by Jon Brown, MERIDIAN, Idaho – Jasen Skyberg’s attempt to win a second SPI Super Sixes championship in three season fell just short Sunday night at ASA-
sanctioned Meridian Speedway.
But it wasn’t for a lack of trying.
The Boise, Idaho racer capped KOOL Oldies Cruise ‘n’ Drag Night at the quarter-mile paved oval with a thrilling victory in the open-wheel tour’s season finale.
Another Boise driver, Dean Waltman, entered the night with a 17-point lead. He finished third in the 40-lap main event. Had Waltman finished fourth, he and Skyberg would have shared the championship.
In other main events:
Meridian’s Shelby Stroebel made a mid-race move to take the first ASA Modifieds main event on a double feature night.
In the second ASA Modifieds main event, Boise, Idaho’s Kyle Latham took the checkered flag, but his racecar was ruled too light after it lost some body parts in a heat race wreck. Meridian’s Caitlin Stroebel – Shelby’s daughter – was awarded the victory.
Randy Keckley of Boise won both Budweiser B Modifieds main events.
Jason Sanders of Caldwell, Idaho, picked up another feature victory in the TEAM Mazda Subaru Mini Stocks.
Skyberg overtook Ben Hinkle for the lead on the 21st lap and never looked back.
The race started with a nasty wreck in Turn 3 that sent Nampa, Idaho’s Kevin Detweiler to the hospital to be checked out. Detweiler’s racecar plowed into the water barrels and landed on top of the wall, bringing a halt to the racing action until the safety workers could get Detweiler out of his sprintcar and the Injury Care medical crew could check him out.
Skyberg resumed the lead on the restart and stretched his advantage to as much as three seconds until Steve Howell pitched his racecar into the infield but not far enough away from Turn 4 to avoid a caution flag.
Skyberg cruised until the 35th lap when Kuna, Idaho’s Casey Tillman began to put pressure on him. Tillman ran on Skyberg’s bumper, but couldn’t get past the 2011 series champion.
Locked in a battle with Boise’s Jonathan Hull for the Mini Stocks season title, Sanders drove hard and effectively in the main event, mimicking his trophy dash victory when he drove from the back of the pack for a later win.
Sanders, who has been trading checkered flags Hull all season, got into the spirit of the cruise and drag night by drag racing Meridian, Idaho’s TJ Labronte for three laps for the lead during the 35-lap Mini Stocks main event.
Sanders ended the duel with a daring high side pass as he and Labronte tried to drive past the slower car of Boise’s Skeeter Stewart. Stewart went to the apron and then some, kicking up dirt to avoid contact.
Thirteen laps into the Mini Stocks feature, Hull saw his chances to challenge Sanders take a big hit, literally. Hull drove high down the backstretch, slammed into the wall and rode it into Turn 3. The race was delayed by a red flag as crews cleaned up the carnage, but it was enough time to allow Hull to get his racecar repaired and back on the track.
By the end of the race, Hull had worked his way back up to fourth place. He was running sixth on the final lap when top-five drivers Chad Barker of Kuna, Idaho and Brendon Fries of Meridian tangled in Turn 4 and drove head-first into the frontstretch wall.
Division rookie Keri Ballard led the first part of the Mini Stocks race in a borrowed car. She blew up a new engine in her car during practice, but Garden City, Idaho’s Donovan Parker surrendered his racing seat to Ballard for the night.
The ASA Modifieds and the Budweiser B Modifieds ran a pair of 35-lap main events in tandem Sunday night, and the B Modifieds were ruling during the early stages of the first feature.
Rosalee Weller of Caldwell, Idaho, who a few weeks ago led the first part of a 50-lap mixed main, was back out front for the first part of Sunday’s opening race.
B Modified series leader Randy Keckley grabbed the lead from Weller before Stroebel overpowered him.
“I don’t know what to say,” Stroebel said. “The car is doing it all, and we’re just driving around in circles.”
The ASA Member Track National Champion is familiar with Keckley’s racecar … He used to own it.
“Randy Keckley is always doing a great job,” Stroebel said. “I told him it would be fast, and it’s been fast.”
Keckley knew exactly to whom to show his gratitude after taking a step closer to a season championship.
“The main man I got to thank is Shelby Stroebel for selling me an awesome car,” he said.
Just for good measure, Keckley was the first B Modifieds driver to cross the line to win the second main event of the night.
The second race was delayed when Weller crashed hard into the Turn 1 water barrels moments after the field went under yellow-flag conditions because of debris in Turn 4.
Weller’s racecar left the racing surface and slammed into the water barrels 14 laps into the 35-lap event.
The situation all but ended Steve Woods’ run at the front of the pack. After the cone came out, Caitlin Stroebel roared to the front from the high side of the double-file restart.
Stroebel and Sharlet Wilson, a B Modified driver from Mountain Home, Idaho, entered a side-by-side duel for the lead.
Latham, who slammed into the frontstretch wall during a heat race, inserted himself into the conversation and squeezed into second place when Salt Lake City’s Abe Carter hit the backstretch wall to trigger another yellow flag.
On the restart, Latham checked out to a five-second lead.
“That is some heavy competition,” Latham said of the ASA division. “I had one goal coming into the season, and that was to win a main event.”
Alas, Latham had to forfeit his trophy after a post-race inspection found that his racecar didn’t make weight.
Track officials praised Latham for the classy manner in which he handled the demotion. He even hand-delivered the main event trophy to Caitlin Stroebel’s pits and offered his sincere congratulations.
Meridian Speedway’s race director said Latham’s move was the epitome of sportsmanship.
Shelby Stroebel left the track during the break as crews cleaned up Weller’s wreck. The reigning ASA Modifieds track champion and current points leader didn’t return.
During the Cruise ‘n’ Drag portion of the night, hot-rodders took the to track for single-elimination, heads-up street light drags and also tried to wow the crowd with a smoky burnout.
One track official who had entered his 1969 Camaro into the burnout was fined $400 when he momentarily lost control of his muscle car and did doughnuts in the grass and dirt on the frontstretch instead of laying down rubber on the asphalt.
The penalty was consistent with the track policy of fining racers who run into the infield and hammer their accelerator, peeling through the grass.
The speedway switches to Friday night later this week with the Project Filter Twin 25s presented by Lowe’s.
The NAPA Late Models, Coors Super Stocks, Domino’s Pizza Legends, Tates Hornets and Thunder Dogs will be in action.
The gates open at 4 p.m. with qualifying about an hour later and racing at 6:30 p.m.
Tickets are $10 for adults, $7.50 for senior citizens and military with ID, $6 for children ages 7-11 and, as always, free for children 6 and younger. A family pass good for two adults and up to four children ages 7-11 is $30.
Visit www.meridianspeedway.com or “like” Meridian Speedway on Facebook to get the latest information. You can also buy tickets on the track’s website and print them at home.
The racetrack can be reached by phone at (208) 888-2813.
KOOL Oldies Cruise ‘n’ Drag Night
Sunday’s unofficial results
SPI Super Sixes season championship (40 laps) – 1. Jasen Skyberg, Boise, Idaho; 2. Casey Tillman, Kuna, Idaho; 3. Dean Waltman, Boise; 4. Ben Hinkle; 5. Stacy Jenson
ASA Modifieds No. 1 (35 laps) – 1. Shelby Stroebel, Meridian, Idaho; 2. Abe Carter, Salt Lake City, Utah; 3. Rus Ward, Boise, Idaho; 4. Kyle Latham, Boise; 5. Caitlin Stroebel, Meridian
TEAM Mazda Subaru Mini Stocks (35 laps) – 1. Jason Sanders, Caldwell, Idaho; 2. TJ Labronte, Meridian; 3. Mary Johnson, Meridian; 4. Jonathan Hull, Boise; 5. Colton Nelson, Meridian
Budweiser B Modifieds No. 1 (35 laps) – 1. Randy Keckley, Boise; 2. Rosalee Weller, Caldwell, Idaho; 3. Sharlet Wilson, Mountain Home, Idaho; 4. Josh Jackson, Payette, Idaho; 5. Jay Cook, Nampa, Idaho
ASA Modifieds No. 2 (35 laps) – 1. Caitlin Stroebel; 2. Ward; 3. Cade Hollon, Riggins, Idaho; 4. Carter; 5. Steve Woods
Budweiser B Modifieds No. 2 (35 laps) – 1. Keckley; 2. Wilson; 3. Cook; 4. Rod Stiller, Meridian; 5. Jackson
(Four laps each)
ASA Modifieds – 1. Latham; 2. Rick Fowble, Twin Falls, Idaho; 3. Ward; 4. Shelby Stroebel
Budweiser B Modifieds – 1. Rodney Houpt, Boise; 2. Keckley; 3. Josh Jackson, Payette, Idaho; 4. Rod Stiller, Meridian
TEAM Mazda Subaru Mini Stocks – 1. Jason Sanders, Caldwell; 2. Jonathan Hull, Boise; 3. Colton Nelson, Meridian; 4. Brendon Fries, Boise; 5. Jayson Wardle, Kuna, Idaho
SPI Super Sixes – 1. Jasen Skyberg, Boise; 2. Austin Hager, Boise; 3. Kevin Detweiler, Nampa, Idaho; 4. Dean Waltman, Boise; 5. Casey Tillman, Kuna, Idaho
(Eight laps each)
TEAM Mazda Subaru Mini Stocks
A Heat – 1. Mary Johnson, Meridian; 2. Jonathan Hull, Boise; 3. Colton Nelson, Meridian; 4. Jayson Wardle, Kuna, Idaho; 5. Jason Sanders, Caldwell, Idaho
B Heat – 1. Brandon Shira, Boise; 2. TJ Labronte, Meridian; 3. Nathan Dearing, Boise; 4. Amber Rogers, Meridian
C Heat – 1. Keri Ballard, Boise; 2. Mike Davis, Boise; 3. Alex Duda, Boise; 4. Denny Gerber, Boise; 5. Skeeter Stewart, Boise
A Heat – 1. Caitlin Stroebel, Meridian; 2. Rick Fowble, Twin Falls, Idaho; 3. Ward; 4. Latham
B Heat – 1. Rosalee Weller, Caldwell, Idaho; 2. Cade Hollon, Riggins, Idaho; 4. Steve Wood
Budweiser B Modifieds
A Heat – 1. Jackson; 2. Keckley; 3. Jay Cook, Nampa, Idaho; 4. Sharlet Wilson, Mountain Home, Idaho; 5. Stiller
SPI Super Sixes
A Heat – 1. Hager; 2. Tillman; 3. Jasen Skyberg; 4. Waltman; 5. Detweiler
B Heat – 1. Steve Howell, Boise; 2. Ben Hinkle; 3. Stacy Jenson, Twin Falls, Idaho; 4. Mike Anderson; 5. Pat Young, Kuna
ASA/Budweiser B Modifieds – Shelby Stroebel, 14.086 seconds
SPI Super Sixes – Hager, 13.744
TEAM Mazda Subaru Mini Stocks – Sanders, 15.183