Solari cruises to victory at Stockton 99
Gomes beats little brother in Young Guns Mini Cup; Hale takes Baby Grands


By BILL POINDEXTER
BEE SPORTS EDITOR

STOCKTON There was no catching Sam Solari on Saturday night.

The Salida driver took the lead from Dave Byrd of Pacific Grove on lap 31 and led the final 70 laps to claim round 5 in the HotWood 1,000 Western Late Model series at Stockton 99 Speedway.

Four yellow flags in the first 34 laps bogged down the race and hacked the 20-car starting field to 12 in front of a crowd of 1,299. There was a trail of fluid left around the quarter-mile paved oval, which contributed to one caution period, and former track champions Harry Belletto of Modesto and David Philpott of Tracy were among those who were eliminated early.

Byrd passed No. 1 qualifier Tim Spurgeon of Danville on the first lap and led until Solari went by him. The final 65 laps were run under the green flag, and Solari maintained about a two-second advantage over Byrd most of the way to record his second victory this season.

Solari has spent time this season helping Escalon driver Eric Holmes with his NASCAR Southwest Series effort, and Holmes and crew returned the favor Saturday night.

"What about this race car these guys gave to me, huh?" Solari said after exiting the beautiful black-and-red No. 6 machine. "I owe it all to his guys."

Jacob Gomes, 13, of Manteca led younger brother Joshua Gomes, 11, across the finish line to win his 11th consecutive Young Guns Mini Cup main event at Stockton 99 and 21st in the last 23 races dating to the beginning of the 2005 season.

Jacob Gomes took the lead from Cole Farrow of Rio Linda on the second lap of the 20-lap race and wasn't threatened.

Gomes and the field were forced to stop when Jarrett Kelly of Lincoln slammed into a stalled Mychal Tripoli of Brentwood coming out of turn 4 on lap 10.

Johnathan Hale of Rio Linda came back from an early spin to win the Baby Grand 25-lap feature.

Hale and Mike Conti of Tracy battled side by side until a Conti bump sent Hale into the infield on the frontstretch.

Conti was sent to the back, and Jake Smith of Tracy inherited the lead. But Hale worked his way through the seven-car field and passed Smith on the inside in turn 1 on lap 12 to regain the lead. Smith finished second.

Conti set a track record in qualifying with a lap of 15.038 seconds. Mike Smith held the old record of 15.226, set Aug. 9, 2001.

Pete Anderson Sr. of Stockton fought off challenges from John Medina of Galt and Chad Holman of Stockton and drove away on the green-white-checkered finish to win the 30-lap American Limited Stock Car main.

Anderson and Medina entertained the crowd early in the race, going door to door for a few laps, then weaving high and low through lapped traffic in a crowded 22-car field.

Anderson took the lead from Medina in the front straight on lap 13, Medina passed Anderson, then Anderson took the lead for good on lap 20.

Holman moved by Medina on lap 22 but didn't have enough to catch Anderson.

Mark Henslee of Lathrop swept the Pro 4 Truck division. He was the top qualifier, won the trophy dash and led 21 of 25 laps in the main event.

Bee sports editor Bill Poindexter can be reached at 238-4588 or bpoindexter@modbee.com.


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