weeklylogo.jpg (3945 bytes)BELLETTO RAMPAGE AT STOCKTON

6-17-01   BY: Jim Shiels

The Belletto racing family of Modesto took center stage at Stockton 99 Speedway this week as The C.L. Bryant/Union 76 Late Models ran off another twin 38-lap feature program on Craftsmen Night at the Races. With a non-yellow run in the first feature and only one minor slow down in the second, Steve Belletto took over the current division point lead after strong wins in both events, backed by additional top runs by his brother Jeff and Father Harry.

Eric Schmidt of Roseville and heat winner Chris Wadsworth of Oakley brought the field to it’s first feature green with Schmidt taking charge of the early lead as Steve Belletto moved from fifth to fourth on lap three. Second place runner Wadsworth spun in turn-2 on lap-10 but quickly got back on the power before a yellow was thrown, allowing Steve Belletto to pull tight behind the leader Schmidt. The two got side-by-side on lap-24 with Steve taking the lead on lap-25. Jeff Belletto progressed to second followed by fast timer Harry Belletto as the checkered fell. Heat & dash winner Schmidt followed in fourth with Joey Zampa of Napa rounding out the top five.

In the second NASCAR sanctioned feature it was incoming point leader Dave Byrd of San Jose on the pole with outside runner Schmidt beating him to the first lap lead as the duo ran off 16-laps bumper to bumper with Steve Belletto coming to third on lap-17. Belletto got past Byrd for second on lap-19 and took the lead for good on lap-21. A solo spin by Brian Smith of Modesto was the only nick in the program with "Dad" Belletto coming to second on lap-24. The remaining laps saw Harry playing cat & mouse with son Steve as the two took the final flag ahead of Byrd, Zampa, and Wadsworth.

Steve parlayed a five-point incoming point deficit into a 12-point outgoing lead over Byrd in the season standings.

The Grand American division produced another yellow-flag melee with Danny Contessotto of Stockton taking the early lead from pole sitter Shawn Wentzel, also of Stockton. Solo Spins by Mike Regelman of Ripon and Eddie Wilcox of Modesto brought out the first of six yellows on lap-two with Steve Stacy of Stockton running second on the restart. A yellow on lap-four saw duel action with fast timer Paul Henry of Big Oak Flat spinning on the front straight. Officials blamed Robert Knittel of Lodi for a ‘pay-back’ action after Henry had gotten into Knittel in the trophy dash with Knittel taking a hard shot to the front wall. At the same time the leader Contessotto spun in turn two, handing the point position to Steve Stacy at the yellow.

Officials placed the blame on Wilcox for spinning Fred Clement of Stockton in turn two on lap-11 and Clement gave Wilcox an "Atta-boy-award" by folding his rear quarter panel on the front straight as a personal note of thanks.

Jay Linstroth of Citrus Heights took the lead from Stacy on lap-16 and two laps later in a battle for the front spot, Stacy got his tire cut and spun out heading to the pits for fresh rubber. The contact between the two allowed Greg Williams of Ceres to come home the leader at the yellow. The final yellow fell on lap-20 as Jason Kerby and Wentzel locked bumpers and spun on the front straight.

Williams was untouched as he took his fourth feature win in his fifth season appearance. Ted Harrison of Stockton took second in his best rookie season finish to date. Incoming point leader Paul Henry was third followed by Contessotto, and Knittel.

Tracy Bolin of Valley Springs and Cindy Freitas of Lodi shared the front row duties for the Pure Stock feature with Bolin taking the early lead. Heat and Dash winner Danny Guibor of Manteca came to fourth on lap-two, third on lap-five, and second on lap-seven before a lap-10 yellow slowed the action as Stockton drivers Doug Lane and Chad Holman locked bumpers and spun off turn-four. Guibor made the move under Bolin on lap-15 but the two made contact and spun with the lead falling back to Cindy Freitas. Mike Graham of Manteca got a super shot on the restart and took the lead on lap-16, saying "I knew I had to get her on the start, she was too darn fast to get later." Graham brought it home a winner over Freitas, Heat winner Tom Bolin of Morgan Hill, Holman, and Ray Davis of Galt.

Additional heats were won by Kannai Scantlen of Stockton and Jeff Ahl of Lodi. Bryan Clark of Lodi took the Semi-Main win.

Shain Matthews of Marysville won the BCRA Midget feature followed by Chuck Gurney Jr., of Livermore, Floyd Alvis of San Carlos, Jim Silva of Manteca and Tony Hunt of Sacramento. (See story by Floyd Busby)

Stockton Speedway will go dark this coming Saturday as fans flock to the Winston Cup events at Sears Point Raceway, but will return to action June 30th with Grand Am, Pro Stock, Pure Stock, and Super Truck racing on the high-banked quarter-mile track.

MATTHEWS KEEPS HIS COOL TO SCORE FAST STOCKTON WIN
By Floyd Busby

STOCKTON, CA., JUNE 16: Shain Matthews put all of his competitors doubts aside as he ran to a wire-to-wire victory in the Bay Cities Racing Association midget main event at the Stockton "99" Speedway.

Only three days before his win, the formerly "emancipated" fifteen-year-old turned sixteen. Any skepticism by the veterans about the youth's coolness under fire should have been wiped out with his impressive drive around the quarter-mile, banked paved oval.

Matthews started the 30-lapper on the outside of the second row. At the drop of the starter's green flag, Matthews shot like a cannon between the front row starters and swept the CMR Motorsports Gaerte/Lightning into the lead. Matthews led Scott Bertkin and Bill Lindsey for the first lap before the first of two caution flags were waved. Danny Olmstead, making his first start in years, snapped a drive line in his Pink Chevy/Beast to bring out the yellow.

At the restart Matthews again shot into the first turn. Quickly, his pace was matched by Tony Hunt in the Rosen Brayton/Beast and Jim Silva in the Chandler Chevy V4/Beast, moving into the number two and three slots. Last weekend's two-race winner Chuck Gurney slid the Baraldi Brayton Ford/Stewart into the fourth position. Floyd Alvis moved his Interstate Batteries Gaerte/Stealth from 11th starting into the fifth slot over Dan Gundo's Gaerte/Stealth and Bill Lindsey's trusty VW/Diego.

The second yellow came out on the eighth lap when Cliff Servetti experienced throttle control problems in his new Buick Brayton/Stealth. John Haugh also retired with a flat tire. From that point on the front six appeared wired together.

Hunt made several attempts to unseat Matthews. On the 14th circuit Gurney bested Silva for third and three laps later it was Alvis slipping by Silva for fourth. Gundo, experiencing brake problems, slipped off the pace, but still maintained the sixth position.

Lap 26 was almost the undoing for the leading Matthews. As he approached Joe Lindsey's VW/Diego to lap him, Lindsey's car slid a bit and Matthews rammed him as they exited turn-2, sending up a chain reaction. Both Matthews and Lindsey slid high onto the back stretch.

Gurney jumped by Hunt and then sped down the backstretch slightly ahead of the regrouped Matthews. Gurney led slightly as the leaders ran side-by-side through turns three and four with Gurney holding the edge down the front chute. The lead looked to be Gurneys, but Matthews charged deeper into the first turn and retook the spot.During this melee, Alvis charged by Hunt to capture third.

The leading five continued their close association over the final laps. Silva used lapped traffic to move by Hunt for fourth. At the checkered it was Matthews over Gurney, Alvis, Silva, Hunt, Gundo, and Bill Lindsey. Among the lapped cars, Gary Dickenson took the high side around Bertkin on the final lap to place seventh over Bertkin and Joe Lindsey.

Alvis claimed the top qualifying slot over the 16-car field. Matthews won the first heat over Bill and Joe Lindsey. Gundo scored his first eight-lapper ahead of Gurney and Hunt. Gurney came back to nab the trophy dash.


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