WELCH TOPS HUGE STOCKTON 99 GRAND AM FIELD
(STOCKTON, CA--July 3, 2000)-NASCAR Pacific Coast Region front runner Mark Welch of Orangevale led all 100 laps as Stockton 99 Speedway presented the second half of its Independence Day weekend doubleheader Monday. Saturday, Jim Pettit II of Salinas led every lap of the Firecracker 100 for Late Model Sportsman. Welchs performance-giving him 10 wins in 12 races-came against the largest field (39) of Grand American Modifieds ever to gather at Stockton.
Paired on the outside front row next to his closest pursuer, Tony Silva of Sacramento, Welch assumed the top spot when the green flag was waved and never looked back. Shell Tri-Track Challenge Late Model point leader Jason Fensler of Wilton-making his first Grand Am start since 1998-slipped past Silva for second on lap-three. The first yellow for the 22-car feature was displayed on lap-six when Angelo Quierolo of Lathrop tangled with Teresa Morten of Manteca.
After Morten pitted briefly for repairs, the event ran smoothly to lap-33 when a bump from Quierolo left Steve Stacy of Stockton against the front straight wall. As the field rounded the track to the yellow, Stacy took a hard hit by Darrin Halterman, who was running fifth at the moment. Haltermans mount had to be cradled from the track while Stacy, in spite of being able to return after extensive repairs, still finished last.
Only two minor yellows slowed the pace as the then 20-car field completed the first 50-laps and was red-flagged for a fueling stop. The top five at the halfway point was Welch, Fensler, Silva, Barry Callouette of Benicia--who had started dead last after pitting during hot laps prior to the green flag, and Robert Miller of Gardnerville, Nevada.
Callouette moved to third on lap-52 and passed Fensler for second ten laps later. On lap-69, Morten performed a solo spin in turn-four. In trying to get going again, she turned into top-five runner Jason Philpot forcing the Sacramento pilot to the sideline with a 19th- place finish. Lap-75 produced a multi-car melee on the backstretch that included Modestos Charles Perreira, Miller and Aaron Young of Stockton. All three were relegated to the pits with Miller 15th, Perreira 16th and Young 17th.
Two laps later, Callouette and Fensler, running second and third, tangled with both ending up at the back of the then 14-car field. All was well to lap-94 when Queirolo, running fourth, tried to split the second and third place cars of Silva and Greg Williams of Ceres. While Silva and Williams both spun, Quierolo survived and was in second behind Welch with six laps to go. Unfortunately for Quierolo, his mount limped into the pits on the re-start allowing Paul Henry of Groveland and the fast returning Callouette to grab second and third. In an effort to overtake him, Callouette spun Henry on the final lap. That gaffe enabled Fensler to return to second and be followed to the checkered flag by Williams, and two newcomers to the top-five-Sam Solari of Salida and Shawn Wentzel of Stockton. NASCAR officials ruled that Callouette would be placed behind Henry, thus the Groveland pilot ended up seventh and Callouette eighth.
The Welch win was good for $1,500 of the $9,000 purse and enabled to stretch his season point lead over Silva to 57 (630-573). The record 39 car count necessitated running a C-Main won by Victor Machado of Escalon with the Semi going to Mike David of Modesto.
The USAC Midgets were on hand for their second Stockton 99 appearance of the season. Veteran Sleepy Tripp led an 18-car field to the green flag. 17-year old Josh Wise started third, moved to second on lap-seven and took the point one lap later. Only one yellow slowed the action as Wise recorded his second career win in front of Danny Drinan of Indianapolis with Danny Ebberts of Canyon Lake, Matt Streeter of Salt Lake City and Robert Dolacki of Wasco completing the top-five.
The first of two Midget heat races produced a scary end-over-end flip on the front straight that saw fast qualifier Sterling Pratz of Larkspur make a trip to the hospital. Pratz was conscious and alert, but complained of back pain.
Legends were the evenings third division and their 30-lapper ran with only one yellow. Joey Zampa of Napa set fast time for the 26-car gathering and recorded his third straight feature triumph. David Gundred of Vacaville took the initial lead with Zampa all the way back in the 13th position. Gundred became his own worst enemy on lap-13 when he spun coming off turn-two giving the lead to Tim Farquhar of Pinole with Zampa coming to second one lap later.
Zampa moved to the front on lap-19 and was chased to the checkered flag by Mark Bailey of San Lorenzo. Farquhar held on to third followed by Ryan Mosher of Cupertino and Kelly Martin of Modesto.
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Stockton 99 Speedways NASCAR-sanctioned racing program for Saturday, July 8, will include Grand American Modifieds, Pro Stocks and Pure Stocks.
For the first time in two years, the I.B. Benedict sponsored Pure Stocks will qualify and, more than likely, will set a new track record for the division. The program will also provide an opportunity to see Mark Welch, the NASCAR Pacific Coast Region point leader and whether Pro Stock point leader Cary Treadway of Stockton can extend a personal streak of sweeps-fast time, dash and feature wins-that covers three weeks back to June 10.
Ticket gates open at 3:00 p.m. with qualifying set for 5:00 and green flag racing at 6:30.
Adult tickets are $12, eight for seniors over 65 and teens 13-to-17, four for children six-to-12 with those under six getting in free.
Stockton 99 Speedway is located at 4105 N. Wilson Way, a quarter-mile west of Highway 99.
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