The Middleton, Idaho driver fought through season-opening bugs Saturday night to dominate the Mtn. Dew Winged Sprintcar feature at the Sprintcar Opener at ASA-sanctioned Meridian Speedway.
The engine on her 25J Spiers Construction sprinter sputtered early in the night, and the wing flattened out on her during a heat race, but Jackson forgot all of that by the main event.
The reigning Canadian-American Western Winged Sprintcar Series champion went wire-to-wire in the 35-lap main event.
“It took us all night to get the car right, but I really have to thank my crew,” she said in Meridian Arctic Circle Victory Lane afterward.
“It’s been rough all day, but I’m glad we finally got it.”
In other main events:
Shelby Stroebel, the Meridian, Idaho driver who won the 2012 ASA Member Track National Championship, shrugged off two race restarts to win his 18th consecutive ASA Modifieds start at Meridian Speedway.
Boise, Idaho’s Jasen Skyberg passed Nampa, Idaho’s Bruce Gillogly with five laps remaining to win the SPI Super Sixes season opener.
Tony Ackerland of Star, Idaho, who had to run back-to-back main events, won the Pepsi Sprintcar feature.
Josh Jackson of Payette, Idaho, won the Budweiser B Modifieds main event.
James Pahl, a 17-year-old from Caldwell, Idaho, sped ahead of Chuck Youngblood then held off the Meridian driver, to win a wet and wild 40-lap Tates Hornet feature.
Sierra Jackson’s main event victory came against some familiar competition, including the Meridian trio of teammate Johnny Giesler, Mike Murgoitio and Bryan Warf.
The race got off to an inauspicious start when the man who made the longest road trip – Ryan Burdett of West Jordan, Utah – stuck his sprintcar in the Turn 1 water barrels at the end of the first lap. Burdett seemingly suffered a mechanical failure while he was running in fifth place.
Jackson roared to the front on the restart and stayed there without any challenges, even though the top three racers – including Giesler and Murgoitio – were consistently running 11.7-second laps.
In the ASA Modifieds season opener, a 35-lap affair, Stroebel shrugged off his lack of success out of town so far this season to continue his dominance at his home track.
“It’s nice to be back here,” he said. “We’ve been racing out of town so far this year and had some tough luck, getting into some accidents. So it was nice to come out unscathed.”
Stroebel has committed to an extensive Lucas Oil Series racing schedule, already entering races in Las Vegas and Arizona this year.
Saturday’s win in his home debut took some work.
He moved from fourth place to second place in six laps, passing fellow Meridian driver Dell Scott on Lap 8 after a nose-to-tail battle.
Stroebel then pursued Twin Falls, Idaho racer Rick Fowble, who had built a two-second lead while the rest of the field jockeyed for position.
The two veteran drivers flashed across the start-finish line tire-to-tire with 20 laps to go. Stroebel took control coming out of Turn 2.
He would have to hold off challengers in two side-by-side restarts after caution flags.
The first emerged when Cade Hollon of Riggins, Idaho – the winner of the night’s Ultra Touch Best Looking Car Contest – backed his bright green, metallic-numbered No. 18 racecar into the front stretch wall.
Fowble couldn’t make up any ground, and unsuccessful again when Randy Keckley of Boise sent sparks flying when something in his car broke.
No driver other than Stroebel has won an ASA Modified or an open modified race at Meridian Speedway since Mike Reid prevailed on Aug. 20, 2011.
After missing the SPI Super Sixes championship by two points last year, Jasen Skyberg got off on the right foot. With five laps remaining in the 30-lap main event, he passed Gillogly to spoil that driver’s attempt to win his second consecutive start at the historical paved quarter-mile.
Earlier in the race Gillogly had slid into second place by passing Skyberg, who finished two points behind Kuna, Idaho’s Bob Bachman in the touring series championship chase in 2012.
Gillogly grabbed the lead with 14 laps to go when fellow Nampan Kevin Detweiler drifted out of the groove while leading and trying to pass Kasey Gillogly from Twin Falls, Idaho.
Bruce Gillogly dove to the apron and sped to the front as he and Detweiler split Gillogly.
In the first of his back-to-back main events, Ackerland made up some quick ground late in the 30-lap Pepsi Sprintcars feature to take the checkered flag.
Ackerland, who also drove an ASA Modifieds car Saturday night, went from fifth to third in six laps and then needed five laps to get past Trevor Cristiani of Boise with nine laps remaining.
Cristiani, who moved to the Treasure Valley from Ukiah, Calif., since the last race season, started on the pole and maintained the lead through the first caution flag of the race. The yellow came out on Lap 16 when Nampa drivers Rob Grice and Michael Anderson slammed into the front-stretch wall after colliding.
Ackerland led for six laps when Meridian’s Colton Nelson stalled on the backstretch apron, bringing out another caution flag.
Ackerland held off a challenge from Josh Allen on the side-by-side restart for the trophy.
In the Hornets nightcap, James Pahl drove a smart race, running in the high groove when water was dumped on the pavement.
That high line paid off as the teenager sliced through traffic throughout the race and grabbed the lead time and again on restarts.
The final restart, however, provided the most drama.
With cars going to the green flag three-wide, Pahl lost position to Youngblood with five laps remaining.
Two laps later, though, Pahl stuck to his strategy and caught Youngblood with a high-side pass.
The Meridian driver kept up the pressure, though, as both racers worked their way through lapped traffic.
In the final two turns of the race, Youngblood tried an inside-out move in an attempt to sling-shot past Pahl, but he ran out of racetrack – before Pahl ran out of gas.
“It was just a great race with Chuck at the very end,” Pahl said. “(The engine) started to cut out at the end because we were running out of fuel.”
Fans, racers and track management will pay tribute to the late Art “The Animal” Heath during next Saturday’s race program.
The Hornet Enduro 200 is limited to 84 entries. Heath, a Nampa, Idaho-based driver who died in a car accident Dec. 21, drove Ford Escorts emblazoned with No. 84 during his championship career as a Tates Hornets driver at Meridian Speedway.
The Enduro carries a championship payoff of $1,200.
Also on the schedule Saturday night is the season debut of the Thunder Dogs.
Tickets are available for $5 online at www.meridianspeedway.com.
Tickets at the gate are $10 with a $2.50 discount for senior citizens and military personnel with ID, and a $4 discount for children ages 7-11. Children 5 and younger get in free. A family pass good for two adults and up to four children ages 7-11 is available for $30.
Visit www.meridianspeedway.com or “like” Meridian Speedway on Facebook to get up-to-date news on the track.
The racetrack can be reached by phone at (208) 888-2813.
Sprintcar Season Opener
Saturday’s unofficial results
Mtn. Dew Winged Sprintcars (35 laps) – 1. Sierra Jackson, Middleton, Idaho; 2. Johnny Giesler, Meridian, Idaho; 3. Bryan Warf, Meridian; 4. Mike Murgoitio, Meridian; 5. Matt Elliott, Caldwell, Idaho
SPI Super Sixes (30 laps) – 1. Jasen Skyberg, Boise, Idaho; 2. “Dyno” Dean Waltman, Boise; 3. Bruce Gillogly, Nampa, Idaho; 4. Pat Young, Kuna, Idaho; 5. Austin Hager, Boise
Pepsi Sprintcars (30 laps) – 1. Tony Ackerland, Star, Idaho; 2. Josh Allen, Meridian; 3. Trevor Cristiani, Boise; 4. Ryan Wiederich, Nampa; 5. Tristen Spiers, Adrian, Ore.
ASA Modifieds (35 laps) – 1. Shelby Stroebel, Meridian; 2. Jentry Pisca, Nampa; 3. Rick Fowble, Twin Falls, Idaho; 4. Dell Scott, Meridian; 5. Caitlin Stroebel, Meridian
Budweiser B Modifieds (35 laps) – 1. Josh Jackson, Payette, Idaho; 2. Jay Cook, Nampa; 3. Randy Keckley, Boise
Tates Hornets (40 laps) – 1. James Pahl, Caldwell; 2. Chuck Youngblood, Meridian; 3. Cody Garrett, Boise; 4. Fred Nagele, Boise; 5. Jeff Goade, Meridian
Ultra Touch Best-looking Car
Mtn. Dew Winged Sprintcars – Sierra Jackson, No. 25J, Middleton, Idaho
Pepsi Sprintcars – Tristen Spiers, No. 51, Adrian, Ore.
SPI Super Sixes – Kasey Gillogly, No. 57, Twin Falls, Idaho
ASA Modifieds – Cade Hollon, No. 18, Riggins, Idaho
Budweiser B Modifieds – Jay Cook, No. 71, Nampa
Tates Hornets – Michael Capps, No. 71, Meridian, Idaho
(Eight laps each)
Mtn. Dew Winged Sprintcars
Fast Dash – 1. Johnny Giesler, Meridian; 2. Mike Murgoitio, Meridian; 3. Bryan Warf, Meridian; 4. Ryan Burdett, West Jordan, Utah; 5. Jackson
Fast Dash – 1. Tony Ackerland, Star, Idaho; 2. Jimmy Gross, Fruitland, Idaho; 3. Josh Allen, Meridian; 4. Rob Grice, Nampa; 5. Ryan Wiederich, Nampa
B Heat – 1. Trevor Cristiani, Boise, Idaho; 2. Colton Nelson, Meridian; 3. Michael Anderson, Nampa; 4. Justin Segura, Nampa; 5. Spiers
SPI Super Sixes
Fast Dash – 1. Pat Young, Kuna, Idaho; 2. Casey Tillman, Kuna; 3. Jasen Skyberg, Boise; 4. Steve Howell, Boise; 5. Kevin Detweiler, Nampa
B Heat – 1. Bruce Gillogly, Nampa; 2. Kyle Waner; 3. Trevor Omundson, Melba, Idaho; 4. Dick Sola, Boise; 5. Dave Skyberg, Boise
Fast Dash – 1. Jentry Pisca, Nampa; 2. Rick Fowble, Twin Falls; 3. Shelby Stroebel, Meridian; 4. Dell Scott, Meridian; 5. Ackerland
B Heat – 1. Caitlin Stroebel, Meridian; 2. Hollon; 3. Josh Jackson, Payette, Idaho; 4. Tony Flores, Meridian
Budweiser B Modifieds
Fast Dash – 1. Randy Keckley, Boise; 2. Jackson; 3. Jay Cook, Nampa; 4. Pete Trammell, Boise
A Heat – 1. Cody Brizendine, Nampa; 2. Kevin Johnson, Kuna; 3. Thomas Harrod, Nampa; 4. Cody Garrett, Boise; 5. Jack Martin, Caldwell
B Heat – 1. James Pahl, Caldwell; 2. Fred Nagele, Boise; 3. Jeff Goade, Meridian; 4. Al Russell, Kuna; 5. Cody Kirkland, Boise
C Heat – 1. Brandon Hild, Boise; 2. Michael Capps, Meridian; 3. Alex Duda, Boise; 4. Rick Howe II, Meridian; 5. Skeeter Stewart, Boise
D Heat – 1. Chad Barker, Boise; 2. Stacy Heath, Nampa; 3. Duane Gerber; 4. Beau Faught; 5. Kyler Hampton, Nampa
Mtn. Dew Winged Sprintcars – Warf, 11.799 seconds
Pepsi Sprintcars – Ackerland, 13.736
SPI Super Sixes – “Dyno” Dean Waltman, Boise, 13.773
ASA Modifieds – Shelby Stroebel, 14.181
Budweiser B Modifieds – Josh Jackson, 14.887