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French Camp native takes Grand Modified on own track

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POSTED April 2, 2009 5:31 a.m.
Third generation driver Justin Philpott, of Tracy, picked up his first career feature win in a Western Late Model last Saturday at Stockton’s New 99 Speedway.

Making the victory even sweeter was the fact that his dad, former two-time track champion David Philpott and brother Matthew, were also racing in the event, and his grandfather, John Philpott, was working on his crew.

Afterward Philpott drove the quarter-mile oval in the reverse, clockwise direction in a celebration also known as a “Polish Victory Lap” made famous by 1992 NASCAR champion Alan Kulwicki.

“I can’t even talk right now, man,” said the emotional Philpott, who then presented the trophy to his grandfather.

Tony Noceti — who along with wife, Carol, leased and renovated the track this past winter — returned to the driver’s seat and picked up the win in the 40-lap Grand American Modified feature.

“It’s a great win here at the home track,” Tony Noceti said. “We’ve been busy building a racetrack and we haven’t had time to work on the old heap.”

Madera Speedway
Another third-generation driver, Ross Strmiska, 22, of Stockton, and second-generation driver Kyle Gottula, age 22 of Modesto, battled to a draw by splitting the twin 50-lap Western Late Model features at Madera Speedway last Saturday.

Strmiska held a solid lead in the first race when a caution came out on lap 30. Gottula got the jump on him when the green flag fell and stayed in front the rest of the way.
The pair went at it again in the second feature that quickly shaped up to be a carbon copy of the first race. Strmiska grabbed the lead on the third lap from polesitter Jacob Gomes, of Manteca, and began to pull away from the field with Gottula again in pursuit.

A caution restart on lap 30 allowed Gottula to slip past Strmiska for the lead, but this time Strmiska would have none of it. He came back to retake the top spot after a lengthy side by side fight, going outside of Gottula on lap 35 for his first win of the year.

“He snookered me for the win on that restart in the first race. I wasn’t going to let that happen twice in one night,” Strmiska said. “Kyle is a good friend and I think we have a little rivalry going.”

Rookie Jacob Gomes, age 16 of Manteca, continued to look impressive last Saturday with a fourth- and third-place finish, giving him three straight top fives in his first three late model starts.

“He is going to give Kyle and me a run for our money this year. That’s for sure,” complimented Strmiska of Gomes, who competed in the Baby Grands last season, a series for drivers age 13-17.

“He is a good driver with a good car, and as soon as he gets a little more seat time he is going to be tough to beat.”

Madera Speedway will be back in action this Saturday night, April 4, with the first of six Super Saturday events on the 2009 schedule. The open-wheel program will feature the ground shaking SMRA 410 Supermodifieds and Madera’s 360 Modifieds in a combined 50-lap feature plus the USAC Sprint Cars, USAC/BCRA Midgets, Legends of the Pacific, NCMA Sprint Cars and WRA Vintage Cars.

Stockton will also be racing on Saturday night with twin 50-lap main events scheduled for the Late Model class along with the Grand Am Modified, Street Stock and Bomber divisions. Merced Speedway will be hosting its regular program on Saturday while Chowchilla will go dark this weekend.

Camping World Series West
The NASCAR Camping World Series West returns to All-American Speedway in Roseville this Saturday for the second on 13 races on the 2009 schedule. The race will be televised on SPEED at noon on April 9.

Greg Pursley won the opening round of the series at Thunder Hill Raceway in Texas three weeks ago while defending series champion Eric Holmes, of Escalon, finished third and 2007 champion Mike David, of Modesto, finished seventh.

Manteca’s Scott Speed, driver of the No. 82 Red Bull Toyota Camry, may be reconsidering his choice of Kyle Busch as the driver he tries to emulate in NASCAR. A few weekends back in Las Vegas, in his very first start ever in the Nationwide Series, after Speed had qualified on the pole, Busch crashed him out of the race on the 21st lap.

Last Sunday, Speed was having a good run in Martinsville, including holding the lead for 12 laps, when Busch tried to get under him and tapped him into the wall. The car sustained heavy damage and Speed retreated to the garage to make repairs. He returned several laps down to finish in the 39th spot.

“I’m sure Kyle is going to offer to buy me dinner since that’s the second time this year that he’s wrecked me, so I’m looking forward to that,” Speed said afterward. “We had a great car before we got wrecked and we even had a great car after we got wrecked. This race is a lot like Daytona for us where we had a great car but were in the wrong place at the wrong time.”

It was a costly accident for Speed will be at the Texas Motor Speedway this weekend’s Samsung 500. He currently sits 38th overall in owner points which means he will have to qualify on time to make the starting field. Only the top 35 in owner points gain automatic spots. Sunday’s race will be shown on FOX beginning at 10:30 a.m.

To contact Dale Bosowski, e-mail dalebosowski@yahoo.com
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