HARRY BELLETTO TRI-TRACK WINNER AT STOCKTON 99
(STOCKTON, CAAugust 15, 1999)Harry Belletto managed to avoid a lap-three multi-car smash-up and pass NASCAR Southwest Tour and Winston West regular Jim Inglebright on lap-76 to win his first-ever Shell Oil Tri-Track Challenge event at Stockton 99 Speedway Saturday night. In the process, the 55-year old Modesto driver and 30-year Stockton 99 competitor tied Dan Reed for second place on the venerable Speedways all-time winning list at 63. Only five-time champion Ken Boyd of Ceres has more, at 71.
Mark Reed of Bakersfield, another Southwest tour competior, shared the front row of the 20-car field with Eric Holmes of Escalon and the two were running side-by-side on lap-three. They bumped exiting turn-two with Reed getting sideways on the backstretch of 99s tight, quarter-mile paved oval that led to a pile-up of more than half the field. Once the carnage had been removed, six carsincluding Series point leader Burney Lamar of Sacramento and Reed, as well as Modestos Bob Strandwold, David Philpott of Tracy, Troy Ermish of Fremont and Paul Guthmiller of Mantecawere forced to the sidelines.
Holmes inherited the lead on the re-start with the field running smoothly to lap-20 when Mantecas Greg Potts slowed off turn-two in front of fellow Mantecan Ron Strmiska, Jr., who in turn was hit from behind and spun by Nathan Tucker of Sonora. All three survived the skirmish with both Strmiska and Tucker running the rest of the way sans fenders and hood covers. Inglebright, of Fairfield, driving the car usually run by Ed McGinnis, who had calmly held second from the get-go, started to press Holmes as the 100-lapper neared the halfway point. After battling for several laps, Inglebright finally moved to the point on lap-55. One circuit later, Belletto got under Holmes and took the second spot by a nose. The former two-time track champion slowly reeled in Inglebright and grabbed the lead on lap-74, with Inglebright exiting to the pit area with a dead battery, giving the second slot to Harry's son Steve, also of Modesto. The event ran trouble free to the final flag with most of the focus falling to the battle for third between Tucker and the other Belletto sibling, Jeff of Salida. Tucker held on by the narrowest of margins so that the top five ended up Belletto (Harry), Belletto (Steve), Tucker, Belletto (Jeff) and Potts.
With three races left in the Paul Oil Co. of Oakdale sponsored seriesone each at Madera, Stockton and AltamontLamar holds a 32-point lead (384-352) over Jason Fensler of Wilton with Holmes, Mike Terpstra of Oakdale, Tucker and John Gaalswyk of Ripon all within striking distance.
The co-attraction for the nearly 2,000 in attendance was the NASCAR premiere division regional point chase in which Orangevales Mark Welch is the leader with only four races remaining. The 21-car, 30-lap affair produced seven yellow flags.
Jason Kerby of Stockton was the pole sitter with Welch coming from seventh to fourth in four short laps. Welch was third by lap-seven, before a series of spins ands stalls produced three yellows in the next 10 laps. Welch took the second slot on the 17th-circuit and passed for the lead on lap-22. Four more yellows slowed the action to the final flag with Welch registering his third straight win and ninth of the season in front of Scott Winters of Tracy and fast timer Dan Dabbs of North Highlands. Stockton drivers Jason Beltrama and Danny Contessotto completed the top five.
Welch enjoys an 84-point margin over Kerby (1032-948) in the season point standings with Winters close to Kerby at 914.
Only one yellow was displayed during the 25-lap Street Stock feature. Scott Griffith of Modesto led the first two laps before ending his own chances with a solo spin on lap-three. Greg Albiani of Modesto took the point on the next lap and sailed off as the season point leaders battled for position behind. Defending champion and current point leader Cary Treadway of Stockton came to third on lap-11. He was second two go-rounds later and took the lead on lap-14. Scott chappell of Lodi came to third on lap-17 and second two laps later to chase Treadway to the checkered flag. Joe Hylton of Manteca finished third ahead of Jerry Crawford of Stockton and early leader Albiani. Treadways clean sweepfast time, trophy dash and featurewas his fourth of the season and enabled him to stretch his season point margin over Chappell to 118 (1048-930).
Thirty-eight Pure Stocks were on hand with 20 taking the green flag for their 30-lap feature event. Johnny Bird of Stockton led initially with Cindy Quarnstrom of Lodi hanging tight to second. Another Lodi pilot, Aaron Shankel, took charge on lap-11 and was never headed as he held off efforts by Stockton drivers Jeff Lovelace and Doug Lane to the end. Shankle posted his second win in front of Lovelace, Lane, Danny Guibor of Manteca and Bryan Clark of Lodi.
Late Model Sportsman will return to Stockton 99 Speedway this coming Saturday for a 50-lap Lagorio Communications event. Stockton point leader John Gaalswyk of Ripon holds a 102 (592-490) point lead over Ron Strmiska, Jr. of Manteca.
The Lagorio Communications 50 will share the spotlight with Mark Welchs effort to win the NASCAR Winston Racing Series Pacific Coast Region championship. With four races to go, Welch holds a slim lead over defending champion Bobby Hogge of Salinas.
Two other NASCAR divisionsStreet Stocks and Pure Stockswill also run Saturday. Grandstand seating will open at 3:00 p.m. with qualifying set for 5:00 and green flag racing at 6:15.
Adult tickets will be available for $12 with children six-to12 and seniors over 65 being admitted for four dollars. A family tickettwo adults and two childrenwill sell for $28.
Stockton 99 Speedway is located at 4105 N. Wilson Way, a quarter-mile west of Highway 99.
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