(LODI, CA--October 30, 1999)--A gathering of nearly 300 drivers, pit crew members, sponsors and supporters saw Mark Welch recognized as Stockton 99 Speedway's first-ever NASCAR Winston Racing Series Pacific Coast regional champion Saturday night at Kirst Hall, Hutchins Street Square in Lodi. The recognition for the 43-year old Orangevale Grand American Modified driver kicked off a week of activities that will culminate this coming Saturday at the NASCAR Region Champions' Awards Dinner in Orlando, Florida.

A second generation driver, Welch is following the footsteps of his 75-year old father, Gene, who won several racing championships in the 1960's and '70's at West Capitol Speedway in Sacramento and All American Speedway in Roseville. A third generation, Mark's son Shane, donned a racing suit for the first time this past season at Stockton in a Grand American and showed potential by finishing 11th in the season point standings. Mark displayed tremendous consistency in collecting his first-ever track championship. Although he only posted a single fast qualifying time, he managed 12 main event wins in 24 starts and only finished out of the top-five twice during the entire season.

Another second generation driver, John Gaalswyk of Ripon--whose father Henk won the Hobby Stock title at Stockton in 1983--was honored as the Late Model Sportsman champion. In 15 Late Model events, the 34-year old Gaalswyk received the checkered flag five times and only missed the top-five on three occasions.

In addition, two other champions--Cary Treadway of Stockton (Street Stock) and Guy Guibor of Manteca (Pure Stock)--were recognized for their efforts. In winning the Street Stock title for the second straight year, Treadway pretty well dominated the division with 15 fast times, 10 trophy dash wins and 13 main event victories in 23 events. Guibor followed up his "rookie of the year" effort from 1998 to clinch the division championship on the final night of racing by 26-points over Doug Lane of Stockton. In 22 events, the 23-year old Guibor posted eight main event wins and 16 top-five finishes.

The festivities also included the announcements of "most improved" and "rookie of the year" designations in each racing division. There was an exception, however, in the Late Model division where no rookie selection was made. Ron Strmiska, Jr. (there's that second generation thing again) was recognized as the Late Model "most improved." The 38-year old Manteca pilot registered his first-ever Late Model win during the first leg of the Tri-Holiday Classic Memorial Day weekend. He duplicated that effort on June 12 and ended up posting seven fast times, four dash wins and eight top-five finishes in 14 starts while finishing second in the point standings behind Gaalswyk.

Jason Kerby finished second to Welch in the Grand American Modified division and in the process earned the "most improved" label. The 25-year old Stockton driver was ninth in the 1998 point standings. In 24 '99 races, Kerby had six feature triumphs, six dash wins and 15 top-five finishes. The Grand Am "rookie" selection was Dan Dabbs of North Highlands. After stepping up from Street Stocks where he finished second in '98, Dabbs registered a single main event triumph, four dash wins and seven top-five efforts and while finishing fourth in points.

Manteca's Joe Hylton pulled off another successful switch to earn "rookie of the year" honors in the Street Stock division. As a 33-year old rookie in '98, Hylton finished ninth in the Pure Stock division. This year, in 22 Street Stock races, he won a single main event and registered 17 top-five efforts to finish fourth in the point standings. "Most improved" Street Stock honors went to Greg Albiani of Modesto. The 42-year old educator posted four top-five and 14 top-10 finishes in 21 races while improving from 15th in points in '98 to sixth in '99.

Another Guibor, 20-year old Danny--also of Manteca, was selected as the Pure Stock division's top first year driver. In 21 events, Guibor recorded seven heat wins, four dash wins and three main event victories while finishing fourth in points. Also receiving recognition in the Pure Stocks was Arron Shankel of Lodi as "most improved." The 26-year old posted three heat wins and two main event triumphs while jumping from 22nd in the 1998 point standings to sixth this past season.

The final post season accolade, "Sportsman of the Year", went to Mike Bussey of Stockton. Bussey has served on the Speedway's fire crew for several years; but in the words of track manager Duane Borovec "went above and beyond the call of duty by volunteering to sweep the track week in and week out on his own. Most often, I would get a call from Mike on Sunday saying 'Yo boss the track is clean and ready for whatever you need this week."