PETTIT WINS STOCKTON OPENER
4-1-01 BY: Jim Shiels
Nearly 2,000 fans enjoyed opening day activities for the start of the 55th racing season at Stockton 99 Speedway, as the NASCAR sanction Late Models, Grand Americans, Pro Stocks, Pure Stocks, and USAC/BRCA Midgets (see story by Floyd Busby below) vied for top honors and early season point leads on the high-banked quarter-mile paved oval.
Jim Pettit, III, of Salinas scored the big win and banked the $2,000 winners share of the $16,000 purse set aside for the return of the Late Model division to its NASCAR Regional Series premier status.
Rookie Late Model driver Chris Wadsworth of Oakley controlled the pole position for the start of the 76-lap C.L. Bryant/Union 76 Gasoline sponsored feature, but the first lap lead went to outside runner Tony Schmidt of Modesto. Eric Schmidt of Roseville passed Tony on lap-five as the field ran to its first yellow on lap-eight for a spin by Joey Zamp of Napa on the back straight. Pettit restated on the outside of Schmidt with Dave Byrd of San Jose coming to third on lap-12. Pettit made his move under the leader into turn one and took the point on lap-15.
Defending champion Steve Belletto of Modesto moved to 4th on lap-17, with Rookie runner Angelo Queirolo of Lathrop coming to 5th on lap-19. Byrd and Belletto moved to the second and third slots on lap-31 as the field continued it torrid pace to a 38th lap yellow as Wadsworth spun in turn-four. Minor contacts and debris caused cut tires on Steve and Harry Belletto costing both a trip to the infield for fresh rubber.
Another yellow fell two laps later as Harry Belletto came to a stop high in turn-four, and his other son Jeff Belletto spun on the front straight heading for the yellow. The final go-slow flag was exposed on the 42nd circuit as Kevin Gottula of Modesto and Wadsworth got tangled up in turn-four.
The final restart saw Pettit in front of Queirolo, Byrd, Jason Wright of Modesto, and Stockton pilot Brent Seitz, with Byrd coming to second on lap-44. Jeff Belletto worked his way back to third on lap-61 with Seitz coming to 4th on lap-64 as Queirolo slid to 5th. Seitz gained third on lap-69 to set the final finish order of Pettit, Byrd, Seitz, Jeff Belletto, and Queirolo, with the top three runners earning a guaranteed starting position in the first of the three Tri-Holiday events set for May 26th. Fast time on the night went to Jeff Belletto at 13.734 with heat wins falling to Tony Schmidt, and Jim Fair. Chris Wadsworth won the trophy dash.
Eddie Wilcox of Modesto brought the Grand American feature field to its first green with outside runner Mike Regelman of Ripon grabbing the first lap lead before spinning himself out of contention on lap-seven causing a five-car jam-up and bringing out the first of three yellows and a red that were waved over the 20-lap contest.
Troy McQueen of Lodi took the point for the restart but got turned around just as quickly in turn-one with track officials laying the blame on Paul Henry of Groveland with both ending up at the rear of the field now led by Steve Stacy of Stockton. The red fell one circuit later as Rookie Chris Mays and Robert Knittel of Lodi got togeather off turn four with Mays taking a hard hit against the wall under the flagstand. Buzz Devore of Stockton got past Stacy to take the point on the restart with Jay Linstroth of Citrus Heights gaining second over Stacy on lap-12. A solo spin by Aaron Young of Stockton briefly slowed the action on lap-14 and allowed Linstroth to take the lead with Jason Philpot of Sacramento coming to second on lap-18. To set the final finish of Linstroth, Philpot, Devore, Stacy, and Knittel. Linstroth had the fastest lap in time trials at 14.298 with heat wins going to Eric Clark, Danny Contessotto, and Stacy. Stacy came back to take the dash win with the Semi-Main win going to Jack Stone of Lodi.
In the Pro Stock ranks, it was Joe Hylton of Manteca with the pole duties for the 20-lap feature, but again the first lap lead fell to the outside runner as Jason White of Lodi beat him to the flagstand on lap-one. White spun on his own on lap-four handing the lead to Jerry Crawford of Stockton who in turn passed it Johnny Berndt of Clements with Hylton coming back to the front on lap-seven. Defending division champion Cary Treadway of Stockton came to second on lap-nine and took the lead on the next pass as another yellow followed for another spin by White.
Crawford gained the lead for one go-round before Treadway got it back and Mike Garcia of Lodi edged into third. Two yellows slowed the action on laps 14 & 16 with Garcia coming to second on lap-18. A major crash brought out the checkered/yellow as Hylton and Crawford tangled on the backchute leaving Crawford stuck in the pit exit gate opening. Treadway led Garcia to the final flag, but both failed to stop at the newly designated tech area on the back straight and were set down one lap on the final record sheet, giving the win to Ed Cullom of Ripon. Mike Monez of Lodi was scored second, followed by Hylton and Berndt. Treadway set the quick time on the night with a fast 15.178 with the dash win going to Mike Garcia.
The fender slamming Pure Stock feature saw outside pole sitter Ray Davis of Galt take the first lap lead and hold strong to lap-seven before bowing to Tracy Bolin of Valley Springs. Bolin was never headed as he lead Davis, Doug Lane of Stockton, highly improved Jeff Ahl of Lodi, and Danny Guibor of Manteca to the checkered flag.
Doug Lane, John Medina, Danny Guibor, and Johnny Bird won heats, with the dash win going to Lane. Kannai Scantlen took the Semi-Main honors.
The action will continue next Saturday, April 7th with the first regular season nighttime event of Late Model, Grand American, Pro Stock, and Pure Stock action set to flag off at 6:00 p.m.
Stockton 99 Speedway is located at 4105 North Wilson Way, a quarter-mile west of Highway 99.
MESERAULL CATAPULTS TO CAVALCADE VICTORY By Floyd Busby
STOCKTON, CA., APRIL 1: It was not an April Fools joke for Thomas Meseraull as he drove the TST Motorsports Esslinger/Beast to victory in the 54th Annual Cavalcade of Racing at the Stockton 99 Speedway. Meseraull took the lead from early pacesetter Josh Wise at the halfway point of the 30-lapper on the speedways banked and paved oval. The midgets were part of the annual speedway season opener with four NASCAR divisions, led by the late model stock cars.
The co-sanctioned USAC Western States and BCRA midget go marked the opening race of the season for BCRA and the third for USAC, with Meseraull coming out on top in the early point battle with both sanctioning organizations.
Josh Wise led off the feature from the pole in Eric and Charlie Wises Esslinger/Beast, as Meseraull jumped from sixth-starting to second on the first round. Shane Scully held third aboard his Pink/Beast with Pete Davis fourth in the former Billy Sipe Esslinger/TCR. Over the next two laps Ricky Shelton moved by to claim third aboard the John Gregg Gaerte/Beast.
Marc DeBeaumont, the former driving champion with both BCRA and USAC, moved the Bob Rosen Brayton/Beast into the fifth slot from his 10th starting position by the sixth lap. Meseraull hounded Wise through the 15th lap, then made good his bid for the lead, earning the top spot to lead lap-16 as the leaders began lapping several slower cars. At the mid-point Shelton still held third, Scully fourth, and DeBeaumont fifth with a quick Matt Streeter sixth in his Pink/Drinan. One lap later Streeter was sidelined with a broken u-joint and Steve Paden took over the position with Danny Ebberts following.
The fast-running lead pack remained the same until the 26th circuit as Paden moved past DeBeaumont for fifth. At starter John Morelands checkered flag it was Meseraull over Wise, Shelton, Scully, Paden and DeBeaumont, with Rory Price, Ebberts and Chuck Gurney Jr. rounding out the top-ten, as 16 of the 20 starters were running at the finish. Sleepy Tripps day ended as he was pushed off for the feature and experienced mechanical problems, leaving him sidelined before the start.
Meseraull gave a preview of his dominance by outqualifying the 27-car field with the top time of 13.306. The fastest six cars automatically transferred to the feature. DeBeaumont took the first of two 12-lap heat races over Scully, Davis and Floyd Alvis. Shelton won the second heat over Wise, Sleepy Tripp and Tony Hunt. Jim Silva took the Chandler Chevy V4/Beast to the semi-main win over Bill Lindsey and Cliff Servetti.
Meseraull, a signed-in member of both BCRA and USAC, earned the distinction as point leader in both organizations. The next USAC event is on April 7 at Irwindale and next BCRA race is at Madera on April 21, co-sanctioned with USAC.
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