WELCH COMPLETES APRIL SWEEP AT STOCKTON 99

(STOCKTON, CA--April 30, 2000)—Defending NASCAR Pacific Coast Region champion Mark Welch made short work of the Grand American Modified main event Saturday night at Stockton 99 Speedway. Starting fifth in a 22-car field, the Orangevale pilot moved to the front in the first three laps and continued to show his early season dominance by registering his fourth straight feature triumph.

Sacramento driver, Jason Philpot, was the early leader as a quick yellow fell on the second go-round when Robert Knittel of Lodi and Mark Mays of Stockton tangled on the back chute. Welch grabbed the lead on the re-start and the pack sailed smoothly to the 13th circuit when a yellow fell after Charles Perreira of Modesto got squeezed against the front straight wall. On the re-start, it was Welch followed by Tony Silva of Sacramento, Philpot, and a pair of Stockton drivers, Danny Contessotto and Steve Stacy.

Three more minor yellows slowed the action leading up to a three-car chain reaction fracas on lap-24. When the checkered flag was finally displayed, Welch had completed a sweep of four April racing dates with fast timer and dash winner Silva still on his tail. Jerry Bauguess of Manteca ended up third with Stacy and Contessotto completing the top five.

In five 2000 events, Welch has won four; however, Silva with a win, three seconds and a third is still breathing down Welch’s neck in the season point standings (304-300). The two are more than 50-points ahead of the third place runner, Knittel.

The "double points" night attracted a field of 18 Late Models for their third Stockton appearance. A first lap collision involving Ron Strmiska, Jr. of Manteca and Salinas’ Jim Pettit resulted in a re-start for the 50-lapper. The re-start saw Bob Strandwold of Modesto take the point in the Tim Gillit owned Lumina, with another yellow coming out on lap-four for a spin by John Graham of Stockton. At the same time, fast timer, Greg Potts, of Manteca, saw his night cut short as he left the track with a mechanical problem.

"Papa" Harry Belletto of Modesto—one of three Belletto clan members in the field--slid into the second slot on lap-eight with son Jeff coming to third a few laps later. A quick yellow for a minor spin slowed the battle on lap-19. Then, a red flag was displayed on the re-start when the youngest Belletto lost power and got turned around in front of the field off turn-four collecting Strmiska, Pettit, Troy Ermish of Fremont and Mike Mueller of Woodbridge in the process. Once racing resumed, the other Belletto sibling, Steve, grabbed the number two position and began to work on Strandwold. He got under the leader on lap-24 and take the point on the next pass with "Papa" Harry coming to second behind him.

Three more yellows flew before lap-35 before the field settled down to serious racing as the Belletto’s paced the remaining 14 running cars to the checkered flag. Troy Ermish of Fremont, who was forced to start at the back after his starter failed him on the opening grid, ended up third with Strmiska and Walnut Creek driver John Wood rounding out the top-five.

Strmiska, with two seconds and a fourth in the three Stockton races, leads the season point chase over Steve Belletto by four points (192-188).

Defending Stockton Street Stock champion Cary Treadway continued to put his name in the new Pro Stock division record book. Only three brief yellows slowed the pace as a 12-car field completed a 30-lap feature. Treadway established a new qualifying standard of 15.367, his third fast time in four events. However, his string of three straight trophy dash wins was stopped by Mike Millard of Carson City, Nevada.

In the main, after starting sixth, Treadway collected his third straight victory after wresting the point away from early leaders Jason White of Lodi and Joe Hylton of Manteca. Treadway’s season long nemesis, fellow Stockton pilot Jerry Crawford, slid to second on lap-20 and, after a brief run at the leader, settled for the place position. Hylton, Johnny Berndt of Clements and Ed Cullom of Lockeford rounded out the top five. Treadway now leads Crawford in the season points’ chase (267-255).

A 20-car field of Pure Stocker’s—whittled down from an entry list of 38--ended the night’s action with Jeff Lovelace of Stockton taking the initial lead. Lovelace eventually surrendered the top spot to fellow Stockton driver Orville Dahl on lap-eight. That was short lived, however, as Dahl was bumped on the next go-round by Guy Guibor of Manteca. As Dahl fought to regain control, Lovelace again went to the fore with Guibor sliding into second.

Dahl and Stockton drivers Chris Mays and Mike Soiseth then tangled on the front straight to bring out the first yellow on lap-12. With Dahl re-starting at the back, it was up to Guibor to hold off the field. The defending champion crossed the line first ahead of Gary Shafer, Jr. of Stockton, brother Danny Guibor, dash winner Joe Stearns of Stockton, and Lovelace.

Stearns’ fourth place effort was enough to give him the season point lead over Lovelace (265-261).

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Saturday, May 6, Stockton 99 Speedway will feature three NASCAR divisions—Grand American Modified’s, Pro Stocks and Pure Stocks. The four division program will also include the popular Legends—five-eighth’s scale model 1938 to 1940 Chevrolet, Dodge and Ford coupes and sedans. Legends from the Reno-Carson City area expected to provide a sizable field.

Ticket gates will open at 3:00 p.m. with qualifying set for 5;00 and green flag racing at 6:00.

Adult tickets cost $12, eight for students 13-to-17 and seniors over 65, and four dollars for children six-to-12. Children under six get in free.

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


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