In one of the more surprising results so far this season, Salida’s Mike Beeler grabbed victories in both ends of the Western Late Model doubleheader at the New Stockton 99 Speedway on June 27.
In the 50-lap opener Beeler inherited the lead from Madera track champion Jeff Belletto, of Modesto, when Belletto was forced to pit during a lap 42 caution. He would have to endure several more cautions and a red flag stoppage, Beeler was able to hold onto the lead for his first win.
In the nightcap Beeler battled Jeff Belletto’s nephew Nic Belletto, 19, of Modesto, through the second half of the race before finally slipping past him on lap 41 for the sweep.
“It feels good to come across the line and see that checkered flag fall. This is fantastic,” said Beeler.
Stockton’s Vito Ranuio had an apparent change of heart and returned to race at the 99 last Saturday, ending his self imposed exile to All American Speedway in Roseville that occurred after he had several run ins with the Stockton officials.
After a best finish of eighth place in three starts at Roseville, Ranuio found the grass not to be any greener in Stockton as in finished eighth and 12th, respectively in the twin bill at Stockton on June 27. He now trails Tracy’s Justin Philpott 61 points in the 2009 Stockton standings.
Even with his recent slump, Ranuio’s four wins and nine top five finishes this year are good enough to earn him a ranking of second in the state of California and 19th nationally in the latest NASCAR Whelen All –American Series standings.
Kyle Gottula, 22, of Modesto, got the jump over his friend and rival Ross Strmiska, 22, of Stockton, following a lap 33 restart and cruised to his fourth win of the season at Madera Speedway last Saturday. Gottula’s effort snapped Strmiska’s three race winning streak and extended his lead to 18 points (239 – 217) over Strmiska in the late model division season standings.
Today, Madera will host round two of the SRL Southwest Tour Holiday Classic in a big 120-lap main event. The program will also feature the Western Late Models in a 100-lap feature, plus the American Limited Stock Cars, Modified Super Toyotas, Toyota Sedans and Hornets for a total of 335 laps of main event racing. A fireworks show will take place prior to the SRL feature.
Not to be outdone, the Western Late Models, Grand American Modifieds, Street Stocks, and Bombers will be racing a total of 340 main event laps at the 99 on Saturday which will also celebrate the holiday with fireworks.
Merced Speedway will be running a five division, double points program on today along with a fireworks show.
The NASCAR Camping World West Series will also be back in action today in the King Taco 200 at Toyota Speedway in Irwindale. Defending series champion Eric Holmes of Escalon enters the race with a slim 16 point (1,190-1,174) lead on Ontario’s Jason Bowles, who will be racing on his home turf. The race will be televised at noon on July 16 on SPEED.
The biggest event on the 2009 Mazda Raceway at Laguna Seca schedule, takes place this weekend July 3-5 as the Red Bull U.S. Grand Prix returns to the historic track located near Monterey.
Eight time world champion Valentino Rossi, age 30 of Italy, rode his Yamaha will be looking for a repeat of his exciting victory in last year’s race when he beat Casey Stoner with an epic pass in the famous Corkscrew turn. Last week Rossi picked up his 100th Grand Prix victory at Assen in the Netherlands to extend his lead in the 2009 championship standings by a 131 to 126 margin over Spaniard Jorge Lorenzo.
Also racing at Laguna Seca this weekend will be AMA Supersport, AMA Daytona Sportbike and AMA Superbike.
Manteca’s Scott Speed will once again be doing double duty this weekend. Besides racing his Red Bull Toyota in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Coke Zero 400 at Daytona International Speedway today, Speed will make his debut in the #02 Waste Management-sponsored Lexus Riley Daytona Prototype Grand Am Rolex Sports Car Series, fielded by Chip Ganassi Racing, in the Brumos Porsche 250 on the Daytona 3.56 mile road course also today.
The one-off Grand Am sojourn is an extension of “Team BS” — a recreational Remote Control car team Speed and his friend Kyle Busch (hence the BS) recently formed.
“Driving a road course is one thing,” Speed said, “But driving a car that has got downforce, you attack the corners differently, and it requires a totally different driving style which falls right into my lap. That’s how I’ve driven cars my whole life. So it’s certainly a lot easier for me to get used to this type of car.”
Even though the venture is just a one off effort, Speed is looking for a top result.
“With as much downforce as these cars have and as light as they are, I’d say they’re more like an open-wheel car than a NASCAR stock car. Kind of like a happy medium, I guess.” Speed said. “I think that it’s going to be tough for us. We’ve got a lack of experience doing this stuff, but hopefully we’ll be competitive to where we can challenge for the win.”
The Sprint Cup race will be televised on TNT beginning at 4:30 p.m. today and the Grand-Am will be shown on SPEED beginning at 11 a.m.