New dad Lowther celebrates with Late Model win at Meridian
by Jon Brown, MERIDIAN, Idaho – Sunday was a night for proud fathers at ASA-sanctioned Meridian Speedway.
First, Shelby Stroebel watched his 16-year-old daughter, Caitlin, pick up the first main event win of her career in the B Modifieds 2012 season finale.
Then Boise, Idaho’s Dan Lowther took home a checkered flag for his five-day-old son, Cole. Lowther held off Kuna, Idaho’s Dennis Wurtz II to win the NAPA Late Models feature.
“I just have to thank my wife (Rhonda). She’s out here tonight,” Lowther said. Cole joins the couple’s daughter, Mackenzie, at home.
In other main events:
Casey Tillman of Kuna, Idaho won the 50-lap Domino’s Pizza Legends feature, which served as a qualifier for the INEX Asphalt Nationals, which take place at Atlanta Motor Speedway in October.
Thomas Harrod of Nampa, Idaho won the final race of the Tates Hornets 100 Series, and Meridian’s Colton Nelson took home the series championship.
Bull Dacious, driven by James DeMello of Boise, squeezed between the frontstretch wall and Bootlegger (Sean Hackworth of Caldwell, Idaho) at the checkered flag to win the 20-lap Thunder Dogs feature.
In a fun event for the Thunder Dogs long before their main event, IP Freely II, a convertible driven by James Pahl of Caldwell, Idaho, won the Jack Links Snack Attack by snagging eight of the snack sticks off a clothesline strung across the start-finish line during a timed race.
It was also Kool Oldies 99.5 Night at the track with a parade of 50 classic cars on the track during the night.
Race fans made their voices heard, voting the 1961 Nash Metropolitan of Nampa, Idaho resident Connie Shumaker as the night’s best-looking car.
Lyle Powers of Meridian, driving a 1926 Ford T Bucket beat Arvel Stevenson’s 1951 Ford F1 pickup in the Kool Oldies Dash for Cash.
Meridian’s Bryan Kirk won the crowd’s approval with his 1967 Chevrolet Camaro during the Kool Oldies Smoke-n-Go burnout contest.
Lowther made some smoke of his own after creating sparks throughout the 30-lap feature for the NAPA Late Models. The Boise driver smoked the tires in a joyful celebration after he survived a broken part in his racecar to win.
“It definitely was a great night,” he said. “We’d been struggling all day, and me and (Jeff) Wilson kinda got together there and something broke.”
Lowther took the lead on the sixth lap, and Wurtz followed close behind. The two veteran drivers hooked up and drove around slower traffic for most of the rest of the race.
Wurtz first tried to get position on the low side against Lowther, whose car showered sparks from the right front spindle whenever he went into a turn. The two drivers built a two-second cushion over the rest of the field
With two laps to go, Wilson, who drives out of Mountain Home, Idaho, spun low in Turn 1 to set up a green-white-checkered dash for the win.
Lowther was able to stay in front of Wurtz after the single-file restart.
“Dennis put up a great fight. It was good, clean racing, which is what you get from Dennis,” Lowther said.
In the Legends feature, Tillman, who second in the season standings, parlayed a sudden exit by points leader Phyl Zubizareta of Garden City, Idaho, into a victory.
Zubizareta was running second and Tillman third behind race leader Shelby Stroebel with 20 laps left when Zubizareta conceded second place and pulled into the pits. Shortly afterward, Boise, Idaho’s Aubree Wartman went around to triggered a caution flag.
Five laps after the restart, Tillman rocketed past Stroebel and away from the pack to secure the victory.
The Kuna driver posted a four-second margin of victory, and although Zubizareta got back on the track, he didn’t make it back into the top five.
Shelby Stroebel was driving the No. 51 Legends car that his daughter, Caitlin, had driven throughout 2012.
His daughter can be excused for taking a break, though. She was busy winning her first B Modified feature.
The 16-year-old, who just started her junior year at Meridian High School, put a year’s worth of talkin’ racin’ with her father to the best possible use with her win in the 30-lap B Modifieds feature.
The daughter of back-to-back ASA Modifieds champion Shelby Stroebel held the lead in the 30-lap main event for the final 20 laps to secure her first career victory in the division.
She and her dad spent nearly every Thursday at the paved quarter-mile oval honing her skills.
“Spending time out here, I’ve learned to communicate with my dad more about what the car is doing,” Caitlin said.
The car was doing just fine Sunday night during Kool Oldies Classic Car Night at the track.
Nampa, Idaho’s Connie Shumaker won the show’s best-looking car contest as voted on by the spectators at the track. Shumaker drove a 1961 Nash Metropolitan decked out in a hot pink and white two-tone paint job.
Stroebel’s victory came just before the classic cars took to the quarter-mile oval for some parade laps.
She was nearly as pleased with her victory as her father, who was ecstatic watching his daughter race out front from his perch in the pits near the backstretch.
“It feels really good,” she said. “I just took a lot of practice.”
Those practice laps taught her to stay calm during a four-lap duel with series champion Josh Jackson of Payette, Idaho.
Jackson drove high alongside Stroebel and nosed ahead into every corner during their shootout, but Stroebel was able to push ahead out of the turns.
“I just have to keep running as hard as I can and give him his lane, but not give him too much room where he has an easy path,” Caitlin said of her mindframe during the battle.
Jackson, who wrapped up the season championship, eventually drove into Turn 3 too hard and broke traction. When he fish-tailed, it brought out a caution flag and opened the door for Stroebel’s first checkered flag.
The Thunder Dogs feature was wet and wild as usual.
Bootlegger was sent to the back when a competition yellow was thrown with two laps to go. Bumble Bee (Paul Orlando) inherited the lead, but was rudely punted into the Turn 1-2 wall in a flash of sparks and metal when Surfer (James Cloud, Boise) legally drove into him.
Bootlegger took advantage of the situation and shot to the lead. He was slowed by standing water on the track (another Thunder Dogs tradition) and Bull Dacious went high into Turn 4 heading for the checkered. Bull Dacious won by a nose as Bootlegger pushed up toward the wall as the final flag flew.
Meridian Speedway plays host to the championship weekend for the Canadian-American Western Winged Sprintcar series on Friday and Saturday.
The first night is the 50-lap Tom Elliott Sportsman Classic, and the WWS season concludes Saturday with the WWS Pepsi 75.
Middleton, Idaho’s Sierra Jackson and Meridian, Idaho’s Johnny Giesler entered the final races of the inaugural WWS season tied for the championship lead. Jackson created the tie with her historic Daffodil Cup victory Aug. 17-18 at Western Speedway in Victoria, British Columbia. The 20-year-old became the first woman to win the race that has been contested since 1961.
The gates at Meridian Speedway open each day at 4 p.m., followed by qualifying at 5 p.m. and racing at 6:30 p.m.
Admission each night is $15 for adults, $12.50 for senior citizens and military personnel with ID, and $11 for children ages 7-11. As always, children 6 and younger get in free.
A family pass costs $46 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.
Kool Oldies Cruise Night
Tates Rents Fan Appreciation Night
Sunday’s unofficial results
INEX Asphalt Nationals qualifier (Domino’s Pizza Legends, 50 laps) – 1. Casey Tillman, Kuna, Idaho; 2. Shelby Stroebel, Meridian, Idaho; 3. Sara Henry, Nampa, Idaho; 4. Chase Gilbertson, Boise, Idaho; 5. Charlie Fiscus, Star, Idaho
NAPA Late Models (30 laps) – 1. Dan Lowther, Boise; 2. Dennis Wurtz II, Kuna; 3. Dylan Caldwell, Nampa, Idaho; 4. Lee Hackney, Boise; 5. Travis Anderson, Boise
Tates Hornets 100 Series finale – 1. Thomas Harrod, Nampa; 2. Jack Martin, Caldwell, Idaho; 3. Art Heath, Nampa; 4. Sharlet Pataro, Mountain Home, Idaho; 5. Kevin Johnson, Kuna
Tates Hornets 100 Series champion – Colton Nelson, Meridian, Idaho
B Modifieds (30 laps) – 1. Caitlin Stroebel, Meridian; 2. Jay Cook, Nampa; 3. Pete Trammel, Boise; 4. Josh Jackson, Payette, Idaho; 5. Randy Keckley, Boise
Jack’s Link Snack Attack (Thunder Dogs) winner – IP Freely II (James Pahl, Caldwell)
Kool Oldies Best Car Contest winner – Connie Shumaker, Nampa, 1961 Nash Metropolitan
Kool Oldies Dash for Cash final – Lyle Powers, Meridian, 1926 Ford T Bucket, def. Arvel Stevenson, Walden, 1951 Ford F1 pickup
Kool Oldies Smoke-n-Go burnout winner – Bryan Kirk, Meridian, 1967 Chevrolet Camaro
Thunder Dogs winner (20 laps) – Bull Dacious (James DeMello, Boise)
(Eight laps each)
NAPA Late Models
Fast Dash – 1. Lee Hackney, Boise, Idaho; 2. Dylan Caldwell, Nampa, Idaho; 3. Dennis Brodigan, Nampa; 4. Travis Anderson, Boise; 5. Dan Lowther, Boise
B Heat – 1. Kane Thomasson, Kuna, Idaho; 2. Jeff Wilson, Mountain Home, Idaho; 3. Rob Powers, Meridian, Idaho; 4. David Harris, Meridian
Domino’s Pizza Legends
Fast Dash – 1. Austin Hager, Boise; 2. Mike Cullum, Meridian; 3. Jim Landon, Tacoma, Wash.; 4. Sara Henry, Nampa; 5. Ben Matheson, Pasco, Wash.
B Heat – 1. Jimmy Ingham, Boise; 2. Shelby Stroebel, Meridian; 3. Mark Cirelli Jr., Nampa; 4. Casey Tillman, Kuna; 5. Andrew Clark, Boise
C Heat – 1. Brent Collins, Boise; 2. Johnathan Davis, Emmett, Idaho; 3. Aubree Wartman, Boise; 4. Chase Gilbertson, Boise; 5. Charlie Fiscus, Star, Idaho
D Heat – 1. Jenna Cullum, Meridian; 2. Chance Davis, Emmett; 3. Lloyd Bigler, N. Powder, Ore.; 4. Dayna Skiver, Meridian
Fast Dash – 1. Josh Jackson, Payette, Idaho; 2. Jay Cook, Nampa, Idaho; 3. Pete Trammel, Boise; 4. Caitlin Stroebel, Meridian
B Heat – 1. Rosalee Weller, Caldwell, Idaho; 2. Randy Keckley, Boise; 3. Dell Scott, Meridian; 4. Randy Wilcox, Boise
Domino’s Pizza Legends – Phyl Zubizareta, Garden City, Idaho, 15.219 seconds
NAPA Late Models – Travis Anderson, Boise, 13.981
B Modifieds – Josh Jackson, 14.472