and Newhouse to third and fourth. Newhouse’s run would end in a trail of fluid on lap 47. At the halfway point Fenton held a healthy one-second lead over Powers, John Nesmith, Cotta and Tremewan. Cotta wheeled his racer inside Nesmith to take third ten laps later. Up front the story remained the same as Fenton maintained a steady one-second-and-change gap on second place Powers. Fenton wouldn’t waver over the final fifty laps as he cruised to the NAPA Big 5 Latemodel season opening race. Powers held on to finish second and Cotta nursed an ill-handling car to third.
The short-track action continues next week as the Pepsi Sprintcars make their 2015 Meridian Speedway debut. Joining these open-wheeled competitors are the SPI Super Sixes, Domino’s Legends, College of Western Idaho Professional Truck Driving Street Stocks, the debut of the Meridian Speedway Claimer Stocks, Junior Stingers, Karts and the first Idaho Tile and Granite Bike Race 4 Kids of the season. Be sure to pick up a program Saturday for your chance play double Race-O. Log onto our website at meridianspeedway.com for all the latest news and text ‘meridianspeed’ to 84483 for special information. We’ll see you Satruday, April 25 under the big yellow water tower for another action packed night of racing at Meridian Speedway.
Saturday’s Unofficial Results-
2015 Season Opener
NAPA Big 5 Latemodels (100 laps)-1.Chris Fenton 2.Rob Powers 3.Cameron Cotta 4.John Nesmith 5.Jim Tremewan
Tates Hornets (35 laps)-1.Drew Crenshaw 2.Lynn Sharp 3.James Pahl 4.Bill Allen 5.Rob Sturman
Budweiser Modifieds (35 laps)-1.Scott Gilligan 2.Randy Keckley 3.Robert Rendo 4.Josh Jackson
Grand American Modifieds (35 laps)-1.Dennis Wurtz II 2.Kyle Latham 3.Brent Collins 4.Tony Ackerland 5.Pete Trammel
Coors Super Stocks (30 laps)-1.Ray Bollinger 2.Lynn Sharp 3.Gale Carter
CWI Street Stocks (30 laps)-1.Melissa Weaver 2.Shawn Hanson 3.Marv Weaver 4.Micky Lawson 5.Ben Crow
CWI Street Stocks
A Heat-1.Shaun Bush 2.Melissa Weaver 3.Daniel Johnson 4.Shawn Hanson 5.Jeff Meads
Coors Super Stocks
A Heat-1.Ray Bollinger 2.Drew Crenshaw 3.Gale Carter
Grand American Modifieds
A Heat-1.Brent Collins 2.Kyle Latham 3.Pete Trammel 4.Tony Ackerland 5.Dennis Wurtz II
A Heat-1.Josh Jackson 2.Randy Keckley 3.Scott Gilligan 4.Robert Rendo 5.Dave Wurtz Jr.
A Heat-1.Lynn Sharp 2.Neil Evans 3.Drew Crenshaw 4.Ron Compton 5.Sean Young
B Heat-1.Brandon Hild 2.Fred Nagele 3.Bill Allen 4.Monica Heath 5.Al Russell
C Heat-1.Thomas Herrod 2.Rob Sturman 3.Katie Lober 4.Skeeter Stewart 5.Kyla Harris
D Heat-1.Marverik 2.Stacy Heath 3.Ben Harris 4.Larry Englehardt 5.Cody Garrett
Trophy Dash Winners
(4 laps each)
NAPA Big 5 Latemodels-Dylan Caldwell
NAPA Big 5 Latemodels-Chris Fenton, 13.499 seconds
Budweiser Modifieds-Randy Keckley, 15.047 seconds
Grand American Modifieds-Dennis Wurtz II, 14.149 seconds
Coors Super Stocks-Gale Carter, 15.021 seconds
CWI Street Stocks-Melissa Weaver, 14.897 seconds
Best Looking Car
NAPA Big 5 Latemodels-Hannah Newhouse
Budweiser Modifieds-Randy Keckley
Grand American Modifieds-Kyle Latham
Coors Super Stocks-Ray Bollinger
CWI Street Stocks-Melissa Weaver
Tates Hornets-James Pahl