WELCH BACK IN FORM AT STOCKTON 99
(STOCKTON, CAAugust 1, 1999)Mark Welch snapped a mid-season slump at NASCAR-sanctioned Stockton 99 Speedway Saturday night that had seen him go winless for five weeks and miss the top-five the past two. The Orangevale driver returned to the winners circle for the first time since June 26, and, as a result, more than likely regained the Winston Racing Series Pacific Coast regional leadership over defending champion Bobby Hogge.
Twenty-one cars answered the bell for the Grand American Modified 30-lap feature with the initial lead falling to Robert Knittel of Lodi over Stockton's Steve Stacy. It only took five laps for Welch and Jason Kerby of Stocktonthe one-two season point leaders, who started ninth and seventh respectivelyto join the top five. It was Knittel, Stacy, Barry Callouette of Benicia, Kerby and Welch for four laps with Welch advancing to fourth after a solo spin by Modesto's Jerry Bauguess brought out the first yellow. By the 12th-pass, Callouette had been sent to the back of the pack for bumping Stacy leaving Knittel in front of Welch, Kerby, Scott Winters of Tracy and rookie Jason Beltrama of Stockton. Two circuits later, Welch took the point and never looked back, holding forth for four more re-starts for minor spins.
Welch was chased across the finish line by Kerby, Winters, a best-ever fourth finish by Beltrama and early leader Knittel. The victory for Welch was his seventh in 17 starts and enabled him to tack six points onto his margin over Kerby (924-862) in the season point chase. Winters, fresh off his initial career Stockton feature win a week ago and learning he is going to be a father for the first time, is third in points (820).
Only a nine-car Street Stock field was on hand for their 25-lap main event. Mike Garcia of Lodi led the first two laps before giving way to Jeremy Hammon of Lockeford. That was short-lived, however, as the two front cars battled into turn-one, they both drifted up and opened the door for Lodi's Scott Chappell, who scooted by to claim the lead on the fourth go-round. After a yellow for a tangle between two Modesto drivers--Greg Albiani and Scott Griffith--the second and third slots were filled by Stockton pilots Jerry Crawford and Cary Treadway. Joe Hylton of Manteca continued to show weekly improvement by pulling to third on lap-15, but was re-passed by Treadway five laps later. Chappell, the early dash winner, took the checkered flag for the second straight week ahead of fast-timer Crawford, Treadway, Hylton and Hammon. In spite of Chappells back-to-back wins, Treadway leads the season point battle by more than a 100 (942-828).
The Renegade 360 Sprint cars were back in action for the third time in the 99 season. A 10-car field was on hand. Unfortunately, mechanical problems reduced that number to six for their 25-lap feature. Don Hicks of Patterson turned in a "hat trick"posting fast time, winning the dash and main, as well. Heat winner Bill Zarevich of Lathrop took the early lead in the feature, with Hicks coming to second on lap-four. Hicks passed Zarevich on lap-six, with Mike McCreary of El Dorado coming to second on the next pass.
A red flag was displayed on lap-12 when track officials became concerned about a possible fire in the car driven by Mark Amador of Ceres. When the green came out again, McCreary continued to apply pressure to Hicks; but it was to no avail as the veteran came home in front of McCreary, with third back falling to Mike Johnson of Concord, Zarevich and Amador.
The slam bang Pure Stock division provided its usual knockdown, dragout 30-lap feature. Orville Dahl of Stockton led early before surrendering to fellow Stockton pilot Jeff Lovelace on lap-nine. Dahl also relinquished second to Doug Lane, another Stockton driver and former division champion.
At the halfway point, it was four Stockton runners---Lovelace, Lane, Mike Soiseth and Dahlwith John Medina of Galt rounding out the top-five. The only shake up over the final 15 laps saw Joey Stearns displace Medina in the lead group. At the checkered, it was a quintet of Stockton drivers with Lovelace winning for the first time in 99 followed by Lane, heat winner Soiseth, Stearns and Dahl. In addition to Soiseth, the other heat winners were Cary Hahn of Ripon, who also won the dash, Medina and Stockton's Pete Anderson, Jr.
Lanes second place effort enabled him to close on season point chase leader Guy Guibor of Manteca. Guibor leads lane by 30 (904-874) with Dahl third at 836.
Stockton 99 Speedway will feature a double barreled attraction this coming Saturdaya Bay Cities Racing Association (BCRA) Mid-Summer Midget Asphalt Blowout with an $8,000 purse and the venerable tracks annual Kids Night.
First-place money of $1,600 should attract a sizable midget field and the presence of often-time world land speed record holder Craig Breedlove should add to the occasion. Breedlove, who recently underwent surgery for a bone spur and rotator cuff problem, will be on hand to sign autographs. Fans will also have a chance to purchase "Spirit of America" merchandise in support of Breedloves effort to bring the world land speed record back to this country.
Ticket gates for the BCRA Mid-Summer Blowout and Kids Night will open at 3:00 p.m. with time trials set for 5:00. Kids Night "big wheel" racing will commence at approximately 5:45 with green flag auto racing at 6:30.
Adult tickets will be available for $15 with children six-to-12 and seniors over 65 at four dollars. A family tickettwo adults and two childrenwill cost $35.
Stockton 99 Speedway is located at 4105 N. Wilson Way, a quarter-mile west of Highway 99.
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