2009 Local Tracks
STOCKTON 99 SPEEDWAY
STOCKTON 99 GRAND RE-OPENING
Gentlemen, restart your engines
Old style returns with new track
Record Staff Writer
March 23, 2009 6:00 AM
STOCKTON - The sign at the track says "The New Stockton 99 Speedway." But once the main event began, it was clear that in many ways this is the same old Stockton 99.
The NASCAR Western Late Model at the grand re-opening featured the aggressive, contact driving the quarter-mile oval track has been known for since being built in 1947. There were crashes, spins and finally a winner who survived it all to claim victory.
Tim Spurgeon of Danville won the WLM main event after out dueling #61, Guy Guibor of Manteca in the 50-lap race as NASCAR weekly racing returned to the track for the first time since 2006. Track officials announced that a crowd of 4,206, including tickets and non-race team pit passes, showed up on a windy and chilly day.
The track closed when it was sold to land developers, but the deal was cancelled and it is now being operated by promoters Tony and Carol Noceti. The track has been cleaned up with a new white-and-blue paint job, rebuilt grandstands in the corner and other improvements. There was a show March 14 that was used as a warm-up for Sunday.
Before the races, the Nocetis held a tribute to track owners Ken Clapp and Bob Hunefeld, who choked up at one point.
"It was a wonderful, emotional day," Tony Noceti said. "We're back, and I stood at the gate after it was over and thanked everyone for coming out."
The early events went smoothly, then it was time for the featured stock cars to come out. The driving wasn't dirty, but it was as fierce as ever.
"I said when we first came out here ... 99 is back - it's the same old thing," Spurgeon said. "It was bumping and banging. That's just part of it."
There was a five-car pileup on the first lap of the race, and a total of six caution periods and two red-flag stoppages. One of the nastier collisions was between Jason Fensler of Elk Grove and Buzz Devore of Stockton on lap 23, with both cars piling into the wall. No one was hurt.
Greg Potts, (right), of Stockton led the first 17 laps, then Guibor, who won the 2006 WLM title at Stockton 99, took over. Spurgeon got the lead on lap 24 and was able to hold off Guibor the rest of the way.
"We fought hard. It was a good race, and he was just better at the end," Guibor said. "This is Stockton 99. You have to rub fenders here."
It was the first win at Stockton 99 for the 48-year-old Spurgeon.
"We raced the last 21/2 years and wanted to win a main event before this place closed," Spurgeon said. "This is huge."
Guibor was second, and he was followed by #12, Potts, Mark Holeman of Los Altos and Mike Wendt of Lodi.
"It felt good to get back in the ring at Stockton 99," Potts said. "That's what it felt like. We were back in the ring."
Chad Holman, #75, won the final American Limited Stock Car race at the track in September 2006, and on Sunday he captured the Street Stock main event.
"It's an awesome experience, and I really can't say anything other that it was cool," Holman said.
Scott Winters of Tracy, #24, was the other first-event winner, taking the Grand American Modified main event.
"It's just great that this track is back," Winters said.
Contact reporter Scott Linesburgh at (209) 546-8281 or email@example.com.