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Fans pitch in for Watermelon Bash




Record Correspondent

September 09, 2012 12:00 AM

STOCKTON - Racing at Stockton 99 Speedway couldn't have happened without the estimated 700 fans in attendance Saturday night for the annual Watermelon Bash Enduro.

After all, it was the fans who were responsible for trashing the surface of the track with nearly 1,400 watermelons in preparation for the Enduro 150 race. As it turned out, points-leader Ryan Strmiska appeared to be on his way to maintaining his overall lead.

As of press time, Strmiska was in second place behind Roseville's Loren Chitwood with 75 laps to go. It was a two-car race for the majority of the first 75 laps. With one Enduro race remaining in the season, Strmiska was looking to extend his 10-point lead over Folsom's Brandon Erickson, who was third at the midpoint of Saturday's race.

"I just start in the back and let the other guys hit (the watermelons) first," Strmiska said. "You know you can't go as fast because it's like ice out there. So, you bide your time until you can actually race."

By lap 55, a clear pathway between melons had opened and it was a battle between Strmiska and Chitwood. Strmiska hit the wall on lap 59, causing a brief setback, but returned to finish second after 75 laps.

One of the fans responsible for littering the track with thousands of watermelon pieces and seeds was 13-year-old Michael Call of Redding. He walked off the track smiling ear-to-ear about what might happen in the ensuing race.

"I expect the walls to be very tortured after the race," Call said. "It'll be hard to be next to each other and sliding around. It's going to be an amazing race."

Aside from the Enduro Watermelon event, the most excitement occurred on the ninth lap of the 35-lap Legends race. That's when San Ramon's Jessica Walker and Reno's Bob Kuebler collided, with Kuebler's car losing a tire and coming to rest upside down. He walked away shaken but not seriously hurt.

"The last time I crashed was five years ago at Infineon, and I had a compression fracture in my back," said Kuebler, who was born on the day Pearl Harbor was attacked. "This was more of a sissy roll tonight. Even at 70 (years old), I can still take it."

On the restart, Brisbane's Luis Tyrrell kept his lead and maintained it all the way until the nose of his car edged Lincoln's Danny Allen by 0.018 at the finish line.

Trophy dash winner Garrett Peterson of Woodland won the first 30-lap race of the USAC Ignite Midgets, edging Rickie Bowers and Tyler Edwards. In the second 30-lap event, Peterson started in the third slot off the pole, but had the lead by the third lap and held on to sweep the night's twinbill.

In the Pro-4 Modifieds 30-lap race, Greg Vancleave claimed the lead on the 19th lap restart. Cody Barba finished second.



Attn. Visitors; Rooms available at Stockton 99's New Official Hotel!

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