STOPCKTON — Under cool and clear weather conditions the historic Stockton 99 opened its 2014 season with a five division NASCAR Whelen All American racing Series program on Saturday night.
Tracy’s Justin Philpott started the nine-car Western Late Model 40-lap feature from outside of the front row next to Michael Wendt, of Lodi, thanks to the evening’s 6-car invert draw.
The third generation driver made the most of his good fortune by out dragging Wendt to the front on the opening lap and then played catch-me-if- you-can for the remainder of the event.
Nobody could as Philpott was able to fend off the hard charging Wendt and defending champion Matt Scott, of Pine Grove, throughout the caution free race. Scott, winner of nine of 11 races in 2013, was able to sneak past Wendt in the final laps to salvage second.
“It was tough. We were fortunate to be able to run 40 laps that hard and still have something at the end,” said Philpott, the 2009 track champion. “I kept looking in my mirror and my spotter kept telling me that they were closing on me. I was getting so nervous that I finally just knocked the mirror up so I couldn’t see them.”
A small but solid five-car field took the green flag in the 30-lap Grand American Modified main.
Lodi’s Robbie Knittel held the lead over Jay Lindstroth of Citrus Heights for most of the race, but he two spun on the back straight of lap 23 and that opened the door for Ripon’s Mike Regelman.
Regelman, who missed the 2013 track championship by a mere 2 points, grabbed the lead on the restart and held off Knittel to take the checkered flag.
“It was heartbreaking last year and it followed me for a long time,” said Regelman. “We worked hard all off season and this is a great way to start.”
The 9 car Pure Stock main was a rock em, sock em affair over the entire 25-lap race.
Heat race winner, Marc Borges of Banta, grabbed the early lead in the race, but was quickly challenged by Stockton’s Ben Lewis. The two sliced and diced for several laps before Lewis was finally able to muscle his way into the lead on lap 10.
Lewis soon regrouped and the pair was soon back at it with Borges retaking the lead on lap 15 after Lewis went into a spin.
Borges had his hands full with Lodi’s Brandon Jones in the closing laps, which included some side by side racing, before taking a hard earned victory by a nose at the finish line.
“It was tough to get out in front of these guys, but once I did I knew it would be hard for them to pass me,” said Borges. “We tried everything to stay out front. With these guys you have to race every lap like it is the last one.”
In other action, Redding’s Chase Majdic put a late race pass on Cameron Austin, of Santa Cruz to take the win in the Legends of the Pacific main while Andrew Payne, of Fair Oaks, held off Warren Mascone in the Mini Cup feature.
Next Saturday, April 12, the 99 Speedway will host a NASCAR Whelen All-American Series program with a Pacific Challenge Series lineup featuring the Pro-4 Modifieds, BCRA Midgets, Super Stocks, and Mini Cups.
Jeremy Doss, of Upperlake, captured Saturday’s SRL Spears Southwest Tour 100-lap race at Kern County Raceway by .34 seconds over Lakeport’s Derek Thorn. Manteca’s Jacob Gomes came home sixth and Ross Strmiska 12th in the 22-car field.