Records, Champions Reign Over Meridian Speedway’s Pink Lady Classic
The roar of winged sprintcars filled Meridian Speedway Friday and Saturday, September 15 and 16, as Davey Hamilton’s Royal Purple King of the Wing National Sprintcar Series, the Orchex Western Winged Sprintcar Series, and the Royal Purple Northwest Sprintcar Racing Association brought the fastest short track racers on earth to bear on the asphalt quarter-mile oval. The College of Western Idaho Super Stocks and Junior Stingers both crowned champions during Friday night’s action, while the TEAM Mazda Mini Stocks anchored Saturday night with twin twenty lap features.
A fast group of eleven to fourteen-year-old Junior Stinger competitors kicked off main event action with their final feature of 2017 Friday. The green flag waved and outside pole sitter Rusty Houpt shot past Nampa, Idaho’s Jessica Harris to lead lap one in his Boise Spring Works, Catapult 3 racer. On the move early was championship leader Hailey Rogers, who piloted her H&H Accounting, Goodwill Finance machine from her back of the pack starting spot into second on lap two. One lap later Rogers ducked inside of Houpt and the Meridian, Idaho racer took over the top spot.
A caution flag reset the field to the last completed lap, which put standings runner up Houpt back in the lead. On the restart Houpt did everything he could to hold Rogers at bay, but the lady racer proved too strong and zipped back to the lead. Once out front Rogers’ advantage only grew as she sped across the Caleb’s Chop Shop Victory Stripe.
The win sealed Rogers’ place atop the Junior Stinger division standing, making her the division’s second female champion.
With thirty of Davey Hamilton’s Royal Purple King of the Wing National Sprintcar Series competitors in the pit area, a twelve lap B Main Event determined the final four starters for Friday night’s 24 car A Main Event. At the checkers Brian Orchard, Stacey Jensen, Anthony Quintana, and Austin Carter transferred to the A Main Event.
The College of Western Idaho Super Stocks had thirty laps to find a main event victor and division champion. The green flag waved and Caldwell, Idaho’s Tommy Harrod tiptoed around Hunter Gates to lead lap one in his PBT Auto Sales machine. But Harrod wasn’t safe up front as Nampa, Idaho’s Josh Jackson emerged from a rough and tumble pack to put his Motor Mayhem Chassis Dyno Tuning, Cyclone Cycles racer atop the Pepsi-Cola scoreboard on lap three.
With Jackson out front championship contenders Ben Crow, Melissa Arte, and Daniel Johnson battled hard to clear slower traffic. By lap six Crow, Arte, and Johnson held the third, fourth, and fifth positions respectively behind Jackson and second place runner Pat Tully. At the halfway point a caution flag waved and reset the field with Tully and Jackson on row one and Arte and Crow in row two.
The green flag waved and Tully worked around Jackson on the inside to take the lead. Arte followed Tully around the inside line in her Marv’s Tire Service, Dillon Auto Craft Performance Engines machine, but couldn’t clear Jackson, who wrestled his racer back to the lead with ten circuits remaining. But the effort took a toll on Jackson’s car and the handling quickly turned sour.
With five laps to go a lurid slide dropped Jackson from first to fifth. Arte jammed on her brakes to avoid contact, which allowed Crow and Johnson to dash into the second and third positions. But it all happened behind Tully, who steamed to his first victory of the season.
Despite her worst main event finish of the year, Arte claimed the College of Western Idaho Super Stock championship. This was Arte’s tenth division title, breaking her tie with Kenny Hamilton for the most scored by a single racer.
“Melissa is one of the prime examples of a fine racer,” Tully said of the division champion as he collected his main event trophy.
Twenty-four competitors brought their Royal Purple King of the Wing National Sprintcar Series machines to the green flag of Friday night’s forty lap feature. On the break pole sitter Eric Humphreys of Chowchilla, California shot to the lead while third place starter Aaron Willison of Surry, British Columbia, Canada spun after contact in turn one. The resulting melee sent fellow British Columbian Ron Larson soaring into the turn one catch fence and sent several others skidding into the turn one water barrels and concrete. All drivers emerged from their battered machines okay, and after a lengthy clean-up the green flag waved again.
This start saw Humphreys zip to the lead with Tristen Spiers and Bryan Warf in his tire tracks. On the move early was quick-qualifier Johnny Giesler, who fought hard to put his Bardahl, Stock Construction sprinter on the Pepsi Cola scoreboard. As the leaders made their way through lapped traffic Giesler caught and dispatched fourth place Jimmy Waters on lap eight, then third place runner Spiers five laps later.
Up front, a battle for the lead broke out on lap fifteen as Meridian, Idaho’s Warf caught Humphreys. Warf jabbed low in his Allan Marsh Travel Center, Dave’s Quick Lube entry, but Humphreys was able to hold onto the top spot through the race’s halfway point. But a lap 24 caution bunched the field and allowed Warf to mount a second challenge for the lead.
On the restart Humphreys shot to a one second lead as Warf fought to keep Giesler behind him. Warf was successful and closed on Humphreys once again as lapped traffic loomed. Warf launched a savage attack on both the high and low sides, but Humphreys had all the answers until a caution with five laps left set up one final shootout for the win.
The green flag waved and again Humphreys blasted to the top spot. Warf wheeled his sprinter as hard as he could to make up ground, but he didn’t have enough to catch Humphreys, who cruised into the Caleb’s Chop Shop Winner’s Circle.
A blistering fast track greeted Davey Hamilton’s King of the Wing National Sprintcar Series competitors Saturday. During qualifying a whopping five drivers turned times faster than Andy Alberding’s seven year old track record. When the thunder of race engines faded Meridian, Idaho native Johnny Giesler stood atop the Pepsi-Cola scoreboard with a lap time of 11.034 seconds.
Saturday night’s main event action kicked off with the first of two twenty lap features for the TEAM Mazda Mini Stocks. On the green Melba, Idaho’s Billy Shipp shot past Katie Lober to take the early lead. But Lober fought back on the inside and kept her SL Painting entry even with Shipp for three laps, but Shipp was too strong and took his Riparetti’s Cylinder Head racer to the front.
Behind the lead battle Kuna, Idaho racer Jayson Wardle broke free of the pack and went to work on Shipp. Wardle slung his Catapult 3, Lazee Days RV Rentals machine below Shipp, but Shipp countered Wardle with momentum on the high side to stay atop the Pepsi-Cola scoreboard. Wardle’s only chance was to take the high groove away Shipp, and with eleven laps left Wardle made the pass for first.
As Shipp and Wardle contested the top spot, Jason Sanders sliced his way through the field, and with seven laps left the championship leader pulled into the lead fight. After following Wardle past Shipp, Sanders set to work on the leader. It took Sanders two laps to pull his Divel Services, Valley Property Management machine even with Wardle, and with four laps remaining the Caldwell, Idaho racer took the top spot. This would prove the winning pass as Sanders took the checkers.
Saturday night’s twelve lap B Main Event sent Casey Tillman, Austin Carter, Dwayne Zeinstra, and Ken Hamilton on to the Pink Lady Classic’s A Main Event.
The TEAM Mazda Mini Stocks returned to the quarter-mile oval for their second twenty lap feature. On the green Boise, Idaho racers Katie Lober and Will Ostrum fought for the lead, but the action came from the back of the pack as Jayson Wardle and Jason Sanders tangled in turn one. Both Sanders and Wardle first slammed, then hopped the turn one concrete. Wardle’s Catapult 3, Discount Tire entry landed upside down in turn two while Sanders’ Divel Services, Excel Concrete Construction came to rest on the turn one barrier. Both drivers emerged from their battered machines, but were forced to retire from the event.
With the carnage cleaned up the remaining eight competitors rolled to green. This time Ostrum go the upper hand on Lober to lead lap one in his Diversified Carpet Cleaning, Volt Vapes racer, but Nampa, Idaho’s Fred Vigil was on the move, and he roared from mid-pack to the lead on lap three. Vigil set sail in his Ben’s Auto Glass machine while deep in the field Kuna, Idaho’s Ray Bolinger battled to make his way forward. Bolinger first found himself in a heated ten lap battle with Ian Michael Pedersen, then had to contend with hard driving Billy Shipp. With four laps to go Bolinger piloted his Mulder’s Auto Machine, 208 Picker entry around Shipp, then passed Will Ostrum for third with two laps left on the board. But it all happened behind Vigil, who collected his first main event victory.
The Pink Lady Classic concluded with a fifty lap Saturday night slugfest. With Royal Purple King of the Wing National Sprintcar Series championship points on the line, and titles to be determined in the Orchex Western Sprintcar Series and the Royal Purple Northwest Sprintcar Racing Association, all 24 drivers brought a razor focus to the green flag.
On the break, pole sitter Ryan Burdett roared to the top spot in his FRB Welding machine. On the move early was Roseburg, Oregon’s Matt Hein, who sliced from his sixth place starting spot to third on the first lap. It took Hein only four more laps to take over second place and work to close on Burdett.
Lapped traffic was heavy early, but Burdett navigated it easily to maintain a one second advantage over Hein on lap ten. But Hein’s rapid pace took its toll, and his attention soon turned to third place runner Johnny Giesler, who worked the high line in his Bardahl, Spiers Construction entry. Lapped traffic helped Hein hold Meridian, Idaho native Giesler at bay, and allowed the pair to catch Burdett at the race’s halfway mark.
As soon as Giesler caught sight of the leader and he rocketed past Hein to second. With Burdett in his sights Giesler laid down lightning fast laps as he closed on the leader. But Giesler wasn’t the only driver on the move, as suddenly Meridian, Idaho’s Bryan Warf, tore free of the pack and started searching for a way past the runner up. Giesler picked Warf off on lapped traffic for eight laps, but Warf’s Allan Marsh Travel Center, Rex Hutchinson Race Engines sprinter was too strong and he dove low to secure the second spot.
But Warf wasn’t done, and with a dozen laps remaining he latched onto Burdett’s tail tank. Warf tested low first, but West Jordan, Utah’s Burdett held. Next Warf tried high, but Burdett shut the door as the battle wound its way through traffic. With nine circuits remaining the leaders hit open race track and Warf mounted his most furious challenge yet. Lap after lap Warf pushed his machine hard, and with five to go Warf drew even with Burdett. But lapped traffic stymied Warf’s run, and he had to settle for second behind Burdett.
All fifty blistering laps flew by in less than ten heart-pounding minutes.
“Holy cow,” Burdett said. “Brian showed me his nose a couple times. Hats off to him, he races me clean every time. I appreciate running with this caliber of driver.”
The NSRA crowned their 2017 champions Saturday night. Brian Orchard collected Sportsman Sprintcar champion honors, while Surry, British Columbia, Canada’s Aaron Willison claimed the overall NSRA tour championship.
“We put every extra hour and ounce of energy into this,” Willison said of his team. “These guys stuck behind me, and here we are.”
With a win and two runner up finishes in the series’ final three races, Bryan Warf claimed the Royal Purple King of the Wing National Sprintcar Series Northwest Tour title.
The open-wheeled action continues next Saturday, September 23, as the West Coast Vintage Sprintcars and Supermodifieds invade the quarter-mile oval. The Pepsi Crate Cars and ISRL Super Sixes, TEAM Mazda Mini Stocks, Teleperformance Claimer Stocks, and TATES Rents Hornets fill up a Saturday night slate with something for everyone. General admission is just $11 for adults, $6.50 for kids 7-11, and as always kids 6 and under are free. Gates open at 4 p.m. with qualifying at 5 p.m. and racing at 6:30 p.m. Stay up to speed with all the news and notes from around the quarter-mile at meridianspeedway.com and text ‘meridianspeed’ to 84483 to receive exclusive updates. We’ll see you this Saturday, September 23, under the big yellow water tower at your NASCAR Home Track, Meridian Speedway.