May 16, 2015. Tyler Schild staff writer

MERIDIAN, Idaho—Race fans hearty enough to brave the elements were treated to a Saturday night of full-contact racing at Meridian Speedway.  meridian logo BWRiver Adventures Raft Race night featured four edge of your seat main events featuring the Grand American Modifieds, Budweiser Modifieds, Domino’s Legends, Claimer Stocks, and Tates Rents Hornets.  As the temperatures fell the action and tempers heated up.

The Claimer Stocks continued a slam-bang season of racing action as they bashed their way through 28 laps.  When the green flag fell Ray Otis grabbed the early lead as Casey Hart and Josh Hale gave chase.  Hart made quick work of Otis as the Meridian, Idaho driver slung his truck around the fast high line.  Hale had more work to do to take the runner up spot from Otis, but succeeded on lap six and quickly erased the gap between himself and Hart’s Ultimate Transmission, Trinity Construction machine.  First Hale tried to move Hart’s pickup with his front bumper, but Hale’s ASAP Auto Services, Muscle Farm car couldn’t budge Hart’s racer.  Now Hale jumped to the outside and the race for the lead heated up.  Lap after lap Hale and Hart slid side-by-side through the turns until Hale overdrove his racer out of turn four on lap thirteen and smacked the front stretch wall. As Hale’s stricken racer slowed he fell into the clutches of Kuna, Idaho’s Tim Shelton and JD Ford.  Shelton and Hale traded blows all around the speedway before Hale got the handle back and pulled into sole possession of the runner up spot.  Now it was Ford’s turn to challenge for second in his Canyon Truck Uplifters, YHT Property Management car.  With two to go Ford claimed the spot but the Homedale, Idaho driver didn’t have enough time to chase down Hart’s Dodge pickup.

“This thing’s 3900 pounds,” Hart said in Arctic Circle Victory Lane.  “I don’t know how it works, but it does.”

Cody Hollis was quick to the throttle and jumped to the early lead as sixteen Domino’s Legends duked it out in a 35 lap main event.  Behind Payette, Idaho’s Hollis. Phyl Zubizareta was on the war path early as he knifed his way up to second in five laps.  On lap six Zubizareta powered around the leader and worked to open a gap between himself and runners up Casey Tillman and Zach Blume.  The battle became for second as Blume searched high and low for a way around Tillman’s YMC Inc., Taylor Made Upholstery car.  Blume finally made his move as he pinned Tillman behind Daytona Wurtz and motored to second.  A caution for a hard, turn one crash involving Delaney Blume undid this move and bunched the field.  On the restart Kuna, Idaho’s Tillman cut beneath Zubizareta to take the lead in turn four.  His lead evaporated one lap later as his racer stalled on the back straightaway after Zubizareta gave him a door-to-door slam going into turn one.

“That’s what happens when you take an unsportsman-like body slam,” Tillman said post race.

Zubizareta declined comment. 

Now it was Nampa, Idaho driver Trevor Cristiani’s turn to try Zubizareta.  Cristiani was up to the task as he also worked the low side of Zubizareta and took the lead away.  But Zubizareta came back and with a corner full of bumper took the lead back.  That brought Zach Blume to bear on the leaders, and he passed both Cristiani and Zubizareta with just a dozen circuits remaining.  Cristiani latched onto Blume’s bumper and tried every tactic he could to claim the top spot, but it was futile as with seven to go Cristiani was black flagged for smoke out of his Legend.  This left Blume, Zubizareta, and a resurgent Tillman to settle the race.  Zubizareta pulled to Blume’s bumper with four laps left but couldn’t find a way around Eagle, Idaho’s Blume.

“This class is so competitive any win is amazing,” Blume said as he collected his main event trophy.  “I learn something from these guys every single time I race.”

The Budweiser and Grand American Modifieds combined to roll thirteen cars into the first lap.  Only nine racers made it out of turn four as Randy Keckley spun in front of the field on cold tires.  The resultant jam up caught Dennis Wurtz II, Dave Wurtz Jr., and Robert Rendo in a grinding crash.  When the green flag waved again Budweiser Modified competitor Josh Jackson drove under Riggins, Idaho racer Cade Hollon to take the top spot as Star, Idaho drivers Tony and Darvin Ackerland worked free of the pack and chased Jackson down.  Tony Ackerland and his Ackerland Construction, Precision Framing Grand American Modified was the first around Jackson followed closely by Darvin in his Budweiser Modified.  Darvin Ackerland was immediately under siege from Rus Ward, who brought his Boise Spring Works, A-1 Heating and Air Conditioning Grand American Modified to bear on the runner up.  Darvin Ackerland proved a worthy adversary as he held off the charging Ward for ten circuits.  As Ward faded on overheated tires it was Chris Fenton’s turn to make a run at Darvin.  This pair battled wheel-to-wheel and bumper-to-bumper for eight furious circuits, all the while closing on Tony Ackerland.  The battle finally went sour in the last corner of the last lap as Fenton tried to stick his CF Floor Covering Grand American Modified beneath Darvin Ackerland.  Both drivers spun, but Fenton ended up getting the worst of the melee and his racer left the infield on a pair of wreckers.  With Darvin Ackerland spun out of the Budweiser Modified lead Josh Jackson picked his way through the debris field and took the win.

“I want to beat Darvin,” Budweiser Modified Josh Jackson.  “But we’ll take [wins] any way we can get them.”

The always entertaining Tates Rents Hornets brought 22 drivers to bear on a 38 lap main event.  When the green flag waved Larry Englehardt raced his Allison Concrete car around Kyla Harris for the lead, but young James Pahl rocketed around the high side of the race track and closed on the leaders.  Two laps later Pahl worked his Raceway Video machine to the top of the Pepsi-Cola scoreboard and started to pull away from the pack.  Behind Caldwell, Idaho’s Pahl contenders like Cody Brizendine and quick-time Drew Crenshaw broke through the pack and set their sights on the top spot.  Crenshaw and his Discount Tire car needed only eight laps to track down Pahl and wrestle the top spot away from the high school senior.  Now Bill Allen and Disaster Kleen-Up, Meridian Police Employee Association racer went on the offensive and stormed through traffic to third.  Up front Crenshaw dominated, laying down laps one full second faster than Pahl and the rest of the field.  Outgunned Pahl settled into second and hoped for a caution to bunch the pack back up.  With seven laps to go Pahl got his wish, but Crenshaw’s racer was too strong to overcome, and Pahl had to settle for second behind Crenshaw.  Rounding out the top five were Antonio Ryska, DJ Everett, and Allen.  Arctic Circle Victory Lane was where the drama began.

Per Tates Rents Hornets rules Crenshaw’s car was claimed.  Now the Nampa, Idaho driver had a choice.  He could turn down the cash offer for his car and keep it while vacating his win and being barred from running the Tates Rents Hornets class for the rest of the season.  Crenshaw’s other option was to forfeit his racecar, but take the cash and the victory.  Crenshaw decided to keep his lightning-fast race car and decline the win.  With that decision the main event trophy was transferred to Pahl.

“Well, thank you,” a shocked Pahl managed as he collected his first Tates Rents Hornet trophy.

The next two weeks at Meridian Speedway bring race fans double double-headers with next Saturday and Sunday’s Memorial Day weekend races and then the Diamond Cup presented by Star Diamonds May 29 and 30.  Next Saturday, May 23 features the Intermontain Outlaw Modifieds, Pepsi Sprintcars, Domino’s Legends, Kendall Ford Mini Stocks, and the Junior Legends. Sunday sees the return of the NAPA Auto Parts Big 5 Latemodels, Mountain Dew Winged Sprintcars, Project Filter Pro-4s, High School Tuners, and the Tates Rents Hornets.  With new and rekindled rivalries emerging don’t miss your chance to see the next chapters of speedway history written.  Visit meridianspeedway.com for the latest information and advance tickets and we’ll see you next Saturday and Sunday under the big yellow water tower at Meridian Speedway.

Meridian Speedway

Saturday’s Unofficial Results-

River Adventures Raft Race Night


Main Events

Grand American Modifieds (35 laps)-1.Tony Ackerland 2.Rus Ward 3.Brent Collins 4.Chris Fenton 5.Pete Trammel

Budweiser Modifieds (35 laps)-1.Josh Jackson 2.Darvin Ackerland 3.Cade Hollon 4.Dave Wurtz, Jr. 5.Robert Rendo

Dominos Legends (30 laps)-1.Zach Blume 2.Phyl Zubizareta 3.Casey Tillman 4.Chance Davis 5.Ethan Jones

Claimer Stocks (28 laps)-1.Casey Hart 2.JD Ford 3.Josh Hale 4.Fred Nagele 5.Jason Reed

Tates Rents Hornets (38 laps)-1.James Pahl 2.Antonio Ryska 3.DJ Everett 4.Bill Allen 5.Sean Young

Heat Races

(8 laps each)

Grand American Modifieds

A Heat-1.Tony Ackerland 2.Kyle Latham 3.Dennis Wurtz II 4.Rus Ward 5.Chris Fenton

Budweiser Modifieds

A Heat-1.Josh Jackson 2.Randy Keckley 3.Darvin Ackerland 4.Robert Rendo 5.Dave Wurtz, Jr.

Dominos Legends

A Heat-1.Casey Tillman 2.Phyl Zubizareta 3.Zach Blume 4.Chance Davis 5.James Telford

B Heat-1.Steve Thimsen 2.Darin Turpen 3.Ken Frickey 4.Johnethan Davis 5.Ethan Jones

C Heat-1.Cody Hollis 2.Delany Blume 3.Daytona Wurtz 4.Jamie Hyde 5.Gary Luck

Claimer Stocks

A Heat-1.Josh Hale 2.JD Ford 3.Casey Hart 4.Tim Shelton

B Heat-1.Fred Nagele 2.Jason Reed 3.David Jolly 4.Ray Otis 5.Adam Crow

(6 laps)

Tates Hornets

A Heat-1.Jordan Harris 2.Cody Brizendine 3.Bill Allen 4.Drew Crenshaw 5.Ron Compton

B Heat-1.Al Russell 2.Lynn Sharp 3.Sean Young 4.Tommy Harrod 5.James Pahl

C Heat-1.Antonio Ryska 2.Larry Englehardt 3.Monica Heath 4.Ben Harris 5.Kyla Harris

Trophy Dash Winners

(4 laps each)

Grand American Modifieds-Rus Ward

Budweiser Modifieds-Josh Jackson

Dominos Legends-Zach Blume

Claimer Stocks-Josh Hale

Tates Rents Hornets-Drew Crenshaw


Grand American Modifieds-Chris Fenton, 14.047 seconds

Budweiser Modifieds-Darvin Ackerland, 14.612 seconds

Dominos Legends-Trevor Cristiani, 14.874 seconds

Claimer Stocks-JD Ford, 15.808 seconds

Tates Rents Hornets-Drew Crenshaw, 16.694 seconds