PHILPOTT RETURNS TO STOCKTON 99 WINNERS CIRCLE
(STOCKTON, CAApril 2, 2000)Stockton 99 Speedway initiated the NASCAR portion of its 54th season of racing Saturday night on an April Fools evening that seemed more like mid-summer. A four-division programincluding a 100-lap Late Model Sportsman feature--was completed in just over four-hours. David Philpott, a two-time former track champion, led 80 of 100 laps to collect the $2,000 first place money; but his first win at Stockton in nearly three years did not come easy.
Starting on the pole of a 16-car field, the Tracy driver led 62 laps before being passed by Steve Belletto. Philpott and Troy Ermish of Fremont stuck to the new leaders rear bumper for several laps before the eventual winner slipped under Belletto coming down the front straight with Ermish still in tow for second on lap-69. The trio ran one-two-three until lap-78 when Ermish lost control off turn-four and slammed nose first into the front stretch retaining wall.
On the ensuing re-start, Philpott missed a gear and slowed enough so that Belletto, young Greg Anderson of Roseville and Ron Strmiska, Jr. of Manteca dropped Philpott to fourth. Strmiska moved to second on lap-85 with Philpott re-gaining a spot and Anderson still fourth. Strmiska succumbed to Philpott on lap-95 and one circuit later, the eventual winner passed Belletto again. Misfortune struck Belletto on lap-98 when a coil wire came off and he retired to the pits with Strmiska and Anderson charging home second and third.
The win for Philpott gives him a leg up on a unique bonus point system where if the champion can accumulate 600 pointsbased on a 100, 80, 60, 40 and 20 scoring system for the top-five in each event on the seasonhe can earn an extra $2,500. The next event for the 11-race Late Model schedule at Stockton will be the Shell Tri-Track Challenge April 15.
Defending NASCAR Pacific Coast Region champion Mark Welch strutted his stuff in the 22-car Grand American Modified feature. From the pole, the Orangevale pilot never looked back and was chased to the checkered flag by opening day winner Tony Silva of Sacramento. While Welch picked up the $600 first place money, Silva retained his early season point lead by 12 (102-90).
The third, fourth and fifth place finishers in the 30-lapper represented personal bests at Stockton for all three. Benicias Barry Caullouette was third with Darrin Halterman of Stockton fourth and Charles Perreira of Modesto fifth.
Some history was made when a 10-car Pro Stock field took the green flag for their 25-lap main. As a new Stockton 99 division, whoever would win would get their name in the track record book. That honor fell to Jerry Crawford of Stockton, who worked his way from a sixth-place starting position to the lead in six laps. Fellow Stockton pilot Cary Treadway applied some pressure to Crawford after coming to second on lap-12, but it was to no avail. For his effort, Crawford pocketed the $200 first place money with Treadway, Sott Chappell of Lodi, Stocktons Jason White and Joe Hylton of Manteca completing the top-five.
A field of nearly 40 cars turned out for Stocktons entry level I.B. Benedict sponsored Pure Stock division. With a luck-of-the-draw format, four heat races were run with the top four finishers automatically earning their way to the main, the next three getting into the semi and the eighth, ninth and 10th place cars having to fight their way up through a consolation event.
When the 20-car main got the green, John Medina of Galt was the initial leader. That was short-lived, however, as the cream of the 1999 Pure Stockers came to the fore with Orville Dahl of Stockton taking the point. 1998 champion Doug Lane of Stockton became the third and final leader and took the checkered flag with Dahl still second and 99 champion Guy Guibor of Manteca third. The top-five was completed by Aron Shankel of Lodi and another Guibor, Guys brother Danny.
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Saturday, April 8, Stockton 99 Speedway will feature three NASCAR divisions--Grand American Modifieds, Pro Stocks and Pure Stocks. The four-division program will also include the popular Legendsfive-eights scale model 1938 to 1940 Chevrolet, Dodge and Ford coupes and sedans. Legends from the Reno-Carson City and Northern California Redding-Red Bluff area expected to bring their car count to over 30.
Ticket gates will open at 3:00 p.m. with qualifying set for 5:00 and green flag racing at 6:00.
Stockton 99 Speedway is located at 4105 North Wilson Way, a quarter-mile west of Highway 99.
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