STRMISKA GETS LEG UP ON TRI-HOLIDAY AT STOCKTON
(STOCKTON, CA--May 30, 1999)Ron Strmiska, Jr. of Manteca finally broke the ice at Stockton 99 Speedway Saturday night registering his first-ever feature triumph in the 100-lap first leg of the Fifth Annual Budweiser-sponsored Tri-Holiday Classic. At 38, Strmiska had watched his dad, a two-time Stockton Late Model Sportsman champion, win 31 times on 99s NASCAR-sanctioned quarter-mile paved oval; but this one was all his.
Starting on the outside of the front row in a 20-car field, Junior charged past current point leader John Gaalswyk of Ripon on the opening lap and never looked back. Gaalswyk, winner of four-straight Stockton features, ran second for the early portion of the race, but eventually gave way to fast qualifier Greg Potts of Manteca. Seemingly poised to make a run on Strmiska, Potts was forced to the sideline on lap-59 after having alternator and water pump problems exiting turn-four.
The resulting water on the track surface led to a red flag when several cars slid and made contact either with the retaining wall or each other. Jim Fair of Modesto tested the front stretch wall; and, in an effort to avoid the spinning Fair, Renos C.J. Jahnke braked and was literally run over from behind by Don Wood of Danville. Although the bottom of Woods Monte Carlo was fully exposed to the more than 2,500 onlookers, it landed on its wheels and it was Jahnkes new Ford Taurus that was the worst for the wear. Fortunately, no one was injured; and, once racing resumed, 15 cars were still running.
While no one seriously threatened Strmiska at the front, a lively battle was waged for the top five positions among two Modesto pilots--Scott Masellis and former Tri-Holiday champion Steve Belletto, who was a making his first 99 start, teenage hot-shoe Burney Lamar of Sacramento, Stocktons Brent Seitz and John Wood of Walnut Creek. Massellis was the first of the group to fall by the wayside, as he and Lamar tangled coming out of turn four with Masellis spinning toward the infield tires and retiring to the pits. Not realizing he was down a lap, Wood mixed it up with Belletto and Lamar for several laps before finally topped the trio by making a hard earned pass on Belletto on lap-97.
Following a brief yellow for debris on the track, Strmiska breezed home to pick up the $2,000 in first place money with Lamar, Belletto, Gaalswyk and Seitz completing the top-five. In addition to the usual NASCAR scoring, Tri-Holiday participants receive passing points (one-half point for each pass). Lamar, by virtue of starting seventh and finishing second, picked-up two-and-a-half points for passing and is tied with Strmiska for first in Tri-Holiday scoring at 50-point-five. Steve Belletto is third at 48-point-five (46 plus two-point-five); Brian Griffitts fourth, with a solid sixth-place finish after starting 18th (40 plus six); and Seitz fifth at 44-point-five.
Strmiskas first victory enabled him to gain eight points on Gaalswyk in the Stockton 99 Winston Short Track standings. He now trails Gaalswyk by 88 with 10 more Late Model events scheduled between now and the end of September.
A field of 25 cars was on hand for the Winston Racing Series Grand American Modifieds. Tracys Scott Winters set the qualifying pace, then parlayed that effort into a four-lap trophy dash win that earned him the right to start on the pole in the 30-lap, 20-car Grand Am feature. The first-year Stockton driver held forth early with a bevy of hot shoesincluding current point leader Mark Welch of Orangevale, former champion Robert Miller of San Jose, and Stockton pilots,
Steve Stacy and Jason Kirby breathing down his neck. Kerby, who started second, overcame Winters on lap-13 then was forced to hold off the challenge of Welch, who moved to second on the 21st go-round, coming to the checkered flag. The win for the soon to be 25-year old Kerby was his third in the last four races and came in spite of his fighting a bacterial infection that forced him to be hospitalized early in the week.
Welch and Winters were second and third with Dan Dabbs of North Highlands fourth and Miller fifth. Welch maintains a 32-point lead over Dabbs (442-410) in the season standings with Kerby a close third at 406.
Season point leader and defending champion Cary Treadway cruised to his fourth feature triumph in seven starts in the 30-lap Street Stock main. Treadway jumped past fellow Stockton pilot Jerry Crawford on the green flag lap and was never seriously threatened. Most of the attention was focused on Lodis Scott Chappell, who, after starting at the back of the 14-car field, worked his way through the pack to finish fourth. Dash winner Crawford finished second with Lathrops Angelo Queirolo third. Treadway, who now has 12 career wins, leads Chappell in the season standings by 34 (444-410) with a full four months of racing left.
The slam-bang Pure Stock division lived up to its reputation. Season point leader Orville Dahl of Stockton won his heat race, then the dash to start on the pole of their 30-lap feature. The 59-year old, who is confined to a wheelchair out of the race car, jumped past Bryan Clark of Lodi on the opening lap, then had to battle Guy Guibor of Manteca to maintain his spot. Guibor grabbed the lead on lap-18 with the table being turned with Dahl in hot pursuit. Unfortunately, the chase came to an end on lap-21 when Dahls engine went away entering turn-one. With cars bearing down, NASCAR starter Mark Vincelet through a yellow flag and almost immediately went to red when several cars hit the oil and water and began to spin out of control. Chris Mays of Stockton took the hardest hit, slamming into the outside wall then careening to the infield tires. Shaken, but alert, Mays was taken to a local hospital and then released.
Once racing resumed, Doug Lane of Stockton took up the pursuit of Guibor. At the checkered, it was Guibor, Lane, Adam Ramsdell, in the main on a transfer from the semi, third, Gary Shafer, Jr. of Stockton fourth and Guys brother, Danny, fifth.
In spite of his lost engine and a 17th place finish, Dahl still maintains a large (438-384) point lead over defending champion Joe Allen of Stockton, who has sold his car and is apparently done for the season. Shafer, Jr. is third with Guibor, who shares the distinction with Dahl of being the divisions only double winners, fourth and Lane fifth.
Two NASCAR divisionsthe Grand American Modifieds and Pure Stocks--will share the billing at Stockton 99 Speedway this coming Saturday (June 5). Also appearing will be the mighty Midgets of the Bay Cities Racing Association (BCRA) and the 360 Renegade Sprint Cars.
Ticket gates will open at 3:00 p.m. with qualifying set for 5:00 and green flag racing at 6:15. Adult tickets for the four-division program will cost $12 with children six-to-12 and seniors over 65 being admitted for four dollars. A family tickettwo adults and two childrenwill be available for $28.
Stockton 99 Speedway is located at 4105 N. Wilson Way, a quarter mile west of Highway 99.
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