Although he was making his first start of the season, Tracy’s Justin Philpott showed no signs of rust as he blazed to a win in the 40-lap feature for the Stockton Late Models at the 99 Speedway on Saturday night.
Starting on the inside of the front row of the 12-car field alongside of Stockton’s Larry Tankersley, Philpott jumped into the lead coming out of turn two of the opening lap. He never looked back, going wire-to-wire in the fast paced race that stayed green the entire distance.
Tankersley was able to get on Philpott’s tail just past the midway point of the race as the leaders ran into lapped cars, but Philpott was able to nimbly negotiate his way through traffic while keeping Tankersley at bay.
Tankersley pressed Philpott hard to the finish, rubbing his rear bumper on more than one occasion, but he was never to get into position to complete a pass for the lead and settled for second place just ahead of Modesto’s Adam Coonfield.
“It was a tough race and it was great to lead from start to finish,” said Philpott, the 99 Speedway track champion in 2009 and 2014. “I have a lot of respect for Larry. He raced me hard, but clean.”
Despite finishing second it was good night for Tankersley, who entered the night with just a slim 10 point lead over Dennis Byers, of Stockton, in the season points battle.
“It was close and I had a couple of shots at him, but I wanted to get him clean,” said Tankersley. “Both of our cars were hotrods tonight.”
Ironically, Philpott did not even know until late in the week that he would be racing at all on Saturday. The car he was using had just been repaired and was back on the track for the first time since 2014.
“It got completely destroyed in a wreck down in Madera two years ago,” explained Philpott. “We finally put it back together to sell it, but we didn’t get any bites so we decided to stick an engine in it and run Stockton this week.”
After Philpott’s impressive victory there should be more interest as the car goes back on the market.
“If we don’t sell it this week I guess we will probably be back next Saturday,” laughed Philpott.
Kris Price, of Rio Linda, grabbed the lead from his brother Eric Price in the early going of the 20-lap Grand American Modified (GAM) main and stayed there all the way to the checkered flag in another race that also ran caution free.
Eric Price held on for second, Lodi’s Robbie Knittel, who was taken from the track by ambulance in the previous GAM race on July 16th, finished in third and Oakdale’s Sam Solari came home in fourth.
“We had a great car. Everything is really coming together for us,” said Price, who entered the night with an eight point advantage in the season standings over Solari. “It was fun to beat my brother too. I have bragging rights, at least for one week.”
With only two B-4s in the pits, track officials decided to combine them with the Bombers into one 20-lap main. The B-4s are underpowered compared to the Bombers, they weigh considerably less allowing them to put up similar lap times.
Brad Mast, of Manteca, snared the early lead in the race from John Medina, of Galt, only to have Medina fight back to take the top spot by going underneath of Mast on lap 6.
Mast would drop out due to engine problems, but suddenly Medina was under attack by Dave Kong’s B-4. Kong was able to maneuver by Medina where he remained to the end of the race. Both were awarded wins in their respective classes.
“It was slightly embarrassing to get passed by that little four cylinder car,” said Medina with a smile. “I had way more power, but I couldn’t stay with him in the corners.”
Kong, who was originally planning to race in Roseville but decided not to chance the drive because his trailer does not have a license plate, was not surprised by the result.
“I have seen those little cars beat a big V-8 before down in Madera because they turn so much better. That was a lot of fun tonight.”
The Stockton 99 returns to action next Saturday, Aug. 20, with the Stockton Late Models, Bombers, Grand American Modifieds and Mini Cups.