Warf Chases Memorial Day Sweep Sundayadmin
A beautiful summer-like Sunday greeted the second-half of Meridian Speedway’s Memorial Day double-header. The NAPA Big 5 Latemodels and the Mountain Dew Winged Sprintcars ran races in memory of Bill Crow and brother Bob and Tom Naylor respectively. Joining this double bill were the Project Filter Pro-4s and the Northwest Pro-4 Alliance combined for the Project Filter 75, the Tates Rents Horntes battled for the Boise Boys Transportation trophy, and the College of Western Idaho High School Tuners celebrated their first weekend of summer freedom with an eighteen lap main event. As these five divisions geared up for their races all eyes were on Meridian, Idaho’s Bryan Warf as he chased both the Bob and Tom Naylor and Bill Crow Memorial Trophies.
The College of Western Idaho High School Tuners rolled a strong field of fourteen racers to the green flag. Jenna Cullum planted herself in the top spot for one lap as fast Cody Garrett tracked her down on lap two to claim the lead. As Garret scooted away from the pack James Pahl, Peter Woog, CJ Stirm and Kendra Occhipinti teamed up to work their way past Cullum and into the lead fight. The group’s progress was too slow for Nampa, Idaho’s Occhipinti, who slung her racer to the inside of first Stirm, then Woog to work her way to fourth behind Garrett, Pahl, and Cullum.
On a restart with ten laps remaining Garrett overwhelmed Pahl on the high side of the racetrack. With Pahl’s momentum broken Occhipinti made her move for second, then with seven circuits left she took Garrett on the inside for the lead. Now Garrett fell back into the clutches of Pahl, who maneuvered his racer high and low looking to take the runner up spot. When the checkers fell Occhipinti and her Marv’s Tire Service, Bearclaw Graphics machine made their way once again to Arctic Circle Victory Lane.
It took forty laps to settle the Mountain Dew Winged Sprintcar Naylor Memorial Classic. When the green flag flew Matt Elliott and Colton Nelson dueled for the top spot. Wheel-to-wheel the front row battled for four fast laps before Nelson finally broke free in his LFC Cleaning, Blimpie of Meridian racecar and put himself atop the Pepsi-Cola scoreboard. Behind Nelson and Elliott, Bryan Warf and his asphalt-blistering Allan Marsh Travel Center, Dave’s Quick Lube machine marched toward the leaders. With seventeen circuits left Warf made his move on Caldwell, Idaho’s Elliott for second and turned his sights on Nelson for the top spot. Warf got a good run through the north-end of the speedway and rocketed to the lead on lap 25. Now on the move was Chris Ratterree, who had his Banner Promotions sprinter up to fourth and looking for more. Ratterree wouldn’t be able to track down a podium finish as Warf powered his way onto the Naylor Memorial Trophy. Warf’s victory celebration was short-lived as he returned to the pit area to prepare his NAPA Big 5 Latemodel for the Bill Crow 50 later in the evening.
The Project Filter Pro-4s and the Northwest Pro-4 Alliance combined for the longest race of their Meridian Speedway year as they battled to settle the Project Filter 75. Kenny Chandler led the eighteen car field to green and wasted no time opening a lead on local racers Joe Barton and Larry Hull III. The first Pro-4 Alliance driver to crack the top three was Salem, Oregon’s Joe Bowers, who worked the high line and began to close on leader Chandler. Bad luck struck early for Satruday Pro-4 Alliance race winner Eddie Secord of Oak Hills, California as on lap twelve he was collected in a Rick Thompson spin. Secord collected heavy right front damage and would leave the racing surface on a wrecker.
On the restart Bowers pinned his racer to the high groove and tried Chandler for the lead. Chandler won that battle, but Bowers would regroup and mount another run just five laps later. Every time Bowers made a serious jab at the leader, Chandler put his foot down and raced away. This cat and mouse game pulled the lead duo over two seconds ahead of third place Alex Peck, and three seconds in front of the fourth place fight between Boise, Idaho racers Hull III and Brendon Fries. Peck’s car would expire at the one-third point of the 75 lap affair, bunching the field and allowing Bowers to cool his tires for another run at Chandler.
Bowers couldn’t pull abreast of Chandler’s strong Project Filter Pro-4 even on cooled tires as the second 25 laps wound down. On lap 35 Brendon Fries’ Chick-Fil-A Meridian, Boise Boys Transportation car came to life as he pulled to the high side and started to make time on the leaders, who were caught in heavy traffic. The race to watch as Fries tracked the leaders down was for fourth as Hull III tried desperately to old off quick qualifier Rick Thompson. For five laps Hull III absorbed bumper blows from the Prosser, Washington driver before Thompson raced to the outside of Hull III. One lap after the pass was made Hull III delivered a tap to Thompson’s rear bumper and sent Thompson around in turn two. Both competitors were sent to the back of the pack for bringing out the caution.
Back under green the battle for first was back on for the top spot until Bowers broke from the runner up spot. The ensuing jam up allowed Rick Thompson to fight his way back to third, though he absorbed front-end damage that slowed his progress. Even hampered, Thompson made ground on second place Bill McAdams, but a long, lurid slide on the last lap erased his hopes of a runner up finish. McAdams would also have white flag drama as out of turn four the second-place runner suffered a suspension failure and pounded the front stretch wall. McAdams would spark across the line to keep second place.
“We had a really great time,” Chandler said of his duel with the Pro-4 Alliance drivers.
The NAPA Big 5 Latemodels thundered into their shortest and arguably most prestigious race of the Meridian Speedway season as they honored Bill Crow with a hard-fought 50 lap main event. Youngster Tyler Marston-Henderson, riding the momentum of a top ten finish in the season opening 100 lap event, led the field to green in his Maz-Tech Automotive car. Marston-Henderson used his pole position to race into the lead while Jim Tremewan and Mason Newhouse battled for second. Tremewan’s Dillon Performance Engines racer won out while Newhouse slid back into the clutches of Dennis Brodigan and Tyler Bailey. Further back in the pack Bryan Warf waited for the action to string out before he made his move.
A lap five restart brought chaos to the quarter mile as a race for fifth place went sour, turning Newhouse in front of the field. Scooped up in the crash were Bailey, Hannah Newhouse, and Tyler Monroe, whose ASAP Auto Services, Focus Graphics machine burst into flames down the back straight away. Warf dove to the grass and somehow avoided both the initial Mason Newhouse crash and the secondary jam up involving Monroe’s flaming car to emerge unscathed. Warf was rewarded with a sixth-place restart position.
With the green flag back in the air Tremewan dispatched Marston-Henderson to take the lead, and brought the fast car of Chris Fenton with him past the young racer. Now the lead battle heated up as Fenton went to work on Tremewan’s rear bumper. Fenton’s first challenges were from the low line, and Tremewan held them off easily. The high side prove more troublesome for Tremewan as Fenton was able to draw alongside the veteran Meridian Speedway campaigner on lap fifteen. Fenton completed the pass on lap twenty. Warf followed suit and started to plan his attack on the leader.
Fenton’s car came to life at the halfway point of the Bill Crow 50 and he pulled out to an expansive two second lead. The only thing that slowed the Fenton Trucking, CF Floor Covering machine was a lap 31 caution flag. The only real problem for Fenton was that Warf was gaining speed by lap 40, with each lap getting faster and faster. While Warf closed the gap, his late-race run wouldn’t be enough as Fenton claimed the 40th annual Bill Crow 50 win. Warf, Dennis Wurtz II, Tremewan, and Marston-Henderson rounded out the top five.
“I think this is the fifth time we’ve finished second in this race,” Warf lamented as he watched Fenton collect the Bill Crow Memorial Trophy. “It’s frustrating.”
“I love winning these memorial races,” Fenton said in Arctic Circle Victory Lane. “I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for those guys in the pits. They give me a phenomenal car every night.”
Twenty-six rowdy Tates Rents Hornets poured onto the quarter-mile to wrap up the Memorial Day weekend races. Kyla Harris surprised the field as she stormed to an early lead while behind her Nick Daffron got caught up with DJ Everett out of turn two. Everett was able to continue, but Daffron was not as lucky as his Discount Tires, Bob Hosier State Farm machine needed a tow truck to exit the racing surface. The restart didn’t go much better as Chad Barker and Maverik tangled in turn two. The contact sent Maverik tumbling through the field. Somehow the Nampa, Idaho driver wasn’t struck again, and Maverik crawled from his racer composed enough to thank his sponsor PBT Auto Sales.
When racing resumed the field strung out. Harris’ lead over Rod Sturman and Sean Young shrank as she got caught up in lapped traffic. The first to reach her rear bumper was Antonio Ryska, who made his move on the high side before he turned his attention to holding off Young’s Kim’s Kars entry. As Ryska and Young fought for top billing James Pahl and his Raceway Video car surged through the field to take third. On the final lap Pahl was tracked down by Bill Allen and a resurgent Everett, who stormed around Pahl to claim third and fourth behind Ryska and Young.
Ryska enacted his own version of the famed Indianapolis 500 wreath and milk presentation in Arctic Circle Victory Lane after the race.
Next Friday and Saturday, May 29 and 30 feature another double-header as Meridian Speedway hosts the Diamond Cup presented by Star Diamonds. The Northwest Sprintcar Racing Association joins the Mountain Dew Winged Sprintcars for a two-night battle for the coveted Star Diamonds ring and the title of Diamond Cup champion. Joining the winged warriors Friday are the Super Trucks, Coors Super Stocks, and College of Western Idaho Professional Truck Driving Street Stocks, and Kendall Ford Mini Stocks. Saturday sees the winged sprinters backed up by the Super Trucks, Meridian Vintage Racers, CWI Street Stocks, Claimer Stocks, Tates Rents Rookie Hornets, and the Idaho Tile and Granite Bike Races for Kids. Admission for Friday night’s action is just $15.25, and admission to the conclusion of the battle for the Diamond Cup is just $18.25. Make sure to check meridianspeedway.com for special ticket pricing and text ‘meridianspeed’ to 84483 for special speedway information. We’ll see you Friday and Saturday under the big yellow water tower at Meridian Speedway.