by Jon Brown, *CORRECTED* MERIDIAN, Idaho — When hard racing caused a seven-car pileup near the end of Saturday’s Project Filter 100 at ASA-sanctioned Meridian Speedway, it looked like Bruce Quale would have to settle for another solid finish but no checkered flag.
But the Twin Falls, Idaho driver, who had climbed to the top of CarbonX Rocky Mountain Challenge Series standings with top-five finishes in the season’s first seven races, finally found his way to victory lane after a wild, wreck-filled night.
“I can’t thank my guys enough,” Quale said after getting his first victory of the season and standing alone as the only man who has completed all 686 laps of RMCS competition this year.
“This win has been so hard to come by and has taken so long. I was so bummed when we got spun.”
In other main events:
Nampa, Idaho’s Melissa Weaver returned to a familiar location with a victory in the 30-lap Street Stocks main event Saturday night at ASA-sanctioned Meridian Speedway.
Series leader Larry Hull III of Boise, Idaho got the best of a crowded field in the 40-lap Pit Stop Drive Thru Mini Stocks and completed a sweep of the division’s doubleheader weekend.
New track record-holder Rob Powers of Meridian, Idaho used a borrowed racecar to win the 40-lap Tates Hornets feature.
The RMCS feature was cut to 86 laps and ended with a green-white-checkered finish after a huge wreck nearly spoiled another quality Quale run. In the fading moments of a race that saw 10 caution flags, Quale steered his No. 92 from third to first with a strong high-side run through Turn 2 that sent him past short-lived frontrunner Trevor Cristiani of Ukiah, Calif., and to the checkered flag. John Nesmith, who races out of Meridian, Idaho, picked up third place.
Quale was out front on Lap 74 when Nesmith, a seasoned veteran on his hometown track, and 15-year-old California driver Jeremy Doss tried to split the difference and pass the race leader heading into Turn 3.
The top three drivers cleared the ensuing melee, with Quale recovering after a spin and heavy driver’s-side damage from Doss’ already-mangled right front. But seven other cars in the 23-car field weren’t so lucky after Doss had tried to dive low on the track in an attempt to get by Quale, while the veteran Nesmith took the more conventional outside groove in his quest for the front.
The wreck was the culmination of a night of hard driving from Doss, who lost his right fender through a race-long battle with Nesmith, who refused to let the teenager tuck underneath and get a pass several times throughout the crash-filled feature.
In the Lap 74 mishap – the most violent crash of the night — Twin Falls driver Rick Fowble wound out parked sideways on the berm adjacent to the wall after taking the brunt of the contact as racers piled up in Turn 3. Rookie of the Year contender Tyler Bailey of Middleton, Idaho received heavy damage and his consecutive laps streak ended at 674. The racecar of Mark Allison, who made the tow from Las Vegas for the second day of the doubleheader, received a large gash in the right-side door resembling damage done by a large can opener. Chris Fenton and Saturday’s fast qualifier Steve Jones, both from Meridian, Idaho, also were involved in the mishap along with TJ Woodhall of Twin Falls.
Woodhall and Jody South of Emmett, Idaho, would crash with three laps left to trigger the green-white-checkered finish.
With the number of 2012 races winding down, Hull put his stamp on the Mini Stocks division by sweeping both features staged at Meridian Speedway on the weekend.
On Saturday, he won by half a straightaway over determined and fellow Boisean Sarah Shaw.
“We had a very good weekend,” Hull said.
Hull waited out the race of attrition that saw its first caution flag nine laps into the feature when Nampa’s Art Heath and Boise’s Brandon Shira tangled and Heath came away with two flat tires.
Five laps later, a huge wreck knotted up the race in Turn 2 as Meridian’s Steve Keuter spun after getting hit by Caldwell, Idaho’s Jason Sanders. Boise’s Jayson Wardle drilled the backstretch wall when he took evasive action to miss the carnage.
That’s when Hull made his move. On the side-by-side cone start, he drove past Mary Johnson of Meridian and never looked back, even after another big wreck triggered a red flag on Lap 19.
Hull led the final 25 laps of the race to get the checkered flag.
Using a familiar spot on the quarter-mile paved oval – the high groove – reigning Street Stocks champion Melissa Weaver completed her comeback from totaling her race car a few weeks ago.
Weaver’s trip to victory lane was facilitated by her father, Marv.
“My dad works on the car every night, and he got it hooked up,” Melissa said.
Driving a rebuilt No. 92 Chevrolet Camaro, Melissa Weaver took the high side of the track and passed Boise’s Roy Kirkland with 20 laps remaining. She sped out of a side-by-side duel with fellow Nampan – and chief rival – Chad Bess to challenge Kirkland.
Weaver, who also won the Trophy Dash, pulled out to a three-car-length lead as fast-time qualifier Bess ran out of time in his pursuit.
Hornets racer Rob Powers began his day by breaking the track record with a 16.912-second tour of the quarter-mile oval. He broke the mark Meridian’s Chuck Youngblood set last Saturday.
It was a bit of good luck for a Powers, who was in dire need of some sunshine.
“Last week, my car burned down, so Rod Marcum let me use his car, so thanks to YMC,” Powers said.
Then he added: “He’s not getting it back.”
Who could blame him?
Powers put his fast car to good use with 18 laps remaining when race leader Thomas Harrod of Nampa got trapped behind the slower car of Twin Falls’ Jenna Quale. Powers powered around the outside for the top spot and then survived one last yellow flag when Cade Hollon of Riggins spun into the infield out of Turn 4 with nine laps left.
Local drivers won two of the three 12-lap RMCS heat races.
Kuna, Idaho’s Craig Bell, who made his return to racing in the RMCS stop at Meridian in May, held off Friday’s feature winner, 15-year-old Brandon White of Eureka, Calif., in one heat race.
White challenged Bell for the final five laps, but the veteran driver was able to slam the door each time. The final showdown came in Turn 3 on the final lap when White drove in deep on the low side of the track and Bell drove hard through the turn and saved the racecar as his fish-tailed out of Turn 4 toward the checkered flag.
Another local driver, Chris Fenton of Meridian, won an early drag race with Phyl Zubizareta of Garden City, Idaho to take control of the RMCS’ second heat race. Boise’s Dave Minegar got past Zubizareta later in the race for second place.
In the first heat race, Tyler Bailey held off Bruce Quale for his second heat race victory in the past three nights of RMCS action.
The excitement boils over Saturday with Eve of Destruction IV at Meridian Speedway. The World Famous Boat Race, the Gauntlet Race and fireworks always are best draws during this heart-pounding night of fire, fury and fast cars.
The Mtn. Dew Winged Sprintcars make a return that night along with the B Modifieds. The Thunder Dogs and Tates Hornets also run, which means nothing but mayhem.
Tickets are $12 for adults, $9.50 for seniors and military personnel with ID and $8 for children ages 7-11. Children 6 and younger get in free. A family pass is available for $36, which is good for two adults and up to four children ages 7-11.
Tickets are available online at www.meridianspeedway.com. More information about the track and its schedule is available at the website or by calling (208) 888-2813 .
CarbonX Rocky Mountain Challenge Series
Project Filter 100
Saturday’s unofficial results
CarbonX Rocky Mountain Challenge Series Project Filter 100 (shortened to 86 laps) – 1. Bruce Quale, Twin Falls, Idaho; 2. John Nesmith, Eagle, Idaho; 3. Trevor Cristiani, Ukiah, Calif.
Street Stocks (30 laps) – 1. Melissa Weaver, Nampa, Idaho; 2. Chad Bess, Nampa; 3. Roy Kirkland, Boise, Idaho; 4. Rick Baldwin, Middleton, Idaho; 5. Bobby Riggs, Fruitland, Idaho
Pit Stop Drive Thru Mini Stocks (40 laps) – 1. Larry Hull III, Boise; 2. Ray Bolinger, Meridian, Idaho; 3. Sarah Shaw, Boise; 4. Donovan Parker, Garden City, Idaho; 5. Jonathan Hull, Boise
Tates Hornets (40 laps) – 1. Rob Powers, Meridian; 2. Thomas Harrod, Nampa; 3. Tony Ryska, Caldwell, Idaho; 4. Monica Heath, Caldwell; 5. Sharlet Pataro, Mountain Home, Idaho
(Four laps each)
Street Stocks – 1. Melissa Weaver; 2. Pat Tully, North Powder, Ore.; 3. Bess; 4. Marv Weaver, Nampa
Pit Stop Drive Thru Mini Stocks – 1. Jonathan Hull; 2. Larry Hull III; 3. Bolinger; 4. Shaw
Tates Hornets – 1. Lynn Sharp, Nampa; 2. Powers; 3. Harrod; 4. Cade Hollon, Riggins, Idaho
(12 laps each)
CarbonX Rocky Mountain Challenge Series
Heat No. 1 – 1. Tyler Bailey, Middleton; 2. Quale; 3. Dylan Caldwell, Nampa; 4. John Dillon, Eagle, Idaho; Nesmith
Heat No. 2 – 1. Chris Fenton, Meridian; 2. TJ Woodhall, Twin Falls; 3. Dennis Wurtz II, Kuna, Idaho; 4. Steve Jones, Meridian; 5. Mike Marston, Boise
Heat No. 3 – 1. Craig Bell, Kuna; 2. Brandon White, Eureka, Calif.; 3. Jeremy Doss, Upper Lake, Calif.; 4. Morgan Rasmussen, Twin Falls; 5. Cristiani
(Eight laps each)
A Heat – 1. Kirkland; 2. Patrick Johnson, Caldwell; 3. Patrick Tully, North Powder, Ore.; 4. Bess; 5. Melissa Weaver
B Heat – 1. Riggs; 2. Bill Lawrence, Grand View, Idaho; 3. Baldwin; 4. John Weller, Caldwell; 5. Mark Finley
Pit Stop Drive Thru Mini Stocks
A Heat – 1. Larry Hull III; 2. Donovan Parker, Garden City; 3. Jonathan Hull; 4. Ray Bolinger, Meridian; 5. Chad Barker, Kuna
B Heat – 1. Duane Gerber, Boise; 2. Jayson Wardle, Boise; 3. TJ Labronte, Meridian; 4. Brendon Fries, Meridian; 5. Donovan Johns, Meridian
C Heat – 1. Colton Nelson, Meridian; 2. Travis Pavlacky, Fruitland; 3. John Ellsworth, Kuna; 4. Brandon Shira, Boise; 5. Steve Keuter, Meridian
D Heat – 1. Mary Johnson, Meridian; 2. Everett Meeks, Garden City; 3. Nathan Dearing, Boise; 4. David Edwards Jr., Nampa; 5. Charlie Stout, Nampa
A Heat – 1. Lynn Sharp, Nampa; 2. Powers; 3. Thomas Harrod, Nampa; 4. Colton Nelson, Meridian; 5. Hollon
B Heat – 1. Al Russell, Kuna; 2. Kevin Johnson, Kuna; 3. Tony Ryska, Caldwell; 4. Steve Woods; 5. Brandon Hild, Boise
C Heat – 1. Ben Driebergen, Boise; 2. Monica Heath, Caldwell; 3. Wes Summers; 4. Pataro; 5. Alex Duda, Boise
D Heat – 1. Kodi Newberry, Meridian; 2. Jenna Quale, Twin Falls; 3. Chuck Youngblood, Meridian; 4. Lisa Bahr, Nampa
RMCS Late Models – Jones, 13.483 seconds
Street Stocks – Bess, 15.036
Pit Stop Drive Thru Mini Stocks – Bolinger, 15.276
Tates Hornets – Powers, 16.912 (track record; previous: Chuck Youngblood, 16.934, July 21, 2012)