Hard Racing Dominates Championship Saturday at Meridian Speedway
A vibrant autumn afternoon greeted Meridian Speedway competitors Saturday, October 28, as the quarter-mile asphalt oval hosted the Trunk or Treat Halloween Championship races. The TEAM Mazda Mini Stocks, Pepsi Crate Cars and ISRL Super Sixes, TATES Rents Hornets, and Teleperformance Claimer Stocks closed 2017 in thrilling fashion as the final four division champions were crowned.
The TEAM Mazda Mini Stocks hit the speedway first for their final thirty lap feature of the season. On the green Boise, Idaho’s Scott Shoecraft shot past pole sitter Will Ostrum to lead lap one. The high line was the place to be, and soon Fred Vigil and Luke Wolverton charged into the lead battle. Vigil was first to make his move, and on lap three the Nampa, Idaho racer worked his Ben’s Auto Glass, Larry H Miller Collision Center machine to the top spot.
Championship leader Jason Sanders spent the first five laps with his Divel Services, Valley Property Management machine mired in traffic, while second place point runner Ray Bolinger worked his Mulder’s Auto Machine, 208 Picker entry into the third spot. Kuna, Idaho’s Bolinger closed on Vigil and Wolverton, and the duel for the lead turned into a three-way battle. At the race’s halfway point Wolverton broke free and planted his Hart Construction, Idaho Center for Integrative Medicine racer in the lead, followed by Jayson Wardle, Vigil and Bolinger.
As Bolinger fell through the field Sanders caught up, and soon the fight for fourth turned into a championship duel. Bolinger wheeled his racer hard to keep Sanders at bay, and with ten laps left he caught and passed Vigil for third. Sanders tried to follow suit, but the inside line proved too slick for the Caldwell, Idaho driver to make the pass. But a caution flag with two laps left allowed Sanders one last shot at Bolinger.
The green flag waved and Sanders dove to the inside line and caught Bolinger. High and low Sanders pressured Bolinger, but couldn’t take the spot and he finished fourth behind Bolinger, Wardle, and Wolverton.
Sanders’ fourth place finish scored just enough points to earn the veteran campaigner his seventh TEAM Mazda Mini Stock championship.
The Pepsi Crate Cars and ISRL Super Sixes joined forces to bring thirteen machines to their final forty lap clash of 2017. On the break Caldwell, Idaho’s Rich Montes dispatched Pat Young to take his Fast Track Auto Sales of Fruitland, Montes Racing entry to the early lead. Mike Anderson and standings co-runner up Casey Tillman followed Montes forward, and on lap three Anderson put his Royal Purple, Bender Electric sprinter in the lead. Tillman followed suit in his YMC, Taylor Made Upholstery machine, as did championship leader Rob Grice. A caution flag on lap twelve bunched the field, and brought Tillman to Anderson’s outside for the restart.
Tillman jumped to the lead on the green, which dropped Anderson into the clutches of Grice. Grice took second two laps later, and set his sights on Tillman for the top spot. But behind the leaders, Riley Rogers found the handle on his H&H Accounting, Wildside Wraps sprinter and sliced through the field. The Meridian, Idaho racer made his way from seventh to third in just nine laps. Tied with Tillman for runner up in the Pepsi Crate Car points entering Saturday’s action, Rogers muscled his way by Grice for second, then with a dozen circuits left Rogers caught Tillman.
Rogers tried the low line first, but Tillman shut the door. Next Rogers moved up high, but Tillman again held station. As the leaders fought, Grice and Tony Ackerland caught the battle for the lead. With time running short Rogers blasted past Tillman on lap 35 and motored away from the pack. Tillman fought hard to keep second, but nobody would catch Rogers, who stormed to the main event victory.
Preliminary calculations named Rogers both the Pepsi Crate Car and ISRL champion.
The TATES Rents Hornets had 100 laps to settle their 2017 division championship. The green flag waved and chaos ensued. Through a bevy of early caution flags Chuck Youngblood raced his way to the lead. Behind Youngblood, Travis Pavlacky battled Neil Wassmuth, Brandon Kelley, and a host of others for the runner up spot. A bobble on lap 25 allowed Wassmuth to take his Neil Alan Fine Jewelry, RPM Tire and Wheel racer to second, but the Nampa, Idaho driver fell to championship leader Tommy Harrod and James Pahl a handful of laps later.
Once in second, Harrod closed on Youngblood, but the engine in Harrod’s PBT Auto Sales entry expired near the race’s halfway point. This left the runner up spot to Pahl, who faced a four second gap to the top spot. Pahl pedaled his Raceway Video, Printcraft machine to catch up, and with forty laps left Pahl threw his mount hard into turn one and came out the other side with the lead. In his bid to catch Pahl, The move came just in time for Pahl, as Youngblood’s engine detonated on the front stretch one lap later.
Once Pahl found open race track he set sail from the field. But behind Pahl, Lynn Sharp was on the move. With the pack thinned by attrition, Sharp sliced to the runner up spot and stalked the leader. Lap after lap Pahl’s advantage shrunk, but Pahl dug deep through the race’s final dozen laps and the Nampa, Idaho competitor raced his way into the Caleb’s Chop Shop Winner’s Circle.
After dominating the 2017 TATES Rents Hornets division, Tommy Harrod collected the championship honors.
The Teleperformance Claimer Stocks packed the quarter-mile with nineteen racers for the season settling YMC Heating and Cooling 75. On the green Meridian, Idaho’s Preston Henderson stormed to the lap one lead, but it was Josh Jackson who worked his Motor Mayhem Chassis Dyno Tuning, Cyclone Cycles entry into the lead on lap two. Jackson came under immediate fire from Filer, Idaho racer Mitchell Pehrson, and on lap six the lead duo made contact. The fight for first raged until a lap fifteen caution reset the field and brought Pehrson even with Jackson for the restart.
The green flag waved and the side-by-side action continued. After three physical laps Pehrson body checked Jackson out of the lead, a move that cut Jackson’s left front tire and brought out a caution flag. This restart brought Orangeville, California’s Erick Ray to Pehrson’s outside when the green flag waved. Ray and his Buckhorn Bar and Grill machine got the best of that battle and stormed to the lead.
Lowther jumped to the outside line and passed Brian Hyde for fifth, then Pat Young for fourth. By lap 23 Lowther had dispatched Pehrson for third and set to work on Fitzgerald for second. Fitzgerald ducked into the pit area one lap later, which left Lowther to work on Ray for the race lead.
With thirty laps to go Lowther drove his Allan Marsh Travel Center, Klines Alternators and Starters of Marsing machine to Ray’s rear bumper. Ray felt the pressure and responded with a flurry of fast laps that opened a two second advantage over Lowther. But a late race caution erased Ray’s lead and put Lowther on his rear bumper for the final restart.
Racing resumed, and Ray walked away from the field. This left Boise, Idaho’s Lowther to fend off a resurgent Fitzgerald. Fitzgerald got the better of that battle as the white flag waved, but couldn’t track down Ray, who sped across the Caleb’s Chop Shop Victory Stripe first.
Lowther’s third place finish sealed his Teleperformance Claimer Stock division championship.
Official point standings will be posted on meridianspeedway.com as soon as they are tabulated. Meridian Speedway swings back into action Friday, March 9, through Sunday, March 11, 2018 at Expo Idaho for the 47th Annual O’Reilly Auto Parts Boise Roadster Show presented by Les Schwab. On behalf of all speedway staff and officials, thank you for your patronage, and we’ll see you under the big yellow water tower at your NASCAR Home Track, Meridian Speedway in 2018.