(STOCKTON, CA--August 3, 1997)--The color yellow dominated a good portion of the NASCAR-sanctioned racing action at Stockton 99 Speedway Saturday night. One accident that actually occurred after the yellow flag was already displayed presented an opportunity to Harry Belletto and resulted in his 59th career Late Model Sportsman victory. The 27-year Stockton 99 veteran inherited the lead on lap-10 of the 30-lap feature when former leaders Mark Youngblood and John Gaalswyk tangled just past the start-finish line after racing to the yellow following another incident. In order to get the total effect of the "yellow fever," however, one must go back to the beginning.
Wayne Pierce and Youngblood, both of Stockton, controlled the front starting row of the l4-car field with Youngblood taking the early lead and running strong to the first yellow on lap-seven as Pierce and Fremont's Troy Ermish got together in turn-two. On the re-start, another yellow fell as Nathan Tucker of Sonora and Modesto's Mike Terpstra collided in turn-four in a melee that collected 16-year old Burney Lamar of Sacramento and resulted in his having to be towed to the infield for the night The third and most telling caution was displayed on the next circuit as Buzz Devore of Stockton and Ermish mixed it up in turn-one with the leaders racing back to the start-finish. Just past the flag stand, Youngblood and Gaalswyk of Ripon got together with both cars spinning toward the turn-one infield entry gate. Gaalswyk immediately pitted to remove body parts, but once he returned to the track, he refused to go to the back claiming that track officials removed similar parts from Youngblood's car under the same yellow. A quick review of track policy resulted in both drivers re-starting at the back and Belletto of Modesto, the season point leader, graciously accepting the point position on the ensuing re-start. The event ran trouble free from that point with the new leader being pressed to the final checkered by Ron Strmiska, Sr. of Manteca.
At the finish, the top three--Belletto, Strmiska and Terpstra--reflected the season point standings, as well. Pierce, meanwhile, kept out of additional trouble and posted a fourth place run to add to his heat and dash event win on the night. The youngest member of the racing Belletto clan, Jeff, also of Modesto, completed the top five. "Papa" Harry's 59 career wins is third on the all-time Stockton '99 list behind Ken Boyd (68) and Dan Reed (63). His current Winston Racing Series point lead over Strmiska is 156 (1037-881).
The Grand American Modified main mirrored the Late Model event in that "yellows" played an important role in the outcome. Jeff Thomas of Stockton took the early lead but was bumped by third place starter John Cummings of Milpitas. Thomas' spin collected 10 cars, sending himself, Danny Contessotto of Stockton and Paul Guthmiller of Manteca to their trailers for the night. Steve Stacy, the incoming GAM point leader, was also involved in the pile-up and resulted in steering problems that kept him out of the top-five at the finish.
Bob Reichmuth of Manteca inherited the lead for the re-start and ran to another yellow when Stacy performed a solo spin off turn-four. On the next re-start, Cununings got into Howard Hoffinan of Tracy who in turn hit Bud Beltrama of Stockton who ended up pinning Cummings to the outside wall on the second corner. Reichmuth was not to be denied, however, as he continued to hold the point with Darrin Halterman of Stockton running second. Some two-through-five re-shuffling occurred as Reichmuth sailed to his second season and career victory.
At the finish, it was Reichmuth, Robert Knittel of Lodi, Halterman, Geano Contessotto of Stockton and Frank Castro of Tracy. Stacy's sixth place effort resulted in little erosion to his season point lead. With 1202 points, Stacy leads Knittel and Hoffman in second and third by 130 and 147 respectively.
The "yellow fever" also afflicted the Street Stock feature as Ted Haflich of Stockton led off the green flag only to have Mike Piona of Lodi get loose off turn-two and collect first and second place point runners Jerry Tripp of Stockton and Dan Dabbs of North Highlands against the back wall. David Stricklin of Stockton, Tripp and Dabbs were forced to the infield with only Dabbs able to continue, but down a couple of laps after making repairs. Jerry Crawford of Stockton became the man on the march as he progressed from fourth on lap-two lo eventually take the lead on lap-six. That was short-lived, however, as Crawford lost control entering turn-three and flirted with the wall resulting in another yellow enabling Cary Treadway of Stockton to move to the front. On the ensuing re-start, Pete Anderson, Sr. of Stockton moved to second with the race running trouble free for eight laps until Pete Vanderwerff ol Escalon lost a motor off turn two. Anderson was forced to pit for a flat tire during the caution and re-start at the back of the then 11-car field only to be handed a gift two laps later as Dewayne Apedaile of Lodi and John Vanderwerff of Manteca locked up off turn-four. Anderson slipped past that melee to re-capture second.
Treadway held tough to record his first win on the season--followed by Anderson, Kim Mountjoy of Stockton, rookie Jason Wright of Modesto and initial front runner Haflich. Season point leader Tripp's margin is still a comfortable 277 (1376-1099) over Dabbs and 287 over Vanderwerff.
The 20-lap Pick-n-Pul1 Pure Stock main saw Dave Wiles of Denair take the early lead and surrender to Kevin Touchstone of Stockton on lap-three. Touchstone held on until lap-12 before being passed by Jerry Tripp III of Stockton who cruised to his first '97 triumph. Touchstone held on for second followed by Stockton drivers--Brian Castillou and Jeff Lovelace--with fast qualifier Scolt McHale of Modesto completing the top-five
A 12-car field of Pro-Fours made a second visit to Stockton 99 with Terry Rennick of Brooks. Oregon grabbing the early lead in their 20-lap affair. Only one yellow was displayed, but it resulted in the elimination of three cars. It also brought trophy dash winner Bob Comstock of El Dorado Hills to the front. Comstock held on to register the win followed by fast timer Pat Denninson of Lancaster. Next in line came Dick Brooker of New Orleans, LA., Ed Walters of Redding and heat winner Jack Johnson, another Brooks, OR, competitor.