2004 "99" Schedule 

Track still abuzz after 'wild night'

By Bill Poindexter
Record Staff Writer
Published Friday, June 4, 2004

STOCKTON -- The first of two appearances by the NASCAR Grand National West Series this season and the down-in-flames exit of Western Late Model points leader Dave Byrd in the Tri-Holiday Classic grabbed the attention of a crowd of 4,000 last Saturday night at Stockton 99 Speedway.

But there are some interesting leftovers that remain fresh as the track resumes Saturday night with racing in the Late Model, Grand American Modified, Pure Stock, Pro 4 Truck and Legends divisions:

* Danny Contessotto of Stockton was 14th out of 25 drivers in Late Model qualifying. Then, he finished fourth in the eight-car B main event, which earned him the final transfer position to the 100-lap Tri-Holiday Classic.

Starting last -- 20th -- Contessotto went on to claim his first checkered flag in the division and a $2,000 check.

"It gave me a chuckle, actually," Contessotto said Thursday, recalling all that happened on what he described as a "wild night."

Contessotto, a former Modified track champion, also started from the back in the B main after he failed to put on the gas cap. Fuel was added to the car before the race, but the cap wasn't replaced. An official spotted it during pre-race hot laps.

In the 100-lapper, Contessotto blew through the field early and was ninth after 25 laps. He spent the next 65 laps working his way up one spot at a time.

Contessotto was in fifth with 10 laps remaining and third through 92 laps after Byrd, who led the entire race to that point, slammed the wall coming out of turn two. Byrd spent several laps dueling Roseville's Shannon Mansch, who was attempting to regain a lost lap.

Contessotto was content to run for third until Byrd's wreck.

"Nobody was going to catch Byrd. He was a rocket," Contessotto said. "I hate to see that for Dave. He's a hell of a guy, and he's a great competitor. He runs you clean."

Contessotto took the lead on lap 97 when John Moore and Guy Guibor, battling for first, crashed in the frontstretch.

"It was a gift that Guibor and John Moore wrecked in front of me," Contessotto said. "It was like finding money in the street."

Contessotto, in his Late Model car for the fourth time and running a limited schedule this year, was a winner two laps later.

"Once I got the lead with three to go, it was going to be tough," Contessotto said. "I wasn't going to give that up."

* All four transfers from the B main finished in the top 10 in the Tri-Holiday. B main winner Travis Combs of Sacramento was eighth in the 100-lapper, Dan Farrington of Roseville was second in the semi and fifth in the 100-lapper, and Scott Chappell of Lodi was third in the semi and 10th in the Tri-Holiday.

* Gary Shafer Jr. of Stockton was runner-up to Contessotto, a career-best finish for the 2003 Pure Stock champ. Former track champ Harry Belletto of Modesto, who has won 86 main events at 99, finished third.

* Byrd's points lead over Chris Monez of Turlock was cut from 58 to 37, and he fell from third to fifth in the NASCAR Northwest Region standings. There were rumblings of a possible fine for Mansch but no official action has been taken as of Thursday.

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