STOCKTON — Greg Potts turned back the clock by driving to a convincing victory, as the Stockton 99 Speedway opened its 2023 racing season with a special matinee program on Sunday.
Potts, age 64 of Stockton, was a regular at Stockton in the late model division throughout the 1980s and 90s but has driven only sporadically in recent years, preferring to mentor and prepare race cars for his son Colby.
“I’m just the backup driver to my son, but they got me off the bench and let me race the car today in the opener,” Potts said
Shaking off the rust, Potts earned the pole for the 50-lap feature and held the lead over the 15-car field in the early going until 2016 track champion Larry Tankersley, of Stockton, drove around him on the outside following a lap nine restart.
Potts hung right on Tankersley’s tailpipe for the next 30 laps, probing for a way to retake the lead until Sam Solari, the 2019 track champion from Escalon, tried to slip under both of them coming out of Turn 4 late in the race. Unfortunately, Solari could not hold the low line and went into a spin, bringing out the fifth and final caution of the race.
Starting from the outside, Potts made the most of the opportunity by getting the jump over Tankersley on the restart and tucking in ahead of him. Potts remained in front to the checkered flag to earn his first main event win in over 30 years, while Tankersley, Lodi’s Steven Frazer, Tracy’s Chuck Dozier and Solari rounded out the top five.
“That last caution saved me because it gave me another shot at the lead,” Potts admitted. “My transmission is high-geared so I had to take off early and wind the motor up. I kind of snookered him a little bit, but he did that to me earlier.”
Nick Hall, of Stockton, started from the pole in the 14-car, B-4 main and held the lead as defending division champion Joe Flowers, of Manteca, desperately tried to chase him down. Although he was driving his backup car, Flowers was able to stay glued to Hall’s bumper for the next 23 laps.
With the white flag in sight and Flowers looming in his mirror, Hall suddenly lost control and got loose on the front straight. Flowers tried to avoid Hall, but ended up clipping the swerving car and spun him out. With Hall now in the back of the field, Flowers snagged the lead on the restart and was awarded the win when the middle of the pack piled-up behind him going into Turn 1, causing officials to wave a checkered-yellow flag a lap early.
“Back up car, baby! We blew one up yesterday and came down here with the spare,” exclaimed Flowers. “I never spun him. I don’t think we would have got him, but he spun himself out.”
After dominating the B-4 class over the last four seasons with two championships apiece, Flowers and his son in law Josh Cross, of Manteca, are unsure if they will compete full time in 2023.
“We are probably only going to be part time this year, but we will be here.” Flowers said, before adding with a smile. “We plan to win all the big ones.”
Making only his second start ever in Stockton, Madera’s Tyler Holden took the lead at the drop of the green flag for the 15-lap Street Stock main and never looked back as he cruised to the win over Justin Scantlen, of Valley Springs and Brian Miller of Railroad Flats.
“My crew gave me a great car. All I had to do was hold on,” said Holden. “I love racing here. The two corners are so different that it is hard to get either one right.”
The next program at Stockton 99 Speedway will be a Mother’s Day Celebration Special on Saturday, May 6, featuring the Stockton Late Models, Street Stocks, B-4s. B-4 Juniors, Nor Cal Legends Series & AAA Energy Systems Pro-4 Modifieds.
SRL Southwest Tour
After winning the Spears SRL Southwest Tour championship for the second time in 2022, Manteca’s Jacob Gomes has come out of the gate this season hotter than a three-dollar bill.
Gomes started the season with a $25,000 win in the “All-Star Showdown 200” at Irwindale Speedway on Jan. 21, followed it up with a $10,000 victory at the “Winter Showdown 135” at Kern County Raceway on March 25, then made it three-in-a-row with a $10,000 win in the JM Environmental “Wild West Shootout — Heatseeker 127” at Tucson Speedway last weekend.
Gomes will be looking to make it four in a row when the SRL Southwest Tour heads Irwindale Raceway on Saturday, May 20. The series will also be at the Stockton 99 Speedway on Saturday, June 15.