Sparks, Fenders Fly on Championship Saturday Night


Sparks, Fenders Fly on Championship Saturday Night

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The NSRA winged sprintcar championship came down to a tooth-and-nail fight between Matt Hein (98) and Andy Alberding (76) in Saturday night’s 50 lap main event. Photo Credit: MS Staff

With the echoes of Friday night’s Tom Elliott Sportsman Classic ringing through the valley Meridian Speedway fired engines in anger again Saturday for Championship Night. The Canadian-American Northwest Sprintcar Racing Association winged sprintcars, NAPA Auto Parts Big 5 Latemodels, College of Western Idaho Professional Truck Driving Program Street Stocks, Claimer Stocks, College of Western Idaho High School Tuners, and Tates Rents Hornets battled for more than just the last YMC Inc. Heating and Cooling trophy of the 2015 season as main event action started under a near-full moon.

The College of Western Idaho High School Tuners rolled eleven competitors to the green flag. CJ Stirm was quick to the gas pedal and raced her Canyon Windshield Repair, Rhonda Marcum car to the top of the Pepsi-Cola scoreboard on lap one. Kendra Occhipinti and Jordan Harris followed suit and on lap three championship leader Occhipinti made her move and took the lead in her Marv’s Tire Service, Bearclaw Graphics racer.

Harris followed Occhipinti past Stirm to take second while Peter Woog, Daytona Wurtz, and Riley Rogers lost time as they battled with the hard-racing Stirm for third. For four laps the pack held it together, but on lap nine Occhipinti’s car lost power on the front stretch. As the fierce foursome scrambled to make their way around the stricken racer Woog hopped a tire and flew into the turn two wall. Woog was shaken but okay after being helped from his battered machine and Occhipinti retired from the race with her mechanical issues.

On the restart Harris pulled his Kim’s Kars racer back to the point while Wurtz dove into turn three and pulled beside Stirm for second. With nine laps left Wurtz took her Ada County Sheriffs Employee Association, All Makes Auto Salvage racer to the runner up spot, and one lap later Rogers made his way past Stirm for third. Rogers wasn’t content there and slung his racer sideways below Wurtz in a bid for second.

Wurtz held off this advance and roared toward Harris. With three laps to go Wurtz made contact with Harris, who skewed sideways, but gathered his car and marched through the final two laps to the victory.

“This is actually my first win ever,” Harris said in Arctic Circle of Meridian Victory Lane. “I love these guys.”

The College of Western Idaho Professional Truck Driving Program Street Stocks and Claimer Stocks combined for a 20 lap feature. On the green Mickey Lawson shot to the CWI Street Stock lead while Bill Hale took control of the Claimer Stock field. Lawson blazed a trail away from her competitors while Hale surrendered to Brian Hyde in the Claimer ranks.

By lap five Tony Ackerland and Melissa Weaver caught Micky Lawson and the fast duo linked up on the high side to move to first and second. Ackerland took the spot in his Marsing Yacht Club, Bush Excavation entry with a dozen circuits left, but came under immediate fire from Weaver, who raced around Ackerland for the CWI Street Stock lead one lap later.

In the Claimer ranks JD Ford stalked leader Hyde. A spin by Claimer Stock point leader Casey Hart with seven laps left reset the field and brought Ford to Hyde’s outside. It also allowed Ackerland to pull to Weaver’s outside in his bid to steal a win from the point leader.

Ackerland tried a dive bomb restart, but Weaver was ready and motored away with the lead. In the claimer Stocks Hyde and Ford came together for the lead, which allowed Tommy Kirkland to scoot by both the leaders. Ford recovered first, but his ailing car spun on the front stretch with two to go and he dropped from contention. This allowed Kirkland to take the Claimer Stock win and fifth place overall behind Weaver’s Marv’s Tire Service, Dillon Performance Engines car and the rest of the CWI Street Stock field.

“I’ve got to thank my family,” Kirkland said. “We put in the work to come out here and win.”

The NAPA Auto Parts Big 5 Latemodels brought twenty racers to their 75 lap main event. On the green flag pole sitter Tyler Bailey outdueled Dennis Wurtz II to take the early lead while new track record holder Trevor Cristiani battled his way to fifth on the Pepsi-Cola scoreboard on lap three.

Christiani’s climb didn’t stop there as he went to work on Hannah Newhouse for third and Wurtz II for second. Cristiani wasted no time as he pulled his Perkins Repair, Precision Framing machine to the lead on lap fifteen and streaked away from the field. Quick to join Cristiani was Chris Fenton, back on track after a heat race crack up, who pulled his Fenton Trucking, CF Floor Covering car beneath Jeff Hillock for second place.

Fenton didn’t waste the opportunity as he became a permanent fixture on Cristiani’s rear bumper. While Fenton tracked down Cristiani a rivalry renewed itself as Tyler Monroe and Wurtz II, who made contact on the back stretch. After five tense laps Monroe made good on the pass and took fourth.

The complexion of the race changed on lap 39 as Tyler Marston-Henderson and Justin Ellis tangled in turn three.

As Ellis slammed the wall and Marston-Henderson spun, leaders Cristiani and Fenton piled into the melee. The impact was enough to sideline Ellis, Marston-Henderson, and Fenton, but Cristiani was able to rebuild his racer during the clean up and return to action.

With the track cleared the race went back green with Hillock, Monroe, and Wurtz II in the top three spots. Hillock rocketed to the lead with Monroe second and Bailey in his Project Filter, 1-800-QUIT-NET racer back around Wurtz II for third. Gaining on the front runners was Cristiani, who found the handle on his bent machine and steamed back into the top five. When a caution flew with fifteen circuits remaining Cristiani sat third outside of Monroe and on Hillock’s rear bumper.

Cristiani blew past Monroe as the green flag waved and had almost pulled even with Hillock when Coupe Urrutia lost the handle on his machine and spun into Morgan Rasmussen at the flag stand. When the race resumed two laps remained for Cristiani to complete the comeback.

On the white flag lap Cristiani pulled to Hillock’s quarter panel in turn three and four. Hillock moved high to block and the two made contact. Hillock spun across Cristiani’s nose and slammed the wall at the start finish line. When the smoke cleared Hillock lay in a smoking heap in turn one, Cristiani’s car was destroyed for a second time, and another lengthy clean up ensued.

With the track cleared and the moon beaming the Canadian-American Northwest Sprintcar Racing Association winged sprintcars took to the quarter-mile to settle their season with a blistering fast 50 lap main event. When the green flag waved Andy Alberding and his Sprinter Trucking, WSK Machine racer flashed to the lead, desperate to make up the seventeen points that he trailed to point leader Matt Hein. Hein also went on the offensive early as he sliced his way inside Scotty Aumen’s Finning Caterpillar, Upland Excavating sprinter to take the runner up spot. From there the chase was on at the front of a lightning fast pack.

Lapped traffic played a factor early and often as Alberding and Hein dueled for the lead. For a five lap stretch the pair ducked and dodged in and out of slower cars. Finally it was Alberding who ditched Hein’s Coast-line West Insulation, Independent Motor Rebuilders machine behind Duncan, British Columbia’s Darin Yates.

As laps clicked off the Pepsi-Cola scoreboard Andy Albeding’s lead over Hein stabilized at just under one second while local lead foot Bryan Warf slammed the gas pedal and raced his way into third and close to the lead duo.

On lap seventeen Alberding caught a tumultuous pack of lapped cars. Caught behind Mitch Holte’s Holte Drilling Tools sprinter Alberding watched Hein zoom to his outside and the lead. Alberding fought back and wrestled the lead away from Hein. The next lap a Chris Ratterree, Greg Middendorf battle bottled the leaders up and allowed Alberding the advantage. Once traffic broke Hein slung his racer back around Alberding in the low line. The lead swapping continued for a dozen circuits as Alberding and Hein deftly maneuvered their rocket-ship fast cars through a constant stream of traffic.

Finally the conveyor belt of traffic ended, which left Alberding and Hein in unfamiliar territory: open track. Hein fought to place his racer in the outside line and two laps later was able to pick Alberding off on Aaron Williamson’s sprinter and dash away with the lead. Alberding ran out of chances to get the lead back and had to watch Hein take the event win and the season championship.

“I’ve got to congratulate Andy on a great season,” Hein said as he collected his YMC Inc. Heating and Cooling main event trophy. “I don’t care what kind of racing it is, this was the best racing this track has ever seen.”

Twenty-one Tates Rents Hornets took the final green flag of 2015 as they powered through a short main event. Michael Capps raced his way to the early lead while Cody Brizendine gave chase and took the lead on lap four. Meanwhile, title contender DJ Everett muscled his way to fourth on the Pepsi-Cola scoreboard while his nemesis Bill Allen sat back in the pack hampered by mechanical issues. With a four second lead Brizendine set sail out front until a caution with five laps to go tightened the field.

On the restart Everett flew around Caps for second and stormed toward the leader, but ran out of time as Brizendine cruised to victory.

“I think we got it by ten points,” Everett said of his championship standing post race. “What a season.”

Meridian Speedway wants to thank all the fans who celebrated a race night with us in 2015. Be sure to watch meridianspeedway.com for all the latest off-season news and notes and text ‘meridianspeed’ to 84483 to get exclusive alerts. We’ll see you in 2016 for our 65th anniversary season under the big yellow water tower at Meridian Speedway.