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A victory for Byrd, finally

POSTED August 19, 2011 10:12 p.m.

After notching 10 top-five finishes this season veteran driver Dave Byrd, of Seaside, finally picked up his first victory of 2011 in last Saturday’s “Race and Ride for Autism 100” Western Late Model feature at Stockton 99 Speedway.

Manteca’s Jacob Gomes held the early lead in the race, but was forced to exit when mechanical problems ended his night just 10 laps into the race. Byrd passed new leader Trevor Schlundt, of Clovis, on lap 27 to take over the top spot and then held off track points leader Jeff Belletto, of Modesto, throughout the last half of the race to take the checkers.

“We couldn’t be happier. Racing at Stockton 99 can have its challenges,” said Byrd, who now trails Belletto by a 661 to 632 margin. “The team really felt like they were ready to win the first one last week, but we were shoved hard into the wall and ended up having to replace the front suspension and body work.”    

Byrd and Gomes will both be back to work at the legendary ¼ mile oval today for the Spears SRL Southwest Tour Series “Jackson Rancheria 135.” Gomes holds a slim 1,011 to 1,005 point margin over Frazier Park’s MK Kanke in the SRL standings.

Also racing at the 99 today will be the Legends of the Pacific, Pro-4 Modifieds and NCMA Sprint Cars. 

In other Saturday night action, the LunkerDaddy Late Models, Hobby Stock, MST, Toyota Sedans and 4-Bangers will be racing at Madera, and, on Sunday, the Wingless Sprints, Super Stocks, Hobby Stocks, 4-Bangers and Vintage Super Mods will be on the dirt at the Merced Speedway.

The IZOD IndyCar Series returns to Infineon Raceway, near Sonoma, for the Indy Grand Prix of Sonoma, Aug. 26-28.

Season points leader and defending series champion Dario Franchitti (Team Target/Ganassi) saw his lead over the field cut dramatically after he crashed out of last week’s race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on a restart after leading almost the entire race, putting an abrupt end to his streak of 43 consecutive races finished. Franchitti, who was credited with 20th place, now leads second-place Will Power (Team Penske) by just 47 points and his teammate Scott Dixon by 73 points heading into the wine country.

Power returns as the defending champion and is ready to cut into Franchitti’s lead even more.

“It always feels great to come back to a place where you’ve had a good result,” said Power.  “We’ve had some really tight competition this year, and it’s going to be a great race in Sonoma.  You’ve got to be smart to get the best out of that tough road course, and I’m looking forward to it.”

There have been six different winners in Sonoma since the IZOD IndyCar Series debuted on the picturesque 12-turn, 2.303-mile road course in 2006, including Power last year and Franchitti in 2009. Other winners include Tony Kanaan (2005), Marco Andretti (2006), Dixon (2007) and Helio Castroneves (2008).

While all of these previous champions will be returning, it may be the final opportunity for Nor Cal fans to see Danica Patrick in an open-wheel car. The latest rumor has the Go Daddy girl heading to NASCAR full-time in 2012.

For ticket information visit www.infineonraceway.com or call 800-870-RACE.

 

With Jaguar as this year’s featured marquee, more than 550 extraordinary race cars will amass to confront one of America's most challenging race courses when the Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion returns to Mazda Raceway/Laguna Seca in Monterey on this weekend. 

While other can’t-miss action includes races for Historic Grand Prix-Formula 1, Can-Am and Trans-Am, it just might be Ferrari that steals the show.

Many historic automobile aficionados feel the most beautiful model ever built was the Ferrari 250 GTO.  In total, 39 of these cars were built between 1962 and 1964, and today, 15 of them will be screaming around the 2.238 mile, 11 turn track.  In their day, the GTOs were unbeatable, and today their value is astronomical, with many of them able to fetch up to $30 million dollars at auction. 

For more information call 800-327-7322 or visit www.MazdaRaceway.com.

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