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Lancaster prevails, but Papst holds onto Enduro points lead
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STOCKTON — On Saturday, while the NASCAR Whelen All American Western Late Models took a break before coming back in September for the final run at the Chase for the Championship, the West Coast Enduros splattered onto the historic quarter-mile paved oval to continue their Speedway Series Championship run.

The points battle in this division coming in has been nothing less than fierce this year with David Papst Jr. leading the way at 132 points with one to go.  Hot on his heels, a thin 10 points in arrears, Joe Addison holds down the second spot.  Another four points back, Adam Baggett sits on the podium in third.  

Fourth and fifth share the same number of points at 114, but since Ryan Strmiska owns a win he gets the nod for fourth over “Big” Ben Lewis who rides in fifth.  

The Enduros were joined on the evening by the Bombers and the Basically-4-Cylinders.  

This was another great night of racing enjoyment for the fans in the stands to savor as only Stockton fans know how to do.

When you throw something into a blender, anything, the action gets real busy, real quick.  Such was the case with the West Coast Enduro action as they were turning and churning and slipping and sliding from the drop of the green.  Chris Lancaster (7) would prove to be the best at slicing and dicing on this night, sloshing through the slush beneath the checkers well ahead of second place.  

A coin was flipped at the onset to decide which direction these guys and gals would turn the first half.  Turning right won out.

With Roseville’s Loren Chitwood (13x) starting on point and Lancaster trading paint with his right door from the gun, Lancaster slid to the early lead on lap 1 only to be displaced by the No. 18 of Ron Wills on lap 2 who, in turn, was displaced by Stockton’s own Big Ben Lewis (028) on lap 3.  

Lewis held strong until lap 25 when Wills usurped the lead until lap 38 where he had quite handily paced the field until he had no choice but to relent once again to too much pressure from the No. 028.  Once there, Lewis would hold station out front over the next sixty-two laps until the competition yellow went flying on lap 100 for refueling and maintenance on the moderately bruised cars.  

To get the second half underway, the race would change to turning the obligatory left.  With the green flag waving once again, Lancaster decided it was time to show his mettle as he jumped out early and showed his unbelievable strength by driving away to another time zone: his own.  After dodging every obstacle presented to him, and after manipulating, quite heroically, the sludge and the slush and the slurry that is Enduro racing, Lancaster found himself atop the podium in Victory Lane, the only car left on the lead lap in what would be his third win of the year at the Speedway.  

Wills had a great race, yet once Lancaster took the lead, Wills never challenged for that No. 1 spot, but still managed a second-place run.  Points leader David Papst Jr. (2) of Lodi, by virtue of his third-place finish, held on to the top spot with one race left on the year.  Joe Addison (02) of Stockton maintained the close point’s battle by finishing fourth.  The No. 95 of Larry Moniz rounded out the top five.

• Long before the deluge of water and soap, the Bombers hit the asphalt surface with a vengeance.  Of course, the asphalt surface, unforgiving, has reached up and bitten many-a-good driver.

On Saturday, however, Robbie Knittel (003) of Lodi would retaliate on her difficulties by making it look easy as he drove across her outstretched stripe into the open arms of victory.

This one got underway with Knittel on pole and Stockton’s Tom Dahl (004) flanking him to the right.  Knittel jumped out early, but on lap 2 Dahl’s aggression took him past Knittel for the lead.  On lap 4, Knittel would return the favor as he powered by the No. 004 car where he would remain over the next sixteen laps until lap 19 when Dahl had seen all he wanted to see of Knittel’s rear bumper, so Dahl decided it was go time once again.  

And go he did.  

But, unfortunately, his bid for victory would fall just short as Knittel dove low coming off turn four on lap 26, which ended all chances for Dahl to bring home three-in-a-row as Knittel steamed off to the checkers for his fourth win of the year.  

Dahl also succumbed to points leader Travis Tucker (350) of Stockton, whose second place finish was exactly what he needed to stay in control of the Leader Board as the Season winds down to the final races.  Stockton’s Andy Rumsey (043) pulled off another podium finish in third.  

Much to his chagrin, Dahl fell off the pace, but managed to stay on the lead lap in fourth. The No. 051 of Stockton’s Jeremy Tucker brought her home in fifth.

• With the Season winding down and the points race as tight as a six-point harness, the Basically-4-Cylinders grumbled onto the high-banks to find some semblance of closure.  Although there are four races left in this Division, Modesto’s Larry Toon (88) dug deep into his bag of talent to close the deal all the way to the checkers for his fifth win of the year.

Toon and Jake Morgenstern (22) paced the field to greet the green to get this one up to speed with Toon nabbing the holeshot getting off into turn one where, once there, he would yard the field in his own little race and go wire to wire as he crossed beneath the checkers for the winner’s share of the spoils in completely dominant fashion.  

Along with the win, Toon vaulted into the Points Lead ahead of the now defunct Points Leader, JD Silva.  Modesto’s Richard Hull (23), starting in the number nine spot on the grid, worked his way masterfully through the field to finish an extremely pleasing second.  Andrew Rumsey (101) of Stockton, racing double-duty on this night, brought her home on the podium in third.  Kelle Bobbitt (61), also of Stockton, ran a solid race finishing fourth with the No. 16 of Rodney Lopez, chewing all over Bobbitt’s bumper at the line, coming home fifth.

Join us next Saturday, Sept. 4, when NASCAR’s Whelen All American Series rolls fast and smooth, back onto the tricky asphalt surface in a Salute to Our Armed Forces.  The menu for the event will feature the Western Late Models in Twin 40s, Grand American Modifieds, Street Stocks, Bombers and the Mini Cups.