WELCH BACK IN FORM AT STOCKTON 99 SPEEDWAY
(STOCKTON, CA-April 9, 2000)-Defending NASCAR Regional champion Mark Welch won his second straight Grand American Modified feature event Saturday night at Stockton 99 Speedway. Pooh-poohed a week ago when he bested a 22-car field from the pole, the 43 year old Orangevale proved his mettle this week by putting on a strong performance after starting 10th in a 23-car field.
The first lap lead fell to Sacramentos Tony Silva when he jumped past Jerry Bauguess of Manteca. The pace was slowed initially when a yellow flag was displayed on lap-five following a solo spin by first year driver Erik Clark of Sacramento. At the same time, Robert Miller-a former regional champion who now lives in Gardnerville, Nevada--was forced to the pits with leaking fluid. However, that was just the beginning. When the re-start flag flew, Steve Stacy of Stockton got turned around in turn-one and was T-boned in the passenger side door by Salida driver Sam Solari. Five others were also tied up in the melee.
On the re-start, Welch advanced to fourth, third on the next circuit and eventually to second on lap-16 with his sight on the fast moving Silva. Silva, who led Welch by 12-points after winning the season opener and finished second to Welch a week ago, got hung-up in slower traffic and the more experienced Welch got a nose under him on the front chute on the 21st-pass. The eventual winner took the point on the next go-round and held forth before a yellow-checkered flag ended the scheduled 30-lapper on the 27th lap.
Welch--who posted the quick time on the night, then drew the number 10 invert number himself--was chased to the final flag by Silva, Robert Knittel of Lodi, Ceres Greg Williams and Bauguess. Silvas second enabled him to hang on to the point lead by a scant five points (150-145).
Stocktons new Pro Stock division, in spite of having only 11 cars, put on the best show of the night. Ed Cullom of Lockeford was the initial leader and remained in front through a yellow for debris on the track on lap-five. Another fell two laps later as Cary Treadway of Stockton had a tire go flat. Scott Chappell of Lodi supplanted Cullom at the front on the re-start, with Stockton pilot and opening day winner Jerry Crawford hot on his heels. Chappell lost a tire off turn two on lap-12, with Crawford gaining the point at the yellow.
By lap-15, Treadway was back at the front of the pack and the "real race" began as the two battled door-to-door for several laps. At the finish, it was Treadway by the width of his bumper followed by Crawford, Joe Hylton of Manteca, Cullom, and Clement pilot Johnny Berndt. After just two evens, Treadway holds a narrow two-point lead over Crawford (107-105). Chappell set the quick time and established a new track record for the newly named division at 15.223
The largest field of Legends in 99 Speedway history paid their first 2000 visit to Stockton as 30 of the five-eighth scale 1938 to 1941 Ford, Chevy and Dodge coupes and sedans were on hand. Twenty answered the bell for their 30-lap feature with Barney La Rue of Napa taking the initial lead. Fellow Napa driver Joey Zampa moved to third on lap-three and to the front two laps later. Zampa never looked back in posting his second straight main event triumph. However, there was plenty of action back in the pack as they aligned themselves behind the leader. At the end, "Grandpa" Gary Hockman of San Jose was second followed by Mark Bailey of San Lorenzo, fast timer Rob Lathrop of Santa Clara and La Rue.
The results of the Pure Stock division were being held in abeyance pending an officials decision regarding a technical matter. Defending champion Guy Guibor of Manteca started on the pole and led all the way. The scheduled 30-lap feature was red flagged on the ninth lap when Brenda Mays of Stockton took a hard hit into the back straight wall and subsequently was hit again by Bryan Clark of Lodi. Brenda was transported to a local hospital and later released.
Once racing resumed, Jeff Lovelace of Stockton made steady progress and moved to second on lap-14 with the event being slowed on lap-25, as too many cars tried to share the same spot going into the first turn. The event was ended with a checkered-yellow on lap-26 as several more cars collided in turn-three. Pending a possible disqualification, Guibor received the checkered flag followed by Lovelace, Mke Robinson of Modesto, semi-main transfer Arron Shankel of Lodi and Stocktons Mike Soiseth.
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