WELCH STREAK REACHES EIGHT AT STOCKTON 99
(STOCKTON, CA--June 4, 2000)-The mystique of Mark Welch continues to grow at Stockton 99 Speedway. The defending NASCAR Pacific Region champion seems well on his way to a second straight title, and, with each week, he enhances his chances to gain a national crown. Seven yellow flags and one red failed to deter the red hot Orangevale driver as he stormed from an eighth place starting position to the lead in seven laps to register his eighth straight Grand American Modified win in nine starts.
Twenty-two cars took the green flag for the 30-lap feature with Darrin Halterman of Stockton setting the initial pace before surrendering the top spot to Barry Callouette of Benicia. Three yellows in the first seven laps slowed the pace, one of which led to Welch moving from fourth to first in one fell swoop. After six laps, Callouette still led with Halterman and fellow Stockton pilot Steve Stacy running second and third and Welch, now fourth, hot on their heels.
While attempting an outside pass on Stacy, Welch was squeezed against the front straightaway wall. Stacy bounced to the inside and was stymied by Halterman, who had slowed to avoid Callouette, who inexplicably had dropped off the pace. Welch passed the Stacy-Halterman combo on the outside, then dipped under Callouette to never be headed. During the yellow, Callouette pitted, and, as it turned out, had suffered a broken axle.
Another yellow fell on the next go-round as rookie pilot Mike Regelman of Ripon spun off turn-four ending up sitting cross ways in front of oncoming traffic at the start-finish line. Halterman, now at the back, looked as though he would stop short of Regelman; however, as he braked he was hit from behind by his own back-up car being piloted by Jerry Crawford of Stockton. The resulting melee brought out a red flag to clear the track.
Other yellows were displayed for: a solo spin by first time 2000 season runner Bob Reichmuth of Manteca on lap-12; and a four-car mix-up in turns three and four involving Sacramento drivers Jason Philpot and Tony Silva, Robert Knittel of Lodi and Stocktons Aaron Young on lap-18. The event, which featured single-file re-starts for the first time, ran trouble free to the 28th go-round when Robert Miller of Gardnerville, NV fan afoul of Jason Botsford of Sacramento near the start-finish. Both were sidelined as Welch, the nights dash winner, never wavered and came home with a full straightaway lead over Stacy. Paul T. Henry of Groveland crossed in third, followed by Stocktons Danny Contessotto and Silva, the fast timer on the night. While Welch continues to dominate the action on the fast paced quarter-mile paved oval, it is interesting to note that only 17 one-hundreds of a second separated the top six qualifiers.
In spite of being only one win short of tying the track record of nine straight feature triumphs set by Robert Miller in 1996, Welchs point lead over Silva is still a "reachable" 25 points (513-478). Silva won the season opener on March 26, and has qualified well and run in the-top five often enough to keep Welch in his sights.
Only one minor yellow slowed the pace in the 25-lap Pro Stock feature. The opening lap lead fell to Jason Fisher of Ripon, as the nights fast timer Scott Chappell of Lodi came from seventh to fourth in a single circuit. The singular yellow came on the next pass for a solo spin by newcomer George Woodward of Modesto. Ed Cullom of Lockeford beat the pack back to the yellow to claim the lead.
Dash winner Cary Treadway of Stockton passed Chappell to move to second on lap-seven, and took the point on lap-11, with Chappell coming to second on lap-13. Treadway and Chappell then pulled away with the focus falling on the battle for third between Cullom and Mantecas Joe Hylton. Hylton eventually gained the spot on lap-22.
At the finish, it was Treadway, followed by Chappell, Hylton, Cullom, and Lodi driver Mike Garcia. The victory was Treadways fifth in eight starts boosting his season point lead over Hylton to 59 (455-396) with Chappell in third, another point back.
John Medina of Galt led the first 13 laps of the I.B. Benedict Pure Stock feature before succumbing to eventual winner Doug Lane of Stockton. Only one yellow slowed the action, as a pair of Manteca pilots-Danny Guibor and previous week winner Mike Graham--moved into position to challenge. Lane was not to be denied, however, as he registered his second win in nine races. Tracy Bolin of Valley Springs was fourth behind Guibor and Graham with semi-main winner C.W. Davis of Stockton completing the top five. In side notes, Stockton drivers Richard Harper and Chad Holman scored their first-ever heat wins; and, although his car was in the pits, erstwhile season point leader Guy Guibor missed the nights racing due to work responsibilities. As a result, Jeff Lovelace of Stockton is the new point leader (421-403) over Guy Guibor with brother Danny just another three points back.
The visiting Legends filled out the four-division program with fast time falling to Rob Lathrop of Santa Clara. The heats were won by Gary Hockman of San Jose and Kelly Martin of Modesto; with Mark Bailey of San Lorenzo claiming the dash victory. Five yellow flags slowed their normally smooth running 30-lap feature. Bob Wood of Auburn was the initial leader, bowing to Barney LaRue of Napa on lap-five. Joey Zampa of Napa pulled to second on lap-nine and took the point on the next pass, with Lathrop coming to second on lap-14. At the checkered, it was Zampa, followed by Lathrop, Hockman, Bailey and LaRue.
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The Shell Tri-Track Challenge, sponsored by Paul Oil Co. of Oakdale, returns to Stockton 99 Speedway, Saturday, June 10.
More than 30 Late Model Sportsman are expected to be on hand to challenge Tri-Track point leader Jason Fensler of Wilton. Fensler is one of four different race winners-along with Steve Belletto, David Philpott and Jim Pettit, II-through the first four races. The field is also expected to include former Stockton 99 track champions Harry Belletto, Ken Boyd, Dave Byrd and John Gaalswyk.
In addition to the 100-lap Late Model main event, the weekly NASCAR racing program will also feature Pro Stocks and I.B. Benedict Pure Stocks.
Ticket gates for the Budweiser and Acura of Stockton sponsored action 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 N. Wilson Way, a quarter mile west of Highway 99.
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