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Twin 25's Produce Two Winners



Independence Day Brought Fireworks To Bear On The Tricky Asphalt Surface


On Saturday, July 3rd, the NASCAR Whelen All-American Western Late Models were Featured in their Annual Firecracker 150.  Also on the card were the Grand American Modifieds, Street Stocks, Bombers, Legends of the Pacific, and a Fantastic Fireworks Spectacular!


This was the one everybody was waiting for.  For all the hype and hoopla leading up to this event, one would expect nothing less than a full field, full stands, and some absolutely stunning racing, which, if in attendance, you would have to agree that it lived up to its billing.  The only shortcoming, due to earlier delays, the Western Late Models didn’t get the Firecracker 150 underway until a couple minutes before midnight.  But, it was well worth the wait.  Second generation driver and 2008 Madera WLM Champ, Jeff Belletto (12) of Modesto, found himself sitting on pole due to a ten-car invert with the #55x of Escalon’s Cody Hodgson alongside.  When the green flag dropped, Belletto jumped quickly to the lead with field in tow, but on lap 1 seventeen-year old and 2009 National Rookie of the Year Jacob Gomes (16) of Manteca made contact with the #8 of Stockton’s Joey Stearns through the middle of one and two with Stearns getting the worse end of the deal and bringing with him the first yellow of this caution-plagued race.  Both drivers were sent to the tail-end of the field due to the new involvement rule implemented several weeks ago.  On the lap 4 restart, Belletto assumed the point and began to creep away from his nearest competitors until lap 9 when Michael Wendt (2) of Lodi looped it getting in to turn one after contact with Hodgson which brought out the second yellow of the race.  On the lap 12 restart, Belletto took control once again where he remained solidly until lap 34 when the #5 of San Ramon’s Brian Koski and the #14 of Gary Franks got together coming low out of turn two and the third yellow followed close behind.  Belletto nailed another restart on lap 37 and pulled out to a five car-length lead over second until lap 42 when the fourth caution period was on its way.   Mark Holeman (21) of Los Altos, former Track Champion and 2007 State Champion, was sent to the rear.  On the lap 45 restart, and several after that, Belletto appeared to be the one to beat as he continued hammering the restarts like a Swiss watch maker until lap 58 when Stearns, having worked his way back through the field after the first lap spin, finally overcame Belletto’s lead as he grabbed it for himself.  The #8 of Stearns looked strong during the middle of the race and the consensus was he was the one who would have to be reckoned with through to the checkers.  Unfortunately for Stearns, catastrophe struck on lap 86 when his ignition box took a dump and ended a very promising night for the likable young driver.  And, with the misfortune, the yellow went flying for the eighth time on this night.  On the lap 89 restart, Gomes happily inherited the top spot where he would remain, virtually untouchable, as he drove off to the checkers in this controversial, but nevertheless, excitement-filled race.  The race was slowed a total of eight times.  Belletto, after showing his strength through the first half, did a great job holding on to second place.  After winning earlier this year, Zane Lovelace Jr. (46) of Roseville returned with another great finish on the podium in third.  Second generation driver and 2009 WLM Champ, Justin Philpott (05) of Tracy, after setting fast time and starting tenth on the grid, brought her home in fourth while Top 25 of All-Time Best Driver’s on the West Coast, Dave Byrd (78) of Seaside rounded out the top five.  Points Leader Chad Holman (9) of Manteca, after a lap 42 altercation, came back to finish just outside the top five in sixth.


The Legends of the Pacific were back for their second day in a row.  This Program is simply amazing in how well it is run and never fails to impress even the most unimpressionable.  This National Qualifier rolled out of the gate with Keith Clement (8) of Stockton heading the field and the #37 of Brentwood’s Jimmie Walker close at his side.  Unfortunately, for the front row, outside, second-row starter, Greg Baxter (25) of Orangevale beat them back to the line to lead the first lap and eleven more thereafter until lap 13 when Donny Darter (99) of Stockton, starting from P10 on the grid, powered by for his share of the lead where he held strong until lap 23 when Jeremy Wood (22) of Tracy decided it was his turn in the spotlight, and so it went, until lap 28 when James Gilliland (17) of Santa Rosa and Baxter made contact which caught the attention of the flagman who then sent the yellow flag flying for the first time on the night.  Of course, the two parties involved were sent to the rear of the field.  The #99 of Darter got a fantastic restart when the green flag flew and he took back what was once his, but, much to his dismay, on lap 33, after battling begrudgingly with Wood over that top spot, their cars made contact in front of the entire field which sent both spinning right into the second yellow of the race.  The red was thrown immediately on the restart as several cars got together in turn two with Clement hitting the wall a ton.  Everyone was okay and the race resumed where it left off, only this time, fourteen-year old Stanislov Osterlund (42) of Los Gatos, who had inherited the number one slot due to the previous on-track incidents, sent the rest of the field packing as he shot out to over a straightaway lead as he crossed the line to the sweet taste of victory.  The #63 of Cody Berger, coming from deep on the grid, pulled off a marvelous second place run while Jessica Walker (21) of San Ramon, also from mid-starting grid, finished on the podium in what had to be a very satisfying third.  The #51 of Rick Ruzbarsky, although slipping a bit from his starting spot, still managed a top five finishing fourth with Wood working his way back through the pack to finish fifth.


These guys bring the fireworks with them week-in and week-out.  The Street Stocks are explosive every time they roar onto the racing surface, and tonight, they put on another spectacular show for the 4200 fans in the stands to enjoy.  “Racin” Jason Aguirre (45) of Atwater started on pole with Garland Tyler (73) of West Modesto at his side.  Aguirre grabbed the holeshot, but unfortunately, the race was slowed on lap 1 when “Rompin” Rich Harper went sliding backwards down the back-stretch and came to rest beneath the inside turn three tires which brought out the first yellow of the race.  On the restart, and several thereafter, Aguirre got absolutely great jumps to the lead until a lap 19 restart when Points Leader Sammy Solari (79) of Escalon displaced Aguirre out front where the two would argue over that prime real estate for the next several laps until lap 23 when Aguirre greedily took it back for the final time and held on to capture the victory for his second win in a row and third on the Season.  This race finished under a checkered/yellow with cars, car parts, sparks and tempers flying off in all directions.  “My brother-in-law calls this race like a football game and I don’t have to check the mirror once.  I know what’s going on!  I know who’s got what behind me!  I know who’s alongside me!  And I know what they’re going to do,” the well-spoken and quite confident Aguirre said, “Unfortunately for Sammy (Solari), he tried to pull one of his tricks and got me a little sideways.  You know, I like Sammy and I like that whole group, but if you drive me rough, it’s not going to be good.”  Robert Daniel (17) of Lodi, starting from mid-pack on the grid, and after an earlier altercation, fought his way up to the number two spot in an outstanding show of talent.  2009 Division Champ, Jeff Ahl (31), also of Lodi, and also involved in an earlier incident, had a solid run which put him on the podium in third.  Modesto’s always exciting Dennis Saunders (91) had another great run finishing fourth while 2009 Bomber Champ and Street Stocks Rookie, Ben Lewis II (22) of Stockton, came home fifth.  Points Leader Sammy Solari fell back to finish just outside the top five in sixth.


The Grand American Modifieds, after patiently awaiting their turn, finally hit the slick surface with a single mission on their minds: Win!  Larry Tankersley (96) of Stockton and Victor Machado (73), from parts unknown, brought this one up to speed with Machado gaining point in an instant only to be slowed on lap 1 when David Crouch (12/2) of the Republic of Zimbabwe, looped it between three and four which brought with it the first yellow on the night.  Apparently, Points Leader AJ Ryder (62) of Stockton was deemed to have played a part in the infraction which, by rule, sent him directly to the tail-end of the longest line.  On the restart, Machado took off like a bottle-rocket where he would continue to yard the field in unprecedented fashion until the flags of glory went flying above him as he crossed the stripe in a lopsided victory, his first-ever at the Speedway.  Tankersley rallied back to finish a solid second with Leroy Hunt (63) of Stockton, after engine failure last time out, finishing her up on the podium in third.  Crouch rebounded from the earlier altercation to finish fourth while Ryder had to settle for a disappointing fifth.


The Bombers got their 30 Lap Feature underway with Stockton’s own Fast Freddy Rathjen (290) and Tom Dahl (004) leading the pack around to greet the green.  Rathjen jumped out early, but immediately encountered pressure from Lodi’s Matt Wendt (2) until lap 6 when the two made contact down the back-stretch which sent Wendt backwards, careening off the outside wall where he then came to rest in turn three facing heavy traffic.  Unfortunately, Points Leader Travis Tucker (350) of Stockton couldn’t get slowed in time and went head-on into the #2 car which resulted in an instant red flag.  Tucker had to be cut from his car and was transported by ambulance to a nearby Hospital where he was later released after escaping serious injury.  Of course, this incident sent sparks flying in the infield between several unhappy teams.  But soon enough, the smoke settled and the racing got back underway.  On the restart, Dahl grabbed the number one position where, once there, he would scoot away to the checkers, which landed him in Victory Lane for the fifth time this year.  The race was cut to twenty laps due to the lengthy red-flag period.  “I hope Travis is okay,” the soft-spoken Dahl said, then added, “This was a tough race and I’m just happy to be here in the end.”  Rookie and second generation driver from Lodi, Robbie Knittel (003), after chewing on Dahl’s bumper over the last several laps, had to finally settle for an extremely close second at the line.  Jeremy Tucker (51) of Stockton finished on the podium in third while Bobby Simpson (888), also of Stockton came home fourth with Mike Massone (007), yet another Stockton driver, rounding out the top five.  Matt Wendt, the other driver involved in the head-on collision, was seen at the Infield Care Center and released.  However, his car did not bode so well.


As a precursor to the Fourth of July Madness, on Friday, July 2nd, an Independence Day Weekend Special Event included the Legends of the Pacific, NCMA Sprint Cars, Vintage Hard Tops, Mini Trucks/Mini Stocks, Bassically-4-Cylinders, Mini Cups, and the Bandoleros.


In the Mini Trucks/Stocks Division Ron Robeck (3) of Milpitas grabbed top honors in this one starting shotgun on the field and taking the lead on lap 9.  Once there, it was all Robeck to the checkers.  Points Leader Jim Morgan (29) of Tracy finished up the day in second to retain his Point Lead.


In the Mini Cup Division Jackson Exell (15) of Lodi started third on the grid and on lap 12 the young driver laid claim to the pay-dirt out front where he remained to capture his first-ever win at the Speedway.  Points Leader Travis Affonso (11) of Manteca suffered mechanical woes on lap 7 which forced him to the pits and ended his night.


In the Basically-4-Cylinder Division, heavy battles took place throughout this action-packed race, but when all was said and done, it would be Mike Congden (26) of Clovis, starting P6 and taking the lead on lap 4, standing atop the podium breathing in all the honors bestowed upon the victor. 


The Vintage Hardtops took to the asphalt surface bringing with them the fragrance of remembering.  These cars of yesteryear put forth their best to entertain all in attendance.  Conrad Cavallero (2) of Santa Rosa, starting shotgun on the grid, and after swapping the lead back and forth several times, took the lead for the final time on lap 19 where he rode it out to the checkers and the win.


The speedy NCMA Sprints mix quite well with the speedy asphalt at the Speedway.  Things happen quick in this Division so you must pay close attention.  On lap 4 Jim Riddell (19) of Ripon took early control, but not without David Goodwill (3) of Napa gnawing at his back bumper until it finally gave way on lap 11, and Goodwill took the point for good.  It would be Goodwill’s third win of the year at Stockton.


The Legends of the Pacific, are without a doubt, one of the best-run Divisions around.  The race tonight would be a precursor to tomorrow night’s National Qualifier.  And, as often happens in this series, the race went off without a hitch.  On this night, the fourteen-year old Stanislov Osterlund would be the brightest star on the high banks.  Starting P7, by lap 5 Osterlund grabbed the lead where he would remain, not merely, but purely unmolested to the stripe for his third win on the Season at Stockton.  This kid just keeps coming and continues to impress.


The wait is almost over!  Next Saturday, July 10th, Stockton 99 Speedway Presents Bo Bice Live In Concert with Special Guests Stone Corral and Last Stage.  Gates open at 2 PM with the show starting at 6 PM.  Concert goers and Race enthusiasts alike will definitely enjoy this Ground Breaking Event.  Tickets are now available.  For more information, go to


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 or visit their Website at

The New Stockton 99 Speedway is sponsored by Jackson Rancheria Casino Hotel, California Welding Supply, Budweiser, Alamo Alarm and Lodi Hampton Inn and Suites.


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