Boyd's streak is impressive
Boyd remembers the pressure and sense of pride he felt while compiling one of
the most impressive streaks in NASCAR short-track history.
And he's still amazed he managed to put together 39 consecutive fast qualifying times.
Boyd set a NASCAR short-track record with the streak during his dominant run at Stockton 99 Speedway in the late 1980s and early 1990s. The man known as the track's "Mr. Quick" went almost two years before someone finally managed to beat him.
"I'm proud of it, but I will admit that sometimes I'm still amazed the streak went that long," Boyd said. "So many little things can go wrong, just enough to cost you. I know there was a lot of luck involved."
Boyd's streak has never been seriously challenged at Stockton 99. Dave Byrd of Pacific Grove set fast time last week and will be trying for his second in a row when racing resumes 6 p.m. today with a program of double-points races in each division.
"Wow, just 38 to go. Something tells me Kenny doesn't have anything to worry about from me," Byrd said with a laugh. "When you think about that streak, about 39 in a row, it's just amazing. I honestly don't know how anyone ever beats it."
Track promoter Ken Clapp, a retired vice president of NASCAR, said he believes the record is safe.
"I think it will be impossible to break Ken Boyd's record," Clapp said. "I think it's a truly awesome achievement. In his prime Ken Boyd was one of the best short-track drivers around and he's still good now. That great streak was a combination of his talent, the chemistry of his pit crew and his knowledge of the track."
Boyd, 52, is currently racing in the StockCar Racing League's Wild West Shootout series. was in the midst of his run of an unprecedented four consecutive track titles (1988-91) when he began the streak on June 18, 1988 and he kept going until open-wheel legend John Brazil of Manteca stopped him on April 15, 1990.
Boyd didn't pay much attention to the streak at first. But as he set fast time week after week, the anticipation and pressure increased.
He remembers driving from his home in Ceres to the track on Saturday nights thinking of just one thing.
"It was a long ride, and I just kept thinking about that streak," Boyd said. "I would envision the lap in my mind, every turn and straightaway.
"After a certain amount of time, it was just expected of you. That created a lot of tension."
Boyd was feeling the pressure, but so were the other drivers.
"You knew he was getting those (qualifying) points every week at the start of the program, and sometimes you had to win the main event just to keep even," Harry Belletto of Modesto said. "That was a lot of pressure. Ken was so good, you really had to step up your game."
Many of the top drivers of the time, including Belletto, Kevin Gottula and Norman David of Modesto, and Brazil, tried to snap the streak. At times Boyd seemed unstoppable, but Boyd said he missed the setup on his car a bit the night Brazil finally beat him.
Brazil was known for his open-wheel exploits before moving to stock cars, and his lap of 11.899 seconds in a super modified in 1985 was the fastest in the history of the track.
"It was too bad when it ended, but you really can't complain about the guy that stopped it," Boyd said. "Brazil was a great, great driver. It was fitting in a way."
Boyd returned to Stockton 99 and won a fifth title in 1998, but has run sparingly at the track in recent years. He will make an appearance on the final day of racing at Stockton 99 in the SRL race on Sept. 16.
He'd like to celebrate the end of the old track with one more fast lap.
"That would be nice, but the main thing is to try to win that race," Boyd
said. "But I've always said the best thing to do is to set fast time and then go
and win the race."
Contact reporter Scott Linesburgh at (209) 546-8281 or email@example.com