MERIDIAN, Idaho—A near capacity crowd descended on Meridian Speedway Saturday, May 4, for Factory Motor Parts Ladies Night at the quarter-mile oval. The Mulder Engineered Race Engines Junior Late Models made their speedway debut alongside the PitStopUSA.com NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Modifieds, Coors Super Stocks, Factory Motor Parts Mini Stocks, Teleperformance Street Stocks, and Big Daddy’s Barbecue Hornets.
The PitStopUSA.com NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Modifieds led off main event action with a twenty lap tilt, the first of their two main events Saturday. On the green Mark Floyd bolted to the early lead while pandemonium erupted behind him.
After two laps of contact it was Randy Keckley who found himself ejected from the lead pack as he spun down the back stretch. No caution waved for Keckley’s agricultural excursion, but the action caused an already tight field to draw even closer together.
Seemingly the only driver able to clear the pack, Meridian, Idaho’s Shelby Stroebel found himself in the top five by lap three while his strongest competition was mired in the lockstep pack. Stroebel wasted no time as he piloted his modified to the top spot and ultimately the victory. Wyatt King followed Stroebel across the Caleb’s Chop Shop Victory Stripe to take a second place finish, while two-time winner Casey Tillman was forced to settle for third.
The eleven to sixteen-year-old drivers in the Mulder Engineered Race Engines Junior Late Models rumbled to their first green flag as shadows fell across the quarter-mile. Jerome, Idaho’s Jody Moen showed the way early as the young competitors tested the limits of their machines.
After a series of early spins, the race went green with a dozen laps left. Rusty Houpt made the most of this restart and pinned his Boise Spring Works, Drip Catchers LLC racer to the low groove hoping to take the lead. But Moen closed the door to keep her Fastlane Auto, United Metals machine atop the Pepsi-Cola scoreboard.
Moen would fend off challenges from Houpt and Bailey Fanopoulos throughout the race’s closing stages to become the first lady racer to capture a Feature Flag on Factory Motor Parts Ladies Night.
Next on track were the Coors Super Stocks for their 25 lap feature. Jamo Stephenson was quick out of the blocks and sped to the early lead while contact behind him bunched and jumbled the field. When the contact subsided pre-race favorite Melissa Weaver had navigated her way to third while first race nemesis Daytona Wurtz sat mired in traffic.
Weaver made quick work of Chuck Youngblood’s PBT Auto Sales racer and set to work on Stephenson’s PBT Auto Sales, YMC Heating and Cooling machine. Though outmatched, Stephenson fought hard to keep the top spot for five laps before Weaver finally made the lead pass on a lap six restart.
As Weaver pulled away from the field Wurtz doubled her efforts to make time and pushed hard to dispatch Stephenson from his runner up spot. This battle soured after two laps as contact sent both drivers into a synchronized spin in turns three and four.
Now at the back of the pack Wurtz made a desperate dash forward as the race drew to a close. Though the young racer battled her way back to second Weaver wouldn’t be beat and she claimed the Construction Services and Repair Feature Flag in her Marv’s Tire Service, Dillon Performance Engines racer.
Title sponsor for the night, Factory Motor Parts brought a few lucky dignitaries out to start the Factory Motor Parts Mini Stock main event. Luke Wolverton was first to the gas pedal and piloted his Julie Hart with Premier Mortgage, Hart Construction racer to the early lead. But the man on the move was Travis Pavlacky, who charged from his back-of-the-pack starting spot to third on the Pepsi-Cola scoreboard in seven short laps. But the Payette, Idaho driver wasn’t done there, and with a pair of passes on the inside Pavlacky moved his truck to the lead.
While Pavlacky set sail out front, the fight was on for second as early leader Wolverton fought off defending champion Jayson Wardle, two-time season winner Fred Vigil, and perennial title contender Jason Sanders. High and low the pack searched for ways around each other. Wardle was first to make a move on Wolvertonand he ducked low for second in his Catapult 3, 180 Tattoo entry. Sanders followed to put his Valley Property Management, G2 Logistics machine in third. Next Vigil tried his hand on Wolverton, but lapped traffic stymied his run and relegated the early season dominator to fifth.
But it was Travis Pavlacky who cruised across the Caleb’s Chop Shop Victory Stripe first to claim the Factory Motor Parts Mini Stock victory.
Scott Cooper and Jeff Peck paced the Teleperformance Street Stocks to their 25 lap feature. Peck made the outside line the place to be, and the Twin Falls, Idaho racer took the early lead with Rich Lawson’s Lawson Racing, Dillon Autocraft Engines machine in tow. But Peck wasn’t safe out front as Nampa, Idaho racer Taylor Occhipinti roared around the high side of both Lawson and Peck to put his Marv’s Tire Service, Dillon Performance Engines racer out front.
Hot on Occhipinti’s rear bumper was Caldwell, Idaho’s Jesse James Lawson, who pulled to the inside of Occhipinti in a bid for the lead. Lawson wheeled his Dillon Plumbing machine hard on the inside line, but Occhipinti maintained momentum to stay in first place. This battle raged for six laps until a caution flag slowed the field and allowed Lawson’s tires to cool. When the green flag waved Lawson blasted to the lead, but couldn’t fully clear Occhipinti until there were just nine circuits remaining.
Once out front Lawson never looked back as he cruised to his third Teleperformance Street Stock victory in as many races.
Race two of the PitStopUSA.com NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Modifieds double-header began with Randy Keckley and Mike Davis on the front row. Again the high line was the place to be as Davis shot to the top spot with Joe Thuss in his tire tracks. Thuss moved his Aloha Auto Repair machine to the high groove and dispatched Davis from the lead on lap eight, but was surprised by Josh Jackson who stormed to the lead two laps later.
With Jackson’s Meineke of Caldwell, Jackson Built Racing machine out front the battle for the rest of the top five spots on the Pepsi-Cola scoreboard heated up. Wyatt King hauled his Major Tire and Hitch, YMC Mechanical entry to the runner up spot at the race’s halfway point with main event winners Shelby Stroebel and Casey Tillman in hot pursuit. Despite frequent contact as they ducked and dodged through traffic all three racers held onto their machines to finish second, third, and fourth behind Jackson, who coasted to a stop in the Caleb’s Chop Shop Winner’s Circle with no brakes.
The Big Daddy’s Barbecue Hornets faced a new challenge as Saturday night saw the division crown a Sole Survivor. At the end of a fifteen lap shootout Cody Garret, Austin Blanton, Neil Wassmuth, Troy Palmer, and Jeff Matuska lined up five wide across the track for a lap-by-lap elimination match. Eager to win the first elimination round Garrett jumped the start and was disqualified. Next to be dispatched was Jeff Matuska, then Austin Blanton.
This set up a duel between Palmer and Wassmuth for the win. The green flag waved and Wassmuth motored around his competition and parked his Neil Alan Fine Jewelry, CCS Sign Shop racer in the Caleb’s Chop Shop Winner’s Circle.
Crashes outnumber dashes next Saturday, May 11, as Wendy’s Smash-O-Rama takes over the quarter-mile oval. With a Demolition Derby and world record limo jump attempt from Mr. Dizzy to the World Famous Boat Races, The Beast Jet Dragster, and Fireworks, there’s something for everyone with an appetite for destruction this Saturday. Race fans, we’ve got all the thrills you’re looking for too with the Pepsi Crate Cars and ISRLSprintcars, Domino’s Legends, Factory Motor Parts Mini Stocks, Big Daddy’s Barbecue Hornets, and Firehouse Pub and Grill Bombers. Plus, Clarity Credit Union hosts their first Penny Gold Rush for Kids of the season. General admission to a full night of wreckers and checkers is just $19 for adults, $17 for seniors and military members, $7 for kids 7-11, and as always kids six and under get their seat free of charge. Tickets are going fast! Log on to www.meridianspeedway.com/