Vegas teen takes Legends national qualifier at Meridian
This week, the Las Vegas, Nev., 15-year-old also has been one of the busiest.
About 48 hours after finishing third in the Fourth of July main event on his home track, Saxton punched his ticket to September’s INEX/US Legends Cars Asphalt Nationals with a victory in the 50-lap qualifier at ASA-sanctioned Meridian Speedway.
“We came out here from Vegas last night,” Saxton said. “I had to talk my dad into it, and I’m glad we did.
“We needed the regional win, and it paid off for us.”
The Nationals will take place Sept. 12-15 at Lake Erie Speedway in Erie, Pa.
In Saturday’s other main events at Meridian Speedway:
Jonathan Hull of Boise, Idaho won another TEAM Mazda Subaru Mini Stocks feature and then drew the winning name to give away a Ford pickup as part of the division sponsor’s promotion at the track. Modifieds racer Rosalee Weller of Caldwell, Idaho won the truck.
Ken Chandler capitalized on an early nasty wreck that took out the top three racecars to win in the Project Filter Pro-4s.
Josh Jackson of Payette, Idaho won in the Budweiser B Modifieds.
Kuna, Idaho’s Daytona Wurtz, who turned 12 years old in May, collected her second career main event victory in the Jr. Stingers division open to boys and girls ages 12-14.
Brent Mack of Burien, Wash., won the 20-lap Domino’s Pizza Legends B main event. The top four drivers – all from out of state – transferred to the 50-lap INEX Regional Qualifier that was held later in the evening.
Saxton, who races regularly at the Bullring in Las Vegas, continued his strong season. He’s ranked fifth in the national asphalt Legends standings, according to USLegendcars.com.
The teenager’s father isn’t the only person Saxton has thanks for. His grandfather, Horace, was a “closet” Legends racer at Kalispell Speedway in Montana. In fact, no one knew Horace was a racer until after his death in 2009 when family members found a Legend car on his property.
Inspired, Peyton Saxton and his father bought a Legends car – ironically from the promoter of the Kalispell racetrack – and proceeded to recreate granddad’s color scheme.
“In Memory of Pop” is painted on the rear panel of the No. 10S racecar, and that’s what competitors at Meridian Speedway saw Saturday night after Saxton worked his way through the field in the first 12 laps.
With 40 laps to go, he was racing side-by-side with fellow out-of-towner Duane Swanson of Burien, Wash.
Two laps later, Saxton had moved into the lead.
He would stay there until the end, besting drivers from Idaho, Oregon and Washington.
Phyl Zubizareta of Garden City, Idaho, was the highest-finishing local. The current Domino’s Pizza Legends champion and 2013 local series leader was runner-up to Saxton.
“I don’t like finishing second, but finishing second to that kid is all right,” Zubizareta said. “These guys are all great to race against.”
Swanson was making his second annual trip to Meridian for the qualifier. He was also in town Thursday for the 49-lap Fourth of July race. He overcame a loose-handling racecar to finish third Saturday after running door-to-door with Zubizareta for a good portion of the race.
“This is a good place. I’ve been here the last two years on the Fourth of July,” he said.
“I have to give a shout-out to Phyl,” Swanson said. “We raced side-by-side Thursday night and tonight and never wrecked, and that’s a good thing.”
In winning his third consecutive Mini Stocks feature this season, Hull didn’t have any competition from his chief rival, Jason Sanders of Caldwell.
“It’s been a really tough year,” Hull said. “I had to miss a race, and it really sucks because I really love battling Sanders.”
Sanders and Hull have won six of the seven main events run thus far. Jonathan’s brother, Larry, ended Sanders’ season-opening three-race win streak earlier this year.
A former track champion, Sanders was out of the picture early in the 40-lap main event.
Six cars piled into each other coming out of Turn 4 to complete the fourth lap. Sanders was involved in the red flag melee along with Twin Falls, Idaho driver Robbie Hyde who slammed head-on into the front-stretch wall.
Half of the drivers involved – Brendon Fries and Duane Gerber of Boise and TJ Labronte of Meridian – were able to return to the track, although Gerber would later retire his heavily damaged car.
Labronte, who lost his driver’s side front fender in the fracas, would rally to finish fifth.
The fast qualifier for the night, Hull was nowhere near the wreck because he was working his way up from the tail-end of the pack.
He debuted in the top five with 15 laps remaining as Amber Rogers tried to hold off fellow Meridian driver Colton Nelson up front. Nelson was driving his racecar sideways into most of the corners trying to close the gap and eventually lost momentum.
Hull passed Nelson with six laps left and set his sights on Rogers.
With four laps remaining, it looked as though Hull had caught Rogers, but she was able to regain the lead (briefly) at the start-finish line.
Hull finally completed his mission with two laps left.
Once a devastating wreck cleared the way, Kenny Chandler cruised to a victory in the Project Filter Pro-4s, and it was a win that may have put him atop the series standings.
Chandler was running fourth four laps into 30-lap main event when the top three cars sprayed across the racetrack in front of him.
The wild accident, which sent former track champion Joe Barton of Nampa, Idaho into the wall and destroyed his racecar, opened the door for Chandler to win another main event.
Barton began the night with a 27-point lead over Chandler for the series lead.
He was racing fellow Nampan Chet Thorson for the lead when the two veterans made enough contact to send Barton spinning violently into the Turn 1 wall. Thorson also collected third-place driver Larry Hull III of Boise, Idaho in the latter stages of the mayhem.
“You never want to win that way,” the Western Idaho Racing Association Hall of Famer said. “I don’t know what happened.”
Chandler continues to driver an old racecar after dissatisfaction with a car that he had built new for the 2013 season.
“Our little Project Filter car is doing really well,” Chandler said.
The man who will celebrate a birthday Tuesday received the main event trophy from his granddaughter.
In the 20-lap Jr. Stingers main event, Daytona Wurtz worked her way through the field, taking 14 laps to go from sixth place to the front.
With four laps to go, the 12-year-old dipped low underneath Meridian, Idaho’s Peter Woog on the backstretch and secured the lead coming to the start-finish line out of Turn 4.
The daughter of NAPA Late Models driver Dennis Wurtz II then secured the victory by dashing in front of Woog on a side-by-side restart. William Tuttle of Eagle, Idaho lost an engine on the backstretch to trigger the race’s second caution flag and set up the three-lap duel for the victory.
Reigning series champion Riley Rogers of Meridian tried to catch Wurtz at the end, but ran out of racetrack. Meanwhile, Boise, Idaho’s Jordan Kirkland nipped Woog at the line for third place.
Wurtz won the last main event of the season last year when she was 11. She received a special dispensation after passing a proficiency test to make it into the division before she was 12.
In the 30-lap Budweiser B Modifieds feature, Josh Jackson took a deep breath after Boise’s Randy Keckley spun on the backstretch with nine laps to go.
Keckley, who is running second in the series standings to reigning champion Jay Cook of Nampa, was trying to chase down Jackson when he lost traction under green-flag conditions and was shuffled toward the back of the field.
Keckley and Jackson both may have benefitted Saturday when Cook retired from the race five laps after the first green flag dropped.
After accepting the winner’s trophy, Jackson told track announcer Brent Arte that he had been fighting an ill-handling racecar throughout the night. He apparently made the right adjustments prior to the main event.
There wasn’t much drama up front in the Legends B Main as Mack led by as many as four car lengths during the 20-lap race.
Jake Woods, a 15-year-old from Yakima, Wash., was second, while Jose Zamudio of Hermiston, Ore. (third) and Greg Cortaberria of Hermiston (fourth) all made the main event, which is a qualifier for the INEX nationals.
Mack, who drives a bright red No. 22 racecar, sounded determined to get the checkered flag at the end of the 50-lap qualifier set for later Saturday night.
“I’m going to definitely give it my best shot. You know Red Hot’s ready,” he said.
The ASA Modifieds return for a double feature next Saturday to highlight Boys and Girls Club Night at the racetrack. Another IDADIV Credit Union Penny Gold Rush for Kids will be held, too.
Other divisions racing next week include the Coors Super Stocks, the Budweiser B Modifieds, the College of Western Idaho Professional Truck Driving Street Stocks and the Tates Hornets.
Tickets are $10 for adults, $7.50 for military personnel with ID and senior citizens, and $6 for children ages 7-11. Children 6 and younger get in free, as always. A family pass for two adults and up to four children 7-11 is $30. You can purchase tickets online at www.meridianspeedway.com and save time not standing in line on race night.
Gates open at 4 p.m. with racing at 6:30 p.m.
Visit www.meridianspeedway.com or “like” Meridian Speedway on Facebook to get the latest information.
The racetrack can be reached by phone at (208) 888-2813.
TEAM Mazda Subaru Free Car Night
Street Stocks 10×10
Saturday’s unofficial results
INEX National Qualifier for Domino’s Pizza Legends (50 laps) – 1. Peyton Saxton, Las Vegas, Nev.; 2. Phyl Zubizareta, Garden City, Idaho; 3. Duane Swanson, Burien, Wash.; 4. Jim Landon, Tacoma, Wash.; 5. Camron Madsen, Boise, Idaho
Domino’s Pizza Legends B Main (20 laps; top four advanced to INEX qualifier) – 1. Brent Mack, Burien, Wash.; 2. Jake Woods, Yakima, Wash.; 3. Jose Zamudio, Hermiston, Ore.; 4. Greg Cortaberria, Hermiston, Ore.; 5. William Kik, Hermiston, Ore.
TEAM Mazda Subaru Mini Stocks (40 laps) – 1. Jonathan Hull, Boise; 2. Amber Rogers, Meridian, Idaho; 3. Colton Nelson, Meridian; 4. Brendon Fries, Boise; 5. TJ Labronte, Meridian
Project Filter Pro-4s (30 laps) – 1. Kenny Chandler, Kuna, Idaho; 2. Ryan Bailey, Meridian, Idaho; 3. Jeffrey Snethen, Boise, Idaho; 4. Terry Sherman, Boise; 5. Chet Thorson, Nampa, Idaho
Budweiser B Modifieds (30 laps) – 1. Josh Jackson, Payette, Idaho; 2. Gene Stroebel, Meridian; 3. Sharlet Wilson, Mountain Home, Idaho; 4. Randy Keckley, Boise; 5. Jay Cook, Nampa
Jr. Stingers (20 laps) – 1. Daytona Wurtz, Kuna; 2. Riley Rogers, Meridian; 3. Jordan Kirkland, Boise; 4. Jordan Harris, Nampa; 5. Peter Woog, Meridian
(Eight laps each)
TEAM Mazda Subaru Mini Stocks
A Heat – 1. Amber Rogers, Meridian; 2. Jonathan Hull, Boise, Idaho; 3. Mary Johnson, Meridian; 4. Jason Sanders, Caldwell, Idaho; 5. Colton Nelson, Meridian
B Heat – 1. Robbie Hyde, Twin Falls, Idaho; 2. Brendan Fries, Boise; 3. TJ Labronte, Meridian; 4. Keri Ballard, Boise; 5. Denny Gerber, Boise
C Heat – 1. Jayson Wardle, Kuna; 2. Mike Davis, Boise; 3. Nathan Dearing, Boise; 4. Skeeter Stewart, Boise; 5. Brandon Shira, Boise
Domino’s Pizza Legends
A Heat – 1. Rick McNeil, Burien, Wash.; 2. Randy Schaaf, Fife, Wash.; 3. Randy Beddow, Lake Tapps, Wash.; 4. Zach Blume, Eagle, Idaho; 5. Jim Landon, Tacoma, Wash.
B Heat – 1. Casey Tillman, Kuna; 2. Phyl Zubizareta, Garden City, Idaho; 3. Chase Gilbertson, Boise; 4. Duane Swanson, Burien, Wash.; 5. Caity Miller, Boise
C Heat – 1. Brent Mack, Burien Wash.; 2. Jake Woods, Yakima, Wash.; 3. Jose Zamudio, Hermiston, Ore.; 4. Don Gist, Umatilla, Ore.; 5. Chance Davis, Emmett, Idaho
D Heat – 1. Dayna Skiver, Meridian; 2. William Kik, Hermiston, Ore.; 3. Neena Kik, Umatilla, Ore.; 4. Greg Cortaberria, Hermiston, Ore.; 5. Cody Hollis, Payette, Idaho
Project Filter Pro-4s
A Heat – 1. Kenny Chandler, Kuna; 2. Larry Hull III, Boise; 3. Joe Barton, Nampa, Idaho; 4. Ryan Bailey, Meridian; 5. Chet Thorson, Nampa
Budweiser B Modifieds
A Heat – 1. Josh Jackson, Payette; 2. Randy Keckley, Boise; 3. Jay Cook, Nampa; 4. Gene Stroebel, Meridian; 5. Sharlet Wilson, Mountain Home, Idaho
(Six laps each)
A Heat – 1. Riley Rogers, Meridian; 2. Jordan Kirkland, Boise; 3. Daytona Wurtz, Kuna; 4. Jordan Harris, Nampa, Idaho; 5. Stafford Smith, Meridian
B Heat – 1. Peter Woog, Meridian; 2. Taylor Occhipinti, Nampa; 3. Kendra Occhipinti, Nampa; 4. Cora Munro, Eagle, Idaho; 5. CJ Stirm, Nampa
C Heat – 1. Cherokee Arnold, Star, Idaho; 2. Tayvia Morris, Nampa; 3. William Tuttle, Eagle; 4. Allie Hild, Boise
TEAM Mazda Subaru Mini Stocks – Jonathan Hull, 15.545 seconds
Domino’s Pizza Legends – Randy Beddow, Lake Tapps, Wash., 15.147
Project Filter Pro-4s – Chandler, 14.308
Budweiser B Modifieds – Keckley, 14.402
Jr. Stingers – Riley Rogers, 16.683