WELCH WINS 13TH STOCKTON 99 FEATURE
(STOCKTON, CA--September 27, l998)--Unseasonably cool and threatening skies failed to slow the season long red-hot Grand American Modified battle for supremacy at NASCAR-sanctioned Stockton 99 Speedway night. Mark Welch and Jason Fensler, who have flip-flopped the point leadership since opening day March 29th, swapped the lead on six different occasions in their 50-lap feature before Welch of Orangevale brought his Ellis chassis home in front for the 13th time in 24 races.
Jason Kerby of Stockton was the initial leader of the 18-car field before bowing to Bob Reichmuth of Manteca after a second lap yellow for a spin by fellow Mantecan Ben Lewis. Two-time Late Model Sportsman champion David Philpott of Tracy, making only his third Grand Am start, slid into second on lap-four. Teresa Morten of Manteca brought out the next yellow with a spin on lap-12, followed by yet another "cool-it" flag on the next circuit as Robert Knittel of Lodi and Walt Haas of Antioch bumped coming to the start-finish line on the re-start with Haas bouncing hard off the infield tire barrier. Welch, who was the fast qualifier for the fourth time on the season, came to second on lap-14 and took the lead two circuits later, with Fensler of Wilton pulling in behind him on lap-20.
The biggest melee of the night came on lap-23 when 10 cars were collected between turns three and four after John Unger of Stockton got sideways blocking the track. On the restart, Fensler took the lead with Welch playing bumper tag for nine laps before regaining the top spot. Lap-38 saw another yellow as Victor Machado of Escalon smacked the turn-four wall with Fensler going back to the front on the re-start. It was Welch's turn again on lap-41 as another yellow slowed the pace on the next pass. Fensler again showed the short term horsepower by going back to the front only to have another yellow displayed when Philpott make contact with the third turn wall on lap-45. Only nine cars answered the bell for the re-start with Welch coming back to the front on lap-48 to post the win over Fensler, defending division champion Steve Stacy of Stockton, Reichmuth and Kerby.
With a single "double point" race left in the season, Welch leads Fensler by 20 (1360-1340). Of the 24 Winston Racing Series races, Welch or Fensler have come home in front 20 times.
The other half of the double 50-lap program centered around the Street Stock division where the early lead fell to David Stricklin of Stockton, who gave way quickly to Lodi's Scott Chappell on lap-three. Eighth-place starter Dan Dabbs of North Highlands slid into the second slot on lap-five and slowly reeled in the leader before taking the point on lap-11. Only two yellows slowed the action as Jerry Tripp of Stockton spun twice after receiving black flags from the flagman.
By mid-race, Stockton's Cary Treadway, the night's fast timer and dash winner, had pulled to second with fellow Stockton driver Jerry Crawford in tow to chase Dabbs. It was to no avail, however, as Dabbs' collected his second win in 21 starts. At the checkered, Treadway and Crawford were followed by Chappell and early leader Stricklin to complete the top-five Treadway leads Dabbs in the season standings (1162-1122) with a "double point" finale coming up this coming Saturday.
The BCRA Midgets wound up their 1998 season at Stockton with Terry Tarditi of Lodi laying claim to double titles. Tarditi sewed up both the season B.C.R.A. crown--his third in a row--and the Stockton 99 championship by finishing fourth in a 22-car field. Tarditi's success, however, was shared by main event winner Scott Nail of Visalia, who was chased to the finish of the 30-lap feature by Indy Racing League visitor Davey Hamilton of Las Vegas.
Greg Nelson of Citrus Heights took the feature lead and held on through a couple of minor spins before bowing to fast qualifier Nail on lap-12. Hamilton, who finished fourth at this year's Indianapolis 500, proved his ability in a strange car by blasting from 15th to second by lap-14. The 30-lapper went non yellow from that point with Hamilton trying to close in on Nail but to no avail. Nail crossed first ahead of Hamilton, talented teenager Matt Streeter of Santa Rosa, dash winner Tarditi and early leader Nelson.
The crowd received an additional treat in the form of the annual Powder Puff race--novice lady drivers piloting Charterway Auto Recycler Pure Stock division cars. Three heat races were run to determine the 18-car field for their 20-lap main event. The early lead fell to Cindy Bentz of Lodi, who quickly gave way to Tori Sanchez of Stockton. Sanchez, in turn, relinquished the top spot to Yvonne Bergran of Manteca on lap-four. It was a smooth run to the 15th go-round before a yellow fell as several cars tangled in turn-one. Bergran was able to hold off all challenges in a five lap shoot-out to the final flag to collect the winner's jacket and $100 donated by Jim Stockdale of Stockdale Painting in Stockton. Sanchez finished second, followed by three more Stockton pilots--Cassy Scantlen, semi-winner Jamie Grant and Lisa Touchstone. The three distaff heat winners were Stockton runners Deanna Pedler, Brenda Mays and Lodi's Bentz.
The race for the Stockton 99 Speedway Late Model Sportsman championship is coming down to the wire. This Saturday (October 3), the NASCAR Winston Racing Series season concludes with the running of the Taco Bell 100--a 100-lap main event and a spectacular fireworks show.
Four-time track champion Ken Boyd of Ceres and John Gaalswyk of Ripon, seeking his first championship, have battled all summer long and it comes down to the Taco Bell 100.
The racing program will also include Grand American Modifieds, Street Stocks and Pure Stocks--all racing for "double points" to wrap up the season.
Catch all the action on Stockton 99's Budweiser and "The Right Place" Pontiac of Stockton sponsored quarter-mile paved oval.
Ticket gates for the Taco Bell 100 and Pyro Spectacular fireworks show will open at 2:30 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.