Meridian’s Stroebel runs Modifieds main streak to 12 wins
by Jon Brown, MERIDIAN — John Newhouse made sure his daughter was a two-time winner Saturday night even though she was more than hundred miles away from ASA-sanctioned Meridian Speedway.
Although Hannah was absent from the night’s ASA Pro Trucks feature at the tight quarter-mile oval, her race truck still made it to victory lane with her dad behind the wheel.
“I got to tell you I appreciate my crew,” John Newhouse said after winning the trucks feature despite losing a front fender early on in the race.
“Most of my crew is back at Magic Valley Speedway with my daughter Hannah racing her Super Stock, and I found out she just won tonight.”
The Pro Trucks series, under the direction of Randy Kerr, is set up in a way that even if a driver misses a race as long as their racetruck is in entered, they earn whatever points are gobbled up that night.
John Newhouse kept his daughter in the series points hunt, finishing ahead of the top two drivers in the series this year – points leader Jerry Rice of Twin Falls, and Drew Reitsma of Jerome, Idaho.
A Twin Falls car dealer, Newhouse finished three seconds ahead of Rice and Reitsma after a rough-and-tumble 40 laps of truck racing.
In Saturday’s other main events:
Meridian, Idaho’s Shelby Stroebel kept up his amazing winning streak. He’s 9-for-9 this year after sweeping the two 40-lap features for the ASA Modifieds.
Roy Kirkland of Boise, Idaho, dominated for 32 laps then had to win a sprint to the checkered flag in the Street Stocks.
Donovan Parker of Garden City, Idaho collected the victory in the 35-lap Pit Stop Drive Thru Mini Stocks feature.
Big Tuna won a battle of attrition in the 20-lap Thunder Dogs main event. Only two of the nine cars that started the race took the checkered flag.
The Catfish, driven by John Pinkston of Meridian, was one of two Thunder Dogs that finished the eight-lap Lowe’s Home Improvement Plywood Race. The Catfish edged Sledge Hammer (David Jolley of Nampa) in the precursor to the main events.
The ASA Pro Trucks feature had a little something for everybody. The race champion, Newhouse, finished without his left front fender after rubbing and racing with a competitor early in the event.
Newhouse drove hard to the front – much to the delight of the fans – working past Alan Larson, another Twin Falls driver, with 19 laps left by banging his bumper to get him loose.
Once in second place, Newhouse began a physical battle with race leader Johnny Pierre, another Twin Falls product.
With 16 laps remaining, Newhouse stuck his truck underneath Pierre and drove to the lead. Within a lap, he was two truck-lengths ahead.
Newhouse held on through two yellow flags in the span of lap with less than 10 circuits left. The second caution was triggered when Tanner Wong of Parma, Idaho, Larson and Twin Falls racers Jeff Pohlman and Sam Harris crashed in two separate incidents at the same time in Turn 1-2.
Even though Shelby Stroebel hasn’t lost an ASA Modified race since Aug. 20 – more than 10 months ago – he didn’t want to talk at all about his 9-for-9 start or 12 consecutive victories.
“We’re super happy. I don’t want to talk about myself right now,” Stroebel said. “I want to talk about my daughter. Top five tonight. She’s coming along.”
Caitlin Stroebel, Shelby’s 16-year-old daughter, passed Montie Potter of Boise on the last lap to grab fifth place while her father was winning the race by half a lap.
Shelby Stroebel entered the night atop the ASA Member Track National Championship standings, and probably didn’t do anything to hurt his position. But, in following the humble theme, he thanked Nampa, Idaho’s Jentry Pisca, who was runner-up in the second main, and Meridian’s other Modified drivers for enabling him to run for the national title.
Stroebel used a little in the early main event to keep his perfection percolating.
He battled a loose car throughout much of the first feature, but managed another back-to-front run to the checkered flag.
Despite struggling to get into the top five, the reigning Meridian track champion found himself in first place with nine laps remaining when the race leaders collided on the backstretch after the race’s third yellow flag.
Tim Elam of Boise appeared to have a strong car as he jumped to the lead on every restart. But on the third restart, Elam had his hands full with Pisca. While driving on the high side out of Turn 2, Elam spun out into the path of Pisca’s racecar after the pair appeared to make contact.
That opened the door for Stroebel, who was running in third place at the time.
“Unfortunately with Tim and Jentry, they turned it, and it landed in my lap,” Stroebel said after accepting another main event trophy. “It was unfortunate for them but good for me.”
Donovan Parker took advantage of a crowded field in the Mini Stocks main event to stay out in front of the 25-car pack.
Despite those 25 drivers on the track, the 35-lap race was run with only two caution flags.
Soon after TJ Labronte of Meridian, Idaho, backed into the Turn 4 wall because of a flat tire, Parker got past Jason Wardle of Boise to take the lead for good with less than 30 laps remaining.
With series leader – and reigning champion – Melissa Weaver of Nampa out of commission after a big wreck late in the Street Stocks Fast Dash, the 35-lap main event presented itself as a big chance for the rest of the field to make up some ground.
Kirkland took full advantage, leading from the first green and putting laps on every car except the second- through fourth-place racers.
“We work on this car seven days a week,” Kirkland said. “I tell you, I’m just a man on the mission.
“I built this car in ’92, brought it back and fully restored it. I love it.”
Kirkland’s love affair was put to the test, though, when with four laps left, Bobby Riggs of Fruitland slowed on the backstretch to bring out the race’s only caution flag. Riggs’ night ended moments after Kirkland had put him a lap down.
Kirkland had to start beside Marv Weaver of Nampa, who has been racing at Meridian since the early-1960s. Ironically, Kirkland and Marv Weaver were racing inside heading into Turn 1 during the Fast Dash three-wide mayhem that ended Marv’s daughter Melissa’s night.
Kirkland beat Marv Weaver to the line on the side-by-side restart to collect the feature victory.
The ASA Pro Trucks Series preliminary races were as action-packed and rugged as you expect from a bunch of pickup trucks.
A pair of Twin Falls drivers took the checkered flags in the heats.
John Newhouse – driving for his daughter, Hannah – won the top heat, passing Dan Doan (also of Twin Falls) with four laps remaining and building a half-straightaway margin of victory.
The heat race took a while to get going as Parma’s Tanner Wong and Doan made contact on the first lap, and Wong lost a part off the front of his truck during the restart.
Johnny Pierre led wire-to-wire in the first trucks heat race, which was capped by a little action between Hagerman’s Scott Luttmer and Twin Falls driver Jeff Pohlman. The two racers made contact coming out of Turn 2 on the final lap, sending Luttmer out of the top five.
Next Saturday, the racetrack salutes local legends and racecars of the past with Western Idaho Racing Association Hall of Fame Night featuring Vintage Sprintcars and Modifieds as well as a group of restored Jalopies like the cars that raced at Meridian when the oval was made of dirt.
Racing will be seen Saturday night in the NAPA Late Models division, Pepsi Sprintcars, Tates Hornets and Jr. Stingers.
Tickets are $10 for adults, $7.50 for military personnel with ID and senior citizens, $6 for children ages 7-11, and free for children 6 and younger. A family of two adults and up to four children ages 7-11 can see the races for $30.
Spectator gates open at 4 p.m. with qualifying at 5 p.m. and racing at 6:30 p.m.
The track will return to action quickly on Wednesday, July 4 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 .
ASA Pro Truck Series
Saturday’s unofficial results
ASA Pro Trucks Series (40 laps) – 1. John Newhouse, Twin Falls, Idaho; 2. Jerry Rice, Twin Falls; 3. Drew Reitsma, Jerome, Idaho; 4. Scott Luttmer, Hagerman, Idaho; 5. Johnny Pierre, Twin Falls
ASA Modifieds No. 1 (40 laps) – 1. Shelby Stroebel, Meridian, Idaho; 2. Wes Pogue, Star, Idaho; 3. Rus Ward, Boise, Idaho; 4. Montie Potter, Boise; 5. Josh Jackson, Payette, Idaho
ASA Modifieds No. 2 (40 laps) – 1. Stroebel; 2. Jentry Pisca, Nampa, Idaho; 3. Ward; 4. Tim Elam, Boise; 5. Caitlin Stroebel, Meridian
Street Stocks (35 laps) – 1. Roy Kirkland, Boise; 2. Marv Weaver, Nampa, Idaho; 3. Daniel Johnson, Caldwell, Idaho; 4. Micky Lawson, Caldwell; 5. Chad Bess, Nampa
Pit Stop Drive Thru Mini Stocks (35 laps) – 1. Donovan Parker, Garden City, Idaho; 2. Larry Hull III, Boise; 3. Jayson Wardle, Boise; 4. Jonathan Hull, Boise; 5. Colton Nelson, Meridian
Thunder Dogs winner (20 laps) – Big Tuna
Lowe’s Home Improvement Plywood Race (Thunder Dogs) – 1. Catfish (John Pinkston, Meridian); 2. Sledge Hammer (David Jolley, Nampa)
(Eight laps each)
ASA Pro Trucks
No. 1 – 1. Newhouse; 2. Sam Harris, Twin Falls; 3. Reitsma; 4. Dan Doan, Twin Falls; 5. Rice
No. 2 – 1. Pierre; 2. John Wong, Parma; 3. Alan Larson, Twin Falls; 4. Doug Duggar, Twin Falls; 5. Jeff Pohlman, Twin Falls
Fast Dash – 1. Kirkland; 2. Bess; 3. Johnson; 4. Rick Baldwin, Middleton; 5. Melissa Weaver, Nampa
B Heat – 1. John Pinkston, Meridian; 2. Bobby Riggs, Fruitland; 3. Lawson; 4. John Weller, Caldwell
Pit Stop Drive Thru Mini Stocks
Fast Dash – 1. Sarah Shaw, Boise; 2. Ray Bolinger, Meridian; 3. Larry Hull III, Boise; 4. Brenden Fries, Meridian; 5. Jason Sanders, Caldwell
B Heat – 1. Johnathan Hull, Boise; 2. TJ Labronte, Meridian; 3. Donovan Johns, Meridian; 4. John Ellsworth, Kuna
C Heat – 1. Donovan Parker, Garden City; 2. Colton Nelson, Meridian; 3. Brandon Shira, Boise; 4. Duane Gerber, Boise; 5. Steve Keuter, Meridian
D Heat – 1. Jayson Wardle, Boise; 2. Nathan Dearing, Boise; 3. Everett Meek, Garden City; 4. David Edwards Jr., Nampa; 5. Leonard Reed, Meridian
ASA Pro Trucks Series –Rice, 14.788 seconds
Street Stocks – Marv Weaver, Nampa, 15.047
Pit Stop Mini Stocks –Bolinger, 15.064
ASA Modifieds – Shelby Stroebel, Meridian, 14.175