BELLETTO NAILS #72 AT STOCKTON
BY: JIM SHIELS
A milestone was reached at Stockton 99 Speedway this week in the NASCAR Sanctioned Union 76 sponsored Weekly Racing Series presented by DODGE, as 59-year-old Harry Belletto of Modesto picked off his 72nd feature win in HOTWOOD Western Late Model competition to now lead the division for the most feature wins. Belletto, in his 30th season of Late Model action, surpassed the old standard of 71, set by Ken Boyd of Ceres, with a last win on 7-4-98.
Buzz Devore of Stockton led the first circuit in the 30-lap feature with the first yellow falling on lap-five as David Hulsey of Manteca got turned around in the first corner. The restart consisted of Devore, Eddie Laws of Citrus Heights, Eric Seely of Modesto, and Chris Monez of Lodi, with Devore maintaining the lead to a 7th-lap yellow as Tracy Bolin of Valley Springs spun on the front straight and drew the ‘cool it flag.’
Laws jumped to the lead and pulled off a large gap back to Devore as Wes Miller of Delhi climbed to 4th on lap-13 and 3rd on lap-15. Belletto followed Miller in 4th. Belletto made the pass for 3rd on lap-17 with the final yellow falling on lap-19 for a spin in turn-two by Clements pilot Johnny Berndt. Laws saw his lead shortened with Belletto moving to 2nd on lap-21 and surging to the front on lap-24. Belletto, the fast time man on the night, sailed home to collect the historic win with heat and dash winner Laws in tow. Miller finished third ahead of Devore and Monez.
Paul Dorritty of Modesto won his heat, with Belletto also taking control of the current season point lead by 45-points over an idle Dave Byrd of San Jose who had led from opening day. Miller sits third on the point chart.
The Pure Stock division lived up to it’s reputation of ‘crash & bang’ as the first lap lead fell to Aimee Sullivan of Galt, with her rival for ‘female’ supremacy at the track, Cindy Freitas of Lodi, fighting her from the first green before taking the lead on lap-four.
Johnny Rose of Stockton brought out the first yellow as he landed against the front wall on lap-eight, with a restart consisting of Freitas, Sullivan, Charlie Clawson of Modesto, Kannai Scantlen of Stockton, and fellow Stockton driver Chad Holman.
Tom Bolin of San Jose moved to second on lap-14 with a yellow falling on the next go-round as Scantlen spun in turn-four. When the green fell, Bolin passed Freitas for the lead with Freitas coming back to lead the next two circuits by a nose before Bolin retook the point. A 20th-lap yellow fell for Dave Ball of Stockton in turn-four with a red coming quick as fluid was spread in turn-one collecting several cars.
Only one lap was recorded in the book before another red came out as Chad Holman and Freitas got togeather on the front straight in a rubbing match that left both in the first turn wall. The final restart on the night saw Bolin and Joey Stearns of Stock go head to head in a multi-lap battle with the Fast timer and dash winner Stearns trading the lead with Bolin twice before taking the final control. Stearns took the checkered first ahead of Bolin, heat winner Gary Shafer, Jr. of Stockton, Sullivan, and John Medina of Galt.
Richard Harper of Stockton won the other heat with the night’s B-Main win falling to Brian Miller of Railroad Flat. Incoming point leader Danny Guibor of Manteca continues to lead the chart with a 109-point margin over Johnny Bird of Stockton with Holman riding third on the list. Miller now has an insurmountable lead in the B-Main title chase with a 272 point margin over Dustin Himes of Stockton. Karen Wagner of Lodi runs third.
The USAC/BCRA Midgets were back in action at Stockton this week with fast time falling to Marc DeBeaumont of Clayton, and the first lap feature lead falling to Travis Berryhill of American Canyon.
Alex Harris of Semi Valley took control on lap-nine as Tony Hunt of Elk Grove made steady progress through the pack for his 10th place starting position to ride third, and second a lap later. Hunt, a heat winner on the night, made every move a driver could as he tried lap after lap to gain the lead over Harris, finally getting by on the 26th circuit to take the checkered first. Hunt was followed across the line by dash winner Johnny Rodriguez of Elk Grove, heat winner Harris, and DeBeaumont.
The battle of the ‘4-Bangers’ was on again this week at Stockton as Pro-4 Mini Trucks, Mini Stocks, and even a Baby Grand American Modified joined in the fun, with Gary Franks of Manteca taking the first lap feature lead in his truck. Just as quickly he was passed by the hot running Marc Borges of Tracy in his Mini Stock with Borges leading the way as he melted through the field lap after lap in a display of potent motor and driving talent with Franks hot on his heels.
Only one minor yellow slowed the early action with Borges looking as the sure winner before getting into turn-three too hot and looping around to hand the lead to A.J. Frank of Turlock in his truck.
Just as it looked like a win for Frank, a battle developed between him and fellow truck pilot Randy Johoda of Tracy. Johoda took the lead on lap-28 and was immediately hit by Frank in turn-2 with Johoda spinning and Frank taking the checkered/yellow win. Officials quickly decided the contact was a ‘no-no’ and set Frank behind Johoda in the final finish.
When the dust settled, it was Tim Fernandes, Sr. of Modesto with the win in his truck over another truck, Brandon Trevethan of Tracy. They were followed by Johoda, Frank, and another truck under the control of Todd Lewis of Riverbank.
Marc Borges was the quickest Mini Stock on the night, collecting a heat and dash win to boot. His equally fast brother Matt collected the other heat win in his Mini Stock with Gary Franks collecting the quick time for the Pro-4 Truck contingent.
Action will continue August 3rd with Western Late Models, Grand American Modifieds, Pure Stocks, Legends, and Ultra Wheel Super Trucks.
BAY CITIES RACING ASSOCIATION &
UNITED STATES AUTO CLUB
By Floyd Busby
STOCKTON, CA., JULY 27: With five laps remaining, Tony Hunt
took the lead to score the feature win in the co-sanctioned BCRA/USAC
midget event at the Stockton "99" Speedway. Driving the Bob Rosen
"Mr. Espresso" Brayton powered Beast, Hunt moved from the tenth
starting spot to overtake Alex Harris after a wheel-to-wheel battle
with Harris' Rick Terrenova Esslinger/Beast for ten laps before
taking the lead.
With several cars eliminated in earlier events, seventeen
cars took the starter's call at the green flag with Travis Berryhill
putting the Trout Gaerte/Beast into the initial lead from the pole.
Rob Russell spurred the Guerrini Gaerte/Stealth into second over Gary
Dickenson's Pontiac/Stealth and the very fast John Sarale in the
Caves Gaerte Lightning, with Harris fifth, to complete the first lap
on the banked quarter-mile paved oval.
Harris quickly began his assent forward, taking Dickenson for
fourth and Sarale for third on the ensuing two laps before
challenging Russell for second. Harris made good his challenge,
taking over second on the fifth circuit to peruse the leading
Berryhill. Dickenson began a slow rearward decent with a slowly
deflating left rear tire.
On the sixth round Russell and Sarale made contact with
Russell spinning to bring out the first caution flag from starter
John Moreland. At this point, Tim Joyce had moved the Segur
Gaerte/Ellis into fifth with Hunt directly on his tail.
Berryhill continued to lead Harris, Sarale, Joyce and Hunt,
but one lap later Sarale retired along the backstretch infield, bring
out the yellow flag because of his precarious position near the
track. Sarale's demise was because of steering problems from the
encounter with Russell.
Harris' dogged pursuit of Berryhill paid off on the eighth
lap, and the USAC standout took the lead.
On the ninth circuit the yellow was again shown when fast
qualifier Marc DeBeaumont made contact with Floyd Alvis in the fourth
turn while running ninth, riding up and over the left rear wheel of
the Interstate Batteries VanDyne/Stealth and spinning. Alvis,
complete with tire marks on his car and uniform, regained control to
continue behind seventh-running Cliff Servetti's Custom Engine Buick
Joyce and Hunt dropped Berryhill to fourth at the green. Hunt
hounded Joyce for the next two laps, taking over the second spot on
the 11th lap as a very consistent Johnny Rodriguez brought his
Esslinger/Beast into the fray.
On the 12th circuit, Servetti made contact with the
Gaerte/Stealth of sixth-running Dan Gundo. The resulting ripple
effect of braking cars resulted in Russell's demise as he rode over
Alvis' right rear wheel and bounded into the turn-2 wall.
At the green it was Harris over Hunt, Joyce, Rodriguez and
Berryhill, with Pete Davis bringing his Esslinger/Beast up to the
sixth position over Gundo, Alvis and DeBeaumont, who had moved up
from the rear after his earlier spin.
On the 13th round Rodriguez dropped Joyce to fourth and Alvis
moved by Gundo for seventh. At this point, Hunt began putting serious
challenges on Harris' lead, pulling up alongside the leader
lap-after-lap as the duo crossed the finish line.
During this intense battle for the lead, DeBeaumont executed
his own challenges, moving up to the fourth position by the 20th lap,
only to loose the position back to Davis for two laps before again
taking over the fourth position behind Harris, Hunt and Rodriguez.
The vivid Harris/Hunt battle continued for the lead. On the
26th circuit Hunt finally made good his efforts and flashed into the
lead as Harris was experiencing an increasing push with his Beast.
With several laps to go, Harris spun while exiting the fourth
turn, regaining control after a complete 360-degree loop, but loosing
second to Rodriguez and allowing DeBeaumont to move up to challenge
At the checkered flag, Hunt took the win over Rodriguez with
Harris narrowly taking third over DeBeaumont. The top-four were
followed by Davis, Joyce, Alvis, Gundo, Servetti and Berryhill on the
leader's lap, with Dickenson nursing his car home one lap down over
Bill and Joe Lindsey.
DeBeaumont scored the evening's fastest qualifying lap at 13.401.
Harris won the first heat over Dickenson and Gundo with Hunt
taking the second 10-lapper over Berryhill and Alvis. Rodriguez
scored the trophy dash win over DeBeaumont, Hunt and Alvis.