STOCKTON — Sam Solari of Escalon was in a take-no-prisoners mode as he drove to his first Stockton Late Model feature victory in almost two years at the 99 Speedway on Saturday night.
Defending track champion Gary Shafer Jr. and Joey Sarafin, both of Stockton, led the 15-car field to the opening green flag from the front row in the 50-lap main. Shafer grabbed the early lead while Solari, starting from the second row, quickly worked his way up to second where he proceeded to harass Shafer as he looked for a way to get around him.
A yellow-caution at the halfway point in the race gave Solari his opportunity. Executing a bump-and-run to perfection following the restart, Solari slipped under Shafer to take the race lead.
“I didn’t want to pass him (Shafer) clean, I wanted him to know I was coming for him,” Solari admitted after the race.
Solari would prevail over Shafer in a late-race restart following a wreck between Sarafin and Linden’s Mike Regelman on the back straight with six laps remaining to clinch the victory over Shafer and Stockton’s Ty Carlson.
“I’m back! I’m not riding around in the middle of the pack anymore,” proclaimed Solari, the 2018 track champion. “We made some changes to the car and it is paying off. I will be in victory lane a lot more this year.”
Defending division champion Josh Cross and pole sitter Joe Flowers, both of Manteca, battled it out for the early lead in the 25-lap B-4 main until a blown engine on lap seven ended night prematurely for Flowers.
Stockton’s Andrew Ethan Rumsey did everything he could for the rest of the race to chase Cross down, but was unable to catch him and settled for a hard-earned second place finish ahead of Stockton’s Barrett Sugden.
It was the second win of the season for Cross, who has elected not to race a full schedule in 2022.
Donnie Darter, the 2007 Stockton 99 Street Stock champion out of Valley Springs, continued his domination of the Bomber class by cruising to his fifth consecutive win in as many starts this season.
Starting from the second row of the 20-lap Bomber feature, Darter passed pole sitter Kayci Phillips, of Stockton, at midrace and never looked back.
Racing will resume at the 99 Speedway on Saturday June 18, with the Stockton Late Models, Bombers, B-4s, B-4 Juniors and North Star Modifieds.
NASCAR returns to beautiful Sonoma Raceway this weekend with a three-race program highlighted by the 33rd annual Toyota/Save Mart 350 Cup race. The weekend begins with a doubleheader of the General Tire 200 ARCA Menards Series West race and the DoorDash 250 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race on Saturday, June 11. The weekend concludes with the Toyota/Save Mart 350 on Sunday, June 12, with the green flag scheduled to drop at 1p.m.
Kyle Larson, of Elk Grove, will be one of the favorites to win as he defends his victory at Sonoma in 2021. Last season, driving the No. 5 HendrickCars.com Chevrolet Camaro ZL1, Larson won a series-high, ten NASCAR Cup Series races, plus the NASCAR All-Star Race, on his way to the 2021 NASCAR Cup Series Championship. He currently sits seventh in the 2022 points with one victory at Fontana’s Auto Club Speedway in February.
There will also be several drivers with local ties in Saturday’s ARCA race including Danville’s Tim Spurgeon, Orangevale’s Cole Moore and Lathrop’s Eric “Bubba” Nascimento, the 2020 Stockton 99 Speedway Late Model champion.
For tickets or more information on the Toyota/Save Mart 350, visit www.sonomaraceway.com/events/toyota-save-mart-350/tickets/ or call 800.870.RACE. Sunday’s race will be televised on FS1.