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Gottula survives crash marred race for win
Stockton 4-1-17 360
Kyle Gottula celebrating his hard earned win. - photo by Photo by Jessica McAnelly

STOCKTON — The large field of Stockton Late Models that packed the pits on Saturday night at the 99 Speedway produced a wild and raucous race that left many drivers upset and the fans in the stands delighted.

With 20 cars on the grounds officials opted to run a seven car B Main with the top three transferring to complete the field of 16 for the feature. The 15-lap race went off without a hitch as Modesto’s Kyle Gottula, Stockton’s Jeremy Tucker and Lodi’s Robbie Knittel easily advanced to the main.

Lodi’s Brandon Jones led the field to the green flag to start the 40-lap feature where he remained for 18 laps until Aaron Shankel, also of Lodi, was able to overtake him on the outside following a yellow-caution restart.

Overall, there were 10 cautions and a couple of red flag stoppages before the race was finally able to reach its conclusion.

Gottula, who had boldly diced his way up to second, was challenging for the lead when he was turned around in a bonsai move by Salida’s Seth Holman. Holman was invited to join Gottula at the rear of the pack by track officials for over aggressive driving when the race resumed.

Driving like a man possessed, Gottula worked his way back through the field, overtaking Manteca’s Ty Carlson for second place following — what else — a yellow-caution on lap 35.

Gottula then set his sights on Shankel. A lap later, he was able to get underneath Shankel’s left rear wheel going into turn #1 causing a shower of sparks.

The yellow flag came out at this point for an unrelated incident allowing Shankel to keep the top spot, but the damage caused by the get together slowed Shankel on the restart and Gottula was able to get by him with relative ease to take the victory.

Holman also got around Shankel to take second, who struggled across the line to salvage third while Modesto’s Chris Lyon and Carlson rounded out the top five.

Afterward nobody was happy.

“I was faster than these guys and most of them tried to make it impossible for me to pass them clean. I don’t know what their deal is. It was a joke out here tonight,” said Gottula. “I was rolling and that guy (Holman) dive bombed right into me. It is satisfying to come back to win, unless they find a way to take it from me in post-race tech inspection.”

Shankel, as one might expect, had a different take on things.

“Unfortunately the fastest car did not win tonight. We had a knucklehead destroy our car after dominating the race,” said Shankel angrily. “We will be back next time and we’ll be ready to rock and roll again.””

The Bomber race saw husband and wife team of Joey Sarafin and Kimberly Rouse, both of Stockton, lead the 12-car field to the green flag for their 30-lap race. 

Although both finished well down in the field, they managed to avoid any incidents with each other so nobody should be sleeping on the couch this week.

Stockton’s Ben Lewis grabbed the lead on lap 4 and cruised through the remaining laps to earn his first win of the season over Roseville’s Dustin Lovelace and Justin Scantlen of Valley Springs.

“I’m dedicating this to my grandma who passed away 11 years ago,” explained Lewis. “The car was perfect tonight.”

Only four cars were on hand for the Grand American Modified 20-lap feature.

Rio Linda’s Kris Price shot past pole sitter PJ Petrocelli, of Sonoma, on a lap 4 restart and cruised to the win ahead of his brother Eric Price.

Stockton’s Andrew Rumsey made a final lap pass on Manteca’s Justin McGehee in the B-4 20-lap feature to earn an event sweep (quick time, heat, dash and main) of the B-4 activities on the night.

The action returns to the 99 Speedway on Saturday, April 15, with a four division program that includes the Stockton Late Models, Bombers, Grand American Modifieds and B-4s.