Tully, Occhipinti Trade Blows for Claimer Stock Victory
August started with a bang Saturday as Eve of Destruction 10 descended on Meridian Speedway. A sellout crowd was treated to the short track stylings of the Royal Purple Modified Series, Domino’s Legends, Teleperformance Claimer Stocks, Big Daddy’s Barbecue Hornets, and Bombers, while a host of bangs, booms, jumps, and thumps sated even the heartiest destructive appetites.
Ken Frickey and Zach Telford led the Domino’s Legends field to green, and for the race’s first six laps the front row starters paced each other. Something had to give up front, and it was Frickey who blinked first and allowed heat race rivals Caity Miller and Donovan Barr to claim second and third on the Pepsi-Cola scoreboard.
It took Miller two laps to find a way around Telford, but Barr followed suit and the two continued their night-long battle. Barr unleashed his Sound Hound Stereo, Kustom Fab machine on Miller, but the lady racer was glued to the inside line and followed it all the way to victory.
Scott Kelly tapped into his inner child and outran fellow Teleperformance Claimer Stock runner Ed Griffith III to take home the Power Wheel race before Jeff Atamian displayed the raw power of his appropriately named jet dragster The Beast with three earth-scorching tours around the quarter-mile oval.
Next to their race cars were the brave men and women of the Teleperformance Claimer Stocks. Jamie Hyde rolled around the outside of Ed Griffith III to lead the first of twenty laps. But Hyde had fast company in the form of sibling duo Kendra and Taylor Occhipinti. Younger brother Taylor made his move first, and on lap five the high school junior passed his sister and Hyde for the lead.
Taylor Occhipinti enjoyed his lead for all of a quarter-mile before quick-qualifier Pat Tully emerged from the pack and pulled to his rear bumper. A caution with eleven circuits remaining put Tully to Occhipinti’s outside for the restart. The green flag waved and the top two went to war for the win.
After two hard-fought laps Tully emerged with the lead, which left Occhipinti to fend off point leader Josh Fanopoulos to retain runner up honors. As Fanopoulos pushed his racer to overtake Occhipinti he spun, which reset the field for one last restart. The green flag waved and Occhipinti sailed into turn one, but damage done during the lead fight forced his car to push high and Tully scooted away for the victory.
Kevin Matuska mastered his mirrors as he dominated the TowMater Backward Race. That didn’t leave Matuska out of harm’s way as his car was struck by a wayward competitor in the Caleb’s Chop Shop Winner’s Circle. No one was injured in the extracurricular collision, but Matuska’s car had to be towed back to the pit area.
Kane Thomasson found the handle on his Chevy Nova and claimed the Spectacular Drags win. Thomasson celebrated with a front stretch long burnout on his way back to the pit area.
The Royal Purple Modified Series closed Eve of Destruction 10’s racing action with a 75 lap feature. Scott Gilligan made the most of his front row starting spot and rumbled to the lead on lap one while the field jockeyed for position behind him. Brandon Watt and Eric Rhead made the most headway, and by the race’s first caution they held second and third on the Pepsi-Cola scoreboard.
On the restart Rhead squeezed into the outside line and dispatched Gilligan to take the lead. But Rhead came under immediate fire from Aubree Wartman, who piloted her A-1 Heating and Air Conditioning, Project Filter modified around the inside to claim the top spot. Behind Wartman, Chris Fenton and Larry Hull figured their machines out and began a climb up the standings. At mid-race the pair held fourth and fifth positions behind Rhead, Neal Latham, and Wartman.
Hull was first to mount a charge, but the battle for position turned sour when contact on the backstretch sent up a shower of sparks. Both men maintained control and kept race speed, but a caution flag waved. Neither driver was sent to the back of the pack, but Hull was awarded the third position for the restart.
The green flag waved and Hull dashed around Latham for second while Fenton followed to take third. But Fenton wasn’t done there, and with twenty laps to go he blew past Hull for second and set his sights on the leader.
Wartman pushed her modified to its limit, but Fenton was faster, and with just fifteen laps left she surrendered the lead. While Fenton drove off into the sunset Wartman battled Latham to maintain second. Wartman was successful in the endeavor and crossed the line second to Fenton’s Pepsi-Cola, Cristiani Motorsports machine.
No one had more fun Saturday night than Bomber division competitor Doug McGarva, who had already been airborne, backward, squeezed into the wall, and washed by the turn one water barrels when he rolled into the Hornets versus the Gauntlet event. The watermelon-slinging Gauntlet made three trips around the quarter-mile and smashed through a Big Daddy’s Barbecue Hornet dog pile before McGarva took aim and clobbered the armored vehicle. The hit effectively broke the Gauntlet in half and sealed the victory for his fellow competitors.
With the lights out The Beast roared back to life and roasted a Big Daddy’s Barbecue Hornet. In less than five minutes the car was reduced to a blazing piece of scrap.
As the infield fire was extinguished the track was hosed down and fourteen tow vehicles rolled onto the speedway for the World Famous Trailer Race of Destruction. The green flag waved and absolute chaos erupted. As the sparks and smoke settled three contenders emerged from the rubble. Veteran destruction machines Catakillar and Pick Up Man joined Bomber Division participant Lance Brown and his Not OJ Ford Bronco to battle for the evening’s final victory. A flat tire took Catakillar out of the running, while Pick Up Man decimated Not OJ’s trailer.
Battered but not deterred, Not OJ made one last ditch effort to detach what was left of Pick Up Man’s trailer. While the thunderous hit folded Pick Up Man’s trailer, Not OJ became stuck in the twisted wreckage. Pick Up Man seized the opportunity and, wheels spinning, dragged Not OJ across the finish line. This final display of force awarded Pick Up Man the World Famous Trailer Race of Destruction hardware. Unable to separate the vehicles they were left on the front stretch while the lights went out for the evening-ending fireworks display.
The thrills don’t stop here, as this Saturday, August 11, K&N Fan Appreciation Night storms into Meridian Speedway with the NAPA Auto Parts Big 5 Latemodel Series and the PitStopUSA.com NASCAR Modifieds. The Pepsi Carte Cars and ISRL Super Sixes, Project Filter Pro-4s, and TEAM Mazda Mini Stocks race for the Boise Boys Transportation hardware, while the speedway’s youngest fans can pedal for glory in the Hungry Onion Bike Races for Kids. General admission to a full night of short-track racing is just $11.50 for adults, $6.50 for kids 7-11, and free for those 6 and under. Gates open at 4:45 p.m. with qualifying at 5:15 p.m. and the first green flag at 6:45 p.m. Log on to meridianspeedway.com for all the latest news and notes from around the quarter-mile and get exclusive updates by texting ‘meridianspeed’ to 84483. We’ll see you this Saturday for K&N Fan Appreciation Night under the big yellow water tower at your NASCAR Home Track, Meridian Speedway.