(STOCKTON, CA--July 13, 1997)--In a night where four of five racing divisions saw few caution flags, Paul Guthmiller of Manteca in the Grand American Modifieds, San Carlos' Chad Nichols in the BCRA Midgets and Greg Williams of Ceres all became second-time 1997 winners on Stockton 99 Speedway's NASCAR-sanctioned quarter-mile paved oval Saturday. Guthmiller, who last won on April 19, led the 25-lap GAM feature wire-to-wire but was pressed from lap-two to the finish by season point leader Steve Stacy of Stockton, who started sixth in the 13-car field. Several times, Stacy drew alongside Guthmiller keeping the crowd of 1,485 on the edge of their seats, however the former track Street Stock champion was able to hold on to collect the $300 first place purse and an additional $100 generously donated by an anonymous Grand Am supporter.
It has not been for lack of trying in terms of Guthmiller's quest for a second win. Bad luck in the form of engine problems has kept him from starting many events; but he was not to be denied on this occasion. Bud Beltrama of Stockton, heat and dash winner Howard Hoffman of Tracy and Bob Reichmuth of Manteca followed Guthmiller and Stacy to the checkered flag. Stacy, meanwhile, lengthened his season point lead over Robert Knittel of Lodi to 123 (991 -868).
It seemed like old times as the BCRA Midgets, including several of the vintage variety, were on hand to put on the same style of show they were noted for when they were the first division of cars to compete at Stockton 99 in it's opening season 51-years ago. John Haugh of Santa Clara and Greg Nelson of Citrus Heights were the pole sitters for the 14-car feature with Nelson taking the early lead. Season point leader Terry Tarditi of Lodi, after starting sixth, made short work of Nelson--moving to the front on lap-eight. Tarditi seemingly had things well in hand until mid-race when second generation pilot Chad Nichols, who won the group's first race at Stockton on April 6, loomed in second. The pair ran one-two for several circuits before the 30-lap event's only yellow was displayed on lap-26 for a stalled car. On the white flag lap, Nichols made a low dive under Tarditi into turn-one to capture his second Stockton feature in as many appearances.
Another San Carlos pilot, Jimmy Screeton, posted a new track record qualifying time of 13.291. Heat wins were registered by Nichols and Marc DeBeaumont of Clayton. The dash trophy went home with Lloyd Hemana of Madera. The main event top five--after Nichols and Tarditi--was completed with DeBeaumont, Screeton and Nelson.
The track also saw the return of the Pro-Truck series with Jim Courage of Sacramento notching a new track record of 13.309. Rusty Olson of Eureka brought the eight-truck field to it's first green and led with local favorite Greg Williams of Ceres moving to second on lap-five. By lap-nine, the two were side by side with Williams taking the lead on the next circuit. Williams was unchallenged to the final flag as he won his second Stockton feature of the year. Trophy dash winner Dave Lester of Carson City. Nevada finished second with Olson, Bobby Hines of Reno and Kevin Childs of San Jose completing the top-five.
Jerry Tripp of Stockton pulled off a clean sweep in the night's Street Stock action, setting his l0th fast time of the year, as well as his eighth dash and feature victories. Jeff Ford of Modesto was in charge of the pole, but quickly surrendered the point to Mike Piona of Lodi. By lap-eight, Jerry Crawford of Stockton was second and eventually moved to the front on lap-10. Tripp, meanwhile, was lurking in fourth and advanced to second on the next go-round. A six car pile-up on lap-13 sent Ted Baflich of Stockton and Tim Bowden of Manteca to the sidelines and enabled Tripp to sit alongside Crawford for the re-start. lt took three laps but Tripp made his way past Crawford to run untouched to the checkered flag. Two other Stockton drivers--Pete Anderson, Sr. and Cary Treadway--were third and fourth with John Vanderwerff of Manteca completing the top-five.
With 1996 champion Dan Dabbs of North Highlands sitting this race out, Vanderwerf'f was able to move into second in the season point standings. However, Tripp's margin would seem to be insurmountable at 262 (1134-872).
Action in the Pure Stock division started with a fast time by Scott McHale of Modesto and a dash win by Gary Shafer, Jr. of Stockton; however, the 20-lap main event was far different than usual as two red flags were displayed on laps-12 and 18 as cars slammed outside walls, the infield tires and into each other to form auto sandwiches. Royce Niceler of Stockton was the early leader, bowing to Richard Teicheira of Manteca on lap-three. Teicheira was in turn passed by rookie runner Brian Castillou of Linden on lap-nine. Castillou held strong until being passed by Aaron Mundello of Denair on lap-16. It was the final pass of the night as Mundello brought home the win followed by Castillou, two Stockton pilots--Mark Mays and John Prigwore--and Adam Ramsdale of San Jose.