WELCH TAKES OVER STOCKTON POINT LEAD
(STOCKTON, CA--April 23, 2000)The third time was the charm Saturday night at Stockton 99 Speedway for defending NASCAR Pacific Coast Regional champion Mark Welch. The Orangevale drivers third straight Grand American Modified feature triumph enabled him to gain the season point lead over Sacramentos Tony Silva who won the season opener four weeks ago while Welch finished seventh.
After setting fast time, Welch pulled a fourth place starting position in the draw for the 20-car, 30-lap main. And, it didnt take long for him to establish his dominance. The defending champion took the front spot on the fourth lap by passing early leader Steve Stacy of Stockton as the field fought its way through two quick yellows on the first and third laps.
Contact between Danny Contessotto of Stockton and Jason Philpot of Sacramento on lap-eight brought out the next yellow as both spun on the front straight. A spin by Stocktons Bob Trull brought out yet another yellow six laps later. On the ensuing re-start, the yellow was flashed again as five cars piled-up off turn four, leaving a mid-race top five of Welch, Stacy, Silva, Aaron Young of Stockton and Robert Knittel of Lodi, who started the race dead last after his ignition system failed him on the opening grid.
With Trull and fellow Stockton driver Jeff Thomas on the sidelines, the then 18-car field ran clean until a quick yellow fell on lap-27 for a solo spin by rookie driver Steve Mosiman of Sebastopol. A final yellow along with the checkered flag was waved on lap-29 when Stockton driver Darrin Halterman fell off the pace and was unable to clear the backchute area.
At the finish, Welch, Stacy and Silva held the win, place and show positions with Knittel and Benicia pilot Barry Callouette completing the top-five. Welch gained six points on the night and now leads Silva by the slenderest of margins (200-199).
A 12-unit field of visiting Ultra-Wheel Spec Trucks produced a fast 40-lap feature with only two minor yellows slowing the action. Robin Tucker of Madera led the first two laps before giving way to third-place starter and trophy dash winner Mike David of Modesto on lap-two. A second yellow fell on lap-four as fast timer Vince Little of Clovis fell into the second slot behind David.
The two then waged a spirited wheel-to-wheel battle for the lead from laps 13 to 17 until Little took control on the 18th go-round. Little widened his margin as David struggled with a balky throttle over the last half of the event. At the checkered flag, it still was Little and David, followed by Mark Laeger of Temecula, Joe Herold of Poway, and early pacesetter Tucker.
The 30-lap I.B. Benedict Pure Stock feature produced its usual thrills and spins as second season runner Tracy Bolin of Valley Springs pulled off an unexpected upset wire-to-wire win in convincing fashion. Bolin, who had won an early heat race, jumped to the lead and never looked back as Arron Shankel of Lodi gained fourth on lap-five, and third on lap-seven. Shankel then moved to second on lap-18. However, as he tried to reel in the leader, he and incoming point leader Orville Dahl slammed together on lap-20 with both ending up in the pits with cut tires under the yellow.
Another yellow came out three laps later as several cars piled up in the 3-4 corner, with Mike Graham of Manteca getting the worst of the melee and a free ride to the sidelines behind a wrecker. Bolin was chased to the finish by Stockton pilots Gary Shafer, Jr. and Chris Mays. Two more Stockton driversJeff Lovelace and Chad Holmancompleted the top-five. Dahl ended up eighth and widened his season point lead over Lovelace, who surpassed Shankel for second, to 31-points (205-174).
In addition to Bolin, other Pure Stock heat winners were Shafer, Jr., Shankel and Guy Guibor of Manteca. Shankel also posted the trophy dash victory.
The final race of the Easter eve evening was provided by a short field of Renegade Sprint cars. The early leader of their 15-lap feature was Burt Silverling. The Concord pilot then surrendered the point on the fifth lap to Marvin Mitchell of San Jose, with Bob Bankson of Rancho Cordova sliding to second. Bankson then created the events only yellow with a solo spin off turn-four on lap-seven.
Mark Amador of Modesto came to second on lap-nine and took the lead two laps later, with a fast returning Bankson coming to second. Bankson, the fast qualifier, took the point on the lucky 13th-lap and passed the checkered in front of dash winner Mitchell, Emil Andresen of Fresno, Silverling and Amador.
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There will be plenty of action at Stockton 99 Speedway this Saturday night when all four NASCAR divisionsLate Model Sportsman, Grand American Modifieds, Pro Stocks and Pure Stocksbattle for "double points."
Cat Country Radio 103 and the San Joaquin County Solid Waste Division will combine forces to sponsor "Oil Recycling Night." San Joaquin County representatives will be on hand to provide prizes and reminders of the importance of taking "used oil" to a recycling center. Also, Cat Countrys Mr. Wonderful, David Holmes, will offer CDs and other prizes to add to the fun.
On the track, two-time champion David Philpott of Tracy will be out to make it three-in-a-row in the 76 Gasoline sponsored Late Models; while Mark Welch goes for his fourth straight in the Grand Ams.
Ticket gates for the Budweiser and Acura of Stockton sponsored action will open at 3:00 p.m. with time trials set for five and green flag racing at six.
Adult tickets will cost $12, eight for students (13-to-17) and seniors over 65, and four dollars for children six-to-12. Children five and under get in free.
Stockton 99 Speedway is located at 4105 N. Wilson Way, a quarter-mile west of Highway 99.
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