Streaky drivers dominate at Meridian Speedway
by Jon Brown, MERIDIAN, Idaho — ASA-sanctioned Meridian Speedway has become the home of the streaker.
Most race fans are familiar with Shelby Stroebel’s string of 12 consecutive ASA Modifieds feature victories at the paved quarter-mile oval.
But young guns Dylan Caldwell and Casey Tillman also are making noise in 2012.
And they were turning heads Saturday in front of local legends on Western Idaho Racing Association Hall of Fame night at the speedway.
Caldwell, a 20-year-old NAPA Late Model driver out of Nampa, Idaho, won his fourth consecutive main event Saturday night in a clean and fast 30-lap race that took less than eight minutes to complete.
Caldwell has finished no worse than fourth in the five NAPA Late Model features at the track this season.
Tillman, a Kuna, Idaho driver, won his third consecutive Pepsi Sprintcars main event after a horrific Turn 1 wreck knocked him out of the wingless, open-wheel division’s first feature of the season back in April.
In other main events Saturday:
Meridian, Idaho’s Colton Nelson picked up his fifth top-three finish in as many Tates Hornets races, winning his third feature of the season in a race that was scheduled for 50 laps.
Hunter Gates of Nampa was eighth-tenths of a second faster than Meridian’s Peter Woog at the finish line to win the 20-lap Jr. Stingers feature.
Meridian’s Walt Calkins won a 12-lap Vintage Sprintcar shootout with Chubbuck, Idaho’s Brad Hunziker. The two men brought out classic open-wheelers on a night when Cliff Barrett rolled out his replica jalopies. Jalopies were among the first classes run at Meridian Speedway when the facility opened as a dirt track in 1951.
Weeks after losing a Domino’s Pizza Legends main event because of a post-race protest, Tillman continued to excel in the Pepsi Sprintcar class, and he may have upset the series standings in the process.
Tillman drove to a 1.652-second victory over Saturday night fast-time driver Jamie Ransom of Boise.
Ransom entered the night with a nine-point lead over third-place Tillman and a seven-point edge on series No. 2 Josh Allen of Meridian.
Ransom widened the lead ever-so slightly with his top qualifying time of 13.658 seconds, but Tillman chipped away by winning the Fast Dash.
Allen tried to keep pace with third-place finishes in both the Fast Dash and the main.
In the fifth Tates Hornets main event of the season, Nelson won for the third time, and the first time since May 12.
The teenager paced the field by 1.106 seconds, with Nampa’s Lynn Sharp pulling in second.
The series points leader, Nelson returned to victory lane after back-to-back third-place finishes on June 2 and June 13. The latter came in the Hornets 100 Series, which he also leads.
Vintage sprintcar driver Hunziker was out to show the young guys what it takes to wheel a race car around the legendary quarter-mile oval. In qualifying, he steered his No. 98 vintage sprinter to a 13.382-second fast lap. Calkins was clocked at 14.089 as both rivaled the Pepsi Sprintcar qualifiers.
The track returns to action quickly on Wednesday for Stinker Stores Firecracker 50 night with the Idaho/Utah Sprintcar Challenge, a subdivision of the Canadian-American Western Winged Sprints that incorporates Meridian’s Mtn. Dew Winged Sprints division, leading the way.
The Late Models return for the Fourth of July along with the Domino’s Pizza Legends, B Modifieds and Tates Hornets.
The night wraps with a fireworks spectacular presented by the City of Meridian.
Tickets start at $12 for adults, $9.50 for military personnel with ID and senior citizens and $8 for children ages 7-11. As always, children 6 and younger get in free. The family package for two adults and up to four children ages 7-11 costs $36.
Spectator gates open at 4 p.m. with qualifying at 5 p.m. and racing at 6:30 p.m.
For more information about the races or to buy tickets, visit www.meridianspeedway.com or call (208) 888-2813 .
WIRA Hall of Fame Night
Saturday’s unofficial results
Pepsi Sprintcars – 1. Casey Tillman, Kuna, Idaho; 2. Jamie Ransom, Boise, Idaho; 3. Josh Allen, Meridian, Idaho; 4. Erik Miller, Caldwell, Idaho; 5. Mike Anderson, Nampa
Jr. Stingers (20 laps) – 1. Hunter Gates, Nampa; 2. Peter Woog, Meridian; 3. Jordan Harris, Nampa; 4. Jordan Kirkland, Boise; 5. CJ Stirm, Nampa
NAPA Late Models (30 laps) – 1. Dylan Caldwell, Nampa; 2. Travis Anderson, Boise; 3. Chris Fenton, Meridian; 4. Dennis Wurtz II, Kuna; 5. TJ Monroe, Meridian
Vintage sprintcars – 1. Walt Calkins, Meridian; 2. Brad Hunziker, Chubbuck, Idaho
Tates Hornets (50 laps) — 1. Colton Nelson, Meridian; 2. Lynn Sharp, Nampa; 3. Art Heath, Nampa; 4. Blake Coria, Garden City, Idaho; 5. Thomas Harrod, Nampa
(Eight laps each)
NAPA Late Models
Fast Dash — 1. Caldwell; 2. Connor Elliott, Meridian; 3. Dennis Wurtz II; 4. Fenton; 5. Anderson
B Heat — 1. Dave Thomasson, Meridian; 2. Dan Lowther, Boise; 3. Monroe; 4. Jeff Wilson, Mountain Home, Idaho; 5. Rob Powers, Meridian
Fast Dash — 1. Tillman; 2. Miller; 3. Jamie Ransom; 4. Allen; 5. Cody Huddleston, Meridian
B Heat — 1. Mike Anderson; 2. Tristen Spiers, Adrian, Ore.; 3. Ryan Wiederich, Nampa; 4. Colton Nelson, Meridian
(Six laps each)
Fast Dash — 1. Cade Hollon, Riggins, Idaho; 2. Rob Powers, Meridian; 3. Colton Nelson; 4. Sharp; 5. Larry Hull III, Boise
B Heat — 1. Chuck Youngblood, Meridian; 2. Coria; 3. Monica Heath, Caldwell; 4. Brandon Hild, Boise; 5. Al Russell, Kuna
C Heat — 1. Stacy Heath, Nampa; 2. Art Heath; 3. Fred Nagele, Boise; 4. Allen Arnold, Star, Idaho; 5. Kodi Newberry, Meridian
D Heat — 1. Alex Duda, Boise; 2. James Pahl, Caldwell; 3. Michael Capps, Meridian; 4. Scott Thomas, Garden City; 5. Traci Hoots
Fast Dash — 1. Riley Rogers, Meridian; 2. Gates; 3. Kirkland; 4. Kendra Occhipinti, Nampa
B Heat — 1. Woog; 2. Andrew Hale, Eagle, Idaho; 3. Harris; 4. Daytona Wurtz, Kuna
C Heat — 1. Eriq Arnold, Star; 2. Erin Huddleston, Meridian; 3. Stirm; 4. Mike Barker
NAPA Late Models — Dennis Wurtz II, 14.040 seconds
Pepsi Sprintcars — Jamie Ransom, 13.658
Jr. Stingers — Rogers, 17.011
Vintage sprintcars — Hunziker, 13.382