STOCCTON — The 99 Speedway put a wrap on 2016 with its Night of Champions season finale on Saturday.
Roseville’s Justin Lovelace sat on the pole for the 10-car Late Model 40-lap main, but he was quickly overtaken by former two-time track champion Justin Philpott, of Tracy and Salida’s Chad Holman.
On lap 13 Holman was able to slide under Philpott for the lead and he would never relinquish it despite Philpott’s repeated efforts to retake it.
“Man I am tired. We spent over sixty hours this week putting the car back together after wrecking last Saturday,” said Holman. “It is nice to finish the season with a win.”
Last Saturday’s race winner Pete Anderson, of Stockton, finished third and Larry Tankersley, of Gridley, held off his teammate Dennis Byers, of Stockton, to finish fourth and claim the season point’s title.
“This feels great. I have been racing a lot of years and this is my first championship. It finally came all together,” exclaimed Tankersley. “I just tried to settle down and keep it in one piece tonight. Now we are going to have a big party and celebrate.”
Brothers Eric and Kris Price, both of Rio Linda, continued their season long family battle in the 25-lap Grand American Modified feature.
Kris Price entered the night with a slim 16 point edge over his older brother and saw that lead shrink a bit more when Eric took the win in the dash.
Kris started the 25-lap feature from the pole and spent the entire race holding off his brother in a race that went caution free. However, it wasn’t enough as Eric’s second place finish was just enough to keep him on top of the standings and earn him the season championship.
“I think I had something for my brother, but we didn’t get any track position at the start,” said Eric, still lamenting that he didn’t win the race. “This is only my second year of racing so winning this championship is really special.”
The 13-car Bomber feature produced its usually drama as Galt’s John Medina and Manteca’s Brad Mast continued their season long friendly feud.
Medina started sixth, but soon found himself at the back of the pack after spinning out twice on his own during the first 12 laps.
Mast, who started the race in the eighth position, was able to jump into the top spot on lap 13 and rocketed to a big lead only to see it disappear due to several yellow-cautions during the second half of the 35-lap race.
Mast was challenged over the final laps by none other than Medina, who had miraculously worked himself back through the field, but Mast’s car was too strong as was able to successfully fend him off.
“It is a tough race every time we get door to door with John. I told John a few weeks ago to enjoy it while he has it because we are going to get him in these final races,” laughed Mast, “It has been a great year and we have had a lot of fun. Now it is time to get some beer and hot wings.”
Although Mast won the battle, Medina won the war, taking the 2016 championship by a comfortable margin.
“Brad was real fast tonight and I knew we had a tough task to catch him,” said Medina, “I come out here to win races not go for points so I’m a little mad, but I ‘m glad to win the championship.”
The closest championship fight was in the Mini Cups where Hollister’s Adam Lemke entered the night with a slim 10 point lead over Linden’s Joey Stearns.
Stearns started the 20-lap main on the pole, but Lemke roared past him on lap six and never looked back taking the win over Salida’s Seth Holman and Stearns by a wide margin.
Although the season is over at the 99, there are several events remaining on the Stockton Dirt Track, located at the San Joaquin Fairgrounds, Monster Truck Madness on Friday and Saturday, Sept. 30 and Oct. 1., the Orchex presents the Royal Purple King of the Wing National Sprint Car Series on Saturday Oct. 8, the Joe Hunt Magnetos Wingless Sprint Car Series Championship Finale on Friday, Nov. 4, and the 33rd Annual Tribute to Gary Patterson King of the West 410 Sprint Car Series Championship Finale on Saturday, Nov. 5.