Monday night racing made its season debut as the NAPA Auto Parts Big 5 Latemodels headlined the Memorial Day racing. Two memorial trophies were up for grabs including the Bill Crow trophy for the Latemodels and the Naylor Memorial trophy for the Mountain Dew Winged Sprintcars. The early Monday start time affected everyone in the pit lane, from first-time Team Mazda Subaru Mini Stock runner Everett Meeks to multiple-time class champion Melissa Weaver.
“Monday’s not a normal race day,” said Weaver. “It’s been a whirlwind.”
Ready or not when the green flag dropped on qualifying the racers put their best laps forward as Daytona Wurtz piloted her Junior Stinger to pole with a track record lap. Wurtz blazed around the quarter-mile lap in 16.565 seconds. Darvin Ackerland thundered to the Budweiser Modified quick time with a 14.140 second lap, flirting with that class’ track record. When the green flag dropped at 5:30 fans were treated to some rugged, lightning-fast racing to round out their Memorial Day weekend.
First to flash around the asphalt were the Junior Stingers. These twelve to fourteen year old competitors had twenty laps to groom their skills. Daytona Wurtz sprang from her outside front row starting position to an early lead over Taylor Occhipinti, Noah Capps, and Shane Harris. Occhipinti would try to mount a late charge, but it wasn’t enough as Wurtz pulled to a full straight away win.
The Team Mazda Subaru Mini Stocks crowded the quarter-mile next. Heat race winner Pat McGuire ran to the early lead pursued by a quick Robbie Hyde. Hyde would take the lead on lap four as fast qualifiers Jonathan Hull and Drew Crenshaw were mired in heavy traffic. After ten of the thirty laps Hull and Crenshaw had cracked the top five and Hull started to reel Hyde in. On lap thirteen point leader Jason Sanders and fast dash winner Rick Brees tangled in turn four. Both would continue, but be relegated to the back with only seventeen laps to work their way forward. Hull would dash to a near straightaway lead as Hyde and Crenshaw fought for second. With a dozen circuits left Hyde would yield and Crenshaw would wheel his way toward victory. Crenshaw wouldn’t be able to make up the difference as Hull powered his way to the victory. Crenshaw would hold onto second and Hyde would edge Keri Ballard and Blake Coria for third.
The College of Western Idaho Professional Truck Driving Program Street Stocks locked into a thirty lap battle with six fast hot rods. The outside line proved quick as Destiny Huber pulled her line to the front first. Roy Kirkland took advantage of the move to challenge for the lead. Just five laps in both Weavers, Marv and Melissa, plus Huber and Kirkland were piled into one big battle for the lead. With twenty to go Melissa Weaver had the lead as her father Marv battled to hold up a surging Kirkland. That fight would go south for Marv when he and Kirkland came together on the front stretch. Kirkland would continue as Marv mowed some of the Meridian Speedway infield. Far behind the leader Kirkland laid down fast lap after fast lap but couldn’t track down the black and pink car of Melissa Weaver as she crossed the line first.
The Mountain Dew Winged Sprintcars joined in a four car fight for the Bob and Tom Naylor Memorial main event win and traveling trophy. On the break Bryan Warf sped to the point and never looked back as he laid down eleven second laps in clean air. Behind Warf, Colton Nelson managed to take second in a loose sprinter while Justin Segura held down third. By the halfway point only Warf and Nelson remained on the lead lap, and Warf set about trying to repeat his full lap win from earlier in the season. Warf wouldn’t lap the field, but would hang on for another Meridian Speedway win and the Naylor Memorial trophy.
“It’s always meant a lot to us,” said Warf. “It’s always great to win this in their memory.”
The Budweiser Modifieds brought a dozen cars to their forty lap Memorial Day main event. Sharlet Wilson and Neal Latham battled for the early lead before fast dash event winner Scott Durbin took the top spot five laps into the run. Durbin’s lead would be challenged by Darvin Ackerland and Rick Baldwin. With thirty to go Ackerland would power around the outside and wrestle the lead from Durbin. A Latham spin would bunch the field with 25 laps to go giving Durbin another shot at the lead. Ackerland would prove too strong and motored away from the Durbin, Baldwin battle for second. Eventually Baldwin would rub his way past Durbin on the twenty-fifth lap. Ailing from the contact Durbin slipped into the clutches of Randy Keckley. But Ackerland would have to defend one more challenge as a Darrell Dolling spin brought out the caution flag with just eight laps to go. Baldwin wasn’t able to dispatch Ackerland either and would settle for second. Durbin would fade to fifth with a cut right front tire.
Finally the NAPA Auto Parts Big 5 Latemodels rolled to the green flag for the 39th time in honor of legendary Meridian Speedway racer Bill Crow. The fifty lap distance may be the shortest Latemodel test of the year, but winning the Crow Memorial Trophy ensured every circuit would be hard fought. Out of the blocks Cameron Cotta shot to the lead while Brett Thompson and Chris Fenton worked their way onto the Pepsi-Cola scoreboard. Just five laps in TJ Monroe turned Cotta in front of a tightly packed field. Thompson collected Cotta, but all other contenders somehow avoided disaster. This left Fenton at the point with Lee Hackney and Dennis Wurtz II filling out the top three.
On the restart Hackney and Wurtz II went fender to fender and sheet metal to sheet metal for second. While the battle for second sorted itself out a repaired Thompson made short work of the back markers and sprinted to the top five minus one right front fender. At the halfway point Fenton enjoyed a comfortable but shrinking lead over Hackney. Behind the leaders Wurtz II had a mirror full of Thompson for third. With fifteen to go the lead battle would heat up. Hackney’s car had come in and suddenly he had a bumper on leader Fenton in the south turn. Fenton would use traffic to defend his position, but with ten to go the top four were bumper to bumper, nose to tail. Using every inch of track Fenton stacked the top three up and with five laps to go Hackney dove low and rubbed Fenton to no avail. Relentlessly Hackney worked low and Wurtz II jabbed high. But Fenton withstood the bumper battle and slid his way to a repeat Bill Crow 50 win. Hackney won the photo finish for second by hundredths of a second over Wurtz II.
“I was mirror driving for sure,” Fenton said in Arctic Circle Victory Lane. “I seen them coming on both sides of me and I was like ‘Oh, man. Where do I go now?’”
After the Memorial Day spectacle Meridian Speedway will again offer a double show next week as the BobFM Diamond Cup will bring a bevy of lightning-quick Wester Winged Sprintcars and Northwest Sprintcar Racing Association winged sprinters to the quarter-mile oval. General admission for Friday night’s action is $15.25. Saturday night’s action is $18.25. Visit www.meridianspeedway.com for advance tickets and more information.
As always this week’s event is sponsored by Contingency Connection. The Contingency Connection offers nearly $2000 in awards each week from NATIONAL manufacturers. Contingency awards are in addition to cash purse payouts. See Meridian Speedway officials or call 208-888-2813 for more information.