2009 Local Tracks


Former go-kart racer stepping up in size


Record Staff Writer

June 06, 2009 6:00 AM

STOCKTON - After a long break, Vito Ranuio is back on the track and winning races.

Ranuio stopped racing go-karts 10 years ago but returned last season in a much bigger, heavier NASCAR Western Late Model car. He's adjusted quickly to his new ride and leads the division in wins and points going into the racing program at 6 p.m. today at Stockton 99 Speedway.

The WLM, Grand American Modified, Street Stocks and Bomber classes will feature twin double-points main events adding up to 99 laps per division (one 50 lap race; the other, 49 laps). The first 99 kids at the track will receive free ice cream.

Today's races

NASCAR Weekly Racing Series

Green flag: 6 p.m., Stockton 99 Speedway

Racing program: NASCAR Western Late Model, Grand American Modified, Street Stocks, Bombers

Information: (209) 466-9999; stockton99.com

There's not a complicated reason why the 29-year-old Ranuio decided to return to auto racing. The Stockton driver missed it and was ready to come back.

"I was financially able to do it and wanted to do it, and we're very pleased with the way it has turned out so far," Ranuio said. "We've put everything we have into it."

Ranuio has four main-event wins, including last week, and leads Justin Philpott of Tracy, 490-475, for the division title lead at Stockton 99. He's also in contention for the WLM state title. He's second in the state rankings and ninth in the national standings.

Ranuio began racing go-karts at 11 and stopped when he was 18. In the ensuing years, he started his own trucking business and found himself wanting to return to motorsports, but not in a go-kart.

"I thought it would be a good challenge to move to these cars," Ranuio said.

He competed at Madera Speedway in 2008, finishing as high as third. Late last season, he hired Mike Roos as his crew chief. The duo and the rest of the crew have worked well together, and Roos has been impressed at how quickly Ranuio has adjusted to the late model car.

"There's a lot of difference between a go-kart and a 2,900-pound car, but Vito picked up on it fast and has a real feel for the car," Roos said. "The feedback we get from Vito is phenomenal, and we've done very well. I knew we had the equipment to do it and Vito had the talent to do it. It just takes a little luck, and we have it with us right now."

Ranuio and Philpott have a considerable lead over the rest of the WLM field, and there are 13 races left in the season.

"It's very close," Ranuio said. "It would be great to win a state title or a track title. We have to finish every race and have good solid finishes."

Contact reporter Scott Linesburgh at (209) 546-8281 or slinesburgh@recordnet.com


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