Originally Published Friday, June 8, 2001


Local Notebook

Twin mains for Late Models

By Bill Poindexter

Record Assistant Sports Editor

The Late Model Sportsman division didn't run last weekend at Stockton 99 Speedway, so what better way to make up for it than with another round of twin 38-lap main events Saturday night?

The track held the first twin mains in its 54-year history on May 12, and all was well, according to track general manager Ken Gross.

''Thumbs up. Thumbs up,'' he said Wednesday. ''The whole staff was all on edge, but we were excited with how it all came out. (The fans) got their belly full of Late Models. As for the competitors, no negative feedback at all. They enjoyed it, too.''

Jeff Belletto of Modesto certainly did. He led wire to wire to win the second 38-lap main.

''The most I got out of it was, you got more bang for your buck,'' said Belletto, a veteran of six twin mains last year at Madera Speedway. ''You get to race your car twice, and you get paid twice, and you only have to buy one set of tires. That's a big cost.''

Belletto said his car was too loose during the first main, so the break gave the crew a chance to make adjustments, including changing the shocks.

''You have to get with the program real quick, because you only have 38 laps to get the job done,'' he said. ''I had a good time doing that. It's neat. We're so used to running the 100-lappers.''

In addition to the usual lineup, Bob Strandwold of Modesto will make his season debut at Stockton 99, which should concern the other Late Model Sportsman drivers. Strandwold led more than 40 laps of a recent SRL Wild West Shootout race at Madera before finishing fifth. He led more than 60 laps of Saturday's Wild West Shootout race at Altamont Raceway Park and finished second.

''It felt good doing good,'' said Strandwold, who still has his old pit crew and is driving the same Chevrolet Monte Carlo.

Strandwold said he talked last weekend to good friend Dave Byrd, who ''kind of got me pumped up to come back (to Stockton 99).'' Only Strandwold thought the main was going to be a 76-lapper, not twin mains.

''This will remind me of back in the '80s, when we ran 30-lappers. You go for the gusto,'' he said. ''It will be fun running heat races. I always enjoyed that.''

Brothers, teammates

Steve Belletto of Modesto raced in the NASCAR Southwest Series event at Sears Point Raceway last year.

This year, there will be two Bellettos on the road course for the Snap-On Tools 200 on June 23. Steve and brother Jeff will be teammates. Jeff will drive for car owner Mark Burns of Modesto and Steve for Les Scott of Lodi.

''I can't get wait to get there and scrap with my brother,'' said Jeff Belletto, who will make his first Southwest Series start. ''Hopefully, we can run together and work together.''

That should benefit Jeff Belletto. Steve Belletto finished eighth in last year's race, which is part of the NASCAR Winston Cup weekend at Sears Point.

The brothers Belletto and Jim Pettit II of Salinas tested at Sears Point on Thursday. Both will drive Chevrolet Monte Carlos.

''He said, 'On one condition,' '' Jeff Belletto quoted Burns as saying when they did the deal. ''He said, 'Drive it like it's your own.' I said, 'Right on.' That's always in the back of your mind, you know. But it's going to be cool.''

* To reach assistant sports editor
Bill Poindexter, phone 546-8289
or e-mail sports@recordnet.com



Stockton 99 Speedway is located at 4105 N. Wilson Way, a quarter mile west of Highway 99.


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