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Guibor shatters old lap record at New 99

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POSTED May 28, 2009 2:34 a.m.
The huge crowd, estimated at 3700, that jammed into the bleachers last Saturday night at Stockton 99 Speedway was treated to some truly “old school” style racing when Modesto’s Harry Belletto and Tracy’s David Philpott lined up at the front of the 25-car field for Round 1 of the Tri Holiday Classic, presented by California Welding Supply, 150-lap Western Late Model feature.

The two veteran drivers, who started racing at the 99 in the 1970’s, represented over 100 feature wins and five track championships between them. Philpott excited the fans by jumping into the early lead and staying there the entire distance to notch his second win of the season ahead of Oakdale’s Todd Corral and his son Justin Philpott.

The race was punctuated by several wrecks including one lap 19 that involved Harry Belletto, relegating him to a 21st place finish in the huge 25-car starting field. Two other wrecks, one a five car pile up on lap 123 and  a second in which the car of Merced’s Carlos Vieira ended up parked on the roof of Modesto’s Jeff Belletto, caused red flag stoppages to clean up the carnage.

Afterward Philpott confessed that his biggest concern was whether his tires could hold up for the entire distance.

“I was just hoping we wouldn’t have a tire start separating or anything like that,” said Philpott. “We’ve had a little bad luck with tires lately, but it seemed good tonight.”

Stockton’s Vito Ranuio finished in eighth to retain his lead in the season points by a slim 490 to 475 margin over Justin Philpott.

The drivers also seemed to be universally pleased with the new surface that was put down a few weeks back as a total of fourteen cars broke the track record in qualify. Manteca’s Guy Guibor, the 2006 track champion, led the way with a 13.764 second qualifying lap.

The Grand American Modified (GAM) drivers are also finding the new smoother surface to their liking.

“This track is great,” commented Scott Winters of Tracy, who captured his third win of the season in the 60-lap GAM feature. “My car was a little tight in practice.  Once we loosened it up, I knew we had a rocket ship.”

Stockton’s Pete Anderson Sr. broke the track record in the Street Stocks, which had been held by Dan Dobbs since August 1997, but was involved in wreck and finished the race in 10th behind winner Jeff Ahl of Lodi. Ahl’s win popped him to the top of the street stock standings by a slim 369 to 360 point margin over Anderson while Stockton’s Chad Holman, the 2006 division champion, looms in third with 359 points.

Multi-time champion Dave Byrd, of San Jose, was stunned when car owner Bob Strandwold released him from his driving duties two weeks ago despite the fact that Byrd was second in the points to Frazier Park’s MK Kanke in the SRL Southwest Tour 2009 standings. The move, which was done for financial considerations, left Byrd scrambling for a ride for last Saturday’s Performance Electrical 150 at Madera Speedway.

Byrd was able to find one thanks Greg Voight Racing and he finished 11th in the 20-car field after loosing his brakes in the late going.

Strandwold’s bold move paid dividends when his new driver, Auggie Vidovich of Lakeside, inherited the early lead in the race after Fremont’s Troy Ermish experienced engine woes on lap seven. In an impressive performance, Vidovich then held off the hard charging Kanke over the final 50 laps, threading his way flawlessly through traffic, to  capture the victory.

“This is a technical track and we had a technical setup. It took a lot of patience on the throttle tonight,” said Vidovich afterward. “It is exciting to win in the first time out for Bob Strandwold Racing and in my first race in this series since 2006.”

Stockton’s Ross Strmiska, got the jump on Trevor Schlundt of Clovis, following a lap 20 restart in the 40-lap Western Late Model feature to earn his second win of the season at Madera.

A full slate of local racing will be on tap this Saturday including the Western Late Models, Street Stocks, Legends of the Pacific and Mini-Stocks/Mini-Trucks at Stockton and the Western Late Models, 360 Modifieds, American Limited Stocks and Grand American Modifieds at Madera. Also, the 360 Winged Sprint Cars will be the featured class at Chowchilla Speedway.

Scott Speed update
Manteca’s Scott Speed will once again be pulling double duty this weekend as he races in both Saturday’s NASCAR Nationwide Series race in the No. 99 of Michael Waltrip Racing and Sunday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup race in the #82 Red Bull Toyota at  Dover International Speedway in Delaware which is also known as the  “Monster Mile.”

Speed has high hopes for this weekend as he returns to the site of his first NASCAR win. Last May at Dover, Speed held off veterans Jack Sprague and Ron Hornaday Jr. on the high-speed, high-banked concrete to capture the victory in a Camping World Truck Series event.

“The more grip, the better I am. Dover has a lot of grip, so I’m looking forward to getting into the Cup car there,” explains Speed.

Speed’s coming off an 18th-place finish in Monday’s rain-shortened 600 at Lowe’s Motor Speedway, and according to Speed, his car was the best it has been all season.

“It’s amazing how you can run anywhere you want on the track when your car is good,” Speed said. “Seriously, this car was awesome. Definitely the best car we’ve had all year. I wonder what we could have done with it if we had gone the full distance.”

The second-best finish of Speed’s Sprint Cup career gained him significant ground on the top 35. He’s now sits just 41 points out in 36th.

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