By Jon Brown, MERIDIAN, Idaho — With unseasonably warm weather greeting drivers a week ago, hopes are high for a record-setting season at ASA-sanctioned Meridian Speedway.
That means the 10-second bounty could finally be awarded.
The $2,500 reward to the first winged sprint racer who achieves a 10-second qualifying lap is up for grabs for the first time Saturday night when the Mtn. Dew Winged Sprints open their 2012 season on the historic quarter-mile paved oval.
The bounty was put in place in 2010 when track management put new asphalt down. Since then, Roseburg, Ore.’s Andy Alberding has flirted with a 10-second lap twice, hitting an 11.189 on Sept. 9 during the ASA Northwest Sprintcar Racing Association appearance and an 11.154 during the 2010 Diamond Cup.
But a second driver also has rocketed around the track in search of the jackpot, and he’ll be on hand Saturday to take another shot.
Meridian, Idaho’s Mike Murgoitio, the speedway’s reigning Mtn. Dew Winged Sprints season champion, ran the fastest lap among all local competitors in 2011, hitting 11.257 on Aug. 27.
He’ll strap in and go for the speed bounty again Saturday with plenty of a company, including a slew of drivers warming up for the inaugural season of the Canadian-American Western Winged Sprints tour, which will make stops in Meridian, Twin Falls, Post Falls, West Valley City, Utah and Victoria, British Columbia.
Chasing Murgoitio as the Mtn. Dew Winged Sprints season starts will be fellow Meridian rocketeers Wyatt King, Johnny Giesler and Cody Veenstra and 2011 ASA NSRA champion Sierra Jackson of Middleton, Idaho.
Murgoitio isn’t the only 2011 champion who will be back to defend the hardware Saturday night.
Meridian’s Chris Fenton, who survived a star-crossed season with help from fellow drivers a year ago, is back in the NAPA Late Models.
The Domino’s Pizza Legends also will open their season Saturday, but 2011 champion Cameron Cotta will be in the pits, not the driver’s seat. Another Meridian product, Cotta has relinquished driving duties to concentrate on a full season in the Carbon X Rocky Mountain Challenge Series for Late Models.
Cotta could be in the pits for the LoBujit Racing Team on Saturday, helping out driver Darin Turpen of Nampa, Idaho.
But there’s no shortage of young talent ready to assume the mantle from Cotta, including 15-year-olds Aubree Wartman (Boise, Idaho) and Zach Blume (Eagle, Idaho) as well as 17-year-old Aly Clark of Kuna, Idaho and 16-year-old Chase Gilbertson of Boise. Wartman is the daughter of standout Boise open-wheeler Kirk Wartman.
Phyl Zubizareta, a 22-year-old from Boise, also will tackle the Legends field.
The Tates Hornets and Thunder Dogs round out the divisions opening their 2012 schedules at Meridian Speedway this weekend.
Admission is $10 for adults, $7.50 for senior citizens and military personnel with ID, $6 for children ages 7-11. Kids 6 years old and younger, as always, are admitted free.
A family pass is available for $30, allowing admittance of two adults and up to four children ages 7-11.
A season pass priced at $199 is available through the end of April.
The gates open at 4 p.m. with time trials start at 5 p.m. with racing at 6:30 p.m.
For more information, visit www.meridianspeedway.com or call (208) 888-2813 .
2012 points standings
(Through April 21 races)
ASA Modifieds — 1. Shelby Stroebel, Nampa, ID, 81 points; 2. Jentry Pisca, Nampa, ID, 67; 3. Ru Ward, Boise, ID, 63; 4. Tim Elam, Boise, ID, 58; 5. Wes Pogue, Star, ID, 51; 6. Randy Keckley, Boise, ID, 42; 7. Caitlin Stroebel, Nampa, ID, 38; 8. Josh Jackson, Payette, ID, 36
Pit Stop Drive Thru Super Stocks — 1. Dennis Brodigan, Nampa, ID, 90 points; 2. Chris Fenton, Meridian, ID, 77; 3. Rob Powers, Meridian, ID, 60; 4. Kim Bradford, Eagle, ID, 56; 5. Gale Carter, Boise, ID, 49; 6. (tie) Josh Jackson, Payette, ID, 47; Phyl Zubizareta, Boise, ID, 47; 8. Jeff Meads, Boise, ID, 42; 9. Dan Lowther, Boise, ID, 38; 10. David Harris, Meridian, ID, 29
Street Stocks — 1. Melissa Weaver, Nampa, ID, 78 points; 2. Marv Weaver, Nampa, ID, 70; 3. Roy Kirkland, Boise, ID, 59; 4. Micky Lawston, Caldwell, ID, 55; 5. Chad Bess, Nampa, ID, 51; 6. Rick Baldwin, Middleton, ID, 50; 7. Bobby Riggs, Fruitland, ID, 45; 8. Doug Loon, Caldwell, ID, 34
Pit Stop Drive Thru Mini Stocks — 1. Ray Bollinger, Meridian, ID, 101; 2. Larry Hull III, Boise, ID, 93; 3. Sarah Shaw, Boise, ID, 69; 4. (tie) Richard Brees, Meridian, ID, 48; Mike Davis, Boise, ID, 48; 6. Robby Hyde, Twin Falls, ID, 47; 7. Amber Rogers, Meridian, ID, 43; 8. Brendon Fries, Meridian, ID, 40; 9. Mary Johnson, Meridian, ID, 32; 10. Jayson Wardle, Boise, ID, 27