TACOS FOR STRMISKA;
CROWN TO BOYD AT STOCKTON 99
(STOCKTON, CA--October 4, 1998)--The season ending Taco Bell 100 "with fireworks" for Late Model Sportsman lived up to its advance billing Saturday night at Stockton 99 Speedway. What originally was expected to be a mano-a-mano "Run for the Border" between four-time champion Ken Boyd of Ceres and John Gaalswyk of Ripon failed to materialize. Instead, the NASCAR-sanctioned Winston Racing Series event ended with a controversy of a different sort. Tracy's David Philpott led 92 laps only to be bumped by veteran Ron Strmiska, Sr. of Manteca on lap-95 and take the checkered flag for his 31st career victory. As in all bumping incidents, there were post-race cries of fair or foul, but track officials ruled that the bumping was "incidental" and that the finish would stand.
Gaalswyk found himself on the pole of the 18-car feature and promptly took the lead only to see Philpott--a two-time Stockton champion who was making his first 1998 Late Model appearance in Boyd's Southwest Tour car--blast to the front on lap-three. The championship duel between Gaalswyk and Boyd became a non-issue on lap-32 when Gaalswyk's engine went away going into turn-one.
The re-start produced a seven car pile-up in the same corner that slowed the pace; but it was picked up again when Kevin Gottula of Modesto slipped into third on lap-45. Gottula's r run was stymied when he became involved with Stockton's Buzz Devore on lap-52 that put him a lap down. On the re-start, it was Philpott, Mike Ledbetter of Modesto, fast qualifier Strmiska, and Boyd, with Strmiska moving to second on lap-59.
It was smooth sailing from that point with the 1977 track champion chasing Philpott as the laps clicked away. With five left, Philpott got hung up in lapped traffic and when he braked and came down on the track between turns three and four, Strmiska was there. The two touched with Philpott doing a complete 360-degree spin and continuing in second place. At the checkered, it was Strmiska, Philpott and 1998 and now five-time champion Boyd. The top-five was completed by Ledbetter and the ever-present Gottula.
Another controversy brewed early in the Grand American pits when the car driven by Jason Fensler of Wilton showed up for action. A theoretical "deal" had been struck between the division point leader Mark Welch of Orangevale and Fensler that called for neither to be in action at Stockton--with Welch becoming the division champion based on his 20-point lead. Fensler, though, after qualifying in Anderson, scooted to the airport and flew to Stockton to participate in the season-ending 99 Speedway event.
Jerry Bauguess of Modesto took the early lead in the 30-lap feature as Fensler brought out the first yellow with a spin off turn-two. Jason Philpot of Sacramento grabbed the leadership role on lap-two and ran to a yellow on lap-six as fast timer and dash winner John Unger of Stockton slid backward into the third turn wall. Steve Stacy of Stockton moved to second on the re-start and eventually assumed the lead on lap- 15 and survived three more cautions as cars traded paint and banged body parts to the final flag.
The win for Stacy, the division's defending champion, was his fourth. Philpott ran a strong second with Fensler coming from the back of the 19-car field to finish third and overcome Welch for the GAM title. Fourth went to another former title winner, Wes Miller of Delhi, with Walt Haas of Antioch completing the top-five.
The championship battle in the Street Stock division became a "no contest" when l996 champion and current second place challenger Dan Dabbs of North Highlands took his act on the road thereby surrendering the title to incoming leader Cary Treadway of Stockton. Mike Garcia of Lodi grabbed the first lap feature lead, with John Vanderwerff of Manteca moving to the fore on lap-five. His lead was short lived as he bowed to Jason Beltrama of Stockton on lap-eight The entire field ran in line in a non yellow romp to the checkered flag with Beltrama picking up his fourth feature event of the season. Chasing Beltrama was dash winner Robert Knittel of Lodi, Vanderwerff, Scott Chappell of Lodi and new champion Treadway, who also notched his 15th fast time of the year.
Five drivers stood ready to claim the '98 season championship in the popular Charterway Auto Recycler Pure Stock division. Joe Allen of Stockton brought a slim 18-point lead to the table over defending champion Doug Lane, also of Stockton.
The first lap feature lead went to Casey Barberis of Ripon with Aaron Mundello of Denair taking charge on lap-three as Barberis spun off turn-four. On the re-start, Joe Hylton of Manteca charged to the front with Guy Guibor of Manteca on his bumper. It took Guibor 12-laps to gain the lead and the win--finishing ahead of Hylton, Mundello, Adam Ramsdale of San Jose and Allen, who clinched the season championship.
Stockton 99 Speedway will wrap-up its 1998 season this coming Saturday with a 250-lap Enduro and Roll-Over contest sponsored by Charterway Auto Recyclers.
A field of more than 30 cars is expected to vie for the $1,000 first place money in the Fifth Annual event which features 125 laps in one direction on the track's quarter-mile paved oval; then another 125 laps in the opposite direction.
The Enduro will be followed a roll-over competition with $500 going to the driver that rolls the most times.
Ticket gates for the Enduro will open at S:30 p.m. Tickets are priced at $10 for adults, four for children six-to-12 and seniors over 65 with a "family" ticket--two adults and two children--for $25.
Stockton 99 Speedway is located at 4105 N. Wilson Way, a quarter-mile west of Highway 99.