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Reigning Stockton Late Model champ starts ’22 with convincing win
Stockton 99
Manteca-based Joe Flowers shows off his new hardware after winning the B-4 main at Stockton 99 on Saturday. JESSICA McANELLY/Jessie's Fast Photos

Stockton’s Gary Shafer Jr. picked up right where he left off last season, as the reigning Stockton Late Model champion drove to a convincing win in Saturday’s first points-paying program of the 2022 season at the 99 Speedway.

Ripon’s Mike Regelman held the lead on the opening lap of the 50-lap Stockton Late Model main, but was overtaken on lap 5 by Shafer, who started in the third row of the 18-car field.

Victor Machado, of Escalon, was holding down second place when he was caught up in a multicar wreck on lap 30 that ended his night prematurely.

Shafer jumped back into the lead following the restart and cruised to the victory over Stockton’s Larry Tankersley and JoJo Stearns.

Joe Flowers, of Manteca, started well back from the fifth row of the 12-car B-4 main, but the 2020 division champion marched the pack to take over the race lead before lap 10. Despite a clutch that kept slipping out of gear on the restarts Flowers was able to hold on to get his first win of the new season over Stockton’s Andrew Rumsey and Dave Keller.

Donnie Darter, the 2007 Stockton 99 Street Stock champion out of Valley Springs, went wire-to-wire in the 25-lap Bomber feature although Manteca’s Joe Reichmuth gave him all he could handle in the closing laps.

Reichmuth slid under Darter on the final lap and inched ahead of him coming out of Turn 4, but Darter got out of the corner quicker to beat Reichmuth to the checkered flag.

Manteca’s Jayden Cross also led for all 15 laps of the B-4 Juniors main, cruising to the win over Livermore’s Dustin King.

Racing will resume at the 99 Speedway on Saturday April 23, with the Stockton Late Models, Bombers, B-4s, B-4 Juniors and North State Modifieds.