THE CINDERELLA SEASON:
BY JIM SHIELS
At least once in a drivers career comes a season to remember, one where everything turns to gold with flawless performance perfect crew response, and most importantly your car number sitting first on the NASCAR Scoreboard week after week.
A case in point is 35-year-old Jim Pettit, II of Salinas California, a Late Model veteran with 21-years of dirt & asphalt oval track experience on his resume that started at age-16 behind the wheel of a 1981 Camaro on the dirt in Watsonville California.
Eleven years and seven championships later, Jim entered the 2000 season pumped and ready with a "sixth-sense feeling" that this could be a year to remember. And what a year its been. His 1999 Chevy Monte Carlo, sponsored by California Hot Wood and Service Center of Salinas, became a tool of dominance, carrying him to 11 wins in 19 starts at Madera Speedway and giving him his eighth season title along with a second place finish in the NASCAR Pacific Coast Regional chase.
Jim has also picked off five feature wins in nine events at Stockton 99 Speedway, including all three of the tracks Tri-Holiday events, leading each wire-to-wire Adding to the season he posted three additional wins on dirt at Watsonville.
Pettit ended his Stockton 99 Speedway season with a solid chance to also add their title to his resume, and although he set the quick time and won the dash, in the final event, his second place finish left him a scant 38-points short of his goal.
Six of his wins came in the prestigious Paul Oil Company sponsored "Shell Tri-Track Challenge," a ten-race series for Late Models spread over three central California NASCAR tracks. Jim wrapped up this title also, by posting a win in the final event on October-14th, leading 96 of the 100-laps.