This weekend the SRL Spears Southwest Tour Series returns to the New Stockton 99 Speedway for Johnny Brazil/Jackson Rancheria/Teamsters Night.
With only four races remaining in the 2012 SPEARS Southwest Tour Series, four drivers have emerged in the battle for the 2012 series championship. Lakeport’s Derek Thorn, Jim Pettit II of Prunedale, M.K. Kanke of Frazier Park and Jason Gilbert of Dublin have all built a sizeable cushion in the point standings (141 points) ahead of the remaining series competitors, while only 58 points separate the leaders.
Thorn leads the Big Four with three wins and two seconds through the first six races of the season.
“With these final four races coming up,” said Thorn, who has finished in first and second in the previous two SRL races in Stockton this year. “The pressure is on more than ever to keep the consistency alive for us. We are going to do our best to put ourselves in a position to win each week and hopefully luck will stay on our side.”
Defending series champion and local favorite Jim Pettit II, who started the 2012 season with a new car and new program, trails Thorn by a mere 29 points in his pursuit of a fifth all-time Southwest Tour championship. Pettit has one win (Madera) and only one finish outside the top three so far in 2012, when he pitted late due to a flat tire with just 9 laps to go at Stockton on April 7.
“We’re happy with how things are going this season. There’s been a learning curve with the new car, but I think we’re on top of that now,” said the Prunedale veteran. “We had hoped for more wins by this point in the season, but the wins will come, as we now have a better understanding of what the car likes.”
Manteca will be well represented in the SRL field today with Ross Strmiska, Michael Sandoval and Jacob Gomes, who won the opening event of the season in Stockton, all on hand.
Also on the program will be the Vintage Super Modifieds, Legends of the Pacific, Stockton 99 Mini Cups and the USAC Ignite Midgets. In addition, the Budweiser Clydesdales make a special appearance along with the Teamsters Rig and Fireworks Spectacular, sponsored by Performance Electric Company, will light up the evening sky before the main event.
Fans will be hoping that once again the guest of honor, 78-year-young Johnny Brazil, dubbed the “Manteca Missile” will make another appearance behind the wheel of a race car tonight. Last year Brazil participated in the Vintage Super Modified feature in a borrowed car and proceeded to scorch the field to notch the 100th victory of his illustrious racing career at the 99 Speedway.
In last Saturday’s NASCAR Whelen All American Series program at the 99 Tracy’s Scott Winters, the 2009 champion, dominated both ends of the Modified twin features to capture his seventh and eighth wins of the season in just 15 starts to take a commanding lead in the battle for the 2012 track championship.
Two legendary names stood at the top of the podium following the twin Western Late Model features. Tracy’s Justin Philpott, the 2009 track champion and son of former two-time track champion David Philpott, went wire to wire in the opening feature for his second win of the season while third generation driver Nic Belletto of Modesto nipped his uncle Jeff Belletto, of Salida, for the victory in the nightcap. Jeff, the defending Western Late Model division champion, continues to hold a narrow lead in the 2012 points over Pine Grove’s Matt Scott and nephew Nic. Jeff’s father Harry Belletto, age 69 of Modesto, won a record 89 Late Model features and three track championships at the 99.
The Western Late Models and Modifieds will return to the 99 in the next scheduled regular season program on Aug. 25.
Manteca native Scott Speed used a perfect blend of speed, strategy and skill in route to a 17th place finish in last Sunday’s Finger Lakes 355K at Watkins Glen International to give his Leavine Family Racing team its best finish yet in NASCAR’s Sprint Cup Series.
There were only 43 cars on the entry list which took the pressure off Speed to make the 43-car starting lineup which allowed the team to concentrate on a race set up during all three practice sessions. Speed qualified his No. 95 TWD Ford Fusion 21st for the 90-lap road course race and he stuck to a plan to save the car for a final push in the second half, and managed to pass five cars in the final 10 laps despite some difficult conditions.
“The track was full of oil and everyone was slipping all over the place,” Speed said. “Most of it seemed to be in the racing groove, so you have to change your line through some of the turns. We got through it and got a decent finish. Now we have something to build on.”
Speed stayed on the lead lap dropping as far back as 29th during pit stops and climbing as high as 14th. Marcos Ambrose made a fender banging pass on Brad Keselowski heading to the final turn to win the race for the second straight time.
“Traffic is always an issue on road courses because there are only so many places you can make a clean pass,” Speed said. “We stayed on track and we kept all the fenders straight. We beat a lot of good cars. We’ll take this race and use it as a starting point for future races.”
Not only did the young LFR team enjoy its best finish in two years of selected starts, the 17th-place effort was Speed’s best finish since finishing 10th at the Daytona International Speedway on July 3, 2010. Speed’s next event is the Irwin Tools Night Race Aug. 25 at the Bristol Motor Speedway.
Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca will be celebrating motorsports history with the 38th Annual Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion this weekend.
This international gathering of these rare and valuable race cars that spans decades of racing history is a cornerstone of the famed Monterey Classic Car Week that annually attracts thousands to the picturesque Monterey peninsula for concours events, auctions and racing activities. The purpose of the event is to encourage the restoration, preservation and use of historic sports and race cars.
Described as a museum springing to life, approximately 550 vehicles will be competing in 17 distinct racing groups that cover the history of the sport. The 2012 featured marque is the iconic Shelby Cobra, which celebrates its 50th anniversary.
For more information call 800-327-7322 or visit www.MazdaRaceway.com