(STOCKTON, CA--August 23, 1998)--Kevin Gottula surprised a Stockton 99 Speedway NASCAR-sanctioned Late Model Sportsman field Saturday night to win the Winston "No Bull" 50-lap, double point feature. The surprise comes from the fact that Gottula runs one of the new "spec" engines and was able to dominate the 16-car field to win for the first time in nearly five years on Stockton's quarter-mile paved oval. Officially, the win was the Modesto driver's second of the '98 season; however, the first was handed to him on a disqualification in June. This one, in Gottula's words, "was real and feels great." What made it even better, the "spec" engine passed a post-race tech that had many of the other 15 feature event starters wondering why Gottula was able to nearly run away and hide to pocket the $1,000 first place money.

Fast qualifier Steve Belletto of Modesto was on the pole for the stand up start that turned into a first lap lead with Gottula, who started fourth, moving to second in one circuit. The eventual winner got under Belletto on lap-nine and took the point one go-round later with John Gaalswyk of Ripon gaining second on lap-11. The first yellow fell on lap-18 as Gaalswyk got his nose under Gottula off turn four and was rewarded with a brake check that sent Gaalswyk spinning to the front straight tires and a spot at the back of the pack for the re-start.

A solo spin by Greg Anderson of Roseville in turn one on lap-20 bunched the field. On the subsequent re-start, a red flag was displayed as Belletto lost power off turn two causing his brother Jeff, Gaalswyk, and Stockton drivers John Graham and Buzz Devore to ram nose to tail with Devore rolling completely over on the backstretch. Devore was uninjured; and, once racing resumed, the patriarch of the Belletto racing clan, two-time 99 champion Harry, drove to second as the field settled down to run trouble free. Veteran Ron Strmiska, Sr., of Manteca dropped out on lap-3 I with Steve Belletto following suit two laps later. The event went non-yellow to the finish as Gottula was never seriously challenged.

Current season point leader Ken Boyd of Ceres challenged Belletto for second over the final laps; however, the elder Belletto held on with Manteca drivers Greg Potts and Paul Guthmiller completing the top-five. Guthmiller's effort was noteworthy from the standpoint he transferred from the B-main and started 1 6th. Boyd's third place finish enabled him to stretch his season point lead over Gaalswyk, who ended up ninth, to 20 (734-714). The "double point" event also resulted in defending champion Harry Belletto returning to the top five for the season.

The co-feature 50-lap Grand American Modified main event turned into a flag-marred slugfest that saw season point leader and fast qualifier Mark Welch of Orangevale lead all the way. A red came out on the third circuit as Walt Haas of Antioch, Bob Reichmuth of Manteca, Darrin Halterrnan of Stockton, Ron Chunn of Galt, Jason Kerby of Stockton, and Eddie Wilcox of Modesto all piled up coming into the third turn due to a blown motor. Reichmuth, Halterrnan, and Kerby left the event on the hook.

Lap-six saw heavy smoke coming from defending champion and current third place point runner Steve Stacy of Stockton as a mangled rear panel began rubbing a tire. Stacy survived two more laps before spinning off turn-two and heading to the pits for new rubber. It was Welch's Ellis chassis and Jason Philpot of Sacramento on the re-start that made only two more laps before red flew as Stacy lost the new tire due to loose lug nuts. Second place point runner Jason Fensler of Wilton fell in behind Welch on the next re-start and ran to a yellow on lap-15 when Philpot was spun in turn two by Haas. 1996 division champion Robert Miller of San Jose, after starting I 0th, got to third only to see his night end in two more circuits as he went up in smoke going into turn one. Laps 19-thru-46 ran virtually trouble free; however, a spin by Danny Contessotto of Stockton on lap-47 off turn four grouped the field for a final shootout. On the ensuing green, John Unger of Stockton lost power on the backchute causing a freight train pile up involving Philpot, Victor Machado of Escalon and the omnipresent Stacy, who this time had to be removed by a wrecker.

That set up a wild two-lap sprint to the checkered flag with Fensler and Welch running side-by-side. Welch survived to post his 10th win of the year with Robert Knittel of Lodi, Cole Tiwater of Modesto and Haas completing the top-five behind Fensler in second. The victory enable Welch to expand his tenuous lead over Fensler to 10 ( 1090-1080) with just three more events in the Winston Racing Series region points window.

The Street Stock Division came close to being a non-yellow event with the night's fast timer Cary Treadway making his pole starting position stand up to notch his third season win. A lap-22 yellow for a solo spin by Lodi's Mike Garcia grouped the leaders setting up a wild finish. The final lap melee was precipitated when John Vanderwerff of Manteca got loose off turn two. As cars scattered going down the back chute, Jerry Tripp of Stockton made contact with season point leader Dan Dabbs of North Highlands entering turn three. Exiting turn four, the two tangled again sending Tripp into the front straight tires as the checkered-yellow combination ended the brouhaha with Treadway in control followed by three Stockton pilots--Jerry Crawford, David Stricklin and Pete Anderson, Sr.--with Manteca runner Donnie Darter completing the top five.

The 25-lap Charterway Recycler Pure Stock feature saw Donna Treadway of Stockton take the early lead before bowing to Barry Mitchell of Stockton on lap-three. Mitchell held forth until lap- 16 before getting entangled with fellow Stockton pilot Gary Shafer, Jr. entering the front straightaway. Defending champion Doug Lane took advantage of the Mitchell-Shafer metal swapping to take the lead on lap- 18. The Stockton charger held on with fast timer and new division record setter Guy Guibor of Manteca coming to second on lap-22. It was Lane and Guibor at the finish with three Stockton drivers--Joe Allen, Jeff Lovelace and Orville Dahl-falling out the top-five.

The Ultra Wheel Spec Trucks will make their final Stockton appearance this coming Saturday. Escondido's Steve Smith will try to win for the fourth time on 99 Speedway's quarter-mile paved oval against a couple of local favorites--former top night Late Model Sportsman competitors, Steve Johnson of Modesto and David Philpot of Tracy.

Grandstand seating will open at 3:00 p.m. with qualifying set for 5:30 and green flag racing at 7:00.

Stockton 99 Speedway is located at 410S N. Wilson Way, a quarter-mile west of Highway 99.