Boise driver gets first feature win at Meridian
The Boise, Idaho racer wiggled out of a long side-by-side duel with fellow Boisean Dan Lowther for his first-ever NAPA Late Model Sportsman main event victory in the division’s 25-lap nightcap on Domino’s Pizza 50s night.
“It feels great,”the former Domino’s Pizza Legends track champion said. “We’ve been working our butts off all night every night all week trying to get this thing ready.
The guys in the class are getting nicer and racing cleaner. And we’re ready for some more.”
In other main events Saturday:
Joe Ransom won the first and his cousin, Eric, the second in the Pepsi Sprintcars;
Chad Bess of Nampa ran away with the first feature in the College of Western Idaho Professional Truck Driving Street Stocks, and reigning champ and series leader Melissa Weaver, also of Nampa, rebounded from a flat tire to win the second;
Nampa’s Shelby Stroebel dominated in the second ESI Express ASA Modifieds main event to win for the second time in as many weeks as he builds on his series lead and tries to keep up in the Joe Gibbs Driven Racing Oil ASA Member Track National Championship. Meridian’s Mike Reid won the division’s first main event.
Anderson shared the Late Model Sportsman spotlight with Meridian’s Chris Fenton, who swung his racecar to the front on a great restart during the first feature.
The finishing order from each early main event was inverted for the second features.
Anderson’s first career NAPA LMS victory didn’t come without some drama before Lowther’s tiring tires forced him out of the high groove and behind the eventual winner to preserve his second-place finish. The pair races side-by-side around the quarter-mile oval for seven consecutive laps before Anderson assumed control with 10 laps to go.
In the Pepsi Sprintcars, Ransom racing fans had plenty to cheer about with the cousins divvying up the two 25-lap features.
Mimicking Joe’s dominant early victory, Eric snagged an opportunity when then-race-leader Josh Allen of Meridian had a bobble with 18 laps to go in the 25-lap divisional finale.
Eric had a 2½-second lead within one lap and built a four-second advantage throughout the going to get enough cushion between himself and his hard-charging cousin.
Bad luck put Melissa Weaver in a great position to salvage at least one main event victory in the Street Stocks.
The reigning series champion and current points leader shook off a restart challenge from her father, Marv, and won the division’s second 25-lap main of the night after starting from the front row.
“It’s not the way we want to win it, starting on the pole, but I guess we’ll take that, huh?” Weaver asked after the race.
Weaver found herself on the front row for the second feature after getting hamstrung by a flat tire in the first main event.
Stroebel learned his lesson from the first ASA Modifieds main event of the night, made the proper adjustments and struck at the right time to win the second feature.
“There at the last of the first main, we ran a little high and got in some dirt,” the division leader said. “This one we made some adjustments, and (the racecar) liked the outside. It did like the dirt.”
Stroebel pulled away as the rest of the racers battled for position behind him. He won by four seconds.
Stroebel’s win kept him in the national title chase. He entered the weekend fourth in the standings.
The early main events belied the No. 1 rule of a double feature night at the local track – save the equipment for the late races.
Blown engines and twisted sheet metal set the tone early as drivers jockeyed for position in a series of 25-lap initial main events.
A driver who has seen his share of twisted fenders this season, Fenton brought a new Late Model Sportsman car to the track and grabbed his chance late in the initial 25-lap feature.
The fact that Twin Falls, Idaho driver Rick Fowble was 2½ car lengths in front didn’t faze Fenton.
When debris on the racing surface brought out a second caution flag, Fenton was ready. From the high side of the track, he drove past Fowble and cut down to the inside heading into Turn 1. He then survived a nose-to-tail duel with Fowble for the victory.
Fenton said the Sportsman win was an early anniversary present for his wife, who lets him come out each weekend and play.
He also thanked his sponsors and crew for working fast to get his new racecar ready to roll. His old black No. 23 racer was destroyed in a Turn 1 crash weeks ago.
“Mike Elliott has a crazy setup under this. I don’t even know what it is, but it works,” Fenton said, referring to a fellow Meridian Sportsman driver who let him borrow a racecar after his last wreck.
Bess got the Street Stocks off to a dominating start, pulling off a half-lap victory over Marv Weaver in the first 25-lap main event. Bess’reward for walking over the field was relegation to the back of the pack for the 25-lap finale later in the evening.
The first Street Stocks feature was one of attrition as Caldwell, Idaho’s Doug Loon and Kuna, Idaho’s Tyler Nelson fell out of the race’s top spot nearly on the same lap because of blown engines early on.
Bess bolted to the front of the pack on the restart, leaving everyone in the dust in his pursuit for the series lead. Reigning champion and current points leader Melissa Weaver of Nampa missed seven of the last eight laps after cutting her left front tire. She finished out of the top five after emerging from the pits with one lap remaining.
The Ransom family dominated the first main event for the Pepsi Sprintcars, with cousins Joe and Eric roaring past Kelly Perkins about six laps into the 25-lapper.
After Caldwell, Idaho’s Erik Miller lost power, Joe Ransom drove into second place and bided his time on the fourth lap.
He didn’t have to wait long, passing Perkins on the high side with 19 laps to go. Eric followed suit on the next lap, and the cousins sped to a half-lap lead over the rest of the field.
“We were a little worried Thursday after practice, but the racetrack really came around,” Eric Ransom said after the first main event.
Perkins, meanwhile, held on to the third spot despite a heavy challenge from Meridian, Idaho’s Wyatt King throughout the rest of the race.
In the Modifieds, Reid preserved his wire-to-wire victory despite getting loose near the end of the race with series leader Shelby Stroebel of Nampa breathing down his neck.
Stroebel gobbled up four positions in seven laps, including a slingshot move on the high side in Turn 2 to get past Star, Idaho’s Wes Pogue with two laps left.
Reid, however, had enough to pull away from a side-by-side duel with Stroebel with half a lap left.
“We know we didn’t qualify well, so I’ll I could do was get out there and hang on,”Reid said. “We saw Shelby coming, so we tried to stay out front and keep going.”
Next week, race fans will have two opportunities to see action on the quarter-mile paved oval.
On Wednesday, the second annual Brasher’s Hornet Massacre takes place. Auto dealers from around Southwest Idaho will rent Tates Rents Hornets racecars and compete for bragging rights.
Admission is free. Practice starts at 6:30 p.m.
Saturday’s event is dedicated to helping a popular racer continue his recovery from a devastating crash last October at a Las Vegas racetrack.
The Jeff Russell Road to Recovery Benefit Race will feature the long-awaited return of the Mtn. Dew Winged Sprintcars and some of the top open-wheel drivers in the Intermountain region. Other main events include ESI Express ASA Modifieds, the Edmark Mini Stocks and the Tates Rents Hornets.
Gates open at 4 p.m. with racing at 6:30 p.m.
Saturday’s admission is $12 for adults, $9.50 for senior citizens and military personnel with ID, $8 for ages 7-11 and children 6-and-under free. A family pass good for two adults and up to four children ages 7-11 is available for $36.
Fans can buy tickets online at www.meridianspeedway.com, print them off at home and avoid the long lines on race night.
For more information, visit www.meridianspeedway.com or call (208) 888-2813.