Eric Humphries Dominates
Western Late Model Feature At Stockton 99 Speedway
May 20, 2006
Dale J Bosowski
Saturday night’s NASCAR Dodge Weekly Racing Series Havoline Western Late Model 50 lap feature at Stockton’s 99 Speedway was essentially over when the green flag waved to start the race.
Pole sitter Eric Humphries,#32, of Chowchilla grabbed the lead on the 12-car field coming out of turn two. After that the only thing the other contenders saw of Humphries was his bumper as he went wire-to-wire in a caution free race for his first win of the season.
“We had an absolutely awesome car tonight,” said Humphries. “My crew did a fantastic job getting it ready. I wasn’t able to be in the shop much this week so I pretty much left the preparation up to them.”
The win was especially sweet for Humphries after he was spun out while leading in last Saturday’s HOTWOOD 1000 race by Stockton’s Ron Strmiska Jr., (right), That incident overflowed into some after race bumping on the cool down lap for which each of them was given a ten-point penalty by track officials.
“We talked after that and said our ‘I’m sorry’ to each other,” said Humphries. “There are no hard feelings. It was just a racing thing and you can’t let it drag on.”
Following Humphries to the checkered flag to complete the top five were #20, Pete Hernandez, (right), of Sacramento for second, Strmiska, Pacific Grove’s Dave Byrd and Manteca’s Guy Guibor.
“I can’t complain. I will take second. It helps us in the points and we came away with a clean car,” said Hernandez, a NASCAR diversity driver for Bill McAnally Racing.
After taking the fast time in qualifying and winning the trophy dash #10, Jay Linstroth of Citrus Heights was poised to earn his second straight clean sweep in the Grand American Modified (GAM) division until he got tangled up Tony Noceti, #6, of French Camp on lap 18.
As a result of the incident both ended up at the back of the pack, Linstroth due to the spin and Noceti for causing it, and neither driver was happy about it.
“It was kind of frustrating. I tried to pass guys fair and square and he (Noceti) got a little squirrelly on me,” said Linstroth who drove with a damaged front end through the final 32 laps of the GAM race. “He has a fast car, but he needs to learn how to drive it. I could give him lessons if he’d like.”
“Jay was faster than I was and all he had to do was go around me instead of through me,” responded Noceti. “It looks like we are getting a little rivalry going here.”
When the green flag came out Linstroth quickly charged back, gobbling up the rest of the field like a turkey on steroids, but he was only able to make it back to second as Jason Kerby, #2, of Galt held him off to pick up his first win of the season.
“I was afraid of Jay (Linstroth) when I saw him coming up. I just tried to be as smooth as possible and stay as far out in front of him as a I could,” said Kerby. “We’ve been struggling all year to make this thing go so this was a big win tonight.”
Hometown driver #75, Chad Holman earned his second straight victory in the C.L. Bryant sponsored American Limited Stock Car 30-lap main by just nipping Jeff Ahl, #31, of Lodi at the line. The crowd was on its feet as the two went door-to-door for the final two laps following a restart due to a late race caution.
“That yellow flag could not have come at a better time,” said an elated Holman. “I didn’t know if I could get him on the outside because my car had not been real good out there all night, but I made it work.”
“I thought it was my race tonight and then I saw that yellow come out. What a heartbreaking loss,” said a dejected Ahl.
Mark Henslee, #6, of Lathrop picked up his second Pro 4 Truck win of the year against an 11-truck field, the largest of the season.
Jacob Gomes of Manteca drove to victory in the 20-lap Mini Cup Young Guns feature. The 13-year-old looks to be a star of the future having notched an amazing 19 wins in 20 races dating back through last season. Gomes lists his dad, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Dave Byrd as his racing heroes.
A fast track produced three new qualifying records on Saturday, Pro 4 Trucks - Ron Robeck of Milpitas (15.201 seconds), Mini Cup Young Guns - Jacob Gomes of Manteca (16.833 seconds) and the American Limited Stocks - Donny Darter of Stockton (15.517 seconds).
The Tri-Holiday Twin 100’s, featuring round #4 of the HOTWOOD 1000 Series by JM Environmental for the Havoline Western Late Models and the West Car Series, will highlight next Saturday night’s big Memorial weekend program at the Stockton 99 Speedway. Also on the card will be the American Limited Stocks and Pro 4 Trucks presented by C.L. Bryant.
The Stockton 99 Speedway is located just off Highway 99 at 4105 North Wilson Way. If you are traveling south on Highway 99 take the Wilson Way exit. If you are heading north on Highway 99 take the Cherokee Road exit, loop over the freeway, turn right onto Newton Road and then turn left on Wilson Way.
Stockton 99 Speedway Info/Race
Line (209) 466-9999.