(STOCKTON, CA--May 14, 2000.) Defending NASCAR Pacific Coast Region champion Mark Welch continued his early season dominance at Stockton 99 Speedway Saturday night with a virtual wire-to-wire victory. A fortunate inversion draw put the Orangevale driver on the outside pole of a 24-car field. The 43-year-old, second generation driver jumped into the lead on the initial green flag and was never seriously challenged on the scheduled 30-lap feature that received a yellow-checkered flag on the 28th go-round.

Now in his third full year of competition on Stockton’s quarter-mile paved oval, Welch’s triumph represents a personal best. "I’ve won 13 or 14 in row driving on dirt, but this is the most I’ve ever won in a row on asphalt." The five-in-a-row brings his career Stockton win total to 31 and stretches what is still a narrow season point lead over Sacramento driver Tony Silva to nine points (356-347). Silva won the season opener on March 26, and now has finished second three times, third and fourth behind Welch during the point leader’s current streak.

While no one mounted a serious threat to Welch, Barry Callouette of Benicia and fast qualifier Jason Philpot of Sacramento did mix it up for the runner-up spot. After starting sixth, Philpot at one point moved to second before settling for third. Only three yellows slowed the pace as Silva ended up fourth with Robert Knittel of Lodi completing the top-five.

The pre Mothers’ Day racing program also included a 100-lap Ultra Wheel Spec Truck feature that had the nearly 2,000 Stockton fans on the edge of their seats. Twenty-one of the V-8 powered units took the green that saw fast qualifier and prior Stockton winner Vince Little of Clovis on the pole. Little led from the get-go with Greg Adler of Manhatten Beach and Nathan Wulff of Escondido occupying the place and show positions. Local favorite and trophy dash winner Mike David of Modesto started fifth and was fourth when the second of three yellows was displayed on lap-18 when Eric Seely of Modesto slipped up and into Paul Woods of Escondido. Woods took a hard shot into the back straight wall putting his ride on the trailer for the night, with Seely returning minus his hood.

David moved past Wulff for third on lap-26, then into second on lap-37. While Little continued to lead, David began to apply pressure. It was apparent that Little’s tires were beginning to go away and David finally took advantage with an outside pass on lap-71. Three trucks tangled on lap-72 setting up a re-start consisting of David, Little, Adler and Wulff. David pulled away and coasted home in front of Little with Wulff slipping past Adler for third. Thane Alderman of Las Vegas, who started 14th, completed a nice run to claim the fifth spot when the checkered flag was waved.

The NASCAR-sanctioned Pro Stock division feature looked as though it was headed for a perfect non-yellow run with Ed Cullom of Lockeford leading lap-one and bowing to Lodi pilot Scott Chappell on lap-two. Chappell, the night’s dash winner, slowly pulled away from the field. With five laps to go, Chappell led Cullom, Johnny Berndt of Clements, and Doyal Moen of Modesto by a comfortable margin.

On lap-20, fifth place runner Jerry Crawford saw his transmission go up in smoke spreading oil throughout turns three and four. Unfortunately, the spill collected Chappell and several others and was culminated when Cullom slid out of control virtually demolishing Chappell’s Monte Carlo. The incident immediately drew a red flag, prompting track officials to shorten the event and revert back to the last completed lap. As a result, Chappell was declared the winner, followed by Cullom, Berndt, Moen, and the fast timer on the night, Crawford.

That result snapped season point leader Cary Treadway’s winning streak at three. However, the Stockton driver still maintains an eight-point margin (310-302) over Crawford in the season standings.

Other than a first lap yellow, the I.B. Benedict Pure Stockers put on a perfect show with defending champion Guy Guibor of Manteca leading wire-to-win to register his third victory of the season. Guy’s younger brother Danny slipped into second on lap-four and the two waged their own private battle for the top spot, pulling away from the field by a large margin at the checkered. At the checkered, the two Guibors were followed by Mike Graham of Manteca, Arron Shankel of Lodi, and C.W. Davis of Stockton. Pure Stock heat winners were three Stockton drivers--Mike Soiseth, Joe Stearns and Davis and Guy Guibor.

Two other Stockton pilots--Joe Stearns and Jeff Lovelace-are one-two in the season point standings. Stearns leads Lovelace by 14 (311-297) with Guy Guibor closing another five points back.

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Saturday night’s NASCAR-sanctioned Stockton 99 Speedway program will see defending Pacific Coast Region champion Mark Welch of Orangevale seeking his sixth straight Grand American Modified feature triumph.

The four division racing program will also include Renegade Sprint Cars, Pro Stocks and I.B. Benedict Pure Stocks.

Ticket gates will open at 3:00 p.m. with qualifying set for 5:00 and green flag racing at 6:00.

Adult tickets will cost $12, eight for students (13-to-17) and seniors over 65, and four dollars for children six-to-12. Children five and under get in free.

Stockton 99 Speedway is located at 4105 N. Wilson Way, a quarter-mile west of Highway 99.



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