Kuna Racer Overcomes Early Wreck, Claims Twin 25 Victory

Meridian Speedway honored the men and women of the United States Armed Forces Saturday, May 18, as the quarter-mile asphalt oval hosted Military Appreciation Night featuring the Project Filter Twin 25’s. The PitStopUSA.com NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Modifieds, Coors Super Stocks, Teleperformance Street Stocks, Project Filter Pro-4s, High School Tuners, and Junior Stingers all contested double dashes to claim the Boise Boys Transportation Feature Flag.

Eight Teleperformance Street Stocks rolled to the green on their second 25 lap main event. After an early exit in the first feature, Nampa, Idaho’s Kendra Occhipinti roared to the early lead with Josh Fanopoulos and Jesse James Lawson in her tire tracks. Lawson was first to challenge Occhipinti and on lap eight piloted his Dillon Plumbing, Jump Time of Idaho machine to the top of the Pepsi-Cola scoreboard. This left Occhipinti in the clutches of Fanopoulos and her younger brother Taylor Occhipinti.

Fanopoulos drove his Certified Services, Signature Concrete Counter Tops racer to second on lap ten, followed by Taylor Occhipinti. The younger Occhipinti piloted his Marv’s Tire Service, Dillon Performance Engines mount to third and worked to close the gap on Fanopoulos while Fanopoulos closed on Lawson. Though they could keep pace with Lawson, neither Fanopoulos nor Occhipinti were able to mount a challenge as the newcomer from Caldwell, Idaho roared to the Project Filter Twin 25 sweep.

With his two victories Saturday, Lawson extended his win streak to four features. The Junior Stingers followed John Clever and Jody Moen to green for their final fifteen lap feature. On the break Moen, her earlier mechanical issues resolved, shot to the lead while first feature winner Dylan Wardle carved his way through the field to the top three on lap two.

Wardle’s Padgett Pest Control, Beauty from Ashes racer was quick, and the Meridian, Idaho racer hooked the inside line and blasted past Moen to take the lead at the race’s halfway point.

This dropped Moen’s Fast Lane Automotive, D.L. Evans machine into the clutches of Star, Idaho’s Delany Grace, who piloted her CP Express Vinyl, Splash and Dash machine around Moen to take second on the Pepsi-Cola scoreboard. Though faster than the leader, Grace struggled to erase Wardle’s full straightaway lead until a caution bunched the field with three circuits left.

The green flag waved and Grace stormed past Wardle for the lead. Wardle, his eyes on the Military Appreciation Night sweep, wouldn’t settle for second and he raced back to Grace’s bumper on the white flag lap. But Wardle’s hard charge fell short as Grace raced across the Caleb’s Chop Shop Victory Stripe first to take home the night’s second Boise Boys Transportation Feature Flag.

The High School Tuners were next onto the quarter-mile asphalt oval for their second fifteen lap sprint race. Outside pole sitter Hannah Scott sped to the early lead, but Jett Nelson was fast and the Boise, Idaho driver took over the top spot on lap three. Behind Nelson’s YMC Mechanical machine, Cody Castricone and James Strikwerda wound their way through the field until the pair sat second and third on the Pepsi-Cola scoreboard.

Strikwerda got the best of the second place battle in his PBT Auto Sales entry, then with five laps left overtook Nelson for the lead. This left Nelson in the clutches of Castricone, who piloted his Fast Glass racer around the outside to the runner up spot. But Castricone ran out of time to mount a challenge and Strikwerda claimed his second Boise Boys Transportation Feature Flag of Military Appreciation Night.

Fresh off his High School Tuner sweep, James Strikwerda hopped into his Coors Super Stock and lined up on the outside pole position for one final 25 lap feature. Strikwerda made the high line the place to be on the break as he raced his way to the lead. But the youngster soon faced fast company as Jamo Stephenson and Melissa Weaver made their way to second and third on the Pepsi-Cola scoreboard.

A lap eight restart lined Stephenson’s Big Al’s, The Ranch racer up outside of Strikwerda’s PBT Auto Sales machine for the green. Stephenson got the better of the restart and motored past Strikwerda while Weaver and first feature winner Daytona Wurtz worked to find their own way past Strikwerda.

Once clear of Strikwerda, an eight-lap battle ensued as Weaver pushed her way past Stephenson while simultaneously under attack from Wurtz. With nine laps left Weaver and Wurtz cleared Stephenson and the fight for first was on. Lapped traffic slowed Weaver’s Marv’s Tire Service, Dillon Performance Engines entry with six circuits left, which allowed Wurtz to issue a warning shot to the division dominator’s rear bumper. Wurtz wheeled her All Makes Auto Salvage, United Metals machine hard to keep pace with the leader, and with three laps to go the young Boise, Idaho racer slammed the front stretch wall. It was all Wurtz could to do to limp her stricken racer home, which left Weaver to cruise across the Caleb’s Chop Shop Victory Stripe and capture the Boise Boys Transportation Feature Flag.

After a rough and tumble afternoon for the Project Filter Pro-4s, seven machines zipped to green for their second 25 lap tilt. On the green Ben Harris, his Kim’s Kars, H&H Auto racer newly rebuilt after a hard practice crash, edged to an early lead. But it was Eagle, Idaho racer Alex Duda, fresh off of two massive crashes in separate afternoon practice sessions who took control of the evening’s final feature on lap two.

Duda set the pace for five laps in his Boise Boys Transportation, Carbon Designs entry before Kenny Chandler found the handle on his Project Filter, Fairly Reliable Bob’s racer and motored to the lead. But Chandler wasn’t alone up front as first feature winner Jordan Harris went to work on his teammate and car owner for the top spot. Lap after lap Harris tried the inside line, and lap after lap Chandler held station in the lead.

With the white flag in the air Harris drove his Kim’s Kars, Challenger Auto machine deep into turn three, but Chandler would not be denied and the veteran campaigner from Kuna, Idaho took the Boise Boys Transportation Feature Flag.

Sixteen PitStopUSA.com NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Modifieds shook the ground as they took the green for the final Project Filter Twin 25 of Military Appreciation Night. Meridian, Idaho’s Tim Wallace took advantage of his pole starting position and put his Westside Machine, Lucas Oil racer out front. Behind Wallace, Casey Tillman, victim of a first feature tangle with early-season rival Shelby Stroebel, worked his Ready Made Plastic Trays, Holly Company racer forward in his quest for a feature win.

Tillman took to the high line and marched to the lead after a lap five caution flag, with Star, Idaho’s Tony Ackerland and first main winner Wyatt King of Kuna, Idaho in tow. King worked his Major Tire and Hitch, machine past Ackerland on the high side and set to work reeling Tillman in. With seven laps left the leaders sped into a knot of lapped traffic and after two white knuckle laps a caution flag mercifully slowed and sorted the field.

The green flag waved again and King dove under Tillman, but Tillman kept his racer wound up and shot back to the lead. This would prove to be King’s last chance to make a pass as Tillman sprinted into the Caleb’s Chop Shop Winner’s Circle.

The Meridian Speedway season continues Monday, May 27 with Whelen Night at the Races. The NAPA Auto Parts Big 5 Late Models, PitStopUSA.com NASCAR Modifieds, Winged Pepsi Crate Cars, Project Filter Pro-4s, Domino’s Legends, and Big Daddy’s Barbecue Hornets close the Memorial Day Weekend in pursuit of the Racing for Smiles Feature Flags. General admission is just $12 for adults, $10 for seniors 60+ and military members, and $7 for kids 7-11.

Gates open at 4:45 p.m. with racing at 6:45 p.m. Kids, bring a bike and a helmet for the Hungry Onion Bike Races held right after qualifying. Log on to www.meridianspeedway.com for the latest news from around the quarter-mile, and text ‘meridianspeed’ to 84483 to receive exclusive updates. We’ll see you Monday, May 27, under the big yellow water tower for Whelen Night at the Races at your NASCAR Home Track, Meridian Speedway.

Meridian Speedway PR