Vigil, Wardle Go Wheel-to-Wheel for Mini Stock Title
After hosting over one thousand costumed children at its annual trunk or treat event, Meridian Speedway closed its summer season Saturday, October 27, as the quarter-mile oval hosted the Halloween Championship. The Teleperformance Claimer Stocks, Project Filter Pro-4s, TEAM Mazda Mini Stocks, Big Daddy’s Barbecue Hornets, High School Tuners and Junior Stingers provided a full evening of short track racing thrills.
Championship contender Arin Flagstade led the High School Tuners to their final twenty lap feature of 2018. Flagstade’s stay atop the leader board was short-lived as Meridian, Idaho’s Hailey Rogers piloted her H&H Accounting, Goodwill Finance machine to the lead on lap two.
Rogers wasn’t safe up front, as one lap later standings leader James Strickwerda cleared traffic and ducked low for the lead. As Strickwerda drove his PBT Auto Sales racer to a comfortable lead Rogers turned her attention to Junior Stinger main event winner Houpt, who stormed around the low side of Rogers for the runner up spot.
Though Houpt closed on Caldwell, Idaho’s Strickwerda through the race’s final stages, he was unable to mount a serious challenge for the lead and settled for second behind Strickwerda. Despite missing the High School Tuners’ first feature, Strickwerda dominated the middle and late season to collect championship honors in the Caleb’s Chop Shop Winner’s Circle.
The TEAM Mazda Mini Stocks wrapped their season with a thirty lap main event. On the break James Pahl powered his way to the lead with Blake Coria in his tire tracks. Coria quickly found the handle on his Cutter’s Grand Barbecue, BC Towing machine and slid around Pahl to the lead. But Coria wasn’t safe up front either as he came under fire from championship long shot Jason Sanders of Caldwell, Idaho, who took the lead and dropped Coria into the clutches of Mirinda Miles.
The Coria-Miles battle went awry on lap three when contact drove both drivers headlong into the front stretch concrete. Miles’ racer was destroyed, while Coria’s crew affected enough repairs for him to return to action.
On the restart Sanders sped back to the point with Melba, Idaho’s Billy Shipp in tow. Behind the leaders, title contenders Jayson Wardle and Fred Vigil found one another in traffic and followed each other forward. As the race crossed halfway Wardle and Vigil sat third and fourth. A spin by Sanders in troublesome turn four brought out a caution flag and reset the field with Shipp inside Wardle and Vigil.
The green flag waved and Wardle piloted his King’s Royal Lawn Care, Catapult 3 machine to the top of the Pepsi-Cola scoreboard. But Vigil’s Ben’s Auto Glass, Larry H. Miller Collision Center entry was quick too, and kept pace with Wardle until the yellow flag waved again for a vicious crash involving Luke Wolverton’s Julie Hart with Premiere Mortgage, Hart Construction racer.
With the green flag back in the air Wardle and Vigil went to war for the lead. Kuna, Idaho’s Wardle staked his claim on the outside while Nampa, Idaho’s Vigil committed to the inside. While Wardle kept his momentum up around the outside, the shorter way around the track would prevail as Vigil took over first place with ten laps left and cruised across the Caleb’s Chop Shop Victory Stripe for the win.
While Vigil’s win closed the championship gap it wasn’t enough to dethrone Wardle who scored his first TEAM Mazda Mini Stock championship.
With another thrilling race season in the history books, Meridian Speedway turns its attention to the newly announced Winter Heat series. Stay tuned to meridianspeedway.com for event dates and race times, and keep up to speed with the fastest crowd in town by texting ‘meridianspeed’ to 84483. From all of us at Meridian Speedway, thank you for making the 2018 season a resounding success, and we look forward to seeing you back under the big yellow water tower soon. As always, we’ll have a seat waiting for you at your NASCAR Home Track, Meridian Speedway.