BYRD HOT INHOTWOOD WESTERNS
BY: JIM SHIELS
Dave Byrd of San Jose picked up his third season win and second straight in NASCAR sanctioned HOTWOOD Western Late Model action at Stockton 99 Speedway this week. It was also his third wire-to-wire, 30-lap romp in the newly created division on the fast paced quarter-mile paved oval.
Byrd set the quick time on the night in the potent Mike Shafer/Stock Car Fabrication built, Tim Gillit owned Late Model and landed the outside pole feature starting slot next to past Stockton and NASCAR Regional champion Mark Welch of Orangevale. Welch, who lost a clutch loading at home arrived late and almost missed time trials, winning his heat and dash, only to lose a distributor going into the first corner of the feature, costing him dearly on the double point event.
Only two minor yellows slowed the pace as heat winner Tracy Bolin of Valley Springs dogged Byrd for the first 9-laps before second place was taken over by Harry Belletto of Modesto. While Belletto was able to keep close at times, he had nothing left for a pass and Byrd sailed home in front to increase his current point lead to 50-marks over Belletto who took second in the feature and moved to second on the point chart.
Wes Miller of Delhi finished third ahead of Bolin, and Joe Hylton of Manteca. Miller moved to third on the point list with Welch falling to fourth, 77 back of the leader Byrd.
The HOTWOOD Western Late Models will return next Saturday for the first of the three-race Tri-Holiday Series and a 100-lap test of the new cars.
Grand American Modified action saw fast time go to Danny Contessotto of Stockton, and a dash win falling to fellow Stockton pilot Steve Stacy.
Contessotto led the field to the feature green and led the first lap before being passed by Jason Kerby of Galt. A yellow fell on lap-5 as Tim Smith of Roseville checked up off turn two and was nailed by Jay Linstroth of Citrus Heights.
On the restart it was Kerby, Stacy, Contessotto, Greg Williams of Ceres, and Jason Philpot of Sacramento, with Stacy taking the point on the next circuit. The next yellow came out on lap-12 as Contessotto got under Kerby into turn one and Kerby spun, giving the second slot to Williams on the restart.
The hardest knock on the night came in the form of a split yellow on laps-20/21 as Gary Glenn of Orangevale made contact with Philpot off turn-four. Philpot spun and almost had it back under control as he was hit hard by Robert Knittel of Lodi who in turn wound up hard against the outside wall under the flagstand.
The battle became hot over the last 10-laps as Williams got the lead on lap-22 and Stacy took it back on lap-26 coming to a yellow for a minor spinning party in turn-one. Williams, well known for his restart talents, got the lead once again and Stacy pressed hard coming along side on the final lap to edge out Williams by a third of a car length to the cheers of the fans. It was the first win by Stacy since July of 1999 and helped to erase the bad taste of 25 main top five finishes, including 9-second place runs since that win. Stacy increased his current division point lead to 21 marks over third place finisher Contessotto, with Philpot trailing in third. Sam Solari of Salida and Aaron Young of Stockton rounded out the feature top five runners.
Charlie Clawson rode the outside pole for the Pure Stock feature and led the first lap with pole sitter John Medina of Galt taking charge on lap-three. By Lap ten, Chad Holman of Stockton had control of third and took the point on lap-13. Medina got side-by-side and beat Holman to a yellow on lap-15 to set up a restart consisting of himself, Holman, Danny Guibor of Manteca, Ken Ratcliff of Stockton, and Cindy Freitas of Lodi. Breaths were held for a moment on lap-16 as the front cars went three wide with Guibor taking the point position over Holman, with Freitas moving to third. Freitas showed renewed power in her racer by storming past Holman to take second on lap-26, but out of time for a possible shot at the winner Guibor.
Holman held on for third over Ratcliff and Medina, with Guibor adding to his point lead with a 33- point margin over Holman. Johnny Bird of Stockton sits third on the chart.
B-Main heats were won by Aimee Sullivan of Galt and Tom Dahl of Stockton. J.C. Saunders won the Semi Main in his first 2002 season appearance. Michael Wendt of Lodi captured the trophy dash win and continued to show his sophomore season improvement by notching a new division track record of 16.863 in time trials. Dave Ball of Stockton took over the B-Main championship point lead ahead of new second place runner Brian Miller of Railroad Flat. Dustin Himes of Stockton runs third on the chart.
The Legends of the Pacific were on hand for their third race of the 2002 season with fast time and a heat win going to Michael Morrissey of Kings Beach. Mark Bailey of San Lorenzo won the other heat and the dash event.
The main event action was settled quickly as the first lap lead fell to Pat Appleby of Yountville from a fourth place starting position. A yellow halted the action as soon as it started with another falling before the next green flag lap was completed. The wild confusion allowed 11th place starter Morrissey to take the lead on only the second lap, with 10th place starter Bailey coming to second only one circuit later. By the 23rd lap, Morrissey lapped the third place runner Rob Lathrop of Santa Clara with Bailey a half-lap behind. Lathrop held for third over Appleby, and Redwood City pilot Pete Currin.
The Pro-Four Trucks were on hand with their developing division, which is close to doubling its current truck count. Gary Franks of Manteca showed the improvements of the new division by ripping a new track record also a full half-second better than the old one and became the first Mini Truck driver to pass the 15-second barrier with a hot 15.958 clocking.
Franks won the single exhibition event over A.J. Frank, past record holder Mike Sims of Turlock, Joe Williams of Manteca, and Stacy Medina of Galt.