STEVE BELLETTO LEADS "FAMILY AFFAIR" AT STOCKTON 99

 

(STOCKTON, CA—September 5, 1999)—The racing Belletto’s of Modesto finished one-two-three at NASCAR-sanctioned Stockton 99 Speedway Saturday night. Steve Belletto, the oldest racing son of two-time track champion Harry, won the final leg of the Tri-Holiday Classic to become the first two-time winner of the Fifth Annual affair—having won previously in 1996. He was chased to the checkered flag by his dad (Harry) and younger brother (Jeff), nearly duplicating the Tri-Belletto finish of Harry, Steve and Jeff that made NASCAR history during the running of the Firecracker 100 on July 3. The one-two-three finish delighted the Holiday gathering of close to 2,000 fans that, in addition to the Tri-Holiday affair, were entertained by the Winston Racing Series Grand American Modifieds, Street Stocks and Pure Stocks on the venerable Speedway’s quarter-mile paved oval.

Ron Strmiska, Jr., of Manteca and Sacramento’s Burney Lamar shared the front row of the 20-car field that took the green flag. Strmiska, who posted fast-time and then won the trophy dash to earn the pole position, led from the top--holding forth till the first of nine yellows and two reds that slowed the pace of the 100-lapper, occurred on lap-six. By lap-10, it was Strmiska, John Gaalswyk of Ripon and Lamar, with Harry Belletto coming to fourth on lap-18. Belletto moved to third on lap-21, with the event running smoothly until the 31st-circuit before a yellow/red condition prevailed when Mike Mueller of Woodbridge lost power and, in an effort to reach the infield pit area, turned into the path of Lamar. With no where to go, Lamar drove over the driver’s side of Mueller—yet continued around the first and second turns before crashing into the backchute wall, bouncing off and collecting Stockton pilot Johnny Graham in the process.

Unfortunately for Lamar, who entered the night second in Tri-Holiday points to Steve Belletto, the carnage spelled the end of his quest. Harry Belletto then assumed the second place position behind Strmiska, then ducked under the race-long leader for the point on lap-42. Son Steve followed suit five laps later zipping past Strmiska for second on lap-47. The second red fell on lap-53 when Stockton’s Buzz Devore and Troy Ermish of Fremont banged into each other on the front stretch--with Ermish taking a hard hit into the front-straight wall and coming to rest in turn-one.

It looked as though "Papa" Harry might cruise to his third straight Stockton win when a lapped car made a big difference on lap-68. Harry got stuck behind John Wood of Walnut Creek and Steve took advantage to take the lead. The third member of the Belletto family, Jeff, eventually worked his way to the third position—setting up their three-peat of July 3.

Although 12 cars were still running when the checkered flag was waved, only five cars were on the lead lap. Strmiska and Gaalswyk ended up fourth and fifth behind the Belletto’s. The Tri-Holiday triumph for Steve paid $2,000 to win and was good for an added $1,500 in Series bonus monies. Gaalswyk leads the Stockton 99 Late Model standings over Strmiska (696-598).

Only four yellows slowed the Grand American Modified action that saw Winston Racing Series Pacific Coast Region champion Mark Welch seek a sixth-straight victory. It was not to be, however, as Welch, who led for 21 laps, succumbed to Jason Kerby of Stockton. Fast qualifier and dash winner Jason Beltrama of Stockton recorded a best-ever second place finish in front of Scott Winters of Tracy and Welch, who afterward claimed a fast deflating tire forced him off the pace.

The win for Kerby was his fifth in 22 starts. Nonetheless, Welch, of Orangevale, leads Kerby in the season point standings by 86 (1196-1110) with two races, including a "double point" night, left to go.

A 13-car field answered the bell for the 25-lap Street Stock feature that saw only two minor yellows slowing the pace. Cary Treadway of Stockton, the incoming point leader and defending division champion, took the first lap lead and never looked back as he completed his fifth sweep of the season—posting fast time and winning the dash before registering his 10th feature win in 20 starts. The top-five at the checkered consisted of Joe Hylton of Manteca, Marc Borges of Banta, Scott Griffith of Modesto and Lockeford’s Ed Cullom.

Treadway leads the season point standings by 124 (1214-1090) over Scott Chappell of Lodi.

After a rough start—two yellows in the first two laps--the 30-lap Pure Stock feature saw Pete Anderson, Jr., of Stockton lead from the get-go. However, season point leader Guy Guibor of Manteca, who started back in the pack of the 20-car field slowly but surely made his way through the field. By the halfway point (lap-15), Guibor had moved to third, then to second three laps later. A late race yellow, on the 28th circuit, allowed Guibor to power past Anderson on the re-start and take the win—his eighth in 20 starts. Heat and dash winner Anderson held on for second, ahead of Arron Shankel of Lodi, Orville Dahl of Stockton and Tracy Bolin of Valley Springs.

 

The Winston Racing Series Regional Point chase will conclude this coming Saturday at Stockton 99 Speedway when Late Model Sportsman return for the Winston 50. In addition to the 50-lapper for the big cars, Orangevale’s Mark Welch will try to put the capper on his Pacific Coast Region championship in the Grand American Modifieds. The four-division program will also include Street Stocks and Pure Stocks.

Ticket gates will open at 3:00 p.m. with qualifying set for 5:00 and green flag racing at 6:00. Adult tickets will be available for $12 with children six-to-12 and seniors over 65 for four dollars. A family ticket—two adults and two children—will cost $28.

Stockton 99 Speedway is located at 4105 N. Wilson Way, a quarter-mile west of Highway 99.


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