Alberding Makes Diamond Cup History

Sprint car fans packed the stands Friday and Saturday, June 4 and 5, as the Speed Tour Sprint Cars and Supermodifieds presented by Pit Stop USA invaded Meridian Speedway for the 33rd annual Neil Alan Fine Jewelry Diamond Cup.

With his victory in Friday night’s Naylor Classic, Roseburg, Oregon’s Kyle Alberding took the green flag for Saturday’s forty-lap feature with an over thirty-point gap between himself and Meridian, Idaho’s Colton Nelson.  But both Diamond Cup standings leader would start deep in the pack courtesy of a ten-car invert. 

On the break Matt Elliott overpowered Marlon Pense to lead lap one while Nelson hooked the outside line and roared into the top five.  But quick-qualifier Alberding matched Nelson move-for-move, and by lap six had piloted his Holte Drilling Tools sprinter in fifth. 

Nelson needed every point he could get, and lit the wick on his Miller Lite, Mulder Engineered Race Engines machine and sped around Elliott’s The Sign Shoppe, West Side Machine entry for the top spot on lap fifteen.  No sooner had Nelson made his way to the top of the Pepsi-Cola scoreboard then a caution flew for a two-car tangle in turn one.   

On the restart, Nelson and recent Meridian Speedway dominator Cory Lockwood went wheel-to-wheel for the top spot.  Nelson caught Lockwood by surprise and shot to the lead, while Alberding dispatched Elliott to take third on the Pepsi-Cola scoreboard. 

Alberding threw his sprinter into the corners hard as he tried to find a way around Lockwood’s entry.  But Lockwood was hooked up in the inside line, and his Stinker Stores, Serenity Wellness sprinter held station.   

Alberding’s onslaught continued until lap 27, when Taylorsville, Utah’s Monty Bergener hopped a tire and pounded the turn three concrete.  The force of the impact flung Bergener’s Van Dyne Engineering, Graco Models machine into the catch fence before it spun to a rest in turn four.  Though the car was torn apart, Bergener walked away from the incident sore, but unscathed. 

Once the carnage was cleared racing resumed with Nelson up front and Lockwood again under siege by Alberding.  As twelve second lap after twelve second lap ticked off the board Nelson’s lead ballooned to over four seconds.   

But all was not well with Nelson’s sprinter.  With a handful of laps to go sparks began to trail as his right rear tire deflated.  With three laps left Nelson lost the lead to Lockwood and pulled to a stop as the tire flattened completely. 

This set up a three-lap shootout between Lockwood and Alberding.  The green flag waved for the final time and Alberding bolted to the high side of the racetrack.  But Lockwood was too strong down low, and he held on to score his third Meridian Speedway feature victory of the season. 

“I knew Kyle was there at the end of the race, I knew he wasn’t just going to give it to me,” Lockwood said in the Caleb’s Chop Shop Winner’s Circle.   

With his dominant two-day performance, Kyle Alberding won his first overall Diamond Cup title.  Plus, Kyle and his father Andy joined Kenny and Davey Hamilton as the only two father-son winners of the Neil Alan Fine Jewelry Diamond Cup. 

“This is something I’ve wanted to win since I started,” Alberding said as he collected his Neil Alan Fine Jewelry diamond ring.  “Or, actually, even before I started.” 

The Speed Tour Supermodifieds also took to the track Saturday night for the forty-lap JP Memorial.  Pole sitter Ricky Otts, of Canyon City, Colorado, led the first third of the event until the left rear wheel of his Otts Racing machine sheared off and sent him spinning into turn three.  Evasive maneuvers were taken, but when the smoke cleared a handful of supermodifieds sat in a heap in turn three. 

This left Fresno, California’s Jim Birges and Meridian, Idaho’s Colton Nelson to settle the JP Memorial.  Birges’ Full Circle Brewery machine was strong in clean air, but struggled in lapped traffic.  With three circuits left Birges parked his vehicle in the midst of a swarm of lapped traffic, which left Nelson nowhere to pass.  This proved to be the winning move as Birges rocketed across the Caleb’s Chop Shop Victory Stripe first. 

“That lapped traffic was crazy,” Birges said in a good-natured but expletive-laden victory lane speech.  “They were the perfect road block with three to go.” 

The Speed Tour Sprint Cars presented by Pit Stop USA return to action on Sunday, July 4, at Meridian Speedway for the Stinker Stores Firecracker 50.  For more information and advance tickets, visit www.meridianspeedway.com.

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