MILLER, LINSTROTH, & BAILEY TOPS AT STOCKTON
BY: JIM SHIELS
Wes Miller of Delhi set the quick time for the new HOTWOOD Western Late Models at Stockton 99 Speedway this week and backed it with his first feature win in the NASCAR Weekly Racing Series presented by DODGE.
Miller, the track’s 1995 Grand American champion, started on the outside pole next to Jeff Belletto of Modesto, and took the first lap lead to a quick yellow on lap-4 as Belletto spun in the 1-2 turn. Officials deemed Belletto had a little help from Mark Welch of Orangevale, and sent the past Stockton & NASCAR Regional champion to the rear of the field to join Belletto, as incoming point leader and former Stockton champ Dave Byrd of San Jose moved to second.
A second yellow fell on lap-10 for a solo spin by Anthony Swan of Newark, with another former Stockton champ, Harry Belletto of Modesto, climbing to third in the fast moving pack. A very promising female driver in the form of Melissa Davis of Santa Rosa, brought out the third caution with a solo loop on the front straight on lap-17, setting up a restart consisting of Miller, Byrd, Belletto, Pete Anderson, Jr. of Stockton, and Welch. As the green dropped the cars became involved in a wild melee in turn one involving Harold Rieker of Orangevale, Byrd, Welch, Chris Monez of Lodi, and Eric Seely of Modesto, halting the program once again. A single yellow for debris on lap-19 was the final thorn in the program as Miller surged home with the win over Byrd, Anderson, H-Belletto, and heat winner Welch.
Jeff Belletto and Swan were heat winners on the night, with the dash win also falling to Jeff Belletto. Byrd held tight to the early season point lead over Welch, and Harry Belletto.
The NASCAR Short Track division of Grand Americans produced a wild 21-car feature for the C.L.Bryant/Union 76 Gas sponsored Weekly Series, with Eddie Wilcox of Modesto on the pole flanked by last weeks winner Jason Philpot of Sacramento.
Wilcox took the early lead as a second-lap yellow was shown for a slow moving John Unger of Stockton. Former Division champion Steve Stacy of Stockton came to third on lap-3 hot on the bumper of Tim Smith of Roseville. Smith took the point position on lap-4 with Stacy jumping to second. A red flag stopped the fast action on lap-7 as Smith pinched under a slow car off turn four and didn’t allow for clearance as he slid up and caught his right rear on the front of the slower car. The hit caused Smith’s modified to turn right and into the unforgiving concrete front wall. As Smith came to rest on the bottom of the track, he was in turn hit by Buzz Devore of Stockton.
The restart saw Stacy in front over Wilcox, Jay Linstroth of Citrus Heights, Jason Kerby of Galt, and Stockton pilot Danny Contessotto, with Linstroth moving to second on the next pass. Linstroth faded back allowing Contessotto to run second followed by Philpot on lap-12.
Jim Marchino of Modesto and Wilcox mixed it up in the first corner to bring out another yellow on lap-21, with Sam Solari of Salida coming to second on the restart. Lap-28 saw rookie contender Gary Glenn of Orangevale head straight into the turn one wall tearing off a right front tire in the process and setting up a wild two-lap ending to the event.
As the cars came to the restart, Solari gave dash winner Stacy a hard hit on the right side and was parked by track officials for rough driving, as the pit crews gathered in the infield to swap war stories. Stacy in turn found his fender bent into the tire and was forced to the pits giving up the lead to Philpot. Linstroth ran second, followed by Robert Knittel of Lodi, and only nine additional cars left in action. Linstroth moved to the front on lap-28 and took the win over Philpot, Wilcox, Larry Hoover of Turlock, and Kerby. John Unger set the quick lap in time trials. Philpot remains the early season point leader over Stacy and Contessotto.
The Legends of the Pacific were on hand for another stellar performance from their 18-car feature field. Pete Currin of Redwood City took the early lead with Steve Wilson of Livermore running second. Defending Stockton Master Level champion Mark Bailey of San Lorenzo moved from ninth to third by lap-3 and took another position on each of the next three circuits to gain the lead on lap-5. The lone yellow on the night fell on lap six for a solo spin with Fast time, heat and dash winner, Michael Morrissey of Kings Beach coming to 5th on the restart. It only took Morrissey three additional laps to move to second and fix his sights on the fast moving Bailey, with Currin, Ryan Mosher of Cuppertino, and Kelly Martin of Modesto following in line.
A checkered yellow for a solo spin ended the event on the 29th circuit with heat winner Bailey still in charge over Morrissey, Martin, and ‘Grandpa’ Gary Hockman of San Jose.
Stockton Speedway is looking forward to the return of the NASCAR Featherlite Southwest Tour on April 27th.
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