Sparks, Fenders Fly on First Championship Night at Meridian Speedway

Sparks, Fenders Fly on First Championship Night at Meridian Speedway

A crisp, early fall evening greeted a full grandstand of Meridian Speedway fans as they assembled for the NAPA Auto Parts Big 5 Latemodel Series Championship Night. The Mountain Dew Winged Sprintcars, Project Filter Pro-4s, Domino’s Legends, Teleperformance Claimer Stocks, and Kendall Ford of Meridian Mini Stocks joined the apex stock car division for a full night of bare-knuckle racing action.

The Kendall Ford of Meridian Mini Stocks were first to test the quarter-mile as they contested a 25 lap feature. Jim Bailey was quick out of the blocks and pulled to the early lead with Terrell Daffron and Quentin Ward in tow.  Deep in the field quick qualifiers Robbie Hyde, Jason Sanders, and Garry Hussey hooked up to make their way through the field.

Hyde and Hussey’s charge onto the Pepsi-Cola scoreboard was only slowed by a side-by-side battle between Daffron and Alex Duda for second. On lap ten Hussey weaved his Patriot Gun and Pawn, Sticker Shack entry through the log jam and into the runner up spot.  Hussey would inherit the lead just laps later when Bailey retired from the event during a mid-race caution.

On the restart Hussey found himself side-by-side with Hyde’s Guppie’s Hot Rod Grille, M.C. Promotions machine. Hussey outran Twin Falls, Idaho’s Hyde through turns one and two to claim the lead, which left Hyde to fend off quick qualifier Sanders and Jayson Wardle.  Sanders worked his Divel Services, Excel Concrete Construction racer into second place with seven circuits remaining.

A caution flag with five laps remaining reset the field and put Sanders inside Hussey on the green. Sanders was quick to the gas pedal, but so was Hussey, and the pair screamed door-to-door into turn one.  After two hard fought laps Caldwell, Idaho’s Sanders zipped ahead of Hussey in turn two and drove to the Caleb’s Chop Shop Winner’s circle.

A full field of Mountain Dew Winged Sprintcars roared to the start of their 25 lap feature. Elko, Nevada’s Bob Massey managed to overpower Stacey Jensen to lead lap one.  Quick qualifier Bryan Warf wasted no time making his way to the front of the field.  By lap four the Meridian, Idaho driver had piloted his Allan Marsh Travel Center, Dave’s Quick Lube machine into the runner up spot.  Warf wouldn’t stay second for long, and he flashed to the high side of Massey in turn two one lap later to plant himself in the lead.

This dropped Massey into the clutches of Buhl, Idaho’s Stacey Jensen. Jensen wheeled his YMC, Westside Body Works sprinter hard on the outside of Massey, and after two wheel-to-wheel laps he made the pass for second place.  Caldwell, Idaho’s Matt Elliott and Meridian, Idaho’s Colton Nelson followed Jensen to take third and fourth respectively.

Elliott piloted his Westside Body Works, Boise Peterbuilt entry up to Jensen’s tail tank and with five laps to go tried for an inside pass. The move proved too much for Elliott’s racer, which went for a lazy spin through turn two.  On the restart Jensen Warf thundered back out to a commanding lead while Nelson went to work on Jensen for second.  Try as Nelson might he wasn’t able to wheel his Blimpie of Meridian, LFC Cleaning machine past Jensen and settled for third.

The Teleperformance Claimer Stocks took the gloves off for their 25 lap feature race. Boise, Idaho’s Scott Kelly was first to the gas pedal and put his This N’ That Auto Sales, Full Throttle Paint and Remodel machine out front on lap one.  But Kelly wasn’t safe up front as Josh Hale roared to the leader’s rear bumper and landed blow after blow in his bid for the lead.  With Hale distracted by Kelly, Meridian, Idaho racer Joe Thuss maneuvered his Integrity Pools and Construction, Aloha Auto Repair entry to the low line and took second place for himself.  Jamie Hyde followed Thuss past Hale to put himself third.

Now the battle for fourth heated up as Caldwell, Idaho’s Rich Lawson fought to get past Hale. For three laps the pair traded broadside body blows.  Lawson lost control of his battered Dean Wilson Racing, Kline Alternators and Starters entry first, and the resulting caution banished both he and Boise, Idaho’s Hale to the back of the pack for the restart.

When the green flag waved Hyde mashed the gas pedal and blew past Kelly to the lead. Championship contender Casey Hart followed Hyde to put his Hart Construction, Ultimate Transmission machine second and brought fast heat race winner Micky Lawson into a physical battle with Kelly for third.  Lawson flew past Kelly on the back stretch before the engine of her GR Farms, Roberts Draft Horses machine expired in turn three.  With the track cleaned and nine laps left, Meridian, Idaho’s Hart pulled even with Hyde and the green flag dropped again.

Hart motored past Hyde to take the lead on the restart, but his advantage was short lived as contact led to a Brian Hyde, Rich Lawson spin two laps later. On the ensuing restart Hart again blasted to the lead over Jamie Hyde, who found himself in the clutches of a resurgent Hale.  On the white flag lap Hart’s pickup inexplicably lost power on the back stretch.  Jamie Hyde jammed on the brakes to avoid the ailing pickup, as did Hale, but fourth place runner Brian Hyde wasn’t able to slow in time and he got into Hale, who spun coming to the checkers.

When the smoke cleared Hart crossed the line first, followed by Jamie Hyde, Brian Hyde, and Rich Lawson.

The Project Filter Pro-4s brought a dozen fast machines to their 25 lap feature. Payette, Idaho’s Travis Pavlacky bolted to the early lead in his Riparetti Cylinder Head entry with Nampa, Idaho racers Jordan Harris and Joe Barton in tow.  Harris wrestled his racer through the corners to keep Barton at bay, but on lap six Barton piloted his Tyco Structural Enterprises machine past the young racer to take second.

Barton wasn’t done there as he ripped off a string of fast laps to pull alongside Pavlacky for the lead on lap ten. Next past Pavlacky was Nampa, Idaho’s Ryan Bailey, who wheeled his Les Schwab, Fairly Reliable Bob’s entry around the outside and to the leader’s back bumper with nine laps left.

Bailey’s bid for the lead went south in turn three when both he and Barton dove for the low line and made contact. Barton spun across Bailey’s nose and slid toward the outside wall before being blasted by Harris, who had nowhere to go.  Though all three machines sustained heavy damage, by the time the green flag waved all had reentered the race.

On the restart Pavlacky and Johnathan Hull dueled for the lead. While the top two battled, third and fourth place runners Kenny Chandler and Brendon Fries raced their way into the fray.  Something had to give, and with five laps to go Chandler’s Project Filter, Mulder’s Auto Machine entry was stuffed into the back stretch wall.  Out of control Chandler careened into Fries before both came to rest in a heap.  Fries’ crew was able to repair his Chick-Fil-A of Meridian, Urban Rifle Supply racer, but Chandler’s car was too badly damaged to continue, and the Kuna, Idaho driver and title contender was forced to retire from the event.

This left Pavlacky, Hull, Barton, and Bailey to battle for the main event victory. Hull powered to the green flag and piloted his Diversified Carpet Cleaning, All American Towing entry to the lead.  On the move was Fries, who roared past Bailey’s ailing machine into the lead battle.  Before Fries could make further progress a mechanical failure put Wes Summers’ Foundations LLC, American Construction Supply car hard into the front stretch wall.  Summers emerged from his mangled racer okay, but the race was called official after 23 of 25 laps with Boise, Idaho’s Hull taking home the victory.

Fifteen strong Domino’s Legends took the green flag for a 25 lap feature. On the break Johnethan Davis and Brok Kidd fought wheel-to-wheel for the lead.  Emmett, Idaho’s Davis got the better of that battle, and brought Nampa, Idaho’s Darin Turpen and Chase Gilbertson with him into the top three.  It didn’t take Gilbertson long to make his move as he sailed past Davis’ Gem County Towing, Rodenator racer on lap six for the lead.

Kuna, Idaho’s Casey Tillman was next past Davis, followed by Ethan Jones and Trevor Cristiani. On lap eleven Tillman made his bid for the lead as he piloted his Taylor Made Upholstery, Tillman Equipment machine high around Gilbertson, then through a wad of lapped traffic.  This dropped Gilbertson into the clutches of Trevor Cristiani.  This battle went south just past half way when the two tussled in turn one and both ended up in the concrete.

The restart saw Jones and Tillman on the front row with Davis and Turpen in the second. Tillman motored back to the top spot while Jones, Davis, and Turpen fought hard for second.  On the move late was Aubree Wartman, who battled to put her Project Filter, Major Tire and Hitch machine on the Pepsi-Cola scoreboard with nine laps left.  Wartmand didn’t stop there, as she sliced first to fourth, then laid siege to Turpen’s Rocky Mountain Supply racer to take the third spot.  But all the action happened behind Tillman, who raced his way to the win.

The NAPA Auto Parts Big 5 Latemodels had 75 laps to settle their season Saturday. On the green Carrolton, Texas’ Jesse Iwuji outdueled Atlanta, Georgia’s Sal Iovino to lead lap one.  First to challenge the Navy Lieutenant for the lead was Jeff Hillock, who used the high line to make the pass.  This dropped Iwuji into the clutches of Justin Ellis, Hannah Newhouse, and Dylan Caldwell.  This trio dispatched Iwuji and used an early caution to pull to Hillock’s rear bumper.

The restart proved treacherous as second row starters, and top two point runners, Newhouse and Ellis came together at the start finish line and spun into the turn one wall. Newhouse’s team was able to repair her Boise State University, Burke’s Tractor machine, but Ellis’ Neil Alan Fine Jewelry, YMC entry was too badly damaged to continue.

When the race resumed Hillock raced back to the top spot with Nampa, Idaho’s Cladwell and young Daytona Wurtz of Star, Idaho in hot pursuit. On the move was Newhouse, who worked the low line forward until she and Wurtz tangled for third place.  Wurtz took her Glens Towing, All Makes Auto Salvage machine for a spin, and both drivers were forced to the back of the pack for the restart.

While the lady racers looked to make their way forward, Caldwell rolled up his sleeves and went to work on Hillock. Jabbing low and high Caldwell fought to move his Roadrunner Glass Company, Redline Recreational Toys machine into the top spot.  Hillock countered each of Caldwell’s advances to retain the lead while back in the pack Newhouse and Wurtz again tangled for position.  Newhouse was black flagged from the event as a result and the race restarted with fifteen laps left.

When the green flag fell Hillock bobbled, and Caldwell piled into his rear bumper. Both drivers somehow maintained control, but the damage to Caldwell’s car was extensive.  Hillock motored away from the field while Caldwell muscled his battered machine through the corners to keep Valencia, California’s Dan Phillipi at bay.  Caldwell would succeed to keep second behind Hillock, who became the fifth different winner of the five race NAPA Auto Parts Big 5 Latemodel season.

With the evening’s points tabulated Twin Falls, Idaho’s Hannah Newhouse was declared the NAPA Auto Parts Big 5 Latemodel champion. Newhouse’s title is the first won by a woman in the division’s fifty year history.

The action continues next Saturday, September 10 at Meridian Speedway with the Jack Link’s Snack Attack. The NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Modifieds, Pepsi Crate Cars, Peterson Chevrolet Super Sixes, College of Western Idaho Super Street Stocks, College of Western Idaho High School Tuners, and TATES Rents Hornet rookies all take the track for their chance at crucial late-season victories.  Gates open at 4 p.m. with racing taking the green flag at 6:30 p.m.  We’ll see you Saturday, September 10, for Jack Links’ Snack Attack night under the big yellow water tower at Meridian Speedway.