by Jon Brown, MERIDIAN, Idaho – A dominant performance capped the Canadian-American Western Winged Sprintcar series season Saturday night at
ASA-sanctioned Meridian Speedway, but the inaugural season’s most dominant driver wasn’t on the track.
Bryan Warf of Meridian, Idaho, put all but the second- and third-place cars a lap down to win the WWS Pepsi 75.
But the night also belonged to Middleton, Idaho’s Sierra Jackson and another Meridian racer, Mike Murgoitio, who claimed championships in the Western Winged Sprints series and local Mtn. Dew Winged Sprints series respectively.
In other main events:
Shelby Stroebel of Meridian, Idaho, won the Allen Stroebel Open Modified Show II to continue his winning streak. Stroebel has won 15 consecutive races in the speedway’s top modified division this year, and hasn’t lost in his last 17 starts at the track.
Chad Bess of Nampa, Idaho, took a huge step toward the 2012 Street Stocks track championship by driving a loaner racecar to victory in the 30-lap feature.
IP Topless, driven by Meridian 16-year-old Colton Nelson, separated Bulldacious (James DeMello, Boise) from its vessel in Turn 3 to win the World Famous Boat Race for the Thunder Dogs.
Sledgehammer (David Jolley, Nampa) was crowned 2012 Thunder Dogs champion.
The door to championships opened for Jackson and Murgoitio when Meridian driver Johnny Giesler suffered a blown engine 56 laps into the season finale. Jackson would win the WWS title by three points, while Murgoitio won the Mtn. Dew championship by 37 points. He and Giesler entered the night in a dead heat for the local series lead.
Jackson rebounded from a potentially season-wrecking crash late in Friday’s main event to finish a distant third to Warf in Saturday’s feature. But with Giesler in the pits, the finish was enough for Jackson to claim the Western Winged Sprintcars championship.
Murgoitio reaped similar benefits in the local Mtn. Dew Winged Sprints series, leapfrogging Giesler to win another season championship on his home track.
Murgoitio tipped his cap to Warf after his come-from-behind championship was announced.
“He had one heck of a missile tonight,” Murgoitio said of Warf’s Pat Russell-owned No. 91.
Warf also praised his pit crew, which includes crew chief Lamoyne Warf and crewmember Dave Yoshida.
“You can’t ask more from a crew,” Bryan Warf said. “They gave me an absolute rocket.”
That may be an understatement. Warf had a half-lap lead over most of the field for most of the night.
After starting the weekend in a tie for the WWS championship with Jackson, Giesler gained an 18-point edge after winning Friday’s Tom Elliott Sportsman Classic.
Giesler needed to finish fifth or better to secure the WWS title regardless of what Jackson could pull off.
Jackson led the first 20 laps until Warf caught her in slower traffic and passed on the low side heading into Turn 3.
Warf stretched out his lead as Jackson and Murgoitio battled for second place for several laps. The second- and third-place racecars also were held up by slower traffic, giving Warf even more of a cushion.
Shelby Stroebel’s magical season ended with a miracle in the open modified competition held in honor of his late father.
Facing the end of his 16-race winning streak in the speedway’s top modifieds division, the hometown driver received some type of intervention late in the 40-lap race.
He took advantage of a late caution flag to catch Rick Fowble of Twin Falls, Idaho and win the Allen Stroebel Open Modified Show II.
“It was definitely an emotional day for us,” Shelby Stroebel said. “I don’t know what to say. We miss him a lot, and this means a lot to get back to the winner’s circle.”
Stroebel was reflecting on last year’s inaugural memorial race for his dad, during which the son lapped the field to put his name on the perpetual trophy. In 2012, there was no keeping him out of the winner’s circle. Saturday’s win was the 15th consecutive triumph of the season for Stroebel, who has won 17 straight dating to August 2011.
In another early main event, Chad Bess of Nampa, Idaho inched closer to a Street Stocks season championship by driving a loaner car to the checkered flag.
Stroebel told race announcer Josh “JT” Thomas that he needed the late yellow flag to get closer to race leader Rick Fowble because his racecar was too tight to make up the large lead the Magic Valley Speedway championship driver from Twin Falls, Idaho had built.
Stroebel fought his way from the back of the pack over the final 25 laps.
Fifteen laps into the race, Stroebel dove low on the track into Turn 1 and passed the slower cars driven by Randy Keckley of Boise, Idaho and Rosalee Weller of Caldwell, Idaho. Race officials sent Stroebel’s No. 24 rocket to the back of the field as a penalty for the dangerous pass.
“I got my hand slapped. I knew better than that,” he said.
It was a momentary setback.
With eight laps left, Star, Idaho’s Wes Pogue spun out on his own on the frontstretch to trigger the caution flag that Stroebel needed.
Stroebel was directly behind Fowble on the restart and two laps later went high around the Twin Falls driver to take the lead for good.
When his Street Stocks championship-contending racecar wouldn’t go in a title-chasing manner, Chad Bess saw a fellow competitor come to his aid.
The Nampa, Idaho driver accepted and repaid the generosity of Middleton, Idaho’s Rick Baldwin (affectionately known as “Ricky Bobby” after Will Ferrell’s Talladega Nights character) by winning the second-to-last Street Stocks feature of the ASA-sanctioned Meridian Speedway season Saturday night.
“This win goes out to all of them, Ricky Bobby and his crew,” Bess said from victory lane. “They didn’t hesitate, and I wouldn’t be here without them.”
Holding a 28-point lead over Nampa’s Melissa Weaver with two main events looming, Bess experienced problems with his No. 67 Chevrolet Camaro early Saturday and wound up hopping in Baldwin’s No. 28 Chevy for qualifying.
Baldwin surrendered his ride for the sake of Bess’ championship hopes.
Bess started from the middle of the pack, but eventually found himself running side-by-side with Roy Kirkland of Boise for the lead. Weaver lurked in third until something broke on Kirkland’s car and sent him hard into the Turn 1 safety barrier.
Weaver started behind Bess when the green flag fell on the double-file restart. With 16 laps remaining in the 30-lap feature, the pair ran bumper-to-bumper
Johnny Giesler of Meridian, Idaho expanded on his slim series lead early in the final night of the Western Winged Sprints season.
He entered Saturday’s races with an 18-point lead over Sierra Jackson of Middleton, Idaho. Giesler built that lead by winning Friday’s Tom Elliott Sportsman Classic.
The young gun picked up a few more points on Jackson when he finished second to Canadian Matt Mansell in the first eight-lap heat race.
Mansell, who missed the first night because he had to work, towed from Victoria, British Columbia.
Meanwhile, Giesler put some more daylight between himself and fellow Meridian driver Mike Murgoitio in the speedway’s Mtn. Dew Winged Sprints series. Murgoitio, the two-time defending series champion, finished fifth in the heat race.
Quesnel, British Columbia’s Ron Larson made it a Canadian sweep in the WWS heat races when he paced the field to the checkered flag in heat race No. 2.
Cody Veenstra of Meridian was in pursuit, but smacked the frontstretch wall coming out of Turn 4 early in the race and couldn’t make up the ground.
Ryan Burdett showed no ill effects from having to jump into his backup car after his engine blew during Friday’s Western Winged Sprintcars action.
The West Jordan, Utah driver brought out his backup racecar for Saturday’s qualifying and fought through a sputtering engine to the third-quickest time.
He said he was just trying to get the racecar to run, but by the time the A Dash rolled around it was clear that Burdett had a bullet.
Ranked fourth in the series standings coming into the season finale, Burdett walked away from the field in the four-lap preliminary. He won by 2½ seconds.
Matt Elliott of Caldwell, Idaho, collected the third checkered flag of his weekend by winning the B Dash. He had to hold off Quesnel, British Columbia’s Ron Larson to win the race. Larson pitched his sprinter hard into the corners in pursuit of Elliott, but couldn’t catch the leader.
Meridian Speedway’s season ends Friday with Cricket Green Flag Championship Night.
Season titles will be decided in the Pepsi Sprintcars, Project Filter Pro-4s, Street Stocks, Domino’s Pizza Legends, Pit Stop Drive Thru Mini Stocks and Tates Hornets.
The gates at Meridian Speedway at 4 p.m., followed by qualifying at 5 p.m. and racing at 6:30 p.m.
Admission is $10 for adults, $7.50 for senior citizens and military personnel with ID, and $6 for children ages 7-11. As always, children 6 and younger get in free.
A family pass costs $30 and allows the admission of a family of two adults and four children (ages 7-11).
For more information on the speedway’s upcoming races, including buying tickets, visit www.meridianspeedway.com. More information is available by calling the track at (208) 888-2813 .
Western Winged Sprints Series information is available at www.wingedsprints.com.
Canadian-American Western Winged Sprintcars
WWS Pepsi 75
Saturday’s unofficial results
WWS Pepsi 75 – 1. Bryan Warf, Meridian, Idaho; 2. Mike Murgoitio, Meridian; 3. Sierra Jackson, Middleton, Idaho; 4. Andy Alberding, Roseburg, Ore.; 5. Sara Henry, Nampa, Idaho
2012 Canadian-American Western Winged Sprintcars champion – Jackson
WWS final standings – 1. Jackson, 550 points; 2. Giesler, 547; 3. Warf, 480; 4. Alberding, 415; 5. Ryan Burdett, West Jordan, Utah, 409; 6. Murgoitio, 385; 7. Ron Larson, Quesnel, British Columbia, 379; 8. Scott Aumen, Duncan, British Columbia, 311; 9. Jeff Montgomery, Langford, British Columbia, 270; 10. Matt Mansell, Victoria, British Columbia, 250
2012 Mtn. Dew Winged Sprints champion — Murgoitio
Allen Stroebel Modified Open Show II (40 laps) – 1. Shelby Stroebel, Meridian; 2. Rick Fowble, Twin Falls, Idaho; 3. Jentry Pisca, Nampa; 4. Wes Pogue, Star, Idaho; 5. Randy Keckley, Boise, Idaho
Street Stocks (30 laps) – 1. Chad Bess, Nampa; 2. Melissa Weaver, Nampa; 3. Bill Lawrence, Grand View, Idaho; 4. Shawn Hansen, Boise; 5. Bobby Riggs, Fruitland, Idaho
World Famous Boat Race winner –IP Topless (Colton Nelson, Meridian)
2012 Thunder Dogs champion – Sledgehammer (David Jolley, Nampa)
Western Winged Sprints trophy dashes
(Four laps each)
A Dash – 1. Ryan Burdett, West Jordan, Utah; 2. Andy Alberding, Roseburg, Ore.; 3. Bryan Warf, Meridian, Idaho; 4. Mike Murgoitio, Meridian
B Dash – 1. Matt Elliott, Caldwell, Idaho; 2. Ron Larson, Quesnel, British Columbia; 3. Matt Mansell, Victoria, British Columbia; 4. Johnny Giesler, Meridian
Western Winged Sprints heat races
(Eight laps each)
Heat No. 1 – 1. Mansell; 2. Giesler; 3. Sierra Jackson, Middleton, Idaho; 4. Alberding; 5. Murgoitio
Heat No. 2 – 1. Larson; 2. Cody Veenstra, Meridian; 3. Warf; 4. Elliott; 5. Sara Shaw, Nampa
(Four laps each)
Modifieds – 1. Jentry Pisca, Nampa; 2. Caitlin Stroebel, Meridian; 3. Shelby Stroebel, Meridian; 4. Rick Fowble, Twin Falls, Idaho
Street Stocks – 1. Chad Bess, Nampa; 2. Roy Kirkland, Boise; 3. Melissa Weaver, Nampa; 4. Marv Weaver, Nampa
Thunder Dogs – 1. The Surfer (James Cloud, Boise); 2. Catfish (John Pinkston, Meridian); 3. Sledgehammer (David Jolley, Nampa); 4. Bulldacious (James DeMello, Boise)
(Eight laps each)
A Heat – 1. Kirkland; 2. Melissa Weaver; 3. Marv Weaver; 4. Shawn Hansen, Boise; 5. Bess
A Heat – 1. Caitlin Stroebel; 2. Shelby Stroebel; 3. Fowble; 4. Pisca; Wes Pogue, Star, Idaho
(Six laps each)
A Heat – 1. Bulldacious; 2. Bootlegger (Sean Hackworth, Caldwell); 3. Bumble Bee (Paul Orlando); 4. Sledgehammer
B Heat – 1. Catfish; 2. IP Topless (Colton Nelson, Meridian); 3. Parole Violator; 4. The Surfer
Western Winged Sprints – Bryan Warf, Meridian, Idaho, 11.369 seconds
Open Modifieds – Shelby Stroebel, Meridian, Idaho, 13.525
Street Stocks – Marv Weaver, Nampa, Idaho, 15.175