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Keeping Pace

Fri., Sept. 3, 2010, 11:59 a.m.

Newhouse and Jones Bringing Championship Fight to Idaho’s Meridian Speedway

RMCS logo. (Courtesy D. Shannon)
RMCS logo. (Courtesy D. Shannon)

With two races left in the chase for the 2010 Rocky Mountain Challege Series two men have the sights set on claiming the title-John Newhouse and Steve Jones.

Courtesy: RMCS Media Relations

BOISE, IDAHO (September 2, 2010) The CarbonX Rocky Mountain Challenge Series returns to action this Saturday night at the historic quarter-mile paved oval of Meridian (ID) Speedway for round nine of the 10-race series. Meridian Speedway has hosted eight previous RMCS events and the race will in large part determine this year’s series champion. In the previous eight races at Meridian Speedway there has never been a repeat winner.

The newly-configured layout proved to create excitement not seen in Late Model racing when the series last visited the oval back in June. Dave Minegar of Boise blistered the field in qualifying setting a new track record of 13.145 seconds. Mild temperatures this weekend could mean that record could fall once again.

Since the race in June that storylines have changed considerably as the point’s chase has essentially come down to two drivers. John Newhouse of Twin Falls leads Meridian Idaho’s Steve Jones by 48-points heading into the final two races. The driver that leaves Meridian with the advantage will be the odds on favorite heading into the final race September 18 at Magic Valley Speedway in Twin Falls.

Newhouse, the 2007 series champion has used consistency to rise to the top of the standings. All eight starts this season have resulted in top ten finishes with five finishes coming in the top five. While winning is always the goal, Newhouse has used strong qualifying performances to add to those finishes to pad his point lead.

Newhouse has also completed 749 of 750 laps this season and will make his 58th career start in the series, second only to Dave Minegar. In those 57 previous starts, Newhouse has registered 30 top five and 46 top ten performances and is in the top four in most statistical categories in the series record books. In his last visit to Meridian Speedway back in June Newhouse finished fourth.

Trailing Newhouse in the standings is racing standout and multi-time Magic Valley Speedway champion Steve Jones. Jones is in his third full season on the tour and has come into his own this year scoring two wins this season along with two fast time awards; he has also posted five top five and seven top ten finishes.

Jones his hoping to turn his luck at Meridian around this trip after a practice crash in June kept him from competing in the Meridian event. Jones had just set the fastest lap in practice when the right rear shock mount broke sending his Chevrolet hard into the turn one wall. Jones was credited with last place in the race.

Lynn Hardy out of the Salt Lake area has been a threat to win all season. With four top five and six top ten finishes in eight races, he finds himself in the third position in the standings with an outside chance at the title. He trails Newhouse by 158-points and would need both of the front runners to have serious bad luck if he hopes to take the title. Back in June Hardy finished seventh in a rented ride after losing the motor in his primary car.

After a devastating crash in a heat race two weeks ago, Brett Thompson of Jerome, ID ended his season and championship run as the damage to his car was beyond repair. A contender for the championship all season with five top three performances this season including winning at Meridian back in June, Thompson will regroup and get working on plans for next season.

Bruce Quale holds down the fifth position in the standings on the strength of one win, two top five and six top ten performances. With a strong finish on Saturday night Quale will move into the top five in the point standings. He finished outside the top ten at Meridian back in June when a rear end mount broke mid-way through the event.

One of the hottest drivers on the tour this season is A-1 Heating & Air Conditioning Rookie-of-the-Year leader Eric Rhead out of Utah. Rhead has won twice this season at Rocky Mountain Raceways and those victories have moved him to within sight of the top five. Rhead has also led the most laps in competition this season with 220. Rhead had difficulty at Meridian last time out and finished 13th.

Two-time RMCS champion Dave Minegar of Boise has had a season he would rather forget. Mechanical woes have kept him from a third title this season but he optimistic about the race this weekend. He set the new track record at Meridian Speedway back in June and owns 23 career Sharp Powder Coating Fast Time Awards. Three of the awards have come at Meridian Speedway; the track where he cut his racing teeth. Minegar has started 58 career RMCS races and holds most of the RMCS records. Minegar finished 12th back in June at Meridian after running as high as third in the race.

Thane Alderman out of Las Vegas, NV missed the last event when his transporter broke down on the way to Salt Lake. Alderman has two career series victories and was within a few laps of winning at Meridian back in June but settled for a third place finish. He has three top five and five top ten performances in seven starts this season and is currently eighth in the standings 53-points out of seventh.

Zan Sharp holds down the ninth position in the standings but will not be in action this week as family commitments will prevent him from making the trip. Sharp, a two-time series champion is a former winner at Meridian Speedway and has also won earlier this season up at Stateline in Post Falls, ID.

Rounding out the top ten in the standings is Joe Miller out of Tooele, UT. Miller has one top ten finish this season and finished 15th at Meridian back in June.

2009 RMCS champion John Dillon will be back in action this weekend. Dillon has made the occasional start this season and finished fifth at Meridian back in June after a late race spin knocked him out of contention for the win. Dillon also won the prestigious Idaho 200 one month ago.

A strong local contingent will fill the field led by multi-time track champion John Nesmith.  Nesmith finished second back in June and is looking for his third career series victory after winning races at Chaparral Speedway and Magic Valley Speedway back in 2004.

Also in action on Saturday will be Tom Hill from Eagle. Hill was a mainstay on the RMCS tour since inception starting 49 races and picking up three career victories including a win at Meridian back in 2006. Hill has concentrated his racing efforts this season in the Modified division at Meridian Speedway where he leads the point standings heading into the final two nights of racing for the season. Hill holds a 64-point advantage over his brother Jeff Hill and a 74-point advantage over third place Shelby Strobel.

The RMCS utilizes a racing format not found in ANY other regional touring series around the country. The top 20 qualifiers are inverted for every race putting fast time in the 20th starting position. This format ensures race fans see what they paid for and that is passing. Each driver is awarded three points per position gained in the event. Points are also awarded for qualifying and heat race finishes. Through the history of the series, the winning driver has averaged a 15th place starting position. To ensure competition, the RMCS pays it purse based on total point accumulation for the event and provides several special performance awards for each event.

The CarbonX Rocky Mountain Challenge Series is a regional touring series that allows all competitors to race and gain experience on different types of racetracks. It is a high-quality professional racing series that offers maximum opportunity at an affordable price serving the intermountain West. The motto of the series is to “Race Hard and Have Fun!” For all the latest news and information regarding the CarbonX Rocky Mountain Challenge Series log onto Follow all the racing action from throughout the West by logging onto

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Keeping Pace

Motorsports correspondent Doug Pace keeps up with motorsports news and notes from around the region.