FOURTH STRAIGHT FOR ‘DAD’ BELLETTO
BY: JIM SHIELS
Harry Belletto of Modesto ended the NASCAR sanctioned C.L. Bryant/Union 76 Gasoline sponsored Late Model season at Stockton 99 Speedway with his fourth straight feature win in a 100-lap duel that was anything but easy for the first 75 circuits on the famed quarter-mile asphalt track.
After a heat win and second place dash run, Belletto found himself on the outside pole for the feature with newly crowned season rookie Joey Zampa of Napa taking the first lap lead from the pole. Belletto slipped to fourth by lap-five behind Chris Wadsworth of Oakley and Steve Belletto of Modesto, Harry’s son. A spin by Brent Seitz of Stockton on lap-13 brought out the first yellow that in turn led to a change of the lead in favor of Wadsworth on the restart. Dave Byrd of San Jose moved to fifth on lap-21, and fourth on lap-23, with Jeff Belletto of Modesto taking fifth on the same circuit.
Corey Petero of Riverbank was the cause of yellow flag number two on lap-26 that led to a red flag to clean up debris, as the pack lined up for a restart consisting of Wadsworth, Zampa, Harry Belletto, fast timer Greg Potts and Jeff Belletto. Potts climbed to third on lap-33 but then slowed three laps later and got stranded on the high side with a flat tire to pull an additional ‘cool-it’ flag.
Harry Belletto moved to second on the restart and followed Wadsworth’s lead with youngest son Jeff on his bumper. A broken axle ended the night and a bid for second in season point for Jeff on lap-51. Steve Belletto took control of third place on lap55. Heat winner Kevin Gottula of Modesto got into the back of Brian Griffitts of Stockton on the front straight on lap-63 to bring out the final yellow with Harry Belletto set for the restart and charging to the lead. Wadsworth made the veteran Belletto work hard as he pressed him for the next ten laps almost side by side before Harry took sole control. Harry picked up his 69th career win leaving him two short of a tie for the division all time total of 71 held by Ceres driver Ken Boyd. Wadsworth finished second ahead of season champion Steve Belletto, heat and dash winner Zampa, and Byrd who ended the season second in points.
Doug Ollis of Modesto took the first lap lead in the Pro Stock feature, bowing to Robert Knittel of Lodi on lap-three after a quick yellow. The event ran clean to the 15th circuit before a series of four yellows brought the race to a crawl, as solo spins became the fashion. Knittel had the event well in hand to the final circuit before Ollis spun in turn-four. Knittel checked up and moved to the outside while second place runner and fast timer Johnny Berndt of Clements dove to the inside. The resulting drag race to the checkered was won by Berndt, with Knittel falling to second. Division rookie of the year runner Jeff Lovelace of Stockton added to his heat win by crossing in third ahead of Ollis, and Mike Monez of Lodi. Pete Ramirez of Manteca won the other heat and the dash.
With the final regular night of action at hand, it was time for the gals to strut their stuff in a Powder Puff event using cars provided by the Pure Stock division drivers. Evelyn Bird took the first lap lead and ran to a red on lap two as Jaime Grant of Stockton erupted in smoke and fire going into turn one. Ann Morgan of Sacramento took charge on the restart and held tough through four more yellows before being spun from the lead by Torrie Sanchez of Stockton on lap-13. Donna Jacke grabbed the lead on lap-14 and held through two more yellows before bowing to Corey Koshman of Lodi. The lead was short for Corey as she spun herself out on the following circuit handing the lead and the win to Jacke. Gerri Knittel of Lodi crossed in second followed by Samantha Clement of Stockton. Clement might have had the stronger car had she not fallen victim to a faltering fuel pump. Debbie Himes of Stockton was fourth over Cindy Bentz of Lodi. Sanchez won her heat and the dash with other heats falling to Jill Keaster of Manteca and Jaime Grant.
A division of visiting Super Stocks were on hand with Noah Salazar taking the feature win over Tony Flores, Steve Rieben, Billy Mann, and Chad Holman. Mann and Salazar won the heats with the dash event win going to Jason Gilbert, who also set the quick time for the 15 entries.
BAY CITIES RACING ASSOCIATION
By Floyd Busby
MESERAULL RACES TWICE TO B.C.R.A. MIDGET WIN
STOCKTON, CA, SEPT. 29: Thomas Meseraull rose to the occasion
twice during the 30-lap Bay Cities Racing Association feature to
score the win at the Stockton "99" Speedway.
A 16th lap shunt and spin while running second in the TST
Motorsports Esslinger/Beast prompted the determined driver to charge
from the rear to take the lead from Pete Davis on the 28th circuit
around the quarter-mile paved oval.
Veteran Ken Molica led off the 20-car starting field from his
outside front row position aboard his Fontana/Beast. Holding second
was recent BCRA midget lite graduate A.J. Martin, making only his
second appearance in his Ford-Brayton/Stealth. Eighth-starting Chuck
Gurney Jr. powered into third on the first lap in the Baraldi
Brayton-Ford/Stewart with pole-sitter Bill Lindsey and Shain Matthews
Floyd Alvis, coming off his win the previous week at Madera
that cinched the 2001 BCRA driving championship, moved his Interstate
Batteries VanDyne/Stealth into fifth from his 14th starting berth.
Gurney bested Martin for second on the second lap, then took
control from Molica on the third round with Alvis slipping into
fourth. Davis, moving from 12th aboard his Esslinger/TCR, moved by
Matthews' Gaerte/Lightning for fifth on the next round as Martin
moved into second. Alvis displaced Molica for third on the fifth lap.
The 67-year-old Alvis battled the 19-year-old rookie Martin for
second, taking over the spot on the 10th round as Davis also passed
for third. Fifteenth-starting Meseraull moved steadily forward,
taking command of fifth by the ninth lap, then moving by Matthews for
fourth one lap later.
Entering the first turn on the 11th lap, Davis slid under
Alvis, hitting the veteran and sending Alvis hard into the concrete
wall. Alvis was uninjured, but the car sustained severe damage.
At the green it was Gurney leading Martin, Davis, Meseraull
and a hard-charging Cliff Servetti in his Buick-Brayton/Stealth.
Meseraull displaced Martin on the next lap as Davis bested Martin.
The battle for the lead intensified with Davis getting around
Meseraull for second on the 14th lap. One lap later Davis outdueled
Gurney for the lead with Meseraull slipping into second. As Davis and
Meseraull battled for the lead, contact sent Meseraull into a spin
exiting the fourth turn.
Davis now led Gurney, Martin, Servetti and a charging Rory
Price in his Price/Westlake Esslinger/TCR, down from Washington
state. Glenn Carson began to emerge, moving the Bock
Esslinger/Stewart into sixth. Servetti, looking for his best finish
of the season, drew to a stop with mechanical failure for another
Gurney spun to the infield exiting turn-2 with a broken brake
rotor and lack of brakes, bringing out the yellow. Davis now led
Martin, Price and Carson, with Meseraull all the way back up to fifth.
One lap into the restart, second-running Martin ran out of
fuel exiting the fourth turn to become the fourth demise of a
second-place-running car. Price charged to the inside just as Martin
moved left to get out of the way, sending Price into the air. Carson
took advantage and throttled to the outside and swept into second
with Meseraull following into third. Price, with a bent from
suspension, was able to retain fourth over Danny Olmstead's
Meseraull spent three laps battling Carson for the second
spot, taking over on the 27th lap. One lap later Meseraull battled
under Davis and took the lead at the finish line, holding the top
spot for the final two laps and the checkered flag. Following was
Davis, Carson, Price, Olmstead, Matthews, Dan Gundo and Ken Bonnema.
Molica brought up ninth ahead of Rick Faeth, Bill and Rob Lindsey,
all completing the full 30 laps.
Meseraull outqualified the 21-car field at 13.741.
Bonnema was victorious in the first heat over Bill and Rob
Lindsey. Gurney took the second eight-lapper over Gundo and Martin.
The third heat went to Olmstead with Servetti and Price following.
Bill Lindsey won the Division-2 trophy dash over Jason York, Stuart
Goehring and Jim Fowler. The fast car dash went to Davis over Alvis,
Price and Meseraull.
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