Originally published Friday, May 25, 2001
By Bill Poindexter
Record Assistant Sports Editor
It's the biggest race of the year so far at Stockton 99 Speedway, and the list of drivers scheduled to compete is so impressive that the winner of Saturday night's Tri-Holiday Classic 100-lapper will possess big-time bragging rights.
Those who are regulars at the track aren't about to miss it: 1997 Tri-Holiday series champion and current Late Model Sportsman points leader Dave Byrd of Pacific Grove; two-time track champion Harry Belletto of Modesto and sons Steve and Jeff, who are running 2-3 in points; rookie points leader Eric Schmidt of Roseville, Kevin Gottula of Modesto, Ron Strmiska Jr. of Manteca and Brent Seitz of Stockton, all of whom are occupying slots in the top 10.
And those who no longer are regulars but have left their share of rubber on the quarter-mile paved oval are dropping what they're doing and coming, too: 2000 Tri-Track Challenge champion Jim Pettit of Salinas, 1999 Tri-Track king Burney Lamar of West Sacramento, Eric Holmes of Escalon and Bob Strandwold of Modesto.
Greg Potts of Morada and two-time track champ David Philpott of Tracy are supposed to be there, too.
''I'm really jazzed about it,'' Stockton 99 half-owner Ken Clapp said.
Lamar took his last final exam of the school year Thursday. He studied hard for MIS 101 -- Upper Division Statistics -- at Sacramento State, and with a machine prepared by Stockton car owner Mike Shafer, he'll be ready for the Tri-Holiday.
''I've been looking forward to it all season,'' said Lamar, who also plans to race in the Tri-Holiday Classic 100-lapper July 3 and another event toward the end of the season. ''Stockton is where I got my first experience in a stock car. I love the fans, the people, the officials. Another good thing about it, Jim will be there.''
Pettit and Lamar have been seeing much of each other on the NASCAR Southwest Series this season. Pettit was ninth and Lamar 10th at the Sunstate Equipment 100 on Sunday at Pikes Peak International Raceway in Fountain, Colo. Pettit, who won the season opener at Stockton 99, is fourth in Southwest Series points.
''I'm looking forward to coming up there and seeing all my friends. The only one I see is Burney out on tour,'' Pettit said Wednesday. ''(The fans) are going to see a really good show. I keep track of what's going on. Jeff (Belletto) got his first win of 2001, Steve (Belletto) got one earlier. It's good to see. They all got an advantage on us. They've all been there for the last few weeks.''
Now everybody will there.
* To reach assistant sports editor
Bill Poindexter, phone 546-8289
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