Sparks, Fenders Fly at Meridian Speedway’s Labor Day Bash
A late September heat wave greeted competitors at Meridian Speedway as they assembled for the TATES Rents Labor Day Bash. The NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Modifieds, Pepsi Crate Cars and ISRL Super Sixes, College of Western Idaho Super Stocks and High School Tuners, Domino’s Legends, and TATES Rents Hornets battled both each other and a slick race track in their bids for late season points.
The Domino’s Legends brought a dozen competitors to the green flag of their thirty lap main event. On the break Garden Valley, Idaho’s Kyle Davis powered around Danny Abbott to put his CMH, CB Tile entry in the early lead. Behind Davis the field fought hard for position, and hard contact on lap two collected Middleton, Idaho’s Zach Telford, as well as championship contenders Casey Tillman and Ethan Jones. All drivers involved in the scrum were able to make repairs and return to the race track for the restart.
The green flag fell and Meridian, Idaho’s Tyler Driever piloted his Moto One, Maxima racer around the outside of Davis in a bid for the lead. This battle went sour in turns three and four when contact sent Driever spinning in front of the field. Boise, Idaho’s Dayne Amyx was collected in this second lap two wreck and was forced to retire his Fast Enterprises, CCS Sign Shop legend from the event.
The next restart was more successful, and allowed Nampa, Idaho’s Donovan Barr to pilot his Life Advantage, Lawrence Race Engines machine the lead. But Barr wasn’t safe up front as Jones screamed around him in the outside groove to take the lead on lap three. Tillman followed Jones past Barr and immediately set to work on taking the lead for himself. For ten laps Tillman stalked Jones as the leaders picked their way through lapped traffic, unable to mount a challenge for the lead.
As the laps wound down Tillman set his Taylor Made Upholstery, YMC legend up for a last lap run at Jones. But Jones was too strong and he rocketed across the Caleb’s Chop Shop Victory Stripe first.
The College of Western Idaho High School Tuners had twenty laps to find a feature victor. The green flag waved and Nampa, Idaho’s James Gates shot to the lead in his YMC, PBT Auto Sales racer. But the man on the move was new track record holder Riley Rogers, who sliced his way through the field and drove past Gates to take the top spot on lap two. Nampa, Idaho siblings Kendra and Taylor Occhipinti followed Rogers around Gates and the battle for the lead began.
It took Rogers four laps to pilot his H&H Accounting, Good to Go Media entry free from the Occhipinti siblings, which left Taylor in the runner up spot and older sister Kendra looking for a way around him. Kendra threatened low, but Taylor countered each of her challenges until the pair encountered lapped traffic with four laps to go. Kendra pedaled her Marv’s Tire Service, Dillon Auto Craft Performance Engines machine hard on the inside line, and after two hard laps, took the runner up spot outright. But all of this action happened behind Rogers, who sped to the checkers first.
The NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Modifieds roared to the start of their thirty lap main event. On the green Meridian, Idaho’s Joe Thuss piloted his Avis Rent-A-Car Downtown, Aloha Auto Repair modified to the top spot on lap one. But Thuss wasn’t safe out front as Kuna, Idaho’s Jerry Green broke loose in the inside lane and collected the leader, who slid hard into the turn four concrete. Thuss would retire from the event with crash damage, which left the lead to Nampa, Idaho’s Hunter Gates.
On the restart Josh Jackson blasted past Gates’ YMC, Blue Line Graphics entry to take the lead, while Casey Tillman and Meridian, Idaho’s Colton Nelson teamed up to take the second and third positions on the Pepsi-Cola scoreboard. Tillman had his Integrity Pools, Integrity Construction machine hooked up in the low line, and on lap five the Kuna, Idaho driver took the lead. But Nelson wasn’t content to run second and he used the inside line to drive his Integrity Pools, Carbon Designs and Vinyl racer to the point one lap later.
With Nelson out front the fight for fifth heated up as Star, Idaho’s Daytona Wurtz worked to get her VooDoo Racing, All Makes Auto Salvage modified around first-time starter Dalton Cristiani. Wurtz made her move with ten laps left, just one circuit before leader Nelson blew past to put the pair one lap down. Nelson’s torrid pace helped him lap all the way up to third place en route to the main event victory.
The College of Western Idaho Super Stocks sped through their thirty lap feature. On the break Hunter Gates dashed to the lead in his YMC, PBT Auto Sales machine while Thomas Gordon Jr. and Meridian, Idaho’s Ben Crow traded paint for the runner up spot. Crow and his Excel Equipment Company, leathersoutwest.com racer got the best of that battle, and brought Caldwell, Idaho’s Daniel Johnson around Gordon Jr. to third. On the move early was Nampa, Idaho racer Melissa Arte, who used the high line to dispatch the field and put her Marv’s Tire Service, Dillon Auto Craft Performance Engines entry in the lead on lap four. As Arte wheeled her machine to a comfortable lead, Crow turned his sights to Johnson’s Darlene’s Printing, American Redline Auto Salvage entry.
As Johnson pressured Crow for second, the pair steadily gained on Arte. As Arte encountered lapped traffic with six laps left, her machine began to slow, which allowed Crow and Johnson to erase her advantage. With Crow and Johnson on her rear bumper Arte willed her ailing racer to stay ahead, and was able to cross the Caleb’s Chop Shop Victory Stripe first.
The Pepsi Crate Cars and ISRL Super Sixes packed the quarter-mile oval with fourteen open-wheeled machines for their thirty lap main event. On the break Meridian, Idaho’s Jacob Bell shot to the early lead in his Dick Sola, J&W Custom Homes Super Six. On the move early was championship leader Rob Grice of Boise, Idaho, who navigated his way into the top five by lap four. But hot on Grice’s tail tank was Meridian, Idaho racer and championship contender Riley Rogers. A lap seven caution would bunch the field and bring Rogers’ H&H Accounting, Wildside Wraps sprinter to Grice’s outside for the restart.
Grice got the better of this restart and moved his machine into the third spot behind Nampa, Idaho’s Mike Anderson and Bell. Lapped traffic slowed Grice’s progress at the race’s halfway point, which allowed Rogers and quick qualifier Tony Ackerland to catch the point leader. Grice felt the pressure and turned up the wick as he battled Anderson’s Royal Purple, Elda Property Services entry for second. Grice would run out of time to make his move and settle for third behind Anderson and main event winner Bell.
The TATES Rents Hornets closed Saturday night’s main event action with a hard-fought 25 lap dash. The green flag waved and Nampa, Idaho’s Neil Wassmuth worked his Neil Alan Fine Jewelry, RPM Tire and Wheel racer to the front. But Wassmuth came under immediate fire from Meridian, Idaho’s Michael Capps, who muscled his Boise Bath and Kitchen Company, Subline Electric entry to the lead on lap two. Capps wasn’t safe up front either as Meridian, Idaho racers Bill Allen, Chuck Youngblood, and Riley Rogers pulled to his rear bumper in their bid for the lead.
Allen was first around Capps in his Fast Eddy’s, Disaster Kleenup machine, but Rogers followed suit, and on lap twelve Rogers moved his H&H Accounting, Good to Go Media machine to the lead. Rogers wasted no time as he opened a two second lead over new second place runner Drew Crenshaw. This lead would only grow as the laps wound down and Rogers sped to his second win of the evening.
The action continues next Saturday, September 9, as the NAPA Auto Parts Big 5 Latemodel Series runs the Jeff Russel Road to Recovery 85 presented by Project Filter. The NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Modifieds, Project Filter Pro-4s, TEAM Mazda Mini Stocks, and Teleperformance Claimer Stocks rounds out a jam-packed night of short track thrills. General admission to Saturday night’s festivities are just $11 for adults, $8.50 for seniors and military members, $6.50 for kids 7-11, and kids 6 and under get in free. Gates open at 4 p.m. with qualifying at 5:15 p.m. and racing at 6:30 p.m. Skip the line at the gate and purchase your advance tickets online at meridianspeedway.com, and be sure to text ‘meridianspeed’ to 84483 to receive exclusive updates from around the quarter-mile. We’ll see you this Saturday night for the Jeff Russell Road to Recovery 85 under the big yellow water tower at your NASCAR Home Track, Meridian Speedway.