MERIDIAN, Idaho, July 9, 2011 – Drew Reitsma of Jerome Idaho won his first race in the series at ASA member track, Meridian Speedway, as the Intermountain Pro Trucks make their first of two 2011 appearances at the newly refurbished quarter mile oval.
In other main events Ray Bollinger won a hard fought battle in the 40 lap Edmark Mini Stocks main, Eric Ransom took the 30 lap Pepsi Sprintcar main event and Cody Garrett won the 20 lap main in the Junior Stingers class. In the SPI Sprintcars 40 lap event Travis Burke won his first race since 2001.
During the pit meeting the Intermountain Pro Trucks 40 lap scheduled main became a 50 lap extended event. The 12 race trucks patterned after the NASCAR Nationwide Truck series will run twice at ASA member track Meridian Speedway. At the start of the race Drew Reitsma took off from the middle of the field to the front in just a few laps. Reitsma maintained the lead but Jerry Rice, the fast truck and new track record holder, had worked his way to third. With 40 laps down the first caution flag of the race stacked up the field and with the double file restart the front row was shared by Reitsma and Dan Doan. Rice took the spot behind Reitsma on the inside with Doug Dugger on the outside. Doan tagged the backstretch wall causing Doug Dugger and Hannah Newhouse to spin together on turn three. Both trucks involved pitted for repairs. Caution flags tend to breed caution flags and Lou Anderson tagged the front stretch wall at the green and spun and collected Newhouse bringing out yet another caution.
At the restart Reitsma and Doan ran side by side and actually leaned on each other as they traded the lead almost every lap of the next seven. Doan eventually had to give it up and Jerry Rice took over leaning on Reitsma. The first three to cross the line shared paint and donuts on both sides of their trucks but Drew Reitsma was the victor. “It was my first trip to Meridian but we held on and did good,” he said after the race. Adam Nelson, speedway co-promoter, drew the parallel of a race truck sponsored by Reitsma Holsteins just won a race on a track owned by the Meridian Dairy Board. “You just won your first race in a truck on the Meridian dairy grounds.” Reitsma admitted that was pretty cool.
The SPI Sprintcars have been thrilling fans of Meridian Speedway for years and the first lap of the 40 lap main was no exception when Dick Skyberg and Mike Ortiz bumped on the back stretch propelling Ortiz into the turn three fence. Ortiz gave the emergency crews the thumbs up, or was that the thumbs down since he and the car were upside down; either way, he climbed out of the car unhurt even though the same could not be said about his open wheel sprintcar. Dean Waltman took the lead shortly after the restart with Kyle Waner on the outside for several laps. Rex Reeve took the lead away and ran away with the race leaving the rest of the field to fight out the rest of the positions.
With 12 to go of the 40 lap event Reeve coasted to a heart-breaking near stop and then to the pits bringing out another caution and giving the other drivers a chance to battle for the trophy. As the sprintcars circled the track Reeve’s crew got his car running again and he returned to the track before the green. Travis Burke of Boise took the lead after a hard fought couple of laps with Kyle Waner also of Boise while Reeve worked his way back up through the field but time ran out for him. Burke took the checkered followed by Waner, Reeve, Jasen Skyberg and Steve Waswick. Burke said after the race, “I can’t thank Dean Waltman (car owner) enough. I haven’t won a race since 2001… the fastest car doesn’t always win and this time I ended up first. “
In the Edmark Mini Stocks 40 lap main Larry Hull III rocketed to the front of the pack after starting in fourth. Hull worked his hole shot to a half lap lead over the track record holder, Ray Bollinger, running in third. Eddie Ables was left with a spot halfway between the two. Bollinger in the fast car of the night needed a caution to catch up with the leaders. You can’t always get what you want but sometimes you get what you need. Chad Barker and Sarah Shaw got together causing Shaw to stop on the South end of the track while trying to collect up her car after the altercation. The double file restart gave Bollinger the chance to restart on the outside of Hull. The lane choice paid off big time for Bollinger and then Ables as they both passed Hull for first and second. Bollinger crossed the finish line first by a wide margin followed by Ables and Hull side by side. Scott Shoecraft and Hot Rod Dell Scott rounded out the top five. Ray said after the race “Hull stumbled after the start and I was able to get around him and win.”
After the race Ray had the duty to draw a name out of the bucket for the winner of the Edmark truck give away. Angie Scott of Nampa was the lucky winner of the used Dodge Dakota pickup
In the 30 lap Pepsi Sprintcar main Erik Miller took an early lead but was followed closely by the Ransom and Ransom team. Joe Ransom managed to work his way past Miller followed by his very competitive cousin Eric. Ten laps later the Ransoms ran side by side for a couple of laps with Eric getting past Joe on the outside and then appeared to take off with the race. As the last three laps wound down Eric caught lapped traffic allowing Joe the chance to catch him and put a nose under on every turn but Joe did not quite have enough to get past his cousin who is a second generation sprintcar driver at the famed Meridian Speedway
Eric explained about the family racing “It was running pretty good until about eight to go when my right front started to wear, and I got caught up with the [lapped] number one car [driven by Josh Allen] and I knew there was someone back there trying to catch me.”
James Pahl and Cody Garrett shared the front row at the start of the 20 lap Junior Stinger main but Garrett got a bit loose in the first few laps giving Pahl the only chance he needed to take the lead. At the halfway point Jordan Kirkland put his nose to the inside of the side by side pair and the resulting domino effect pushed Pahl nearly to the wall. Pahl saved the car but lost momentum. Kirkland held on to the end in spite of the battling Garrett. The entire Junior Stinger main was flagged by guest flagman young Riley Roberts (assisted by flagman Dirk Meyers). Race officials penalized Kirkland for passing on the inside and creating a three wide condition and the race was given to Garrett. Garrrett said after the race, “I would like to thank my family for helping me out here” Garrett was followed across the finish line by Kendra Occhipinti, Chance Davis and James Pahl.
Fans also got a special treat with a four lap display drive through by the Canyon County Cruising Classics with a vintage Corvette, a GTO, an El Camino and several others.
This coming weekend provides two nights of races with the USAC Western States Sprintcars, Focus Midgets and Vintage Sprintcars on both nights. On Friday, July 15th, will be the Preacher Feature to find the Faster Pastor, the Pro 4s and the Hornets will also race and on Saturday the Edmark Mini Stocks and Thunderdogs will also be on the card. General admission for each night is $15, $12.50 for seniors and military, $11 for kids 7 to 11. Six and under are free. Gates open at 4 and racing starts at 6:30.