2009 Local Tracks
STOCKTON 99 SPEEDWAY
Budweiser Night At The
Races Was So Well
Scripted No Revision Was Needed, Or Wanted
Saturday, September 12th, was Budweiser
Night at the Races as the NASCAR Whelen All-American Western Late Models ran
Twin-50’s. Also on the race card for the evening’s event were the Grand
American Modified, ALSC/Street Stocks and the Bombers. DOUBLE POINTS were
awarded to all Divisions, except the WLM. The Winners of the Special Budweiser
Pole Position Award for WLM & GAM were Jacob Gomes (16x) of Manteca and Scott
Winters (24) of Tracy, respectively.
The Western Late Models bring a certain poetry to the swift, but smooth current of the asphalt storybook we call Stockton 99 Speedway. From the very first lap, you are drawn into the action, and as it twists and turns from lap to lap, you’re hooked. The common thread that flows through the race’s entirety is “win”. And, when coming down to the final laps as the intensity increases, the fans in the stands are filled with anticipation of a strong ending, which all good races, and good poetry, offer. In the first Twin-50, Fairfield’s Jim Inglebright (1) and Jeff Belletto (12x) of Modesto brought the twenty-car field around to greet the green with Belletto snagging the early lead only to be slowed on lap 7 as Inglebright looped it coming off four to attract the first yellow of the night. It was determined by Track Officials that Inglebright had a little help in the form of Todd Corral (16) of Modesto which relegated him to the rear of the field, but Corral opted to duck into the pits, which ended his night. On the restart, the second yellow went flying as the #75 of Stockton’s Joe Allen made contact with Dave Philpott (05) of Tracy, which resulted in both cars being sent directly to the back. Although the race was infested with five move caution periods, Belletto managed to hold on to the top spot, despite the constant gnawing at his back bumper by Young Gun Jacob Gomes (16x) of Manteca, and beat the field to the checkers, which came as a major relief after experiencing mechanical woes the last two times out. “We’ve had some bad luck here the last couple weeks and we finally made the first 15 (laps), ”said the well-spoken Belletto, “How about that racing with Vito (Ranuio), they don’t get no better than that.” Gomes finished a strong second while Michael Wendt (2) of Lodi came back from an earlier incident to finish a very impressive third. Vito Ranuio was also able to rebound from earlier difficulties to finish fourth and Dave Philpott rounded out the top five. The race, at times, seemed a bit disjointed, but nonetheless, there was great side-by-side racing all around the track, and as it came down to the final laps, the crowd of over 1,000 were on their collective feet.
After some time to allow the teams to recuperate, the second Twin-50 crossed beneath the green flag with Stockton’s Joe(Racer) Allen (75) and Two-Time Track Champion Dave Philpott (05) of Tracy leading the way. A complete restart was called for when the top two tangled coming off four which ended Allen’s night. Due to the unfortunate incident, Philpott and Vito Ranuio (27) inherited the front row and led the field to green with a beautiful battle waged between these two drivers until lap 4 when Ranuio decided this was his night and this was his week as he nabbed the lead and held on begrudgingly until lap 17 when 2009 Western Late Model Champion Justin Philpott, in his dad’s #50 car, pulled up to stop in turn two attracting the first and only yellow of the race. In the meantime, the #16 of Manteca’s Jacob Gomes made contact with Dave Philpott sending the #05 spinning out of two and relegating Gomes to a back row seat on the restart. And, on the restart Ranuio retained his position out front as he stubbornly took control of the race, despite the #12 of Jeff Belletto steadily chewing away at his back bumper for the last 20 laps, and crossed beneath the checkers on his way to victory lane in what was most definitely the best race of the night with the top three finishing under the same blanket. “Jeff’s (Belletto) a great competitor and a good friend, so luckily it was him I had beating on my rear bumper,” said a very happy Ranuio, “I didn’t have much more than what I showed.” Of course, Belletto capped off a great night with a second place finish with Modesto’s Mike Beeler (6) on the podium in third. Dave Philpott finished fourth while Gomes rebounded to make up the top five.
In the Grand American Modified Division the brevity of the points spread is quite alluring. However, Scott Winters would like to revise that spread to more suit his favor. But, if Points Leader Michael Ostrowski has anything to say about it, and he always does, then Winters will certainly have his hands full. If a shake-up in the points was going to happen, with Double Points up for grabs, this would be the best opportunity for all involved. This one got rolling as Larry Tankersley (96) of Stockton and South African David Crouch (2) paced the field to green with Tankersley powering his way to the point between turns one and two and holding strong until lap 21 when Winters decided it was time to go, a decision which is usually irrevocable, and tonight would prove that fact to be true when once he was out front, all hope for the field disappeared as he cruised handily to his thirteenth win of the year at Stockton. “It just took a little patience, I knew we had a good car,” Winters said of the traffic he encountered, “You know the crew just works effortlessly on this thing and just makes it easy to drive. You know I got there and I just wanted to take my time to get by him (Tankersley) clean, I didn’t want to touch him and that’s what we did.” The #11 of Rick Anderson finished a very impressive second while Tankersley held on to finish on the podium in third. The #44 of Jeremy Jackson came home fourth with David Crouch, continuing his string of top-fives, fifth. Points Leader Michael Ostrowski (17x) of Salida experienced mechanical problems on lap 5 which forced him to the pits for the night. This shake-up in points will put Winters at the top of the charts with one race remaining.
The ALSC/Street Stocks, by the mere connotation of its title, suggests something other than your normal Division. And, with only two chapters left on the season, the final rewrite on this one is still in the works. The question is, of course, how will this all sort out? That is most certainly where the pleasure dwells: in the mystery of the final outcome. Mike Graham (93) of Hughson got this one going from the pole position with Lodi’s Danny Basto (64) at his side, but the race was slowed immediately as the two tangled coming out of turn two which brought out the first yellow of the race on lap 1 while at the same time “The Iceman” Chad Holman (75) of Manteca continued his abysmal season breaking yet another axle coming off turn four which sent him limping into the pits and ended a promising night. On the restart, Points Leader Jeff Ahl (31) of Lodi and Riverbank’s literary genius Aaron Coonfield (25) inherited the front row which Coonfield took full advantage of by grabbing the lead only to be slowed the next time around as “Sergeant” Zach Huffman (50) of French Camp came spinning off two down the backstretch which undoubtedly drew the attention of the flagman causing him to throw the second yellow on the night. On the lap 3 restart, Coonfield grabbed a huge hunk of forward bite which vaulted him to the lead where he held solid until lap 31 when Huffman performed a mirror-image spin down the frontstretch and brought with it the third and final caution of the race. Coonfield once again jumped to the point as the green flag went waving and from there it was “seeya later” as he sailed off into the sunset for his tenth win of the year. “It’s pretty exciting to win on Double Points night. My dad just showed up from North Carolina, he’s never actually been to one of my races,” said the well-versed Coonfield, “And my uncle is here from Iraq, so this is pretty special.” Stockton’s Brian Vosburg (89) finished in a close second while Ahl slipped back one, after some unfortunate contact, to bring it home third. Graham and Livermore’s Mark Squadrito (31x) rounded out the top five.
The Bombers have been the most adventurous story of the year. From their meager beginnings, they have grown into a formidable Division that always supplies action-packed thrillers for the fans in the stands to take in and savor. When the books close on this season, these guys and gals will remain enthralled in our memories for some time to come. Stockton drivers Lisa Johnston (808) and “Redneck” Russell Johnson Jr. got this one underway from the front row with Johnson jumping out to the point on lap 1, but that position was to be short-lived as Stockton’s Tom Dahl (4) sped by on lap 2 and held strong until lap 11 when Johnston spun up in turn four bringing out the first yellow of the night. A second yellow flew quickly as the 2009 Bombers Champion Ben Lewis II (22) of Stockton and the #007 of Mike Massone made contact coming out of four on the restart, which sent Massone backwards down the frontstretch. On the lap 13 restart, Lewis and Dahl battled back and forth for that precious territory out front with Lewis showing his strength on lap 14 by taking to the point and never looking back as he crossed beneath the checkers for the win, which all but wrapped up the 2009 Championship with one race left on the season. “Once I got by Dahl, I got in the cruising mode and started cruising,” said the quiet-mannered Lewis. Dahl held on to finish a solid second while Massone hung tight to finish third. Second-generation driver Robbie Knittel (3) of Lodi finished a very impressive fourth with Stockton’s Peggy Sue Jared (313) glued to his bumper for fifth.
On a side note: Most of you will remember Wayne Pierce as the Voice of 99 for many years. It was a delight to have him back at the track this week and reminisce over days gone by. Good Luck to Wayne and Debbie down in Madera. It was great to have you come home again.
Next Saturday, September 19th, mark your calendars and come join us at the Speedway for the Watermelon Bash Presented by Robeck's Welding & Fabrication featuring 299 Laps of wet and sticky fun with the always popular Enduros. Joining in on the evening’s excitement will be the Mini-Stocks/Mini Trucks, WSRA and the Basically-4-Cylinders.
The New Stockton 99 Speedway is located at 4105 N. Wilson Way, ¼-mile west of Highway 99. For more information on tickets and times, please contact the Speedway Office at (209)466-9999.
The New Stockton 99 Speedway is sponsored by Jackson Rancheria Casino Hotel, California Welding Supply, Budweiser, and Alamo Alarm.