(STOCKTON, CA--July 20, l 997)--For whatever reason, the combination of staging a "double points" race under a full moon usually results in a crash-fest, and Saturday night's GM Performance Parts 50-lap Late Model Sportsman main event at NASCAR-sanctioned Stockton 99 Speedway produced the expected results as the 15-car starting field was reduced to seven when the checkered flag was waved. Applying the theory of getting out in front and avoiding the carnage (nine caution flags) worked for Stockton's Larry Tankersley as he pocketed the $1,000 first place money.
Nathan Tucker of Sonora and John Gaalswyk of Ripon brought the field to it's first green with Gaalswyk taking control with Tankersley, who started eighth, progressing to second on lap-8. The first yellow fell on lap-12 as Mike Terpstra of Modesto got loose off turn four, tapping Tucker and turning him into the side of Stockton's John Unger, who in turn spun in front of the oncoming field, collecting second place season point runner Ron Strmiska, Sr. of Manteca and point front-runner Harry Belletto of Modesto. To add insult to injury, Gaalswyk was forced to give up the point to Tankersley under the yellow when he pitted for a fresh tire. On lap-17, Strmiska suffered the final insult as his car cut an oil line and erupted in smoke off turn-two. Two more quick yellows fell for minor spins before the then 13-car field settled into a l9-lap run with Tim Bost of Rocklin gaining second and Belletto progressing to third.
On lap-40, with Tankersley enjoying a fulI straight lead over the pack, the color yellow again became a factor as Brent Seitz of Stockton spun in turn-four. Three more yellows fell in the next five circuits with the worst coming on lap-45 as Bost and Belletto made contact off turn four resulting in Bost tagging the wall and coming back into Belletto on the front straightaway. In the melee that followed, Seitz, Terpstra, Unger and Reno's C.J. Jahnke all suffered major damage. The re-start saw Gaalswyk back in second and giving it all he had. He, too, was victimized by the "double point" full-moon voodoo, as he dropped off the pace under the white flag as Tankersley came home the winner for the second time in three weeks.
Tucker inherited second with Paul Beaty of Modesto third, a resurgent Belletto fourth and Wayne Pierce of Stockton fifth. The combination of Belletto posting fast time, winning his heat and posting a second in the trophy dash in addition to his fourth place feature effort enabled the 1995 track champion to increase his season point lead over Strmiska from 89 to 142-points (879-737). Terpstra, meanwhile, closed to within only 12 of Strmiska in third place.
A post-race disqualification resulted in Manteca's Paul Guthmiller registering back-to-back wins in the Grand American Modified feature. Danny Contessotto of Stockton grabbed the initial lead from his dad and held forth for four laps before succumbing to Guthmiller, who started fifth in the 17-car field. Season point leader Steve Stacy of Stockton, after starting 10th, progressed to fourth by lap-six, but a lap-11 spin took him out of contention. First-time 99 runner Thomas Meserall of San Jose advanced from a ninth-place starting spot to third on lap-14, second on lap-15, then ran side-by-side with Guthmiller before a yellow was displayed on lap-21. On the lap-22nd re-start, Meserall took the point and received the checkered flag,
only to fail a post-race weight check giving the win to Guthmiller. As a result, the top-five was made up of Geano Contessotto of Stockton, his son Danny, Bob Reichmuth of Manteca and Howard Hoffman.
Hoffman's 102-point night enabled the Tracy driver to tie Robert Knittel of Lodi for second place in the season standings 132-points behind Stacy (1084-952).
Jerry Crawford of Stockton registered his first "official" Street Stock career triumph in a 25-lap affair that was completed with only a single yellow flag. Crawford won a 1996 race as a result of a disqualification. "The track may show me as the winner in that one, but I never did. This time I saw the checkered flag. This one, I'll take," Crawford said afterward. Dewayne Apedaile of Lodi led the first lap from his outside pole starting position as Jerry Tripp of Stockton and Dan Dabbs of North Highlands blasted from 13th and 17th respectfully to third and fourth in just two laps. Dabbs took the lead on lap-seven with Tripp following into second as the crowd of 1,592 got ready for the standard battle between the two, who collectively have won 11 of the division's 15 races. Call it kismet, fate or whatever--perhaps the full moon played a part--but Tripp got into Dabbs spinning him out resulting in the both of them going to the back of the field.
Pete Anderson, Sr. of Stockton inherited the lead on the re-start with Crawtord, who started 16th, moving to second. The two battled side-by-side before Crawford took control on lap-23. Anderson was second with John Vanderwerff of Manteca and the fast returning T ripp and Dabbs completing the top-five. Tripp continues his unabated march to a division championship leading Vanderwerff in second by 274-points (1253-979).
The Pure Stockers put on their usual wild show with Dave Wiles of Denair taking the early lead, before bowing to John Prigmore of Stockton on lap-six. Prigmore ran strongly for 11 laps before giving way to another Stockton driver, Mark Mays. Mays was within eyesight of his first victory as Dave Houck of Turlock made the pass for the lead on the final lap and his own first ever triumph. At the finish, behind Houck and Mays, came Aaron Mundello of Denair and Stockton drivers Scott Johnson and Donna Treadway.
The track also hosted the first time appearance of the Allison Legacy cars, miniature versions of Winston Cup cars with Mazda motors. Their 20-lap feature was won by Stephen Peace of La Mesa, followed by his brother Michael and dad Stu. Fourth and fifth fell to Gary Crossland of Lakeside and Mark Laeger of Valley Center.