(STOCKTON, CA--June 8, 1997)--The Ultra Wheels Spec Trucks made their initial appearance at venerable Stockton 99 Speedway Saturday night and, judging by the response of the nearly 2,000 fans on hand, the venture was successful as the primarily Southern California and Arizona based organization saw its feature event captured by the group's lone Northern California performer, Kenny Shepherd of Merced. Shepherd, who as a member of the NASCAR sanctioned Featherlite Southwest Tour was the only driver of the 27 on hand with prior experience on Stockton's Budweiser sponsored quarter-mile paved oval, posted fast time and, after starting fourth, held off a field of 20 trucks to receive the checkered flag.
Trophy dash winner Dan Holtz of Pacific Palisades started on the pole in the 50-lap Spec Truck feature that saw outside runner Jimmy White of Covina take the early lead. The drivers paced themselves and kept out of trouble for more than half of the run with Shepherd advancing from fourth to second as he began to press the leader. The tactic worked as White got into turn one too hot and spun off the track allowing Shepherd to take the point on lap-27 with Holtz in second and Tim Clark of Beaumont third. Only five minor yellows slowed the event as Holtz eventually fell off the pace enabling Clark to move into second and challenge Shepherd for the lead. Clark made several low moves off the corners to no avail, heating his tires and forcing him to settle for second behind Shepherd at the checkered. Kevin Para of Tustin ended up third, followed by Holtz and the series' point leader Mark Miller of Scottsdale, Arizona.
With Stockton 99's Late Models off running the Mega Power Tri-Track Challenge in Madera, the Grand American Modified division shared top billing with the Spec Trucks for a 50lap battle of their own. A field of 17 drivers took the green with Jason Kerby of Stockton claiming the first lap lead. By lap-five, Tony Silva of Sacramento had moved from his seventh place starting position to second and took the lead from Kerby one circuit later. A yellow flag was displayed for debris on the track on the next go-round and Silva was forced to retire due to an oil leak giving the number one spot back to Kerby. That only lasted one lap, however, with Bob Reichmuth of Manteca moving to the fore with defending Grand Am champion Robert Miller of San Jose and current point leader Steve Stacy of Stockton running second and third. A red flag stopped the event on lap-15 as five cars piled up coming off turn two. As the cars came to a stop, track tire and safety crews had to extinguish a fire from under Reichmuth's hood.
Two cars--Billy Garcia of Elk Grove and Lodi's Randy Hill--were eliminated by the turn-two melee; and Reichmuth, the erstwhile leader, was forced to the back as Miller assumed the point for the re-start. Another yellow and subsequent re-start resulted in the lead going to Stacy, who ran to a 24th-lap caution as Ben Lewis of Stockton took a hard hit into the turn-one wall. An oil leak forced Miller to the sideline setting up a closing lap battle between Stacy and Robert Knittel of Lodi who had worked his way through the pack following a lap-one tire change. Knittel glued himself to Stacy's bumper and bided his time to lap-48 before pulling side by side with Stacy bringing the fans to their feet. Knittel took advantage of a lapped car on the white flag lap to slip past Stacy and post his third feature win in four weeks. After Knittel and Stacy, Howard Hoffman of Tracy. driving a back-up car, was third followed by a fast returning
Reichmuth and Stockton's Danny Contessotto. Knittel's run has enabled the former two-time Street Stock champion to move into third place in the season points standings Stacy, who also has three feature wins, holds a comfortable 152-point margin over Hoffinan (720-568), but Knittel is only 12-points further back.
The track also played host to the Legends which for the most part became the Randy Reducchel show. The Modesto hot-foot notched a track record fast time, won his heat, finished second in the dash, and almost..but not quite..won the main. Bob Lathrop of San Jose led the first lap of the 25-lap, 23-car feature as Raducchel--after starting 17th--moved to ninth by lap five, seventh three laps later and second by lap-15. Only two yellows slowed the event with Dave Sukow of Brentwood taking the lead on lap- 14. Sukow ran a steady line lap after lap forcing Raduechel to dive high and low, wearing down his tires in the effort to pass the fast moving leader. Sukow held on to take the checkered with Raduechel hot on his heels, followed by Chad Morrison of San Ramon, Gary Hockman of San Jose and Joey Zampa of Napa, the night's trophy dash winner.
The slam bang Pick-n-Pull Pure Stock division put on their normal show of pillar to post madness with Kevin Touchstone of Stockton leading the 20-lap aftair wire-to-wire. A rare yellow and eventually red flag was displayed on lap-14 when Rick Bentz of Lodi blew a radiator in turn-one and came to rest against the outside retaining wall. Bentz was quickly joined by Aaron Mundello of Denair. Chuck Huss of West Point also hit the water and drove headlong into the front of Mundello bringing out the red and ending the night for all three.
Touchstone was chased to the checkered flag by Alan Ward of Modesto and three Stockton pilots--Doug Lane, Kannai Scantlen and Mark Mays. Earlier, history was made in the division as Donna Treadway of Stockton became the first ever female driver to win a trophy dash event.