Young Talent Dominates CWI Dairy Days Races Wednesdayadmin
Carnival lights blazed over the North End of Meridian Speedway as Meridian’s 86th Annual Dairy Days celebration backlit the College of Western Idaho Dairy Days Races Wednesday. The action came early and often as the College of Western Idaho High School Tuners, Budweiser Modifieds, Pepsi Sprintcars, and Tates Rents Hornets jockeyed for mid-season points.
A dozen College of Western Idaho High School Tuners stormed the quarter-mile for a fast thirty lap feature. When the green flag waved Meridian, Idaho’s Connor Woog shot to the high line and roared into the lead in the first corner. Kendra Occhipinti followed Woog through the pack on lap one, then the Nampa, Idaho driver took the lead herself on lap three. Next to make a move was Peter Woog, who stormed around his brother and moved into the runner up spot. Cody Garrett and quick-qualifier CJ Stirm also made their move and held third and fourth positions by the race’s one-third mark. With twelve circuits remaining Peter Woog caught Occhipinti and went to work on taking the Extreme Towing and Recovery trophy. While Peter Woog was able to close within one car length of Occhipinti he wasn’t able to track down the lady racer’s Marv’s Tire Service, Bearclaw Graphics car.
The Budweiser Modifieds roared around the asphalt for their 25 lap main event. When the green flag flew former division champion Randy Keckley yielded the lead to Gene Stroebel as his tires fought for grip. Three laps later Keckley’s tires came up to temperature and he drove his Pegasus Transport and Towing, Industrial Hardware racer around Stroebel to the lead. While Keckley situated himself Nampa, Idaho’s Josh Jackson and Darvin Ackerland of Boise, Idaho hooked up in the high groove and started working to the front of the pack. Lap ten saw Jackson overpower Keckley to snag the lead. Ackerland surprised Keckley with an inside dive eight laps later to take over the runner up spot. Now Ackerland unleashed his Ackerland Construction car and set his sights on Jackson, but ran out of laps and watched Jackson take the checkered flag from second.
“We’re going for the championship this year so it’s nice to rack some of these up,” Jackson said in Arctic Circle Victory Lane.
A strong contingent of Pepsi Sprintcars blistered the Meridian Speedway asphalt for 35 laps Wednesday. Aaron McPeak piloted his machine hard around the high line on the start, but after a quarter-mile duel it was Drew Crenshaw who muscled his Bender Electric, Blue Heron Distributing sprinter into the top spot. As McPeak fell through the pack defending Pepsi Sprintcar champion Ryan Newman and early-season feature winner Riley Rogers teamed up to chew their way through the pack. Rogers’ charge was stopped as his Extreme Towing and Recovery car was held up in lapped traffic. Newman, in his Ashley Heating, Port O Subs machine, was more fortunate and on lap ten raced past Crenshaw for the lead.
Newman had no time to enjoy the top spot as familiar foe Tony Ackerland was on Newman’s tail tank within seconds of his pass for the lead. With seventeen laps to go Ackerland tapped Newman to let the young Caldwell, Idaho racer know his intention to pass. Over the next five laps Ackerland laid siege to Newman as he worked to set up the winning move. Only a caution flag for Justin Segura’s troubled Garage Graphics sprinter slowed the pace.
On the restart Ackerland went back to work on the leader and tried everything he could to shuffle Newman off the preferred bottom line. Newman matched every one of Ackerland’s moves and he held on to claim victory.
Newman took the opportunity to thank the healthy Meridian Speedway crowd for joining him for this mid-week race.
The Tates Rents Hornets wrapped up the CWI Dairy Days races with a 100 lap feature. Ben Harris was fast out of the blocks and he took the early lead over Larry Englehardt and Ron Compton. Compton was the first to challenge for the lead in his Allegiant Powder Coating, Norco racer and claimed the lead on lap four. Behind Compton was a ten car scrum for third as DJ Everett, James Pahl, Sean Young and CJ Stirm diced their way to the top of the Pepsi-Cola scoreboard.
At the quarter mark Compton held a near half-lap lead over second place Thomas Harrod, Bill Allen, Stirm, and Everett. Not all was well with Compton’s racer as on lap thirty he slowed and handed command of the race to Caldwell, Idaho’s Harrod. Harrod set a conservative pace out front, which allowed third and fourth place Allen and Stirm to close. By the mid-point of the race Harrod led Meridian, Idaho racers Stirm and Compton by a mere half second.
Stirm blazed around the high side of Harrod to begin the second half of her Tates Rents Hornet 100. While Stirm increased her lead Harrod fell into the clutches of Compton. A spin in turn four brought out the race’s first caution flag and bunched the leaders for a restart. Harrod pulled to the outside of Stirm to challenge for the lead, but Stirm raced away from the challenge and maintained the top spot in her Canyon Windshield Repair, Boise Spring Works. Next it was Compton’s turn to try Stirm, but again Stirm pulled away from the competition.
The intensity picked up as the Tates Rents Hornets 100 entered its final 25 laps. Beating and banging began immediately as Harrod and Allen got together on lap 76. As the second and third place runners slid sideways, fourth place Compton spun to avoid contact. All drivers gathered their vehicles and continued without a caution flag, but the field was now spread more distant than ever behind Stirm. The fight became for second as Everett pulled his Dot’s Bingo Snacks, Discount Tire racer to the high line and challenged Harrod for second. Finally Everett got a good bite off turn two and passed Harrod with ten laps remaining.
Stirm’s pace was so torrid that with six laps remaining she put third place runner Allen down one full lap and was just two seconds from second place Everett. Stirm shot by Everett on the white flag lap as the high school student cruised her way to a full lap victory over the Tates Rents Hornets field.
“It took me a while to get to the front,” Stirm said as she collected the Extreme Towing and Recovery hardware. “It was definitely a good race.”
Meridian Speedway falls silent this Saturday as racers prepare for Saturday, June 27 and the Western Idaho Racing Association Hall of Fame Night and NAPA Auto Parts Treasure Valley 125. The NAPA Auto Parts Big 5 Latemodels, Pepsi Sprintcars, Domino’s Legends, Kendall Ford of Meridian Mini Stocks, Junior Legends, and Spectator Drags will fight under the lights next Saturday for their Connections Credit Union trophies. Pick up your tickets online at meridianspeedway.com instead of waiting at the gate and be sure to text ‘meridianspeed’ to 84483 for special info. We’ll see you for some full contact NAPA Big 5 Latemodel racing Saturday, June 27 under the big yellow water tower at Meridian Speedway.