PETTIT ROLL CONTINUES AT STOCKTON
(STOCKTON, CA--September 17, 2000)--Jim Pettit II is on a roll and he added to his run Saturday night at NASCAR-sanctioned 99 Speedway by notching his fifth win in 10 Stockton starts and his fifth in nine 100-lap Shell Tri-Track Challenge events. Overall, on the season, the 35-year old Salinas driver has 17 asphalt triumphs and four more on dirt.
Pettit started ninth in a 23-car field that saw Dave Byrd of Pacific Grove take the first lap lead only to have a quick yellow fell for debris on the track when John Wood of Walnut Creek lost his drivers side door panel. A second yellow fell on lap-six as Sonora pilot Nathan Tucker and defending Stockton Late Model champion John Gaalswyk of Ripon tangled in turn four with Tucker spinning and going down a lap to the leaders. As they lined up for the re-start, Byrd was followed by five-time track champion Ken Boyd of Ceres, current point leader Steve Belletto of Modesto, Fremonts Troy Ermish and Ron Strmiska, Jr., of Manteca. However, as the green fell, Byrd lost power and was bumped from behind by Belletto, with Byrd coasting to a stop in the grass off turn-one. Boyd was the first back to the yellow to claim the lead with Ermish second, Pettit third, Strmiska fourth and Belletto fifth.
The drivers settled into a rhythm for the next 35 laps with Pettit pressuring Ermish and Boyd and finally succeeding on lap-47 when Boyd got hung up trying to lap Stocktons Steve Hernandez. Lap-49 saw another yellow that eventually became a red when C.J. Jahnke of Reno and Greg Potts of Manteca tangled on the backstretch. Potts mount was permanently disabled and had to be towed to the pits. During the red, Ermish, who was lined up second, went to the infield leaving the top-fivePettit, Strmiska, Steve Belletto, Tim Bost of Rocklin and two-time Stockton champion Harry Belletto.
Another 30 laps zipped by with Pettit being chased by Strmiska. The top five remained status quo with some intrigue being created by Byrd, who was looking to get his lap back. Kevin Gottula of Modesto brought out the yellow on lap-83 with a spin in turn-two as Harry Belletto moved to fourth. The final caution flag fell with just two-laps to go on the 100-lap affair as Gaalswyk and Tucker both spun together again in turn-two.
It was a shoot-out to the checkered with Pettit holding forth over Strmiska, Steve Belletto, Harry Belletto, and Bost. With a single Tri-Track event left, Pettit now leads Jason Fensler of Wilton by 23-points (477-454). Fensler set the fast time for the event and finished seventh behind Jeff Belletto of Modesto.
Interestingly, in spite of his success, Pettit is third in the Stockton Late Model standings trailing both Steve Belletto and Strimiska. Belletto, with 548, leads Strmiska by 27 and Pettit by 45 with a season ending "double point" 50-lapper scheduled for September 23.
Vince Little of Clovis dominated the 30-lap Ultra Wheel Spec Trucks feature that saw much of the attention focused on Mike David of Modesto. Donnie Large of Clovis led the first lap; however, the re-start flag was dropped as David, the fast qualifier, and Michael Sherman of Stockton tangled on the backstretch. As a result, David was forced
to re-start at the back of the field. Large again posted the first lap lead with Little moving to the fore on the third go-round. By lap-four, David was back to fifth, fourth on the next pass and third on lap-seven.
David created another problem on lap-14 when he got into the back of Large causing him to spin and being ordered by track officials to join Large at the rear of the pack. By lap-19, David was back to fourth, coming to third on lap-25 before running out of time in his effort to catch Little. Kevin Thompson of Cypress finished second in front of David with Mark Laeger of Temecula forth and local Grand America pilot Sam Solari of Salida making his truck debut fifth.
The I.B. Benedict Pure Stock division saw the first lap lead fall to Mike Soiseth of Stockton with the remaining 19-car field getting grinding for positions behind. Gary Shafer, Jr., of Stockton, driving a car usually run by Cindy Quarnstrom of Lodi, quickly got everyones attention by moving to third on lap-eight and eventually pressuring Soiseth for the top spot. At the 15th lap halfway point, it was Soiseth, Shafer and point leader and defending champion Guy Guibor of Manteca.
Shafer challenged Soiseth in a side by side duel that saw them come to the start-finish in a virtual dead-heat on the 24th lap yellow flag with Shafer getting the nod for the first place position. Shafer then pulled away to notch his 9th career feature win but first since May of 1999. Michael Graham passed Guibor for second, with Chevy Collier of Stockton fourth and Tracy Bolin of Valley Springs fifth.
Guibor leads the season point battle over Bolin (1210-1133) with one race left.
Eleven American Stocks, with their season finished at Altamont Raceway Park, made their first Stockton 99 appearance. Rick Avila of Pleasanton led the first lap of their 25-lap feature with Gary Chandler of Redwood City moving to the point on lap-four.
Rod Winfred of Modesto was the next leader and he held off Jamie McLaren of San Mateo and Jason Gilbert of Pleasanton in an entertaining three-way battle. Dean Parcells of Manteca finished fourth in front of early leader Chandler.
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The NASCAR "POINTS" portion of the 2000 racing season comes to an end Saturday Night at Stockton 99 Speedway with "double points" in all divisions.
NAPA Auto Parts is the sponsor for a 50-lap Late Model Sportsman feature that will decide the season point championship between Steve Belletto, Ron Strmiska, Jr. and Jim Pettit.
The program will also feature Grand American Modifieds, Pro Stocks and I.B. Benedict Pure Stocks.
Ticket gates for the NAPA Auto Parts "double points" Night will open at 3:00 p.m., with time trials at 5:00 and green flag racing at 6:00.
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