BELLETTO'S MAKE HISTORY AT STOCKTON 99
(STOCKTON, CA-July 4, 1999)-The racing Belletto clan tuned Stockton 99 Speedway's Firecracker 100 into a family affair Saturday night-finishing one-two-three-with 30-year track veteran Harry Belletto leading two of his sons, Jeff and Steve, to the checkered flag before a crowd of slightly less than 3,000. The result sent media and track public relations personel to the record books to see if their effort had ever been duplicated before. The NASCAR-sanctioned Winston Racing Series event offered plenty of benchmarks. The victory for the 56-year old Harry was his 62nd at Stockton 99, third on the venerable Speedway's all-time list behind Dan Reed (with 63 victories) and Ken Boyd--who has gone to the winner's circle 71 times, the last at the Firecracker 100 a year ago. The second-place finish by 32-year old Jeff represents his best-ever finish in a Late Model Sportsman. And, the third place effort by 34-year old Steve, allowed him to assume the point lead in the Fifth Annual Tri-Holiday Classic-three 100-lap races contested on Memorial, 4th of July and Labor Day holidays. Harry made his win look easy blasting past pole sitter and current Stockton 99 point leader John Gaalswyk of Ripon on the opening lap, then watching in his mirror to see who might catch him. Jeff started sixth in the 20-car field and hung in the top five until falling in behind pop well past the halfway mark. Steve, meanwhile, got to his spot the hard way-transferring from the semi-main and starting 18th. His third-place finish enabled him to pick up seven-and-a-half passing points and assume the Tri-Holiday leadership over Burney Lamar of Sacramento.
The one-two-three finish touched off a raucous finish line party that promised to last long into the holiday weekend. "This tops it all," said Harry. "Nothing beats this." Acknowledging he knew his kids were behind him and that they might take a run at him, dad said: "I wanted the one-two-three finish, but in the proper order." Steve said: "I might have tried to pass Jeff if he had made a mistake, but he didn't. I wasn't going to be the one who screwed this up." Jeff probably summed it up best: "It was school time for the boys."
The senior Belletto breezed through the first 32-laps holding off Gaalswyk when the runner-up spun in turn-four with all-time Late Model track record holder Steve Johnson of Modesto assuming second place. Three more yellows were dropped through lap-65, with 19-cars still left in action. With the laps dwindling down, several drivers mader their bid. Lamar, who entered the night tied with Ron Strmiska, Jr. for the Tri-Holiday point lead, made a move to fourth on lap-70, was third a lap later and moved into sescond when Johnson retired to the pits. Lap-75 saw the worst mishap of the night when Troy Ermish of Fremont tangled with Woodbridge driver Mike Mueller. Ermish wound up hard against the infield tires with Mueller's front wheel up and into his window net. Fortunately, no one was hurt.
Lamar got loose in turn-two on the re-start and lost seven spots as the two Belletto siblings moved into the place and show positions. Lap-89 produced a final yellow when Gaalswyk and Manteca's Greg Potts got into each other off turn four. The final 10-lap re-start saw the three Belletto's running in line with "Dad"--the 1995 and '97 Late Model champion--pulling away to record his second Tri-Holiday win and his fourth Firecracker victory in the 27 year history of the event. The top-five behind the Belletto's saw Mike Terpstra of Oakdale in fourth, followed by John Wood of Walnut Creek.
The Fireworks continued into the Grand American division action with Jason Kerby of Stockton taking the first lap feature lead. Kerby had already set the quick time for the fourth straight week, and won the night's dash event, and was ready to prove he was for real. The event became a torrid affair with only a single yellow to slow the pace. Steve Stacy of Stockton slid to second early on, followed by Scott Winters of Tracy. On the 14th-circuit, Welch made the pass for third, moving to second three-laps later. Welch was unable to gain any additional ground on the leader Kerby, who mastered the lapped traffice and took the win by almost a full straight-away. Stacy finished in third, followed by Winters, and Danny Contessotto of Stockton.
Street Stock driver Cary Treadway of Stockton liked the way Kerby handled things and put on an almost perfect carbon-copy night, by setting fast time for his 4th-straight time, and running second in the dash won by Angelo Queirolo of Lathrop.
Treadway got a luck of the draw front row starting position and quickly lit the afterburner. Queirolo lost a piece of his car in a shower of ssparks on lap-six and retired to the pits as Treadway continued with Jerry Crawford of Stockton taking the second slot. Marc Borges of Banta slid to third on lap-10, but went up in smoke on lap-17. Treadway brought it home the winner for the seventh time this season, and his third straight. Next in line came Crawford, Joe Hylton of Manteca, Scott Chappell of Lodi, and Lockeford's Ed Cullom.
The annual fireworks show got the fans in the mood for the slam and slash Pure Stock feature with Albert Silva of Denair taking the early lead, and looking like a possible winner. Doug Lane of Stockton came to third on lap-14, followed by a rare red flag falling on the division on lap-18 as a four car meele took place in turns one & two, that resulted in Brad Treadway of Stockton landing on his roof. Lane moved to second and finally passed Silva on lap-24 to press home with the win, completing a clean sweep of heat, dash, and main. Heat winner Guy Guibor of Manteca took second ahead of Silva, and Danny Guibor of Manteca.
Stockton 99 Speedway is located at 4105 N. Wilson Way, a quarter-mile west of Highway 99.
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