MILLER RETURNS TO WINNERS CIRCLE AT STOCKTON
(STOCKTON, CA--August 6,2000)--Robert Miller of Gardnerville, Nevada paid his first visit to Stockton 99 Speedways winner circle in more than a year Saturday night leading all 30 laps to top a 23-car field of Grand American Modifieds. The 36-year old 1993 NASCAR Pacific Coast Region and 1996 99 Speedway champions victory was his 28th career triumph at Stockton, but first since July 17 of 1999.
Miller jumped past pole sitter Johnny Unger of Stockton off the get-go and began to pull away from the field that inverted 16 cars leaving a hill to climb for current and defending Pacific Coast Region and Stockton 99 point leader Mark Welch of Orangevale. Five laps in, the top-five consisted of Miller, Unger, Paul Henry of Groveland, Steve Stacy of Stockton and Barry Callouette of Benicia. Stacy came to third on lap-seven; with Callouette moving to fourth two laps later.
Meanwhile, Welch was working his way forward and made his first top-five showing on lap-14. Stacy moved to second on lap-18 with the first of three yellows falling a lap later when Erik Clark of Sacramento spun coming off turn-four. The field made only one more go-round on the re-start as Stockton driver Shawn Wentzel spun in turn two. At the same time, dash winner Tony Silva of Sacramento got into Henry on the front straight and was tagged by officials for a free ticket to the rear of the pack. Welch moved to third on lap-21 with the final yellow falling on lap-23 as Jack Stone of Lodi started smoking.
The race ran trouble free to the checkered with Miller prevailing ahead of Stacy, Welch, Callouette and fifth-place running Jason Philpot of Sacramento. It was "double point" night and, as a result, Welch widened his season point lead over Silva to 80 (869-779).
A field of only 12 Late Models was on hand for the sleek machines eighth appearance of the 2000 season. Their 50-lap, "double point" contest was slowed only three times by yellow flags. Bob Strandwold of Modesto was the early leader, but surrendered quickly to Manteca driver Greg Potts on lap-four. The first yellow came out on lap-nine as Strandwold spread fluid into the first turn, collecting five cars in the process. Harry Belletto of Modesto got the worst of the deal that sidelined Strandwold and David Philpott of Tracy, as well.
On the re-start, it was Potts followed by Ron Strmiska, Jr. of Manteca, Steve Belletto of Modesto, dash winner Jim Pettit II of Salinas and Steve Hernandez of Stockton, with Belletto coming to second on lap-11. Pettit gained third on lap-22, with a yellow falling on lap-31 as Brian Griffitts of Stockton took a trip to the rear of the pack after spinning John Wood of Walnut Creek off turn-four.
Petit moved to second on lap33 as the cars ran tight and smooth to the final yellow on lap-46 as debris scattered on the backchute. Coming to the yellow, Pettit and the leader Potts got together with Pettit ending up in the pits. Strmiska closed to second on the white flag lap and, at the checkered flag, third belonged to Jeff Belletto of Salida, with Steve Belletto of Modesto fourth in front of Troy Ermish of Fremont.
Although always a strong runner, the win for Potts was only his third career triumph with the last coming during the 1998 season. The Stockton season point chase resembles a Belletto clan gathering. Steve leads Strmiska by 26 (452-426) with Pettit third and Jeff and "Papa" Harry rounding out the top-five.
The 25-lap Pro Stock feature was a wire-to-wire, non-yellow romp with Pete Ramirez of Manteca taking the early lead. Ed Cullom of Ripon moved to the front on lap-three and the chase was on as he and Ramirez held forth in front of Lodi drivers Mike Monez and Scott Chappell.
Chappell progressed to third on the 11th circuit, with incoming point leader Cary Treadway of Stockton taking the fourth slot on lap-13. Ramirez slipped high on the backchute on lap-17 allowing dash winner Chappell to take the second slot with Treadway coming to third behind him. The fast moving Cullom held sway, though, to collect his first ever Stockton feature win.
Jerry Crawford of Stockton crossed in fourth but was DQed in a post-race inspection giving the position to Monez with Joe Hylton of Manteca being credited with the fifth place finish.
Treadway holds a 75-point lead over Chappell in the season battle (867-792).
The I.B. Benedict Pure Stock division saw a record tying third straight feature win going to Tracy Bolin of Valley Springs, who led wire-to-wire from the pole. While Bolin cruised, there was plenty of banging between the 19 cars behind him.
On lap-three, Chevy Collier of Stockton got involved in the three wide battle off turn-two and tagged the backchute wall. Mike Graham of Manteca took third on lap-seven, with fellow Mantecan Danny Guibor coming to third two laps later. A second yellow fell on lap-12 when seven cars got together on the front straight.
Danny Guibor moved to second on lap-14 with his brother Guy taking third on the next pass. The race ran trouble free to the 28th circuit when the frontrunner Tracy Bolins brother Tom of Morgan Hill spun in the fourth corner producing a checkered-yellow.
The Guibor brothers held tight for second and third, followed by career bests for Jeff Ahl of Lodi fourth, rookie Tom Dahl of Stockton fifth and Aimee Sullivan of Lodi in sixth. Guy Guibor leads brother Danny in the season point standings (917-871) with Tracy Bolin closing in third at 864.
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NASCAR Pacific Coast Region point leader Mark Welch of Orangevale will be out to snap a four-race losing streak this Saturday night at Stockton 99 Speedway. Barry Callouette, Bob Reichmuth, Danny Contessotto and Robert Miller have won the last four Grand American Modified main events.
The Grand American Modifieds will be complemented by a 50-lap feature for Pro Stocks as part of Lagorio Communications Night on 99s quarter-mile paved oval. The three division program will also feature the I.B. Benedict Pure Stocks.
Ticket gates will open at 3:00 p.m. with green flag racing set for 6:00.
Stockton 99 Speedway is located at 4105 N. Wilson Way, a quarter-mile west of Highway 99.
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