2006 99 Schedule

When Stockton 99 closes in 2007, NASCAR turns to Altamont

Record Staff Writer
Published Tuesday, Jan 17, 2006

Stockton 99 Speedway may run its last race in 2006, but NASCAR fans still will have a home in the Central Valley.

Altamont Motorsports Park president Kenny Shepherd announced that the half-mile track will be sanctioned by NASCAR this season and will run the same weekly racing program as Stockton 99, which is scheduled to close its gates in September and end its 51-year association with NASCAR.

"I think it's great for our track, the fans and racing in this area," said Shepherd, 41, a former Grand National West driver. "I've been a NASCAR guy for years, so I'm thrilled we're a part of it."

Stockton 99 and Altamont will run the Western Late Model cars as their lead divisions. Stockton 99 will run its traditional Saturday night program, and Altamont will run a twilight show that begins on Sunday afternoon.

Stockton 99 opens the season on April 2, and Altamont's schedule will be released in a few weeks.

Altamont, which is located in the foothills west of Tracy, has been associated with NASCAR several times in the past and ran as a sanctioned track in 2002. The track was under the banner of the American Speed Association (ASA) last season, but when the Riverside Motorsports Park LLC Group took over the track, it decided to pursue a NASCAR sanction.

Stockton 99 promoter Ken Clapp, a former NASCAR vice president who still works for the organization as a consultant, said there won't be a conflict between the tracks. He plans to give his track's rules and regulations to Shepherd so the tracks are in sync.

"I think this is just the best for the fans and the drivers," Clapp said. "Both the tracks can do well this season, and we have to look to the future."

Stockton 99 opened 60 years ago and became a NASCAR track in 1955. The track is in the process of being sold and this likely is its last season.

"Going to Altamont is a good deal for us and gives us continuity in the area after Stockton closes," said Mike Verlatti, a senior NASCAR official. "It's a good situation for everyone."

The biggest plus for Western Late Model drivers could be the opportunity to run for a regional title.

"I think it does give everyone a lot of opportunities," said Pete Anderson, the reigning WLM champion at Stockton 99. " And its good for racing."

Contact reporter Scott Linesburgh at (209) 546-8281 or slinesbu@recordnet.com

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