MILLER SURPRISES STOCKTON GRAND AM FIELD
(STOCKTON, CA--June 14, 1998)--Stockton 99 Speedway's 1996 Grand American Modified champion Robert Miller made a successful return visit Saturday night becoming the first driver other than point leader Jason Fensler and Mark Welch to post a feature triumph in the '98 season. Miller, who competes regularly on dirt in his home town of San Jose, added some luster to the 18-car field that also included defending Winston Racing Series champion Steve Stacy of Stockton.
Robert Knittel of Lodi took the initial lead, but the pace was slowed when Modesto pilot Cole Tiwater was forced into the third turn wall and out of competition. NASCAR officials deemed Jason Philpot was responsible for the mishap and promptly ordered the Sacrament driver to the back of the field. Only one go-round later, Stockton's Jason Kerby got hard into the rear of Walt Haas of Antioch resulting in a multi-car melee involving Miller, Fensler, Ron Chunn of Sacramento and Manteca's Bob Reichmuth. Kerby and Fensler both were wrecked from the track and able to return; however, neither was a factor over the remaining 28 laps. Miller, meanwhile, pitted and faced an uphill battle from 14th in a 16-car field.
Danny Contessotto of Stockton took the lead once the green was displayed with Welch, winner of five of the first eight races, replacing Contessotto on lap-six. Fast qualifier Stacy climbed into second ten laps later, with Miller progressing through the field reaching the topfive. The former NASCAR region champion slipped past Stacy for second on lap- 19 and then set his sights on Welch. An inside move gave Miller the lead on the 22nd go-round and he began to pull away as Welch had his hands full fending off Stacy for second.
At the checkered, it was Miller for the $500 first-place money with Welch and Stacy hot on his heels. The top-five was completed by Knittel and Haas. Point leader Fensler was able to limp home in 14th. As a result, Welch cut 20 points off Fensler's lead and now trails by only two (520-518) as the season nears the halfway mark.
The Ultra Wheel Spec Trucks made their second visit to 99's Budweiser and "The Right Place" Pontiac of Stockton quarter-mile paved oval. The 75-lap feature saw pole sitter Bryan Lynch of Danville take a first-lap ride into the front straight wall as Late Model Sportsman track record holder Steve Johnson of Modesto crossed first at the yellow. Johnson cruised until lap- 12 when Jon Nelson of Hemet went low to try and pin the leader behind a slower truck. Unfortunately, the two slammed together sidelining Johnson, but with Nelson continuing to run. By lap-25, it was Nelson, Steve Smith of Escondido, Scott Calvin of Moreno Valley, Tim Woods of Chino and D.J. Ferreira of San Jacinto in a tight single file formation.
Several minor yellows slowed the fray until the trucks of Ojai's Brent Jones and Tom Stanton of Glendora ended up virtually stacked in turn-two on lap-66. Once they were unpiled, Smith, who took over the lead on lap-31, scrambled home for this second straight Stockton triumph, followed by Nelson, Calvin, Woods and Ferreira.
The 30-lap Street Stock main saw David Stricklin of Stockton take the early point then bow to fellow Stockton driver Mark Hernandez on lap-six. It was another Stockton driver Jerry Crawford's three laps later with fast timer and dash winner Cary Treadway gaining second on the 11th go-round. Treadway, also representing Stockton, who has strung together five straight fast times, took the lead on lap-13 and looked like a sure winner. It was not to be, however, as a spin by Roscoe Bava of Monterey with two laps to go forced Treadway to slow on the front straight. Crawford, still running second, saw his chance and shot by on the high side to carry it home for his third feature win of the year. It was an all-Stockton finish as Jason Beltrama was second at the checkered followed by Treadway, defending division champion Jerry Tnpp and Pete Anderson, Sr.
Season point leader Dan Dabbs of North Highlands finished sixth, but still enjoys a 26point lead (378-352) over Treadway. Tripp, in defense of his '97 crown, is third followed by Anderson, Sr. and Crawford.
The 18-car Pure Stock main provided its usual slam bang action resembling rush hour freeway traffic with the initial lead going to Brian Enis of Stockton. A major rubbing match between Adam Ramsdale of San Jose and Jeff Lovelace of Stockton took place on lap-four, with Ramsdale getting a hard slam into the front-straight wall. Joe Stearns of Stockton the led the pack before bowing to defending champion Doug Lane of Stockton. Coming down the stretch, Lane had his hands full trying to hold off Angelo Queirolo of Lathrop and Sam Solari of Salida. Queirolo finally reeled Lane in on the final circuit to win his first career Stockton feature. Lane held on for second followed by Solari, Mark Mays of Stockton and Guy Guibor of Manteca.
Solari's third-place effort enabled him to take the season point lead by a mere six points (416-410) over Lovelace with Mays another four points back in third.
The Late Model Sportsman return to Stockton 99 Speedway this coming Saturday as part of Craftsman Tool Night. The NASCAR-sanctioned event will also include Grand American Modifieds, Street Stocks and Pure Stocks.
Racers and fans both can be lucky winners as Craftsman will provide several outstanding gifts for giveaways. Ticket gates for Craftsman Tool Night will open at 3:00 p.m. with qualifying set for 5:30 and racing at 7:00.
Adult Craftsman Tool Night tickets cost $10 with children six-to-12 and seniors over 65 being admitted for four dollars. Children under six get in free. A family ticket--two adults and two children--costs $25.
Stockton 99 Speedway is located at 4105 N. Wilson Way, a quarter-mile west of Highway 99.