MERIDIAN, Idaho—With the neon glow of Meridian, Idaho’s Dairy Days carnival shining behind the north grandstand Meridian Speedway hosted the Les Schwab Tire Races Wednesday night. Heavy morning rains threatened to cancel the action, but under a bright afternoon sky six divisions took to the quarter-mile track in search of victory.
In keeping with the sideshow theme main event action kicked off with the Les Schwab Tire Race. This fifteen lap main event tasked competitors with both crossing the finish line first and keeping an old tire balanced on their vehicle for the event’s duration. Slow and steady thirty competitors flooded turn one. The three and four wide action took its toll quickly as just four laps into the event nearly a dozen competitors had already lost their tire and were forced from the race. The early leader was Tates Rents Hornets veteran Fred Nagele, who used a move straight up the middle to take the top spot. While other competitors pushed their vehicles hard and dropped their tires Nagele kept a steady pace and claimed victory.
“Just a couple of dents and dings on the hood,” Nagele credited for his success.
The Mountain Dew Winged Sprintcars took to the track for a twenty lap main event. Justin Segura piloted his car to the front of the field early while Bryan Warf knifed his way through the field. After just eight circuits Warf cut to the high side of Segura and flew around him for the lead. As Segura’s car got progressively hard to handle third place Colton Nelson began to reel him in, but would run out of laps to take second.
“I can’t thank these guys enough,” Warf said of his crew. “This thing was a rocket ship tonight.”
The Project Filter Pro-4 main event fired off the line with seven competitors. Missing from the action was Bob Coply, who endured a fierce heat race crash in his black and orange racer. Once the green flag fell Larry Hull III sprinted to the point, fending off Ryan Bailey’s early charge. While Hull III enjoyed a comfortable and growing lead Joe Barton and Kenny Chandler battled door-to-door deep in the pack. Once the pair cleared Ron Hayes only eighteen laps remained and Hull III had a healthy two second lead. That lead would dwindle over the next five laps, cut in half by Chandler. With ten to go the distance was just over a car length between leader Hull III and Chandler. Chandler jumped high on Hull III, whose car lost power with just seven laps remaining. Now it was Barton who found himself in second and closing on leader Chandler. But Chandler’s lead would be too much as the Project Filter sponsored racer found himself in Arctic Circle victory lane for the second time on the evening.
The Budweiser Modifieds and Coors Super Stocks combined forces for a thirty-five lap feature. Sharlet Wilson overtook Rick Moran for the lead early. Walt Calkins and Randy Keckley worked the high side to perfection as five laps into the race found themselves running one and two. With twenty-seven to go Moran and heat race winner Darvin Ackerland got together in the pack and spun in turn two. Scott Durbin, who spent seventy hours working to repair his car after a hard crash in the last feature, was collected as well. On the restart Calkins edged ahead of Keckley and brough the Super Stocks of Lynn Sharp and Rob Powers with him. Two laps later Powers had pulled to the lead. Father son duo Darvin and Tony Ackerland found themselves second and third while Lynn Sharp and Rick Baldwin rounded out the top five at the halfway point. With fifteen laps to go a restart opened the door for the Ackerlands to take over the first two spots on the Pepsi-Cola scoreboard. With Tony leading and Darvin in second the race became the battle for Super Stock supremacy as Powers and Sharp dueled for third. Powers would win that battle and surge forward to challenge Darvin Ackerland for second. Ackerland would yield to Powers with five circuits remaining, but wouldn’t be able to take down the other Ackerland as Tony took the checkered flag.
“Didn’t get Tony, but I got his old man, so that made me happy,” said Coors Super Stock winner Rob Powers.
The Tates Rents Hornets brought a field of over two dozen cars to a hundred lap main event. On the green flag Sean Young and Jordan Harris fought fender-to-fender for the lead while further back Kodi Newberry wasted no time in going three wide and making his way to fifth. Young would win that battle, but soon had a mirror full of Newberry, who tried to use lapped traffic for a pick unsuccessfully and ended up cutting his right front tire. In the skirmish Antonio Ryska worked his way to the front and with ten laps down officially took the lead. Young now fell into the clutches of Monica Heath, Rob Powers, and Thomas Harrod. Power would successfully use traffic to take second. A caution for James Pahl’s blown left rear tire would bunch the field and erase Ryska’s lead. It also turned the field around.
Now lapping with only right hand turns Powers pulled out to a healthy advantage over Ryska, Drew Crenshaw, and Cody Brizendine. At the quarter-mark Crenshaw would take the lead as Harrod, Nagele, Larry Englehardt, and Mike Vester came together. On the restart Crenshaw would bolt to a two second advantage. Meanwhile Harrod worked to regain the positions he’d lost in the skirmish. It took him only five laps to make his way to seventh. With 67 to go Kurt Bates lost it in the north turns, collecting top three runners Crenshaw and Ryska.
This left Brizendine out front on the restart who enjoyed a half straightaway lead over Rick Howe and Mitch Parker. At the halfway point Brizendine’s lead held over Howe, Parker, and Vester, who had worked his way to forth. Fifth on the Pepsi-Cola scoreboard was Mathieu Sorrell, whose car had already backed into the turn three concrete on the first caution. Second place runner Howe came to grief with lapped car Michael Capps on the front stretch to bring out the fifth caution with 47 laps remaining.
The restart offered an opportunity to turn the cars around and have them lap the correct way. On this start Brizendine resumed the lead with Vester, fender flapping in the air, in hot pursuit. Powers found himself third, Jim Longden fourth and Kenny Driebergen fifth. Traffic allowed Vester to close on the leader with thirty to go, but Brizendine would maintain the advantage. Mired in traffic Vester lost contact with Brizendine until Young spun in turn two with twenty-five laps to go.
On the three-wide restart Brizendine roared to the lead from his mid-track, front row starting position. Powers used several three-wide dives to work his way to third behind Vester. Then Brizendine made a mistake with 21 circuits to go and pushed into the turn one concrete, handing the lead to Vester while Brizendine pulled into the pits with damage. Finally out of the chaotic pack Vester established a fast rhythm and began to increase his lead over Powers and Longden.
Another restart would be Powers’ best shot to challenge Vester, and he would do just that on the high side. The charge proved fruitless and Powers actually surrendered second to Longden, who immediately set to cutting Vester’s lead. With ten to go the pair hit lapped traffic and Longden used the slow car of Ron Compton to complete the pass. Vester would battle back on the low side of the track and would succeed with just five laps remaining. Try as he might Longden couldn’t track the black 02 down as Vester would claim the Fire Extinguisher Company trophy.
“Man that was fun,” said an ecstatic Vester after he climbed from his smoking car.
During the Dairy Days celebration Meridian Speedway will not host races Saturday, June 21. Action will continue on June 28 with the College of Western Idaho Community night and Tile Outlet Bike Races for Kids. General admission is $10.25 to see the Pepsi Sprintcars, Budweiser Modifieds and Coors Super Stocks, CWI Professional Truck Driving Program Street Stocks, TEAM Mazda Subaru Mini Stocks, CWI Transportation Program High School Tuners, and Junior Stingers vie for the Allison Concrete-sponsored trophy. Be sure to watch meridianspeedway.com for more information and text ‘meridianspeed’ to 84483 for special information.
As always this weekend’s action was sponsored by Contingency Connection, which provides nearly $2000 in awards each week from NATIONAL manufacturers. See Meridian Speedway officials for more details about Contingency Connection.