Hometown racer posts big tour victory at Meridian
Driving on his home track, ASA-sanctioned Meridian Speedway, the Boise, Idaho teenager put pressure on RMCS points leader Jonathan Gomez. The Twin Falls, Idaho racer had a 28-point lead heading into the weekend, but finished outside the top five in the Project Filter 75 on Friday.
Cristiani drove from far back in the field to get the checkered flag, but he used both the high line and low line on the paved quarter-mile track to work his way to the front.
The former Ukiah, Calif., resident gobbled up a large lead from Kuna, Idaho’s Dennis Wurtz II and roared into the lead on Lap 52.
Cristiani had closed a five-car-length deficit within six laps and then pulled away to a gigantic lead. Gomez, who in his last outing became the first Idaho driver to win the Montana 200, finished sixth in Friday’s feature.
While Cristiani was driving away to the trophy, Twin Falls racers Hannah Newhouse and Bruce Quale were battling not only for position on the track, but position in the standings. The pair – Newhouse the rookie, Quale the veteran and reigning series champion – were fourth and third, respectively in the standings behind Cristiani and Gomez when the weekend started.
Quale used some wily moves to get past Newhouse after a lengthy battle. He finished eighth, and Newhouse finished ninth.
The racers return tonight for the NAPA Auto Parts Treasure Valley 125, which will be the longest race of the season presented at the Meridian track.
In other main events:
Meridian, Idaho’s Rob Powers won his fourth consecutive Coors Super Stocks feature, jumping to the lead when fluid began to spill out of the racecar driven by Josh Jackson of Payette.
Melissa Weaver roared from the back of the 12-car field to the lead in six laps to win another College of Western Idaho Professional Truck Driving Street Stocks main event.
Austin Hager nearly pulled off the victory when Pepsi Sprintcars driver Colton Nelson challenged the SPI Super Sixes in that tour’s main event.
Hager, who set the six-cylinder open-wheel track record earlier in the night with a 13.500-second qualifying lap, was given the hardware as the series feature winner.
Lynn Hardy of Valley Church won the 15-lap Preacher Feature to find the Fastor Pastor.
Hager completed a triumphant return from a horrific Domino’s Pizza Legends crash a couple years ago by claiming the trophy in the SPI Super Sixes, even though Pepsi Sprintcars competitor Colton Nelson took the checkered flag.
“We crossed the line second, but we’ll take the trophy anyway,” Hager said. “Colton had a hell of a car.
“I want to thank my parents. Without them sacrificing everything growing up, I wouldn’t be here today.”
Hager also thanked SPI Super Six tour officials and competitors.
The eight-cylinder Pepsi Sprintcars were invited to run with the Super Sixes as a test, speedway managing general partner Adam Nelson said. He said there is a chance that the two classes could put together challenge races later this year that could put 20 open-wheel racecars on the track.
Hager showed that the two classes aren’t very far apart despite the difference in cylinders available.
He had a shot at passing Nelson when the fourth-generation racer bobbled coming out of Turn 4 with six laps left. Hager, who is a contender for the series title, couldn’t make up the ground because he lost traction when running through some drying agents in Turn 1.
In the Street Stocks, Weaver said “a little luck” helped her to a win that allowed her to maintain her series lead in the final race of July.
Weaver’s march to the front was delayed briefly when Middleton, Idaho’s Rick Baldwin slammed heavy into the first-turn wall six laps in.
Weaver had just passed Marsing, Idaho’s Shaun Bush for the lead, but the field reverted to the last completed lap when Baldwin’s car hit the wall and launched toward the billboards in Turn 1. Baldwin had nowhere to go when he hit the corner as Boise, Idaho’s Shawn Hansen had the inside of the track and neither driver gave ground.
In the Super Stocks, Powers gained a little bit of revenge on chief rival Justin Ellis of Boise, Idaho.
Earlier in the night, Ellis had broken Powers’ nearly 14-month-old track record in qualifying. Ellis ran a 14.085 lap around the quarter-mile oval, surpassing Powers’ 14.228 from June 1.
Powers took the high line to challenge Jackson for about six laps, surviving one scary moment when Jackson got a little loose heading into Turn 1.
With six laps to go, Jackson was forced to the infield, leaving Powers in the lead and Ellis in pursuit of the man whose hot streak has built a small points lead.
“Josh was hooked up pretty good tonight,” Powers said.
Powers’ parents were in town from Twin Falls, Idaho, presumably to watch their son, but it just so happens that RMCS top competitor Bruce Quale (from Twin Falls) is his cousin.
There was a little doppelganger action in the Preacher Feature.
Lynn Hardy is one of the top drivers in the Carbon X Rocky Mountain Challenge Series, but the West Valley City, Utah driver wasn’t in town when the Late Model tour started a two-night stay at Meridian.
Pastor Lynn Hardy from Valley Church was, however.
And like his counterpart from Utah, “The Holy Hammer” was able to find the checkered flag to win the Preacher Feature to find the Fastor Pastor.
The annual race night for local churches brings pastors, most of whom have never raced before, to the track to compete in donated Tates Hornets four-cylinder racecars.
Hardy led the 15-lap feature wire-to-wire and maintained a large lead through most of the race that was marked with two yellow flags.
One of the caution flags came out when former Fastor Pastor champion George Kovacs lost a wheel and narrowly missed slamming into the Turn 4 wall with eight laps to go.
The RMCS ran a couple heat races that featured local drivers on the poles for the green flag – Dave Thomasson of Meridian and Boise’s Lee Hackney.
Twin Falls driver Morgan Rasmussen passed Hackney on the first lap of the opening 12-lap heat and rolled to the victory as Boise’s Trevor Cristiani ran out of time.
In the second heat, Dennis Brodigan of Nampa passed Thomasson on the first lap and stretched his lead to three seconds near the end.
The RMCS Late Models headline Saturday night for the NAPA Auto Parts Treasure Valley 125. The Mtn. Dew Winged Sprintcars, Super Sixes and Tates Hornets also will compete.
Children can get in on the action with another round of Bike Races for Kids.
Tickets are $15 for adults, $12.50 for seniors and military and $11 for children ages 7-11. Children 6 and younger get in free.
Both nights gates open at 4 p.m. with racing at 6:30 p.m.
Visit www.meridianspeedway.com or “like” Meridian Speedway on Facebook to get the latest information.
The racetrack can be reached by phone at (208) 888-2813.
Project Filter 75
Friday’s unofficial results
Carbon X Rocky Mountain Challenge Series Project Filter 75 (75 laps) – 1. Trevor Cristiani, Boise, Idaho; 2. Dennis Wurtz II, Kuna, Idaho; 3. Morgan Rasmussen, Twin Falls, Idaho; 4. Tyler Bailey, Middleton, Idaho; 5. Chris Fenton, Meridian, Idaho
Coors Super Stocks (20 laps) – 1. Rob Powers, Meridian, Idaho; 2. Justin Ellis, Boise, Idaho; 3. Josh Jackson, Payette, Idaho
Preacher Feature to find the Fastor Pastor (15 laps) – 1. Lynn “The Holy Hammer” Hardy, Valley Church; 2. David Clason, First Southern Baptist Church of Caldwell; 3. Mostly Fast Eddie; 4. Andrew Sinift, Lakeview Church of the Nazarene; 5. Kip Hicks, Payette Bible Baptist Church
College of Western Idaho Professional Truck Driving Street Stocks (30 laps) – 1. Melissa Weaver, Nampa, Idaho; 2. Daniel Johnson, Caldwell, Idaho; 3. Marv Weaver, Nampa; 4. Chad Bess, Nampa; 5. Shawn Hansen, Boise
SPI Super Sixes (40 laps) – 1. Colton Nelson, Meridian; 2. Austin Hager, Boise; 3. Jasen Skyberg, Boise; 4. Kevin Detweiler, Nampa; 5. Steve Howell, Boise
SPI Super Six series feature winner — Hager
(12 laps each)
Carbon X RMCS
Heat No. 1 – 1. Morgan Rasmussen, Twin Falls, Idaho; 2. Trevor Cristiani, Boise; 3. Lee Hackney, Boise; 4. Eric Rhead, West Jordan, Utah; 5. Bruce Quale, Twin Falls
Heat No. 2 – 1. Dennis Brodigan, Nampa, Idaho; 2. Hannah Newhouse, Twin Falls; 3. Dennis Wurtz II, Kuna, Idaho; 4. Jonathan Gomez, Twin Falls; 5. Chris Fenton, Meridian
(Eight laps each)
SPI Super Sixes
A Heat – 1. Kevin Detweiler, Nampa; 2. Jasen Skyberg, Boise; 3. Colton Nelson, Meridian; 4. Austin Hager, Boise; 5. Bob Bachman, Kuna, Idaho
B Heat – 1. Steve Howell, Boise; 2. Casey Tillman, Kuna; 3. Kyle Waner, Meridian; 4. Ben Hinkle; 5. Dave Skyberg, Boise
Coors Super Stocks
A Heat – 1. Jackson; 2. Powers; 3. Ellis
CWI PTD Street Stocks
A Heat – 1. Bess; 2. Baldwin; 3. Marv Weaver; 4. Melissa Weaver; 5. Shawn Hansen, Boise
B Heat – 1. Shaun Bush, Marsing, Idaho; 2. Destiny Huber, Caldwell, Idaho; 3. Scott Shoecraft, Boise; 4. Ray Bolinger, Meridian; 5. Josh Hale, Boise
(Four laps each)
A Heat – 1. Lynn “The Holy Hammer” Hardy, Valley Church; 2. Neil Evans, Meridian Baptist Church; 3. Kip Hicks, Payette Bible Baptist Church; 4. Ed “Crash” Kreiner, Meridian Assembly of God; 5. Mark “Tiger” James, Team Racers for Christ
B Heat – 1. George Kovacs, The Pursuit; 2. David Clason, First Southern Baptist Church of Caldwell; 3. Matthew Williams, Vertical Church; 4. Andrew Sinift, Lakeview Church of the Nazarene; 5. Gretchin “Rev Rotz” Rotz, Lakeview Church of the Nazarene
Carbon X RMCS – Gomez, 13.187 seconds
SPI Super Sixes – Hager, 13.500 (track record; previous record: Jasen Skyberg, Boise, 13.553, Aug. 6, 2011)
CWI PTD Street Stocks – Melissa Weaver, 14.800
Coors Super Stocks – Ellis, 14.085 (track record; previous record: Powers, 14.228, June 1, 2013)