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Wendt wins competitive Stockton 99 WLM finale

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POSTED October 1, 2009 2:21 a.m.
Although the battle for king of the hill in the featured Western Late Model division at Stockton’s 99 Speedway was decided weeks ago, as Justin Philpott, age 19 of Tracy, built a 100-plus point to earn him the 2009 Western Late Model track championship crown, a quality field of 17 cars crowded the pits for last Saturday’s season finale.

Ione’s Frank Farran sat on the pole along side of Escalon’s Sammy Solari, who was unveiling a brand new car. Solari got the holeshot coming off turn two and held tight until lap 10 when Farran spun between three and four which drew the first yellow of this 99 lap feature event.  

When the race resumed Lodi’s Michael Wendt got a tremendous restart and took complete control of the race as he chewed away the remaining laps to capture his first-ever Western Late Model victory ahead of Solari and Seaside’s Dave Byrd.

“The car was fast tonight.  I want to thank everyone on my crew,” said Wendt before adding, “It’s about time!”

Groveland’s Paul Henry won the grand American feature while Tracy’s Scott Winters captured the Grand Am season championship, Stockton’s Brian Vosburg claimed the win in the Street Stocks while Lodi’s Jeff Ahl captured the season title and Ben Lewis II earned both the Bomber victory and season title.

This Saturday in Stockton, the SRL SPEARS Southwest Tour Series will be back with the “Stranwold Properties 125”.  Also on the bill for the event will be the Bombers, Basically-4-Cylinders and Figure 8’s.

The Madera Speedway also closed out its 2009 regular season NASCAR schedule on Saturday with the round 3 of the “HotWood 333” Series for the Western Late Models.

The 111-lap “HotWood 333” feature also doubled as the final round for the NASCAR Whelen All American Western Late Models in the four race “Chase for the Championship” to determine the 2009 Madera Speedway track champion.

Second generation driver Kyle Gottula, age 23 of Modesto, entered the night holding narrow leads in both the “HotWood 333” Series and the Chase points. Starting the 111-lap feature from the seventh position, Gottula methodically began to work his way towards the front, finally grabbing the lead  from Stockton’s Ross Strmiska on a lap 71 restart.

He stayed there for the remainder of the event to capture his eighth win of the season and take both the HotWood and track championships. Strmiska held on for second and Fremont’s Glen Cook was third.

“I was running as hard as I could and I was searching for a way to find something that would work. The car finally started coming to me and I was able to get by Ross on that restart,” said Gottula, who celebrated his pair of championships with a crowd pleasing burnout. “

Two years in a row on the HotWood deal is tremendous. That is really special. Awesome.”

Manteca’s Josh Gomes had a perfect night setting fast time in qualifying, winning the heat race and then going wire to wire in the 30-lap feature, finishing ahead of season champion Dillon Hutchison, of Citrus Heights, for a complete sweep of all Baby Grand proceedings.

“I want to thank everybody coming out and my whole family for helping me out this season. Unfortunately, we couldn’t get the championship, but we did get second so it is good,” Gomes said.

Although the 2009 NASCAR racing season has ended Madera will conclude its season on Saturday, October 24th with the 3rd Annual Pumpkin Smash Halloween Crash, Bash and Blow Up!

Rookie Paulie Harraka won the race and Ontario’s Jason Bowles fourth place finish earned him the NASCAR Camping World Series West championship in the Toyota/Copart 150 at Roseville’s All American Speedway last Saturday night.     

Escalon’s Eric Holmes, the defending series champion, who posed the only championship threat to Bowles coming into the event, was involved in an early incident and was never a factor in the race. He finished second in the championship standings.

The final major Northern California racing event of the 2009 will take place next weekend, October 9-11 when the American LeMans Series visits Mazda raceway at Laguna Seca near Monterey. For more info call 1-800-327-7322 or visit www.mazdaraceway.com on the web.

Also on October 9-11 the NASCAR Sprint Cup Pepsi 500 and Nationwide Series Stater Brothers 300 will be taking place at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana. Manteca’s Scott Speed will be entered in both events. Call 1-800-944-RACE or visit www.autoclubspeedway.com for additional information.

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