Overtime Shootout Settles Wild NASCAR K&N Pro Series West Idaho 208
A packed house greeted a full field of NASCAR K&N Pro Series West competitors as they invaded Meridian Speedway for the NAPA Auto Parts Idaho 208. While the traveling professional series contested their penultimate race, the Pro Trucks, Project Filter Pro-4s, and College of Western Idaho High School Tuners crowned champions on a brisk Saturday night.
The Project Filter Pro-4s were first to the starting grid for their thirty lap championship feature. On the green Boise, Idaho’s Wes Summers bolted to the lead and pulled fellow Boise, Idaho competitors Brandon Shira and Jonathan Hull with him away from the pack. Hull didn’t waste this forward momentum and used the next six laps to work past both Shira and Summers entries to put his Diversified Carpet Cleaning, All American Towing machine in the lead.
Behind Hull, Nampa, Idaho racer Joe Barton picked his way through traffic to the runner up spot before going to work on the leader. Barton took the inside line and stuck to it, and after a tense ten lap battle Barton moved his Tyco Structural Enterprises racer to the top spot. This dropped Hull into the clutches of Kuna, Idaho’s Kenny Chandler, at the wheel of a backup car after a hard crash in practice. With fourteen circuits left Chandler muscled his Project Filter, Fairly Reliable Bob’s entry past Hull to take second and set to making his way to the lead.
Hull next came under fire from Meridian, Idaho runner Brendon Fries, who moved Hull out of the way to put his vertical-winged Chick-Fil-A, Urban Rifle Supply machine in the third spot. Fries wasn’t done there and with five laps to go he tried an outside move on Chandler. When that move didn’t work, Fries first bumped, then blasted Chandler, sending the multi-time champion for a spin in turn three.
With Fries and Chandler at the back of the pack, the restart put Payette, Idaho’s Travis Pavlacky to Barton’s outside. When the green flag flew Barton motored back to the lead. Pavlacky tried to mount a last lap charge in his Riparetti Cylinder Head machine, but it was no use as Barton claimed the win and the Project Filter Pro-4 championship.
“We were kind of excited to get to the finish line tonight,” Barton said.
A full field of College of Western Idaho High School Tuners wheeled their racers to green for their final 25 laps of 2016. On the break outside pole sitter Tayvia Morris raced her Northwest Auto Services entry to the top spot. On the move early was quick qualifier Riley Rogers, who had piloted his H&H Accounting, Goodwill Finance machine from last to fourth place by lap five.
An early caution reset the field and brought Alex Hibbert’s Team Construction, Paz Electric car to Morris’ outside, with Rogers and Connor Woog on the second row. Rogers wasted no time as he dispatched fellow Meridian, Idaho racer Hibbert, then worked his way beneath Nampa, Idaho’s Morris. Rogers led a contested lap seven, but held the lead outright by lap eight.
Further back Boise, Idaho driver Will Ostrum went to work on Woog for third, but just as Ostrum edged his Diversified Carpet Cleaning entry ahead, Morris spun from second place. Woog, Ostrum, Taylor Occhipinti, and Jordan Harris had nowhere to go, and piled into the Morris’ machine. Despite the hard hits every driver was okay, and only Woog’s Discount Tire, Les Schwab machine had to be towed from the track.
On the restart Rogers led Hibbert, Occhipinti, and Harris into turn one. While Occhipinti worked Hibbert over for second, Rogers cruised to his seventh win of the season and the 2016 College of Western Idaho High School Tuner championship.
“I don’t know if it’s sunk in yet,” Rogers admitted post race.
The Pro Trucks brought fifteen bare-knuckle competitors to their 75 lap championship race. On the green pole sitter John Wong of Parma, Idaho bolted ahead of Hooper, Utah’s Tim Fahrner to lead lap one. Side-by-side action ruled the race’s first ten laps before Fahrner established the outside line as the place to be. Finally clear of traffic Fahrner piloted his Park Insulation, Top Stop Automotive truck to Wong’s rear bumper.
On lap eighteen Fahrner made his move and dove inside Wong’s Champion Produce to take the lead. But Fahrner wasn’t safe up front as he came under fire from Twin Falls, Idaho’s Jason Quale, who moved his Quale Electronics, Dairy Queen racer to the inside line on lap 25. Fahrner fought back hard, and as the top two scuffled Meridian Idaho’s Riley Rogers, fresh off his College of Western Idaho High School Tuner victory, raced into the lead group.
Rogers wasn’t content to run third, and he motored around Quale to put his H&H Accounting, Wildside Wraps entry in the runner up post on lap 35. With thirty laps to go Rogers made his move as he dove below Fahrner in turn one. As Rogers drew abreast of Fahrner, a caution flag flew and reset the field.
On the green Rogers rocketed around the high side and took the lead from Fahrner. Johnny Pierre followed Rogers through and immediately planted his D.L. Evans Bank, Elite Heating and Cooling entry in Rogers’ rear view mirror. Pierre methodically worked low and, try as Rogers might, the Twin Falls, Idaho racer was able to motor ahead on lap fifty. Fellow Twin Falls, Idaho racer John Newhouse followed Pierre past Rogers and the top two point runners set to settling the season championship.
Pierre guarded the inside line, but that didn’t stop Newhouse from jabbing low. A late caution brought Newhouse to the leader’s outside for a final sixteen lap shootout. The tooth and nail battled started immediately as Pierre took Newhosue to the backstretch concrete. Newhouse’s truck reeled from the hit, and as it did Rogers pulled past and established his presence on Pierre’s bumper.
Rogers opened his winning bid with a square shot to Pierre’s bumper, but Pierre weathered the strike and held the lead. With five laps left Rogers turned up the pressure further, but didn’t have enough to overtake Pierre, who sped into the Caleb’s Chop Shop Winner’s Circle.
“Everybody did a great job,” Pierre said.
Newhouse scored a fifth place finish, and with it the 2016 Pro Truck championship.
“That was the hardest earned fifth place,” Newhouse said as he collected championship honors.
The NASCAR K&N Pro Series West brought 21 of the best stock car racers in the country to bear on Meridian Speedway for the NAPA Auto Parts Idaho 208. On the green pole sitter Ryan Partridge piloted his Sunrise Ford, Eibach Springs Ford to lead lap one. As the leaders cleared the first wave of lapped traffic, Rancho Cucamonga, California’s Partridge held a better than one second advantage over Chris Eggleston’s NAPA Filters Toyota.
While the top two settled in, the battle for third heated up as Noah Gragson pulled his SpeedVegas, AlertID Ford to the rear bumper of Riley Herbst’s NAPA Power Premium Plus Alternators and Starters Toyota. The pressure proved too much for Herbst, and the young racer spun in turns one and two on lap 37.
The green flag flew again on lap 44 with Partridge and Eggleston on the front row. Eggleston pedaled his racer hard on the outside, but Partridge took the short way around the quarter-mile and motored back to the top spot. A flurry of early caution flags set up the same scenario, each ending with Partridge back up front. This all changed when the green flag flew on lap 61.
Eggleston laid into Partridge as the two raced across the start finish line and after two laps of repeated body blows Eggleston claimed the top spot on lap 63. Eggleston’s time up front was short-lived, however as a caution on lap 69 brought Partridge even with the leader and put Rouse, Partridge’s teammate, on Eggleston’s rear bumper. That seemed to be the winning formula as Partridge roared around Eggleston to take the lead back. Point leader Todd Gilliland followed Partridge past Eggleston to take second as the top three settled in at the race’s halfway point.
The caution flag again flew on lap 112, which erased Partridges second and a half lead and brought Gilliland even with the leader as the green flag waved on lap 119. Partridge shut the door hard on Gilliland, which condensed an already crowded pack. Something had to give, and on lap 125 Rouse and Eggleston tangled in turn two. Rouse went around, collecting fifth place runner Gragson. Both Rouse and Gragson drove away from the dust up, but were forced to the pit area for repairs.
Gilliland made the most of the following restart as he powered around Partridge to take the lead. But Partridge battled back, and on lap 164 moved his Ford back to the point. New York, New York racer Julia Landauer also made a move on 164 as she dispatched Eggleston to put her Curb Records Toyota third. Thirty laps ran off the Pepsi-Cola scoreboard until a late yellow bunched the field and set up a seven lap shootout for the NAPA Auto Parts Idaho 208 trophy.
The green flag waved and Partridge shot to the lead. As the top five jockeyed for position Eggleston was shuffled out of fourth and spun into the turn one concrete. Eggleston would continue, but his bid for the victory was spoiled and the race entered Overtime.
Lap 214 saw Partridge and Gilliland lead the field to the first green-white-checkered attempt. Gilliland got on the gas pedal hard and raced ahead of Partridge on the back stretch. With a win slipping from his grasp Partridge slung his racer too hard into turn three, and he spun. By the time the caution flag waved Gilliland had taken the white flag and the race was deemed official by NASCAR Officials.
“I knew we were going to have to be smart coming into the night,” Gilliland said in the Caleb’s Chop Shop Winner’s Circle. “It’s really special to win this one.”
Meridian Speedway crowns six champions next Saturday, October 1 on TATES Rents Championship Night at the quarter-mile. The Pepsi Crate Cars, College of Western Idaho Super Street Stocks, Peterson Chevrolet Super Sixes, Domino’s Legends, and Kendall Ford of Meridian Mini Stocks close their 2016 campaigns, while the TATES Rents Hornets get one last test before their season-ending Trunk or Treat Halloween Enduro 250 on October 29. General admission to a full night of championship racing is just $10.50 for adults, and $6.50 for kids 7-11. Gates open at 4 p.m. with qualifying at 5 p.m. and racing at 6:30 p.m. We’ll see you Saturday, October 1 under the big yellow water tower at Meridian Speedway.