STOCKTON — The Spears Southwest Tour thundered into Stockton 99 Speedway this past weekend for race No. 7 of its 10-race series season schedule.
The Jackson Rancheria 135 event looked to be a very competitive race, with 21 cars qualifying on the short quarter-mile oval and the crowd would not be disappointed. Coming into the event, Jacob Gomes, the phenomenal young driver from Manteca (and crowd favorite), held onto a slight lead in the series season points.
Once qualifying was completed, Derek Thorn of Lakeport in his No. 26 Toyota Camry had captured the pole position with a 13.321-second lap at an average speed of 67.562 mile per hour on the tight Stockton 99 ¼-mile “bull ring” asphalt race track. Eric Holmes in the No. 18 Chevy from Escalon qualified second with a 13.409 second lap at an average speed of 67.119 miles per hour.
Ross Strmiska of Manteca in the No. 90 qualified third, Joe Farr of Henderson, Nev. in the No. 54 was fourth and rounding out the top-five qualifiers was rookie sensation, Michael Sandoval in the No. 7 car from Ripon.
Gomes struggled to a No. 8 qualifying position. Upcoming rookie driver Colby Potts of Manteca qualified 13th in the tough 21 car field with a 13.699 second lap time.
After the completion of qualifying, the SRL series (Spears Racing League) utilizes a “random equalizer”. Based on a random draw, two qualified cars are swapped with one another. The result of this random draw saw the No. 1 qualified car of Derek Thorn (car No. 26) swapped with the No. 29 car driven by Brennan Newberry of Bakersfield, who had qualified seventh.
As the race neared its completion, several caution flags had come out for various on track incidents, keeping the field close.
This allowed Strmiska to work his way back towards the front, reaching the third position. Gomes was a victim in a couple of those on track incidents, dropping him back in the field, two laps down. Potts, meanwhile, found himself well off the pace and ended up 46 laps down.
As they came to the checked flag for the last lap, Sandoval found himself squeezed between two other cars, with no place to go, causing him to spin and slide up into the outside wall as he came out of the final turn. He would end up finishing fifth, one lap down.
Holmes managed to work his way back up into an eighth place, but could not move any further up, as his tires simply became too worn and would no longer grip the track well enough to run quick in and out of the corners. He would end up finishing in the eighth position.
Jim Pettit II, in the No. 03 car, went to victory lane, celebrating with an emotional winner’s circle celebration. Keith Spangler of Chatsworth finished second, and finishing third was MK Kanke from Frazier Park.
Kanke came into event a close second behind Gomes in the series season point chase. Derek Thorn in the No. 26 car from Lakeport finished fourth.
In other weekend stock car racing action, Scott Speed of Manteca, finished sixth at the NASCAR Nationwide series Napa Auto Parts 200 in Montreal, Canada.
Marcos Ambrose was the winner on the tough Circuit Gilles Villeneuve road course, with Alex Tagliani in second and Michael McDowell in third.