by Jon Brown, MERIDIAN, Idaho – The open-wheelers take center stage Saturday night for ASA-sanctioned Meridian Speedway’s Sprintcar Season Opener.
Divisions set to race Saturday night include the Mtn. Dew Winged Sprints, Pepsi Sprintcars, ASA Modifieds, Budweiser B Modifieds and Tates Hornets.
The SPI Super Sixes tour will make the first of three 2013 appearances at the historic, paved quarter-mile oval, too.
The rivalry resumes in the Mtn. Dew Winged Sprints division with 2012 champion Mike Murgoitio back to meet challenges from fellow Meridian, Idaho driver Johnny Giesler and 2012 Canadian-American Western Winged Sprintcars Series champion Sierra Jackson of Middleton, Idaho.
The Pepsi Sprintcars will feature new blood in 2013 as last year’s champion, Casey Tillman of Kuna, Idaho, focuses on a battle for the Domino’s Pizza Legends title against defending titlist Phyl Zubizareta of Garden City, Idaho.
The Legends open the season on April 27.
Ironically, two former Legends drivers will be new to the Pepsi Sprintcars fray this season, including Boise, Idaho’s Austin Hager and Fruitland, Idaho’s Jimmy Gross. Meridian’s Colton Nelson will be back after cutting his teeth on the sprintcars last season. Nelson won the 2012 Tates Hornets championship.
Shelby Stroebel of Meridian enters the ASA Modifieds season after a perfect 2012 and the ASA Member Track national championship.
“Shelby Stroebel is focusing on a Lucas Oil Modified Series run, but we expect him to be a threat in ASA Modifieds on any given night,” Meridian Speedway general managing partner Adam Nelson said.
Modifieds veterans Rus Ward, another Meridian driver, and Jentry Pisca of Nampa, Idaho, have tweaked their chassis programs and will continue to put pressure on Stroebel, who hasn’t lost an ASA Modified or open modified race at the speedway since August 2011.
The B Modifieds return for 2013 with a division sponsor — Budweiser — and Nampa’s Jay Cook shooting for a repeat championship.
The Hornets run for the first time since the death of former division champion and popular driver Art “The Animal” Heath of Nampa. Heath, 42, died in a one-car accident on Idaho highway 55 near Nampa in late December.
Drivers also will roll their cars out to the front stretch for final judging in the Ultra Touch Car Wash Best Looking Car voting.
The gates open at 4 p.m. with qualifying after 5 p.m. and racing at 6:30 p.m.
Race tickets are $10 for adults, $7.50 for military personnel with ID and senior citizens 62 and older and $6 for children ages 7-11. Children 6 and younger get in free. A family ticket good for two adults and up to four children ages 7-11 is $30.
Visit www.meridianspeedway.com for more information or to buy tickets online and print them off at home. Like Meridian Speedway on Facebook as another way to get up-to-date news on the track.
The racetrack can be reached by phone at (208) 888-2813.
(Through April 13 races)
NAPA Late Models – 1. Chris Fenton, Meridian, ID, 74 points; 2. Dylan Caldwell, Nampa, ID, 72; 3. Lee Hackney, Boise, ID, 64; 4. Dan Lowther, Boise, ID, 57; 5. Mike Marston, Boise, ID, 52; 6. Tyler “TJ” Monroe, Meridian, ID, 51; 7. Jake Petero, Ontario, OR, 38
Coors Super Stocks — 1. Justin Ellis, Boise, ID, 79 points; 2. Rob Powers, Meridian, ID, 71; 3. Gale Carter, Boise, ID, 60; 5. Josh Jackson, Payette, ID, 58; 5. Anthony Boven, Boise, ID, 8
Project Filter Pro-4s — 1. Kenny Chandler, Kuna, ID, 80 points; 2. Joe Barton, Nampa, ID, 78; 3. Chet Thorson, Nampa, ID, 63; 4. Larry Hull III, Boise, ID, 57; 5. Ryan Bailey, Meridian, ID, 48; 6. (tie) Jeffery Snethen, Boise, ID, 42; Terry Sherman, Boise, ID, 42
College of Western Idaho Professional Truck Driving Street Stocks — 1. Melissa Weaver, Nampa, ID, 79 points; 2. Jeff Meads, Nampa, ID, 69; 3. Marv Weaver, Nampa, ID, 68; 4. Rick Baldwin, Middleton, ID, 60; 5. Bobby Riggs, Fruitland, ID, 50; 6. Shaun Bush, Marsing, ID, 45; 7. Micky Lawson, Caldwell, ID, 39; 8. Tommy Lumpkin-Kirkland, Nampa, ID, 35; 9. Rick Moran, Meridian, ID, 34; 10. Ray Bolinger, Meridian, ID, 29
TEAM Mazda-Subaru Mini Stocks — 1. Jason Sanders, Caldwell, ID, 96 points; 2. Colton Nelson, Meridian, ID, 87; 3. Jonathan Hull, Boise, ID, 85; 4. TJ Labronte, Meridian, ID, 54; 5. Brendon Fries, Meridian, ID, 53; 6. Donovan Johns, Caldwell, ID, 47; 7. Brandon Shira, Boise, ID, 42; 8. Denny Gerber, Meridian, ID, 38; 9. Alex Duda, Boise, ID, 32; 10. Nathan Dearing, Boise, ID, 28
Jr. Stingers — 1. Riley Rogers, Meridian, ID, 88 points; 2. Jordan Kirkland, Boise, ID, 76; 3. Daytona Wurtz, Boise, ID, 74; 4. (tie) Kendra Occhipinti, Nampa, ID, 51; Hunter Gates, Nampa, ID, 51; 6. Taylor Occhipinti, Nampa, ID, 48; 7. CJ Stirm, Nampa, ID, 46; 8. Tyler Marston-Henderson, Boise, ID, 38; 9. Matthew Gerber, Boise, ID, 33; 10. Stafford Smith, Eagle, ID, 31