BYRD MAKES IT TWO STRAIGHT
BY JIM SHIELS
Dave Byrd of San Jose made it two straight feature wins in two days as Stockton 99 Speedway ended its two-day season opening events for the NASCAR Weekly Racing Series presented by Dodge.
Byrd won the Saturday Ultra Wheels Super Truck feature in dominate fashion, and returned on Sunday to nail down the first win for the newly created HOTWOOD Western Late Model Division running as the premier NASCAR Regional class at Stockton.
A six car invert put the two-time past Stockton champion on the pole in his Gillit/Shafer built Late Model and the talented driver never looked back as he ran wire-to-wire to record the first feature win.
The race almost ended before it started for Byrd as outside pole sitter Harold Rieker of Orangevale got loose off turn four coming to the initial green. As Reiker spun he clipped third place starter Wes Miller of Delhi and jammed up the entire field as he continued into the front straight wall with heavy damage. Byrd was able to get by clean and took the green chased by Jeff Belletto of Modesto.
By the fifth circuit as the cars got into a racing line, it was Byrd, Jeff Belletto, Mark Welch of Orangevale, Harry Belletto of Modesto, and new track record holder Tracy Bolin of Valley Springs. Welch moved to second on lap-15, but fading tires caused him to slide high in turn four on lap-27, with Jeff Belletto coming back to second.
At the checkered it was dash winner Byrd, Heat winner Jeff Belletto, Welch, Harry Belletto, and Bolin. Other heat wins went to Anthony Swan of Newark and Wes Miller.
The SRL Wild West Shootout Series for Late Models staged their first of four Stockton events in their 12-race, three-track series on Sunday with Ron Strmiska, Jr. of Manteca taking home the big check for the 100-lap feature.
David Philpott of Tracy was the pole sitter and early leader, bowing to Ken Boyd of Ceres on lap-10. Strmiska came to second on lap-28 and dogged Boyd to the 58th circuit before taking control. Seven yellows slowed the chase with Strmiska crossing first ahead of Boyd, Chris Wadsworth of Oakley, Philpott, and Ray Lawson, Jr. Defending series champion Nathan Tucker of Sonora set the quick time for the event.
USAC/BCRA Midget action saw a new track record set by John Starks of Puyallup Washington, and the feature win going to Rory Price of Edmonds Washington. The time of 12.742 was the first 12-second midget time ever recorded at the 56-year old facility, and erased the four-year-old standard of 13.13.147 set by Davey Hamilton.
A short field of five Super Mini Trucks were on hand with a new track record going to Mike Sims of Turlock at 16.319. Two exhibition events were staged for the 4-cylinder trucks.
PRICE PRESSES FOR STOCKTON MIDGET WIN
By Floyd Busby
STOCKTON, CA., APRIL 7: Rory Price became the second driver from the Northwest to capture California money in the same weekend as the Washitonian drove his Esslinger/TCR to the win in the co-sanctioned BCRA/USAC midget feature at the Stockton "99" Speedway. Fellow Washington state campaigner John Starks, fresh from his win at Madera the previous evening, led five drivers who sliced through the midget one-lap track record previously held by Davey Hamilton to bring the single-lap midget mark into the 12-second bracket for the first time in the 55-year history of the paved oval. Hamilton's mark of 13.147 was dropped to 12.742 by Starks in the Arne Starks Gaerte/Starks midget. Starks' successful California run came to an abrupt halt on the third lap of the feature when he and Marc DeBeaumont came together while battling for sixth as they exited the fourth turn, sending the Starks mount into the concrete wall. Starks car received extensive damage. The incident also sidelined DeBeaumont's Ed Pink Ford/Stealth, as well as the cars driven by Matt Streeter and Jim Silva. The race was halted to remove the cars and clean up the track. Sprint car charger Johnny Rodriguez, in only his second midget appearance on pavement, had taken the lead from the pole position, and resumed the lead at the restart. Two laps later Josh Wise put the family Esslinger/Beast into the turn-two wall for the second and final caution period. Rodriguez continued his lead with Price's Price/Westlake Esslinger/TCR in pursuit. 2000 BCRA champ Glen Carson rode in third followed by Idaho's Doug Birkinbine, Shane Scully and Arizona's Van Krill. Robby Flock and Tony Hunt brought up the next slots over Dan Gundo and John Sarale. On the 13th circuit Price moved to the outside as Rodriguez was about to lap Gary Dickenson on the inside going into the third turn. The maneuver paid off for Price as he garnered the lead. Flock began moving the Fontana Beast house car forward, charging into fourth by the half way point, then third on the 21st circuit. Rodriguez continued on Price's tail until the 29th lap when a miscue sent him sideways in turn-one. His Esslinger/Beast shot into the infield, emerging back on track only after dropping seven positions to finish eighth. Price took the quick-paced win over Flock, Birkinbine, Carson, Scully, Krill, Hunt and Rodriguez. The win, coupled with his sixth-place finish at Madera, put Price into the early BCRA point lead. Twenty-nine BCRA and USAC cars timed in with Josh Wise, DeBeaumont, Hunt and Birkinbine also elapsing the old track record mark. The top ten qualifiers automatically transferred to the main event where they would start inverted. Two ten-lap qualifying heats transferred five drivers each to the feature. The top five spots in the first qualifying heat went to Gundo, A.J. Martin, Streeter, Jerome Bodela and Cliff Servetti. The second set of transfers were Flock, Sarale, Floyd Alvis, Silva and Stuart Birkinbine. From the semi, Glen Guiles and Dickenson transferred to the rear of the 22-car main event. BCRA results and schedule at <www.BCRAracing.com> and USAC at <www.USACracing.com>
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