Veteran Larry Tankersley, of Stockton, staved off a last lap challenge by “Slammin” Sam Solari, of Escalon, to capture the 50-lap Stockton Late Model feature at the 99 Speedway on Saturday.
Tankersley, the 2016 Stockton 99 track champion, along with Justin Philpott, the defending track champion out of Tracy, lead the 18 car field to the opening green flag where Tankersley quickly grabbed the early race lead. Solari would eventually take over second as Eric “Bubba” Nascimento Jr., of Manteca, and Gary Shafer Jr., of Stockton, tried to chase them down.
Nascimento, who entered the night with a hefty 48-point lead in the season standings and a five-race winning streak, had bumped Shafer out of the way in the final laps of the previous race on Sept. 19 to earn the victory. That incident may still have been on Shafer’s mind when he rather forcefully made a move on Nascimento for third with six laps remaining, causing Nascimento to spin and bringing out a yellow-caution.
Following the restart, Solari would spend the remaining laps desperately trying to get past Tankersley, but was ultimately forced to settle for second place after failing to pull off a bonsai attempt on the last lap. Shafer, Philpott and Stockton’s Joey Stearns rounded out the top five while Nascimento was able to claw his way back up to eighth place.
However, following the race Nascimento was given a one lap penalty after he caused a bit of a ruckus in the pits when he attempted to “talk” with Shafer about their late race skirmish. As a result, Nascimento was dropped to 12th in the final running order, slashing his lead to 28 points over Solari heading into the “double points” 100-lap, season finale next Saturday.
Joe Flowers, of Manteca, continued his total domination of the B-4 division.
Starting the 18 car, 25-lap main from the second row, Flowers zoomed by early race leader Andrew Rumsey, of Stockton, on lap 10 and never looked back as he captured his ninth win in 10 starts at the 99 this season.
The battle for the season championship in the Bomber division continued to tighten up as AJ Rider, of Linden, snagged the checkered flag in their nine car, 25-lap main ahead of Mikala Stearns, of Linden, and Jeanna Ramos, of Lodi.
Ramos now holds just a slim seven point lead on Stearns going in to next Saturday’s final race.
The regular season at the 99 Speedway will conclude and the 2020 champions will be crowned for the Stockton Late Models, Bombers, B-4s and Mini Cup divisions next Saturday, Oct. 24, with an afternoon “double points” program scheduled to begin at 2 p.m.