Diamond Cup Full of Thrills
MERIDIAN, Idaho—The Meridian Speedway grandstands were near capacity Friday night as the quarter-mile oval hosted night one of the twenty-fifth Diamond Cup as fans took full advantage of the Stinker Stores Family Pass promotion. Those on hand got to see thrilling finishes and hard-fought racing from a variety of divisions.
The thrills began in the trophy dashes as Roy Kirkland and Destiny Huber battled door handle to door handle for four high-speed pace laps. At the line Kirkland edged Huber by just 26 one-thousandths of a second. Not to be outdone the Tates Rents Hornets put one two great heat races. The first saw ‘Dirty’ Al Russell make a bonzai run at Fred Nagele in the final turn. The two traded yellow and black paint across the line as the win went to Russell. The next heat race saw Mike Vester lunge ahead of Michael Capps for an eighteen one-thousandths of a second victory.
Not all of the night’s thrills came at the start/finish line. In the NSRA Western Winged Sprintcar B heat race Dave Parrie’s car lost power in turn two. In the jam-up that ensued third-quick qualifier Ron Larson couldn’t avoid Parrie and hopped over the stricken car’s right rear tire. Larson’s car would clip the back stretch concrete and roll down the back straightaway before coming to a rest wing-side down. Both drivers emerged unscathed.
“I had nowhere to go except in the oil,” Larson said as his crew and others descended on his pit to assist with repairs.
With the raucous dashes and heat races in the books main event action kicked off with a bang as the Tates Rents Hornets mobbed the quarter-mile. Bill Allen sprang to the lead on the first of twenty-five laps. Quick time Cody Brinzendine was mired in traffic, and season winners Thomas Harrod and Charlie Atkinson took the opportunity to work their way forward. As the field battled Lynn Sharpe’s right front wheel couldn’t handle the strain and separated from his yellow racer. Cone strategy would play an important role as it brought Harrod, Brinzendine, and Atkinson to the speedy high groove. On the green Harrod wasted no time carving his way to the point. Brizendine would fall off the pace with a dozen circuits left bringing out another caution. With a rowdy field now bunched again the stage was set for more tense, three-wide racing. The field wouldn’t disappoint as Mike Vester, Al Russell and Kodi Newberry all took turns at door-to-door-to-door battling. Something had to give and it was Newberry who found himself facing the wrong direction with five to go. In the ensuing restart shootout Atkinson snuck away on the low side as Harrod and Rick Howe played bumper tag for second. In the end Howe’s charge would come up short as he finish third behind Atkinson and Harrod.
Seven College of Western Idaho Professional Truck Driving Program Street Stocks locked in for a twenty five lap romp. On the break Destiny Huber and Shaun Bush picked up right where they left off in the heat race with two high speed pace laps wheel to wheel. Eventually Huber would gain the lead, only to have Marv Weaver work the high lane to grasp the top spot after five laps. The battle became for second as Melissa Weaver and Roy Kirkland traded some paint. Eventually Melissa Weaver would take second and then first with ten circuits to go. Kirkland worked around the elder Weaver for second, but couldn’t track down the streaking black and pink 92 car as Melissa Weaver claimed her fourth win in four tries in the young 2014 season.
The American Speed Association Pro Trucks took the adage ‘rubbin’s racin’ to heart in their forty lap main event. Plenty of fenders already showed strange paint from two hard-fought heat races. The banging started up front as Daniel Shirley and Sam Harris pounded on each other’s doors, fenders, and bumpers until Shirley gained a comfortable margin after four laps. 2013 ASA Pro Truck champion Johnny Pierre worked his way to fifth in ten laps, but it was John Wong on the move early as he leapt from the back of the twelve truck field to fourth at the halfway mark. Also making a move was Drew Reitsma as his truck pushed to the lead. Wong’s run was spoiled by Harris, who got crossed up in turn four and shuffled both to the back of the field. Reitsma ran off with the top spot while competitors Dan Doan and Mason Newhouse bashed the front stretch concrete battling for position. As Reitsma watched in his mirror Shirley fought off a savage contest from Pierre for second.
“We’ll definitely be back tomorrow,” said Reitsma after the victory. “For another one…I love this class.”
Finally the main attraction roared onto the asphalt for the first leg of the annual Diamond Cup. Though Friday’s action was only to accrue points for the overall Diamond Cup championship the action was as tight as it was fast. Out of the blocks it was polesitter Richie Larson to the point. Locals Bryan Warf and Johnny Giesler tangled deep in the pack, but both continued to march through the field undamaged. Third place Sierra Jackson used the tenth lap to work over Rick Brown for second, but instead found the tire smoking Brown able to thwart her advances. Only Colton Nelson’s stalled car could cool the action. The green reappeared with 27 laps remaining. Gremlins also struck leader Larson, whose cut right rear tire forced him to the pits and the tail end of the field.
Back at race speed Brown’s hot rod pulled to the lead with teammates Jackson and Giesler giving chase. With right rear smoking in protest Brown gave up the low line with seventeen laps to go. Gielser would follow Jackson to second two laps later and turn his attention to tracking down her tail tank. The next lap Brown’s car issued a ball of flame as he pulled into the pit area. The ensuing caution brought the teammates side-by-side. Victoria, British Columbia’s Matt Mansell restarted third and all-time track record holder Andy Alberding rounded out the first two rows. Giesler would try both high and low lanes, but didn’t have enough to pass Jackson, whose sprinter thundered away from the field to claim night number one of the Diamond Cup. Further back Alberding dispensed of Mansell for third and weekly Mountain Dew Winged Sprintcar driver Warf took fifth.
“The car was really good tonight,” said Jackson in Arctic Circle Victory Lane. “I’m hoping for a winner’s circle tomorrow, too. With a ring.”
And these winged warriors will do it all again Saturday night to determine the overall winner of the Meridian Speedway Diamond Cup presented by Stinker Stores and Star Diamond. The ASA Pro Trucks will round out their two-day show on Saturday as well, along with the Coors Super Stocks, the Tates Rents rookie Hornets, and the Tile Outlet Bike Races 4 Kids. Grandstand gates will open at 4 p.m. with racing set for 6:30 p.m. Tickets are $18.25 at the gate. Check out Meridian Speedway online at meridianspeedway.com for advanced tickets.
As always Contingency Connection is a part of this week’s event, offering nearly $2000 in awards each week in awards each week from NATIONAL manufacturers. For more information about Contingency Connection see track officials.