Tracy’s Jeff Bischofberger and Jacob Gomes of Manteca held the front row of the stellar 16-car field lined up to take the green flag for the SRL Spears Southwest Tour 125 lap feature at the Stockton 99 Speedway on Saturday night.
It took only two laps for Gomes to clear Bischofberger and assume the lead which he would never relinquish to take his first win in six starts on the 2015 SRL schedule.
It wasn’t easy. Gomes had to survive nine restarts and several on-track challengers to secure the victory.
Gomes primary nemesis in the early going was Carlos Vieira, of Livingston, who sat right on his tailpipe for most the first 80 laps of the race.
Vieira saw an opportunity to take the top spot on a lap 81 restart as he got underneath of Gomes and managed to inch ahead of him going into turn #1.
Unfortunately Vieira carried too much momentum and was unable to hold the lower line, which caused him to spin out right in front of Gomes who was just able to dodge the out of control Vieira to remain in the lead.
“Carlos was really driving us hard and he nearly drove me into the fence there,” explained Gomes following the race. “I was just able to hang on to it.”
Parker Stephens, of Olympia, Washington, took over second and dogged Gomes for the rest of the race. He was able to poke his front bumper underneath Gomes on several occasions in the late going, but was never able to make it stick and ultimately settled for a hard earned second place finish.
“We had a good car all race, but we just couldn’t quite get it done,” said Stephens. ”I think his car (Gomes) was going and we had a better car at the end, but we ran out of time to get around him.”
Rounding out the top five were Jason Gilbert of Dublin, Craig Raudman of Cottonwood, and Tracy Bolin of Valley Springs, who nipped Vieira by inches at the line after the two banged on each other down the front straight.
“We had a fast car all night, but we really had to hold on to it late,” said Gomes. “Parker was right there at the end I was wishing I had saved it a bit more early on, but we held him off.”
Other notables included series points leader Greg Voight of Goleta, in seventh, and Manteca’s Ross Strmiska, who exited the race on lap 107 and was credited with 15th.
The Legends of the Pacific was also a messy affair with a count of seven yellow cautions and one red stoppage before the race was called with the completion of just 22 of 35 scheduled laps due to time.
Despite the shortened distance, Robby Czub turned in an impressive performance.
The Rocklin driver start 14th in the 22 car field, but rocketed his way to the lead after just 11 laps. John Morrisey of Livermore and Sonny Cervelli of Benicia, completed the Legends podium.
John Medina of Galt took over the lead in the 25-lap Bomber main after Kannai Scantlen of Valley Springs spun out on a lap 5 caution restart. He seemed to have the race in hand until Stockton’s Kimberly Rouse made a late race charge with just two laps remaining to steal the lead and notch her third win of the season.
“He was real fast and I didn’t think I could catch him,” said Rouse. “It was a real shock to me because all of a sudden I had an opportunity to pass him and I took it.”
Keeping with the night’s yellow-caution theme, Lodi’s Matt Wendt led the 14-car Super Stock race from beginning to end despite being interrupted by seven cautions periods which resulted in a checkered- yellow on lap 19.
“All those yellows kinda sucked,” laughed Wendt. “The car wasn’t the greatest tonight, but we drove a clean race and hold on for the win.”
Stockton drivers Ben Lewis II and Dennis Byers rounded out the Super Stock top three.
Joshua Strandwold of Modesto took the lead at the wave of the opening green flag in the Mini Cup feature as Cameron Legue chased him in vain the entire 25 lap race.
The Stockton 99 Speedway will be back in action on Sept. 5 with the final leg of the Tri-Holiday Classic for the Pacific Challenge Series Late Models, Legends of the Pacific, Super Stocks, Bombers and Mini Cup.
Other racing news
The Verizon IndyCar Series season will conclude this weekend, with the GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma at Sonoma Raceway. Veteran Juan Pablo Montoya leads in the IndyCar point standings over Graham Rahal, defending champion Scott Dixon and several other drivers that remain eligible for the championship. For more info visit www.racesonoma.com or call 800-870-7223.
The Volkswagen Andretti Rallycross team and Manteca native Scott Speed recently announced a two-year contract extension for the three-time X Games Gold Medalist and five-time GRC race winner to continue to pilot the No. 41 Volkswagen Beetle throughout the next two seasons in the Red Bull Global Rallycross Championship.
“I’m super excited to re-sign for another two years with Volkswagen Andretti Rallycross,” said Speed. “I’ve been lucky enough to be able to surround myself with an awesome crew and support team; everyone here feels like family.”
Speed is sixth in the current 2015 standings as the series next heads to Los Angeles on Sept. 12 and 13 for rounds number 8 and 9 of the 12-race schedule.
“We’re extremely happy to bring Scott back to the Volkswagen Andretti Rallycross team for the next two seasons,” said team owner Michael Andretti. “Scott fit right in with the Andretti organization and with his help we’ve quickly established ourselves in Red Bull Global Rallycross during our first two seasons in the series.”
“My experience with the team over the last two years has been an amazing journey,” added Speed. “We’ve continued to make strides in the development of our program and we’re ready to begin to assert ourselves as the dominant team in this sport.”