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Defending champ Tankersley resumes rivalry with Solari in 99 Speedway opener
Stockton 99
Larry Tankersley (9) drives under Sam Solari en route to his hard-earned win in the Stockton 99 Speedway season opener this past Saturday. JESSICA McANELLY/Jessie's Fast Photos

After Stockton’s Larry Tankersley and Salida’s Sam Solari slugged it out for the Stockton Late Model track championship throughout the 2023 season, the pair quickly renewed their fierce rivalry in the 2024 opener at the 99 Speedway on Saturday night.

Sharing the front row of the 14-car field to start the 50-lap main, Solari was able to nudge his way ahead of defending champion Tankersley on the opening lap. Ty Carlson

Stockton 99
Stockton Late Model winner Larry Tankersley celebrates his victory Saturday at 99 Speedway. JESSICA McANELLY/Jessie's Fast Photos
and JoJo Stearns, both of Stockton, quickly joined in the fray, and the four of them played cat and mouse for the lead throughout the race.

A mid-race restart allowed Tankersley to bang his way by Solari to retake the lead. Following a late-race restart, Solari tried to return the favor, as the pair went door-to-door, but Tankersley was able to stave him off to secure the win.

“Sam got the jump on me, but obviously I had the faster car and I was able to track him down,” Tankersley said. “I accidently got into Sam late last season, so I guess he figured he could just bang into me, but that is alright because I can give it out, too.”

As you might expect, Solari had a slightly different take on the late-race fireworks.

“If they can’t pass you on the outside they just drive over you,” he said in disgust. “Tonight, he just drove through me, but that is OK because we will be back next race.”

Joe Flowers, of Manteca, grabbed the lead to start the 25-lap Mini Stock main (formally the B-4s), but an engine failure on the third lap put an abrupt end to his evening. Rocklin’s John Sproule inherited the top spot and never looked back, as he cruised to the win over Manteca’s Josh Cross.

The new Legends of 99 division put on a great show in their premier race, as brothers Wyatt and Zach Sansom traded the top spot on multiple occasions throughout the 35-lap feature. Wyatt stormed into the lead on lap 27 and held off his brother’s repeated challenges over the final laps to earn a hard-fought victory.

Brandon Jones, the 2023 class champion out of Lodi, went wire-to-wire in the 20-lap Pure Stock main, stretching his lead to over eight seconds on runner-up Jeremy Tucker, of Stockton, at the checkered flag.

The Stockton 99 Speedway will next be back in action on Saturday, May 4, with the Spears Pro Late Models, Mini Stocks, Legends of 99 and Bandoleros.