STEVE BELLETTO BESTS STOCKTON TRI-TRACK CHALLENGE FIELD
(STOCKTON, CA-June 11, 2000)-Stockton 99 Speedway Late Model Sportsman point leader Steve Belletto became the first repeat winner of the Shell Oil Tri-Track Challenge Saturday night. Belletto--who, along with Series point leader Jason Fensler, David Philpott and Jim Pettit II, had won one of the four prior 100-lap Shell Series events-earned this triumph the hard way. Forced to take a provisional starting spot after qualifying poorly, the Modesto driver started 17th in the NASCAR-sanctioned event that saw six different leaders to earn the $2,500 first place money.
Defending track champion John Gaalswyk of Ripon was the initial leader of the 20-car field that ran smoothly for 10-laps before the first yellow was displayed as Brent Seitz of Stockton spun in turn-two with a little help from Kevin Gottula of Modesto. After Gottula was sent to the back, a red flag fell on the 13th go-round as Gaalswyk got out of shape off turn-two and collected Mike Ledbetter of Ceres, Ron Strmiska, Jr. of Manteca, and Troy Ermish of Fremont in the process. Surprisingly, only Strmiska--who ended-up under Gaalswyk and was hit hard from behind by Ermish-was forced to retire.
Jeff Belletto-the youngest of three Belletto entries-became the second leader on the subsequent green and held forth until another melee involving Todd Mumma of Fresno, Seitz and Brian Smith of Modesto occurred on lap-23 with Greg Potts of Manteca assuming the lead. Potts reign was short-lived, however, as he bowed to Ken Boyd of Ceres on the re-start as the now 17-car field ran to another caution flag for a solo spin by Mumma on lap-41.
Boyd-Stocktons all-time leader for main event wins-looked like he might add to his number as smooth racing ensued to the 59th lap when the pace was slowed for debris on the track. Potts took the top spot for a second time on lap-70 as a yellow fell for some body scraping between Gottula and Jeff Belletto in turn-two. By now, Steve Belleto had moved into second and it was time for a new cast of front-runners. The eventual winner grabbed the top spot on lap-79. From laps-83 through 88, Belletto and Nathan Tucker of Sonora waged a side-by-side battle that had the crowd of nearly 2,000 on the edge of their seats.
Twelve cars were running at the end where the focus became a late race charge by Fensler, who passed Philpott for third on lap-99 and made a kamikaze run at Tucker for second on the final go-round. Fensler actually crossed the finish line in second after colliding with Tucker off turn-four. Tucker slid backwards across the line for third, but was restored to second by Tri-Track Challenge officials, who put Fensler third.
Interestingly, the official finish of Belletto, Tucker, Fensler, Salinas Jim Pettit, Philpott and Gottula represents the top-six in the Tri-Track standings. Fensler leads Pettit by 18 points (256-238) with Tucker third (214), Belletto fourth (206), Gottula fifth (196) and Philpott sixth (190). The next event for the 10-race Shell Series will be at Stockton again on July 22. Belletto, meanwhile, will defend his position as the Stockton Late Model point leader July 1 when the second leg of the tracks Tri-Holiday Classic-the Firecracker 100-is run.
Cary Treadway of Stockton had the hot hand in the Pro Stock division--posting a new track record of !5.189 in time trials, then backing it up with a clean sweep of his heat, trophy dash, and main event. Johnny Berndt of Clements was the early leader, but gave way to Pete Anderson, Jr. of Stockton on lap-four. Treadway, who started 11th, was fourth on lap-10, third on lap-12 and second two laps later. A quick yellow for debris on lap-16, and another for a spin by Donnie Darter on lap-17, bunched up the field enabling Treadway to pull away on the green and post his sixth feature win in nine starts. He was followed to the finish by Anderson, Ed Cullom of Lockeford, Scott Chappell of Lodi and Joe Hylton of Manteca.
Treadway enjoys a 68-point lead over Chappell in the season point chase (510-442) with Hylton tight on Chappells heels at 440.
The nights three-division program was concluded by another knock down, drag out 30-lap feature from the popular I.B. Benedict Pure Stocks. Gary Ayers led the initial go-round, but quickly bowed to fellow Stockton pilot Joe Stearns on the next circuit. A tangle involving Kannai Scantlen of Stockton and two Lodi lady drivers--Cindy Quarnstrom and Aimee Sullivan--brought out a yellow on lap-four. Danny Guibor of Manteca came to second and applied pressure on Stearns with the pair running side-by-side for two laps before Guibor took the point on lap-10. Guy Guibor passed Stearns for second and eventually supplanted his brother in the top spot.
The elder brother held on to post his fifth win in 10 events on the season. He was followed to the checkered flag by Arron Shankel of Lodi, Michael Graham of Manteca, Valley Springs Tracy Bolin and brother Danny. The Guibors first and fifth finishes, combined with Jeff Lovelaces 19th place effort, enabled the brothers to move past Lovelace in the season point battle. Guy leads brother Danny by eight (462-454), with Lovelace now third just four points in front of Bolin (435-431).
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This coming week is KHOP, Rock 95, Night at Stockton 99 Speedway. The four- division program will feature two NASCAR-sanctioned divisions-Grand American Modifieds and I.B. Benedict Pure Stocks-plus Renegade Sprint Cars and Ultra-Wheel Spec Trucks.
Grandstand seating will open at 3:00 p.m. with qualifying set for 5:00.
Adult tickets for Rock 95 night will cost $12, with seniors over 65 and teens 13-17 being admitted for eight dollars and children six-to-12 for four dollars. Children under six get in free.
The Budweiser and Acura of Stockton quarter-mile paved oval action will begin at 6:00 p.m.
Stockton 99 Speedway is located at 4105 N. Wilson Way, a quarter-mile west of Highway 99.
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