(STOCKTON, CA--September 21, 1997)--With his second NASCAR-sanctioned Late Model Sportsman division championship secured, 27-year Stockton 99 Speedway competitor Harry Belletto wanted to make some history Saturday night. And he did, but it could not take away from the sweet taste of victory for Mike Terpstra, who was born the same year Belletto first drove on the venerable Speedway's quarter-mile paved oval. While Terpstra basked over his maiden voyage to the winner's circle, Belletto, who posted his 13th fast-time in 22 races, took a yellow flag on the feature's second lap then retired to the pits and turned the ride over to his oldest son, Rick. His appearance meant a sixth of the 18-car field was Belletto siblings--Steve and Jeff Belletto took the original green--another bench mark in the track's 51-years of competition.
The race itself was a dandy as rookie Nathan Tucker of Sonora was the pole sitter, but was beaten to the first-lap lead by two-time track champion Ron Strmiska, Sr. of Manteca. The 1978 and '79 title winner held off 1992 and '93 champion David Philpott of Tracy for 14 laps before the 30-lapper's first yellow was displayed for Rick Belletto, who spun on his own in turnone. Two circuits later, Philpott and Strmiska tangled in turn one with Strmiska spinning and Philpott being sent to the back for his role in the matter. As a result, the lead fell to Tucker with Terpstra of Modesto and Steve Belletto, also of Modesto, in hot pursuit. The next several laps saw the three run as though they were hooked together with Terpstra constantly putting his nose on the inside quarter panel of Tucker before finally succeeding on lap-25. The new leader survived a late race yellow on lap-28 to post his initial triumph ahead of Belletto, who earlier won the trophy dash, Tucker, Greg Potts of Manteca and Ripon's John Gaalswyk.
Terpstra, who has been driving a Late Model for six years, was understandably giddy after taking the checkered flag. "That was our goal this year--to finally win onebut since this was the next to last race, I was beginning to wonder," said the 27-year old, who has been steadily improving--having posted four fast times in '97 as well as collecting two trophy dash wins.
The Grand American Modified division offered an extended 50-lap feature with $500 going to the winner. Pole-sitter Larry Tankersley of Stockton took the early lead as a quick yellow fell when newly crowned champion Steve Stacy spun fellow Stockton driver Danny Contessotto in turn-three, which in turn collected seven other cars in a wild melee against the outside wall. As a result, Stacy was given a free pass to the back of the 18 car field for the re-start with Tankersley still holding forth up front.
Stacy was back to fourth by lap-10, second by lap-15 and eventually passed Tankersley on lap-27 and looked like a sure winner to go along with his dash win and record setting 19th fast time on the season. Such was not the case, however, as he slowed with Tankersley regaining the lead and receiving the checkered making him a winner in both the Late Model and Grand Am divisions, a feat only matched by defending GAM champion Robert Miller of San Jose in 1995. Robert Knittel of Lodi was second, with Greg Potts of Manteca, Greg Williams of Ceres and Jim Marchino of Modesto completing the top-five.
The Street Stocks also ran a 50-lap feature with $300 going to the winner. Lodi's Mike Piona grabbed the initial lead before bowing to Pete Anderson, Sr. of Stockton on lap eight. Four laps later, David Stricklin of Stockton spun in turn four and ended up facing the on-coming traffic and was hit head-on by his back up car driven by Steven Bryant of Stockton. The re-start allowed 1996 Street Stock champion Dan Dabbs to close on Anderson with the North Highlands driver moving to the front on lap-15. Only minor yellows slowed the pace from that point as the top five consisting-of Dabbs, Anderson, Stockton drivers Jerry Crawford and Jerry Tripp and Manteca's John Vanderwerff represented the lead quintet in the season point standings. The group was shook up at the finish, though, when Crawford suffered a flat tire and Anderson was passed by Vanderwerff and a fast-closing Jason Beltrama of Stockton. At the checkered, it was Dabbs--for the eighth time--followed by Vanderwerff, Beltrama in only his second start, 1997 division winner Tripp and Crawford.
The final 1997 Stockton 99 championship was determined in the Pick-n-Pull Pure Stock division when Doug Lane of Stockton secured the necessary number of points to prevent second place runner Gary Shafer, Jr. of Stockton from any chance at the title in the final "double point" event next week.
The early lead went to Cindy Quarnstrom of Lodi as she jumped past pole-sitter Adam Ramsdale of San Jose on the opening lap. The first of two yellows fell on lap-five as Alan Ward of Modesto hit the front wall. On lap eight, Quarnstrom bowed to Jerry Tripp III of Stockton, who was never seriously threatened in the 20-lap affair. Some drama was added when incoming point leader Lane suffering a cut tire on lap-10 and lost several laps under green in the pits as Shafer advanced through the field to third by lap-18. A yellow on lap-18 set up a re-start in which Shafer got tangled up and spun in turn-one dropping him to a 12th place finish with Lane 16th.
At the finish, it was Tripp ahead of fast timer Mark Mays of Stockton, Jeff Lovelace, also, of Stockton, Ramsdale and Aaron Mundello of Denair.
Brenda Mays stepped into her husband's ride and bested a record setting
field of 28 "Powder Puff,' entries. The 20-lap event saw Stacy Greenmyer take the
initial lead but eventual! succumb to a quartet consisting of Mays, Lisa Touchstone,
Cassandra Scantlen and Mary Litle. When the checkered was waved, it was Mays, Touchstone