SILVA NABS STOCKTON 99 SEASON OPENER
(STOCKTON, CAMarch 26, 2000)Stockton 99 Speedway initiated its 54th season of racing with an "Open Wheel Extravaganza" that featured Winged Super Modifieds, USAC Sprints and Midgets, and NASCAR-sanctioned Grand American Modifieds. Tony Silva of Sacramento bested a strong field of 36 Grand Americans, the venerable speedways premiere division.
The win for Silva was his fifth career triumph and first in nearly three years, having last won on May 3rd, 1997. The 27-year old joined an elite group in the winners circle for the day that included Indy 500 veteran Dave Hamilton of Las Vegas, winner of the USAC Sprint car main; teenager Kasey Kahne of Indianapolis, Indiana in the USAC Midgets; and Rick Veenstra of Boise, Idaho, winner of the Super Modified feature.
The Grand American Modified mainscheduled for 40-lapssaw Steve Stacy on the pole for the 22-car field but a red flag was displayed on the first go-round when fellow Stockton driver Jason Kerby made wheel contact with another car and was launched hard into the turn-three wall. Kerbys rough ride also collected Eddie Wilcox of Modesto and Randy Houston of Cottonwood. The resultant delayKerby was unconscious for a short whileenabled Wilcox and Houston to make repairs and return.
Stacy led on the re-start, only to spin on his own coming off turn-two allowing track newcomer Victor Gonella of Petaluma to assume the lead. Another yellow was displayed a short time later when Greg Williams of Ceres and Robert Miller of Gardnerville, Nevada made contact near the start-finish line putting both out of action for the night. Gonella held forth over the next few laps with Silva and former track and NASCAR region champion Mark Welch of Orangevale in hot pursuit.
Silva passed Welch for second on lap-10. However, another re-start on lap-12 saw Welch surge to the front with Silva on his tail and Gonella slipping to third. Welch inexplicably pitted during the next yellow with Silva assuming a lead he would never surrender. However, the flood of yellow flags never stopped.
Welch, trying to make his way back through the field, was collected in a three car melee in turn-one on a lap-15 re-start at which point a decision was made to shorten the event to 30 laps. Up front, Jason Philpot of Sacramento and Robert Knittel of Lodi assumed the second and third spots with Gonella now fourth. Welch survived the turn-one fracas and resumed his charge as the cars ran without incident when Paul Henry of Groveland spun on lap-26 bringing out the caution flag once again.
After the green was displayed, a checkered-yellow ended the event at 28 laps with 15 cars running when Wilcox banged into the front straight wall. Silva collected the $1,000 first place money with Philpot, Knittel, Gonella and Stocktons Danny Contessotto completing the top-five.
A crowd in excess of 2,000 got plenty of action. During the first hot-lap session, the throttle on Curtis Owen Browns sprinter stuck and the Tucson driver hit the turn-one wall head-on and nearly climbed over before landing hard on its wheels. Brown walked away but later went to the hospital for precautionary purposes.
Palmdales Bobby Boone led the first 20-laps of the Midget feature before fast-timer Kahne, who recently moved from Enumclaw, Washington to Indianapolis in order to further his racing career, surged to the front. Boone ended up second, followed by Bryan Newman of Indianapolis, Thomas Meseraull of San Jose and John Starks of Puyallup, Washington.
Amy Barnes of Minden, Nevada was on the pole for the 16-car USAC Sprint 40-lapper. A first lap red flag was necessitated when rookie Bill Foland of Mountain View, making only his second start, slammed hard into the turn-two wall. Once the green was displayed again, former Indy 500 top-five finisher Davey Hamilton made short work by jumping to the front. Todd Ellison of West Jordan, Utah did his best to overtake Hamilton as they made their way through lapped traffic late in the race, but it was to no avail. Fresnos Jeff Gardner was third with local favorite and new track record holder Burney Lamar of Sacramento fourth. Kevin Kierce of Burbank completed the top-five.
The race day was completed with an 11-car Winged Super Modified main that saw Troy Regier duplicate his win of Madera Speedway the day before. Unfortunately, the Dinuba driver bypassed the scales at the conclusion of the 35-lap affair which led to a disqualification and handed the triumph to Rick Veenstra of Boise, Idaho. Eric Silsby of Carson City, Nevada was second, followed by Lonnie Adamsom of Salt Lake City, who nearly eclipsed the track qualifying record with a time of 11.926. The standard of 11.899 was set by local favorite Johnny Brazil of Manteca in 1985.
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Stockton 99 Speedway will get off its regular NASCAR season this coming Saturday, April 1, with a 100-lap Late Model Sportsman event. The four division program will also include Grand American Modifieds, Pro Stocks and Pure Stocks.
The 100-lap feature event is partially sponsored by C.L.Bryant 76 Performance Gasoline and marks the first of 11 Late Model races in which drivers will compete for a potential bonus fund of $12,5000. To be eligible, cars must attempt to run all 11 Late Model events. The bonus monies will be spread over the top-10 in season points.
Ticket gates will open at 3:00 p.m. with qualifying set for 5:00 and green flag racing at 6:00.
Stockton 99 Speedway is located at 4105 North Wilson Way, a quarter-mile west of Highway 99.
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