PETTIT TRI-TRACK WINNER; CLOSES ON FENSLER

(STOCKTON, CA--July 23, 2000)--Jim Pettit II of Salinas romped home the winner in the sixth installment of the 10-race Shell Tri-Track Challenge series Saturday night at Stockton 99 Speedway. The 100-lap Late Model Sportsman event—part of the Paul Oil Co. of Oakdale sponsored series staged over three valley tracks—featured six different leaders with 14 of 20 starters still running at the end.

Kevin Pugh of Sacramento took the first lap-lead from his outside starting position and led the pack to the first of nine yellows on lap-four as Troy Ermish had a rim tear loose on the backchute. The re-start saw Pugh in front of Mike Ledbetter of Ceres, Ron Strmiska, Jr., of Manteca, five-time Stockton 99 champion Ken Boyd of Ceres and Tri-Track point leader Jason Fensler of Wilton.

On the ensuing green, the field only made one circuit as the two frontrunners—Pugh and Ledbetter--tangled and spun in turn-four, giving the lead to Boyd at the yellow with Strmiska second. Strmiska passed Boyd on the 10th go-round and ran to the next "cool-it" flag on lap-14, as Pugh and Ledbetter tangled for a second time at the back of the pack.

On lap-18, Fensler, who entered the night with an 18-point lead over Pettit and gained five more by setting fast time, joined the leaders as the race settled down to a smooth run to the 41st lap. The next yellow was displayed when Greg Potts of Manteca cut a tire and got trapped on the high-side of the front straightaway. Under the caution, NASCAR officials started hunting for someone dropping oil and it turned out to be Boyd who was forced to the pits. That left Strmiska alone at the front with Harry Belletto of Modesto second, Fensler third, and Harry’s youngest son Jeff fourth.

The next shakeup at the front occurred on a re-start following a quick yellow for a spin on lap-47 by Brent Seitz of Stockton. Fensler spun on his own between turns three and four with the senior Belletto grabbing the lead as the cars raced back to the flagstand. At that stage, the top-five consisted of H. Belletto, Strmiska, Dave Byrd of Pacific Grove, defending Stockton champ John Gaalswyk of Ripon and Pettit, who, after starting 10th, had worked his way through the field.

Following his spin, Fensler pulled up lame with a flat tire and pitted to make a change. David Philpott of Tracy also went to the infield with more than a flat tire. As the cars took the next green, Byrd passed Strmiska for second and began to press Belletto succeeding on lap-56 with Pettit coming to third four laps later. Belletto made several runs at Byrd with Pettit lurking in third. The eventual winner passed Belletto on lap-81 and moved to the point on lap-85.

Yellows for a flat tire for Kevin Gottula of Modesto on lap-92 and a spin by Strmiska on lap-96 added to the drama as Pettit held tough to cross in front of H. Belletto, Byrd, current Stockton point leader Steve Belletto of Modesto and Strmiska. Pettit’s win, his second in the Tri-Track series, earned him $2,500 of the more than $11,000 purse. Fensler finished sixth and surrendered 10-points to Pettit, who now trails the leader by only 13 (294-307). The next Shell event will take place August 12 at Madera.

A visitor, Jeff Brunton of Auburn, dominated the Pro Stock action. After qualifying sixth fast, Brunton won his heat, trophy dash and 30-lap main event. Only two yellows slowed the action in the feature with the first lap lead falling to Mike Monez of Lodi. Brunton took over on the second go-round with Johnny Berndt of Clements, Monez, Joe Hylton of Manteca and Mike Garcia of Lodi in tow.

The first yellow fell on lap-12 as heat winner Pete Ramirez of Manteca got into the back of Stockton pilot Cary Treadway, with Treadway spinning out in the second corner. One go-round later, Garcia saw his motor go up in a cloud of smoke to create the second caution. Lodi driver Scott Chappell came to second on the re-start with Jerry Crawford of Stockton taking third on the next pass. Brunton held on to win with Chappell, Crawford, fast timer Treadway and Hylton completing the top five.

Treadway leads Chappell in the season point standings (775-696).

Tracy Bolin of Valley Springs ruled the roost in the popular I.B. Benedict Pure Stock division. Taking charge on the first lap, Bolin led Chad Holman of Stockton and season point leader Guy Guibor of Manteca after five laps. Guibor took second on lap-11 with the yellow falling on lap-13 as Jeff Lovelace of Stockton shredded a tire and stopped against the backchute wall. On the next green, Arron Shankel of Lodi and Chris Mays of Stockton joined Bolin, Guibor and Holman to form the top five.

Bolin held off Guibor’s challenge to record his second 2000 season victory. After Guibor, it was Holman, Mays and Ray Davis of Galt completing the lead quintet. Guy Guibor leads the season point chase over his brother Danny (778-741) will Bolin third at 703.

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The Grand American Modifieds, featuring NASCAR Pacific Coast Region leader Mark Welch of Orangevale, will return to Stockton 99 Speedway Saturday, July 29. The program will also include PARTS Trucks, Renegade Sprint Cars and I.B. Benedict Pure Stocks.

Time Trials are set for 5:00 p.m. with green flag racing at 6:00. Tickets for the four-division agenda will be available for $12, eight for seniors over 65 and teens 13-to-17 and four dollars for children six-to-12. Toddlers 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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