STRMISKA STEALS "DOUBLE POINT" WIN AT STOCKTON 99
(STOCKTON, CAJuly 18, 1999)--The second "double point" night of the season at NASCAR-sanctioned Stockton 99 Speedway produced a bunch of surprises--in terms of winners and also-rans Saturday night. Veteran Harry Belletto had his second straight Late Model Sportsman triumph snatched away by a last lap pass by Ron Strmiska, Jr. In the Grand American Modifieds, the winner was Robert Miller; while the season and regional point leader Mark Welch suffered his first non top-10 effort in 15 races.
When the 17-car Late Model field lined up for the Zamora Automotive 50-lapper, the likelihood of history repeating itselfa one-two-three finish by the Belletto clan which occurred two weeks ago in the venerable tracks Firecracker 100seemed to be a distinct possibility as the three--siblings Steve and Jeff started second and third with "Papa" Harry fifth. But, it wasnt to be.
Pole sitter John Wood of Walnut Creek took the first lap lead with a quick yellow on lap-three being displayed as Strmiska of Manteca and Oakdale's Mike Terpstra got together in turn-one with the eventual winner heading to the pits. On the re-start, "Papa" Harry of Modesto moved to third, then to second on the next pass and into the lead on lap-six followed by the kids--Steve and Jeff. Incoming point leader John Gaalswyk of Ripon took the fourth slot on lap-eight, but spun on lap-22. It was Harry, Steve and Jeff on the next re-start, but the repeat went out the door on the next circuit as Steve cut a tire and pitted. One lap later, Jim Fair of Modesto blew a tire coming off turn-four to produce another re-start with Harry leading Jeff with Stockton drivers--John Graham and Buzz Devorethird and fourth. By lap-27, Strmiska was back in the picture in fifth and moved to fourth on lap-30.
Jeff Belletto fell off the pace on lap-34 and Graham spun on lap-35. On the re-start, the initial leader Wood got loose and hit the brakes off turn four and received a heavy slam in the back from Steve Belletto, who was making a bid to get back into the top-five. The result, however, saw Steve sidelined for good. Surprisingly (theres that word again), Gaalswyk was back in fourth on lap-39, with Strmiska gaining second four laps later.
Seemingly, Belletto was still uncatchable. Going into the first turn on the final circuit, Belletto went high to pass a pair of slower cars, while Strmiska dove low to make the pass off the second-turn and scramble home and pocket the $1,000 first place money. Belletto was second in front of Devore, who posted his best ever Stockton 99 finish, with Gaalswyk fourth and Terpstra fifth. Strmiskas victory-his third of the 99 seasonenabled him to gain 14 points on Gaalswyk but the latter holds a comfortable 108-point margin over the winner.
The 30-lap Grand American Winston Racing Series feature started with outside pole sitter Steve Stacy of Stockton jumping to the early lead in a 23-car field. Misfortune fell on the top-two season point leaders--Welch of Orangevale and Jason Kerby of Stocktonwhen they rubbed together in turn-two with Kerby cutting a tire and Welch heading to the pits for possible rear end damage. The laps unwound quickly to the 19th circuit until Stacy spun coming off the fourth turn with Robert Miller of San Jose coming around to take the lead at the yellow. Officials at first ordered Miller to the back for causing Stacys spin; however, after conferring with both drivers, Miller was allowed to retain the number one position.
On the re-start, problems developed at the back of the pack when five cars ended up in a destruction derby gathering off turn-four. Three were forced to the sidelines; however 19 cars were still running when the green flag was waved again for lap-22. Welch, who earlier in the evening had been recognized by Gatorade as the NASCAR Pacific Coast Regional point leader with a $1,000 check, started to slow and fell to the back on the next go-round. Jason Beltrama of Stockton bumped fifth place runner Jason Philpot of Sacramento out of the line off turn-four on the final pass to bring out a checkered/yellow.
As a result, Miller, the 1996 Stockton 99 champion, picked up his first victory since June of 1998. Behind Miller was a best ever second for Danny Contessotto of Stockton with Tracys Scott Winters, North Highland's Dan Dabbs and Jack Stone of Lodi completing the top five. Kerby ended up ninth and gained 44-points on Welch, but still trails by 58 (822-764).
A nine-car Street Stock field produced a caution free 30-lap feature that saw three different leaders. Greg Albiani of Modesto led the first two laps before bowing to Scott Chappell of Lodi. Chappell, in turn, relinquished the top spot to Stockton's Jerry Crawford on lap-seven. That set up a 23-lap chase for season point leader Cary Treadway, who came to second on lap-ten. Crawfords margin was nearly half a lap at the halfway point; however, by lap-20, Treadway had cut the lead to four car lengths. Crawford had enough to hang on for his second 99 and eighth career feature triumph to add to his earlier dash win. Treadway, who posted his sixth straight fast time, was second followed by Chappell, Jeremy Hammon of Lockeford and Mantecas Joe Hylton. Treadway enjoys a 120 season point lead over Chappell (836-716).
The night's action was completed with the Pure Stock feature that saw Mike Robinson of Modesto take the early lead and hold to lap-seven before bowing to Stockton's C.W. Davis. Davis in turn held sway to the 22nd go-round before passed by season point leader Guy Guibor of Manteca. Guibor brought it home a winner for the sixth time in 14 starts. Lodis Aaron Shankel posted a best ever second in front Danny Guibor, dash winner Doug Lane of Stockton and fellow Port-City driver Orville Dahl.
Guy Guibor, Lane and Dahl are one-two-three in points (840, 772 and 748).
Mark Welch of Orangevale will continue his season long pursuit of the Pacific Coast Regional championship when NASCAR-sanctioned Winston Racing Series action resumes Saturday night at Stockton 99 Speedway. The Grand American Modified action will be complemented by two other NASCAR divisionsStreet Stocks and Pure Stocks.
Fans will also be treated to appearances by Legendsfive-eight scale 1934 to 1940 Ford, Chevrolet and Dodge coupes and sedansand the new Parts Truck series.
Gates will open at 3:00 p.m. with qualifying set for 5:00 and green flag racing at 6:00. Adult tickets will cost $12, four for children six-to-12 and seniors over 65 with children under six getting in free. A family tickettwo adults and two childrencosts $28.
Stockton 99 Speedway is located at 4105 N. Wilson Way, a quarter-mile west of Highway 99.
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