by Jon Brown, MERIDIAN, Idaho – Mike Murgoitio won the battle, but Bryan Warf got the spoils Saturday on the Meridian, Idaho sprintcar driver’s home track.
After a rough start to Saturday’s 75-lap BOB FM Diamond Cup XXV finale, Murgoitio was able to sail from the rear of the field to an easy victory.
But on a night when he won a trophy dash, heat race and main event, Murgoitio was unable to overtake Warf in the quest for the diamond ring Ameristar Diamonds awards to the top point-scorer from the weekend co-sanctioned by the ASA-affiliated Canadian-American Western Winged Sprintcars Series and the ASA Northwest Sprintcar Racing Association.
Warf’s first career Diamond Cup championship also solidified his claim to the $1,000 bonus as king of the second annual Northwest Asphalt Sprintcar Speedweek.
“I sat in the grandstand for years watching the Diamond Cup and watching Rick Veesntra win it,” Warf said, harkening to the days with a Pat Russell-owned supermodified ruled the Meridian pavement.
“After coming close for so many years, it feels great to win it.”
Warf now drivers a sprintcar for Russell, and he thanked his car owner as well as his crew – father Lamoyne and Dave Yoshida – for their work in getting him to the pinnacle of Treasure Valley open-wheel racing.
He also tipped his racing helmet to Murgoitio, who came into Saturday’s action nine points behind Warf in the Diamond Cup race.
“Mike had an insanely fast car and came through, so congrats to him,” Warf said.
Another Meridian driver, Johnny Giesler, finished third, solidifying the Treasure Valley’s reputation for strong open-wheel racers.
“I just got to give it up for Mike and Bryan,” Giesler said. “They are super competitors, and they had a great Speedweek.
“I just missed the setup tonight if you can tell by my right rear (tire), but we’ll be back.”
Drivers from five states and two Canadian provinces towed into Meridian for the week, bringing 22 winged rockets with them.
Murgoitio out-paced them all, driving 11.6-second laps late in the contest when other racers were burning tires and fuel.
But Murgoitio’s victory on the same night as his parents’ 40th wedding anniversary didn’t come without some early drama.
With Giesler threatening to make the race a cakewalk shortly after the green flag dropped, Murgoito set his sights on track record-holder and Saturday night fast-qualifer Ryan Burdett from West Jordan, Utah.
On the 10th lap, Murgoitio and Burdett ran into each other on the backstretch while racing for second place. The impact of the collision bent Burdett’s front wing back to the cockpit and drove Murgoitio’s nerf bar into his right rear tire.
Such damage normally would end an open-wheel racer’s night, but Murgoitio’s crew swung into action as the track was cleared.
“We had that wreck, and we don’t know if we bent everything up. But we came in the pits and the fixed it, and man it was on rails,” Murgoitio said.
“I’ll tell you right now: It takes a hell of crew to go from the back to the front like that.”
That wreck actually may have helped Warf’s chances to win some bling. One point separated he and Burdett in the Diamond Cup standings when the green flag dropped for the finale.
“This is incredible to hopefully win the diamond,” Warf said as he stood in Victory Lane with track promoter Adam Nelson.
“If the math’s right in my head, I think we’ve got it.”
Seconds later, Nelson confirmed Warf’s hunch.
Before he walloped the majority of the field in the main event, Murgoitio was collecting checkered flags in preliminary races.
After winning the A Trophy Dash, he took advantage of the hard luck of several competitors to capture an eight-lap heat race.
Midway through third heat, Murgoitio found himself out front when race leader Billy Kennely of Seattle, Wash., lost power and pulled out of the groove.
Kennely had shot to the lead on an early-race restart triggered by a four-car accident on the first turn of the race that took out one of Murgoitio’s chief rivals.
Four sprintcars piled into the Turn 1 wall after taking the green flag.
Polesitter Sierra Jackson of Middleton, Idaho, who seven days earlier had won the WWS Speedweek opener in Twin Falls, made contact with Canadian Robbie Haslum as they entered the first turn side-by-side.
Jackson’s night ended as her sprintcar spun backwards and slammed the water barrels hard. During the melee, the sprintcar of Madera, Calif.’s Cody Gerhardt soared 15 feet above the racetrack before landing in the middle of Turn 1. Track record-holder Ryan Burdett of West Jordan, Utah was also involved in the mishap.
Greg Middendorf, one of two drivers to make the two from western Washington, won the second heat race for the sprintcars, but Warf rolled from sixth place to a runner-up spot during the eight-lap preliminary.
Matt Mansell, who races out of Victoria, British Columbia, got the big jump and held fellow Canadian Jeff Montgomery at bay to win the first heat race.
Murgoitio picked up some hardware and some cash when he won the A Trophy Dash. He got the jump on Roseburg, Ore.’s Andy Alberding at the green flag and went on to collect $100 from The Drink on the Waterfront owner Dave Parrie of Boise, Idaho. Parrie did the same thing in the early days of the Diamond Cup with super modifieds ruled the landscape.
Murgoitio also won Friday’s A Dash.
“The car’s really good,” Murgoitio said. “We’re pretty excited about tonight. The karma is tonight with my parents’ 40th anniversary.”
“Quick” Rick Brown smoked his way through the turns during the four-lap B Trophy Dash for the sprintcars. The former ASA NSRA champion took down the checkered flag with a wire-to-wire sprint over four laps.
“We’re trying to keep up with all those kids. They’re really improved around here,” the veteran driver from Springfield, Ore., said. “Anyway it’s a beautiful facility, and we’re having a great time.”
Keep up with the Canadian-American Western Winged Sprintcars Series on Facebook and at www.wingedsprintcars.com.
96.1 BOB FM Diamond Cup XXV
Presented by Ameristar Diamonds
Northwest Asphalt Sprintcar Speedweek No. 5
ASA-sanctioned Canadian-American Western Winged Sprintcars Series
ASA Northwest Sprintcar Racing Association
Saturday’s unofficial results
Diamond Cup Finale (75 laps) – 1. Mike Murgoitio, Meridian, Idaho; 2. Bryan Warf, Meridian; 3. Johnny Giesler, Meridian; 4. Andy Alberding, Roseburg, Ore.; 5. Matt Hein, Roseburg, Ore.
Diamond Cup XXV diamond ring by Ameristar Diamonds champion – Warf
2013 Northwest Asphalt Sprintcar Speedweek champion ($1,000 bonus) – Warf
(Four laps each)
A Dash – 1. Mike Murgoitio, Meridian, Idaho; 2. Andy Alberding, Roseburg, Ore.; 3. Johnny Giesler, Meridian; 4. Ryan Burdett, West Jordan, Utah
B Dash – 1. Rick Brown, Springfield, Ore.; 2. Billy Kennely, Seattle, Wash.; 3. Richie Larson, Prince George, British Columbia; 4. Ron Larson, Quesnel, British Columbia
(Eight laps each)
Heat No. 1 – 1. Matt Mansell, Victoria, British Columbia; 2. Jeff Montgomery, Langford, British Columbia; 3. Brandon Johnson, Meridian; 4. Alberding; 5. Matt Elliott, Caldwell
Heat No. 2 – 1. Greg Middendorf, Snohomish, Wash.; 2. Bryan Warf, Meridian; 3. Richie Larson; 4. Giesler; 5. Mark Floyd, Boise
Heat No. 3 – 1. Murgoitio; 2. Burdett; 3. Brown; 4. Kennely
Ryan Burdett, West Jordan, Utah, 11.370 seconds