by Jon Brown, MERIDIAN, Idaho – The hometown drivers were stingy Friday night at ASA-sanctioned Meridian Speedway.
Mike Murgoitio, the reigning track champion, found the right combination prior to the 40-lap feature on the first night of the 96.1 BOB FM Diamond Cup XXIV presented by GNO Jewelry. The result was his second victory of the Canadian-American Western Winged Sprintcars Northwest Asphalt Speedweek.
After he and his crew overhauled his No. 80 sprintcar, Murgoitio ran away from the field.
“This track threw us off a little bit,” Murgoitio said of his hometown asphalt. “Everybody in the pits was talking about what a different racetrack this was.
“We wholesaled it and struggled with it all night. What a great time to get it together for the main event.”
Murgoitio was followed in the finishing lineup by fellow Meridian racers Bryan Warf and Johnny Giesler.
“I really am a little disappointed,” Giesler said two nights after winning the Bob and Tom Naylor Classic 50. “We had a good car, but luck just wasn’t on our side.”
The win put Murgoitio two points away from Giesler in the WWS series standings after three races. After finishing second, first and third, respectively, in the first three WWS races, Giesler has 193 points.
In the standings for Diamond Cup XXIV, which is co-sanctioned by the ASA Northwest Sprintcar Racing Association, Murgoitio holds a slim one-point lead over Jeff Montgomery of Langford, British Columbia. Giesler is third as only two points separate the top three drivers heading into Saturday’s finale.
Meridian drivers swept Friday’s other main events:
Jimmy Ingham survived side-by-side racing lap after lap, holding off Andrew Clark of Kuna, Idaho in a legendary Domino’s Pizza Legends feature.
Phil Dugan, posted a three-car-length victory over Middleton, Idaho’s Jim Bailey in the Project Filter Pro-4 main event.
Riley Rogers, an 11-year-old, is now 2-for-2 in 2012 after his second win in as many Jr. Stingers features.
Murgoitio shook Warf early in the Diamond Cup main event. The two veteran open-wheelers ran side-by-side for the race’s first two laps before Meridian’s reigning Mtn. Dew Winged Sprints champion got an advantage he would never relinquish.
Murgoitio put several lapped cars between himself and his nearest competitor, Giesler. Giesler, who finished second to Murgoitio at Rocky Mountain Raceways on Monday night, could make up ground as he looked for a way around Redmond, Wash.’s Robert Beck, Wyatt King of Meridian and Matt Mansell from Victoria, British Columbia.
Giesler then lost all of his momentum when he drove into the infield out of Turn 2 as King jerked his racecar off the track. That opened the door for Warf to take over second place.
With 10 laps remaining, track record-holder Andy Alberding of Roseburg, Ore., slammed into the Turn 4 wall after something broke on his sprinter. He took fellow Roseburg racer Matt Hein, the 2011 Diamond Cup co-champion, to the wall with him.
Murgoitio was able to maintain his lead with another quick jump on the single-file restart, but Mansell blew an engine and spewed oil all over the front stretch three laps later to bring out another lengthy yellow.
Again, Murgoitio was able to bolt ahead and hit cruise control as lapped traffic held Warf at bay. Warf was able to get around the lapped cars with three laps remaining, but Murgoitio had already built a two-second lead and was uncatchable.
Luck finally was on Ingham’s side in the Domino’s Pizza Legends division.
The Meridian driver erased tons of bad memories on his hometown’s paved quarter-mile by prevailing in a grueling 40-lap main event. Ingham, who has experienced his share of hard crashes the past few years, out-lasted Kuna, Idaho’s Andrew Clark for his first Meridian Legends main event.
“It’s been a long time in the Legends,” Ingham said. “We’ve been fighting electrical issues with this thing all year long and last year.”
The race Ingham and Clark put on for the packed house at Meridian certainly was electric Friday.
The pair swapped the lead (and paint) lap after lap as they ran side-by-side for the last half of the race. They also sustained the fight through five yellow flags.
“You couldn’t ask for a better clean race from him, back and forth, back and forth,” Ingham said of his rival. “I’m tired.”
Clark benefitted from the track rule that resets the field to the last completed lap whenever the yellow flag flies.
With 19 laps to go, Clark passed Ingham for the lead, but lost control and slipped out of the groove heading into Turn 1, losing several spots to the racers behind him. But the yellow flag whitewashed that incident and put Clark back in business to continue his duel with Ingham.
In the Project Filter Pro-4s, Phil Dugan used Honda power to rush past Jim Bailey two laps into the 30-lap feature.
The two drivers weren’t done, though, as they broke away from the field and raced bumper-to-bumper for nine consecutive laps.
Dugan got the upper hand, though, with nine laps to go. The slower car of Terry Sherman wiggled up the track slightly, but Dugan deftly pitched his racecar wide enough to avoid contact. Bailey, however, had to slam on his brakes to miss Sherman’s car and in the process lost all the momentum he had in his pursuit of Dugan.
In the 20-lap Jr. Stingers main event, 11-year-old Riley Rogers showed off the talent that earned him a special waiver to join the class that is open to 12- through 14-year-olds.
He pressured early race leader Ali Norton of Kuna, Idaho for several laps.
With five laps remaining, Norton brought out a caution flag by spinning heading out of Turn 2, a bit of misfortune that gave Rogers the lead for good. A lap earlier, Norton showed power in keeping the lead out of Turn 4 following a side-by-side restart with Rogers after another yellow flag.
If there was any question, Cody Veenstra proved early in Friday’s first night of the 96.1 BOB FM Diamond Cup XXIV that Meridian Speedway is his home track.
The Meridian resident drove a dialed-in race car to a pair of checkered flags in preliminary races, including a three-second margin in the last of the three eight-lap heat races.
Another Meridian driver, Wyatt King, kept up a strong early season in the Western Winged Sprints when he led wire-to-wire in Heat No. 2.
Victoria, British Columbia driver Matt Mansell shook off an early side-by-side duel with 2011 Diamond Cup co-champion Sierra Jackson from Middleton, Idaho to lead the first winged sprints heat from green to checkered. Two Meridian drivers – Johnny Giesler and Bryan Warf – battled wheel-to-wheel for third place for the majority of the race.
In the Diamond Cup dashes, Giesler picked up where he left off Wednesday night when he collected the second Bob and Tom Naylor Memorial Classic 50 championship of his career. The Meridian, Idaho hot shoe gobbled up the four-lap dash, out-pacing track record-holder Andy Alberding of Roseburg, Ore., for the checkered flag in the A Dash.
Veenstra won the B Dash with a 1.377-second gap between he and Mansell.
The Diamond Cup ends Saturday night, with the driver with the most points earned in the two-night affair winning a diamond ring furnished by GNO Jewelry and AmeriStar.
Admission is $18 for adults, $15.50 for military personnel with ID and senior citizens, and $14 for children ages 7-11. Children 6 and younger get in free. Fans can save $3 off the adult admission price by ordering tickets online at the speedway website or www.wingedsprintcars.com.
Saturday’s support classes include the SPI Super Sixes, Street Stocks and Tates Hornets. The evening will be capped with a bang as the speedway presents its first fireworks show of the year.
Racing begins at 5 p.m. with qualifying. Heat races start at 6:30 p.m.
Call (208) 888-2813 for more event information. Details of other races in the Western Winged Sprints Series can be found at www.wingedsprintcars.com.
More information on Meridian Speedway is available at www.meridianspeedway.com.
Canadian-American Western Winged Sprintcars
ASA Northwest Sprintcar Racing Association
Northwest Asphalt Speedweek No. 3
96.1 BOB FM Diamond Cup XXIV
Presented by GNO Jewelry and Stinker Stores
Friday’s unofficial results
Diamond Cup XXIV Night 1 for Western Winged Sprints – 1. Mike Murgoitio, Meridian, Idaho; 2. Bryan Warf, Meridian; 3. Johnny Giesler, Meridian; 4. Jeff Montgomery, Langford, British Columbia; 5. Sierra Jackson, Middleton, Idaho
Diamond Cup XXIV standings – 1. Murgoitio, 64 points; 2. Montgomery, 63; 3. Giesler, 62; 4. Warf, 58; 5. Scott Aumen, Duncan, British Columbia, 54; 6. Jackson, 49; 7. Ryan Burdett, West Jordan, Utah, 40; 8. Cody Veenstra, Meridian, 38; 9. Rick Brown, Springfield, Ore., 36; 10. Sara Henry, Nampa, Idaho, 35
Western Winged Sprints standings (after three races) – 1. Giesler, 193 points; 2. Murgoitio, 191; 3. 171; 4. Warf, 169; 5. Jackson, 142; 6. Burdett, 137; 7. Andy Alberding, Roseburg, Ore., 125; 8. Jimmy Waters, Salt Lake City, Utah, 116; 9. Wyatt King, Meridian, 113; 10. TJ Thorne, Herriman, Utah, 95
Project Filter Pro-4s (30 laps) – 1. Phil Dugan, Meridian; 2. Jim Bailey, Middleton; 3. Joe Barton, Nampa, Idaho; 4. Dayne Amyx, Boise, Idaho; 5. Terry Sherman, Boise
Domino’s Pizza Legends (40 laps) – 1. Jimmy Ingham, Meridian; 2. Andrew Clark, Kuna, Idaho; 3. Phyl Zubizareta, Garden City, Idaho; 4. Casey Tillman, Kuna; 5. Chase Gilbertson, Boise
Jr. Stingers (20 laps) – 1. Riley Rogers, Meridian; 2. Peter Woog, Boise; 3. Tyson Fuss, Kuna; 4. Hunter Gates, Nampa; 5. Ali Norton, Kuna
Western Winged Sprints trophy dashes
(4 laps each)
A Dash – 1. Giesler; 2. Andy Alberding, Roseburg, Ore.; 3. Montgomery; 4. Scott Aumen, Duncan, British Columbia
B Dash – 1. Cody Veenstra, Meridian; 2. Matt Mansell, Victoria, British Columbia; 3. Sara Henry, Nampa; 4. Rick Brown, Springfield, Ore.
(Eight laps each)
Western Winged Sprints
Heat No. 1 – 1. Veenstra; 2. Matt Hein, Roseburg, Ore.; 3. Montgomery; 4. Alberding; 5. Robert Beck, Redmond, Wash.
Heat No. 2 – 1. Wyatt King, Meridian; 2. Henry; 3. Murgoitio; 4. Aumen; 5. Ryan Burdett, West Jordan, Utah
Heat No. 3 – 1. Mansell; 2. Jackson; 3. Giesler; 4. Warf; 5. TJ Thorne, Herriman, Utah
Project Filter Pro-4s
Fast Dash – 1. Dugan; 2. Bailey; 3. Ken Chandler, Boise; 4. Barton; 5. Rob Taylor, Meridian
B Heat – 1. Kyle Latham, Boise; 2. Amyx; 3. Rob Bean, Kuna, Idaho; 4. Sherman
Domino’s Pizza Legends
Fast Dash – 1. Zach Blume, Eagle, Idaho; 2. Mike Cullum, Meridian; 3. Gilbertson; 4. Johnathan Davis, Emmett, Idaho; 5. Zubizareta
B Heat – 1. Andrew Clark; 2. Rod Stiller, Meridian; 3. Charlie Fiscus, Star, Idaho; 4. Aubree Wartman, Boise; 5. Darin Turpen, Nampa
C Heat – 1. Jenna Cullum, Meridian; 2. Chance Davis, Emmett; 3. Aly Clark, Kuna; 4. Daynna Skiver, Meridian; 5. Caitlin Stroebel, Meridian
(Six laps each)
Fast Dash – 1. Delaney Blume, Eagle; 2. Jordan Kirkland, Boise; 3. Rogers; 4. Fuss; 5. Andrew Hale, Eagle
B Heat – 1. Woog; 2. Erin Huddleston, Meridian; 3. CJ Stirm, Nampa; 4. Jordan Harris; 5. Andrew Hale, Eagle
Western Winged Sprints – Montgomery, 11.442 seconds
Project Filter Pro-4s – Jim Bailey, 14.042
Domino’s Pizza Legends – Zubizareta, 15.350