WELCH EARNS NASCAR REGION TITLE AT STOCKTON 99
(STOCKTON, CASeptember 12, 1999)--Jason Kerby won the battle, but Mark Welch won the war Saturday night at NASCAR-sanctioned Stockton 99 Speedway. Though Kerby outdistanced the 19-car Grand American Modified field, Welchs third place effort was enough to clinch the Winston Racing Series Pacific Coast Region championship. As a result, Welch, of Orangevale, is headed to the NASCAR Champions banquet in Orlando, Florida in early November where he will pocket more than $40,000 in prize money.
Kerby jumped from his third place starting position to the first lap lead and survived seven yellow flags and a red to record his fifth feature triumph of the season. The red fell on the ninth-circuit as Dewayne Apedaile of Lodi took a wild ride out the pit exit ending up on his side in the pit area, shaken but unhurt. At the same time, Steve Stacy of Stockton lost a motor to end his night. Welch, meanwhile, who started seventh, was slowly moving his way toward the front. He was third by lap-12, where he began to work on another former Region and Track Champion, Robert Miller of Gardnerville, Nevada.
After some obvious bumping, Welch slipped past Miller. However, in the process, Miller cut a tire and, while trying to get into the pits made contact with Jason Beltrama of Stockton. Under the subsequent yellow, Welch was sent to the back of the field by NASCAR track officials, re-starting 15th, with 12-laps to go. Yellows were displayed on each of the next two laps with Welch moving to ninth on the first and to fifth on the second.
Only one additional yellow slowed the pace the rest of the way as Kerby took the win ahead of fast timer and dash winner Robert Knittel of Lodi. Welch was third in front of Dan Dabbs of North Highlands and Tracys Scott Winters. With a single "double point" event left in the season, Welch enjoys a 90-point margin over Kerby in the battle for the track championship. Essentially, all Welch has to do is start in the season finale to earn his first-ever Stockton crown.
The Winston-50 Late Model event provided the more than 1,200 fans with plenty of action as Mark Youngblood of Herald led a 16-car field to the green. Youngblood held on for two laps before Modesto pilot Bob Strandwold, who started fourth, moved to the front. The first of three yellows fell on the same lap as three cars tangled off turn-four with all returning to the battle. Harry Belletto of Modesto slipped into second after a minor seventh-lap yellow and applied pressure to Strandwold, with the final yellow coming on lap-11 as Ron Strmiska, Jr. of Manteca cut a tire and was forced to pit. At the same time, Belletto headed to the infield with mechanical problems leaving incoming point leader John Gaalswyk of Ripon in control of second.
On the 13th-go round, Strandwold suddenly lost power with Gaalswyk taking the point with Steve Belletto, Harrys oldest racing son, also of Modesto, second. The remaining laps ran caution free as Gaalswyk came home a winner for the fifth time on the season, but first since May 8 in front of Steve Belletto and his younger brother Jeff, also of Modesto. Strmiska was fourth ahead of Ed McGinnis of Roseville.
With two Late Model events to go, Gaalswyk leads Strmiska by 102 (754-652). The championship for either would be their first-ever.
Only one early yellow slowed the pace in the Street Stock division feature which saw the first-lap controlled by Robert Knittel of Lodi, with incoming point leader Cary Treadway of Stockton sliding into third after the fourth-lap yellow. Treadway moved to second on lap-six, and took the point on lap-eight. Lodi pilot Scott Chappell came to third on lap-nine, and second on lap-13, but the lead built up by fast timer Treadway was too much to overcome. Treadway notched his 11th feature victory of the season with Chappell, the nights dash winner, second. Joe Hylton of Manteca was third with Johnny Berndt of Clements and Matt Borges of Banta completing the top five.
With two races left, including a "double pointer", Treadway holds a nearly insurmountable 130-point margin (1274-1144) over Chappell.
The best point chase at Stockton is in the Pure Stock division. The night started poorly for point leader Guy Guibor of Manteca, as he failed to post a top-four heat finish and was forced to come through the semi. Guys younger brother Danny, also of Manteca, was the pole sitter for the 20-car main and took the first lap lead. Stocktons Doug Lane, Guy Guibors closest pursuer, started fifth and progressed quickly to second by lap-five.
Only one yellow slowed the pace when sheet metal had to be removed along the front straightaway on lap-21. The final irony to Guys night came when he was forced to pit on the 26th-lap and watch as brother Danny, a heat and dash winner on the night, cruised home in front of Lane, and Pete Anderson, Jr., of Stockton. Jeff Lovelace, also of Stockton, was fourth over heat winner Cary Hahn of Ripon. Additional heat wins went to C.W. Davis of Stockton and Aaron Shankel of Lodi.
With a "double point" event on tap next week, Guy Guibor holds a 36-point (1190-1154) over Lane.
The Shell Oil Tri-Track Challenge championship will be on the line this coming Saturday at Stockton 99 Speedway.
Teenager Burney Lamar of Sacramento, with a single win in nine starts, holds a narrow lead over three-time winner Jason Fensler of Wilton.
More than 25 Late Model Sportsman--including current Stockton 99 point leader John Gaalswyk of Ripon, defending series champion Mike David, and former two-time track champions David Philpott and Harry Belletto--are expected to compete in the premier Central Valley Late Model Sportsman racing series sponsored by Paul Oil Company of Oakdale.
In addition to the 100-lap Tri-Track main event, the program will also feature Street Stocks and Pure Stocks. Gates open at 3:00 p.m. Qualifying will begin at 5:00.
Stockton 99 Speedway is located at 4105 N. Wilson Way, a quarter-mile west of Highway 99.
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