Driver credits spirit of friend for GAM win

Record Staff Writer
Published Sunday, May 14, 2006

STOCKTON - Jay Linstroth wasn't alone in his car when he crossed the finish line at the end of the Grand American Modified main event.

He truly believes the spirit of his best friend was sitting right next to him.

Linstroth won the 50-lap GAM feature to finish off a clean sweep on Saturday night at Stockton 99 Speedway. Linstroth dedicated his 17th career win to his friend, Byron "Sonny" Warner, who was shot and killed three weeks ago.

"I know Sonny was there with me, and I believe in angels," Linstroth said. "I could feel his presence, and this win is for him."

Linstroth stated that he heard an arrest had been made in his friend's death recently. Warner was waiting at a light rail station in Sacramento when he was killed in what Linstroth called a "random shooting."

"It was good to hear about the arrest, but everyone is still devastated, and I still have a heavy heart," Linstroth said.

"It was just a senseless, random thing."

Linstroth set the fast qualifying time with a lap of 14.363 seconds and won the trophy dash. He accomplished both those feats without the radio in his helmet, which was not working properly.

But when he got into his car to get ready for the main event, the radio suddenly worked.

"That was the angel working, that was definitely Sonny," Linstroth said. "That hadn't worked all day, but it was there when I needed it most."

Linstroth was the pole sitter and never trailed as he went wire to wire.

"We were fast when we got here, and it helps to start on the pole," Linstroth said.

Several different drivers tried to catch Linstroth, who won for the first time this season. But few could get close enough to make a serious run at him.

Jason Philpot, #5, of Sacramento finished second, and Jason Kerby, #2,  of Galt was third.

Kerby sat out last season and is starting to get his racing program back in shape.

Kerby had a nice run, but he wasn't going to catch Linstroth.

"Jay was really hooked up, he was really fast," Kerby said. "He did a great job. We are just trying to settle back in, and this was a nice run."

The third round of the Hotwood 1,000 for NASCAR Western Late Model cars was not complete at press time. Dave Byrd, #21, of Pacific Grove, who won the last race in the series, was the fast qualifier at 14.236 seconds.

Seventeen drivers showed up for the 100-lap WLM race. Track officials announced on Friday that the series points fund would get a major boost to $25,750, up from $10,000 at the beginning of the season.

Promoter Ken Clapp said it was done to keep drivers at the track for most of the 20-race season.

A driver must compete in 16 races - including all 10 Hotwood events - to qualify for the points fund.

Contact reporter Scott Linesburgh at (209) 546-8281


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.

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