WELCH, KERBY, HOLMAN, &
LEWIS WIN AT STOCKTON
BY: JIM SHIELS
Mark Welch of Orangevale became the third different winner in three weeks in the newly created Western Late Model Division at Stockton 99 Speedway this week, and also became the third straight to win in convincing fashion with a wire-to-wire 30-lap blast. Incoming point leader Dave Byrd of San Jose dogged Welch over the early laps, giving way to Harry Belletto of Modesto on lap-22, with last weeks winner Wes Miller of Delhi coming to third on lap-24.
Welch held strong to post his first Western Late Model win to go with his early night heat & dash victories. Belletto held on for second ahead of fast timer Miller, and heat winner Byrd. Tracy Bolin of San Jose rounded out the top five. Only two minor yellows slowed the event.
Miller, who earned the nickname "Fox in the hen house" for his surprise feature victory last week, proved he was also a Fox fast enough to outrun the ‘farmers shotgun’ as he posted a new single lap track record for the division at 14.179 on the high-banked asphalt oval.
Byrd was able to retain his point lead, standing 10-points ahead of Welch in the early season title run.
Jason Kerby of Galt almost equaled Welch with his victory in the Grand American Modified competition, by leading the first 18-laps and the final 9 to post his 9th career feature win. Steve Stacy of Stockton led laps 19 & 20, and battled side-by-side with Kerby throughout most of the event to keep the fans excited. Sam Solari of Salida placed a strong third ahead of John Unger of Stockton, who forged his way back from a practice run crash into the third turn wall that caused major damage to his right front wheel, rim, and brake assembly. Fast timer and dash winner Danny Contessotto of Stockton rounded out the top five. Stacy stepped into the early season championship point lead with a 14-point margin over Contessotto. Jason Philpot of Sacramento, the incoming point leader slipped to 6th with mechanical problems. Three yellows for minor spins were the only blemish to the show.
Tom Bolin of San Jose took the first lap lead in the Pure Stock feature with a quick yellow coming on the next pass as three cars tangled off turn four. Incoming point leader and defending champion Danny Guibor of Manteca made a quick move from ninth to third by lap-six, advancing to second on lap-12, and to the lead on lap-15 with dash winner Chad Holman of Stockton hot on his bumper. The two made contact off turn four on lap-17 with fast timer Joe Stearns of Stockton squirting past to claim the lead position. A red was thrown on lap-23 as heat winner Perry Jefferson of Murphys spun and stalled in harms way on the front chute. Stearns was forced to pit to check for a fluid leak as the cars regrouped with Holman getting charge of the front spot and holding it tight to the checkered. Guibor finished second ahead of a strong and impressive third place run for 2001 Rookie of the Year winner, Michael Wendt of Lodi. John Medina of Galt and Johnny Bird of Stockton rounded out the top five.
Brian Miller of Railroad Flat was a heat winner on the night, with the Semi-Main win going to Charlie Clawson of Modesto. Guibor retained his point lead by a slim four marks over Holman. Michael Matthews of Stockton is the B-Main point leader to date.
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