Matt Scott ran his 2013 record at the Stockton 99 Speedway to a perfect seven for seven by taking a hard earned checkered flag in Saturday’s Tri Holiday Series 51Fifty Energy Drinks Firecracker 125 Western Late Model feature.
Scott, of Pine Grove, grabbed fast time in qualifying and as a result started the race from the outside of the third row due to the night’s invert draw of six.
The stellar 23-car field included the season debut of Modesto’s Steve and Jeff Belletto, the sons of the legendary Harry Belletto, a former three-time 99 Speedway track champion who owns the record for the most main event wins at the track with 89. Jeff is the reigning track champion while Steve is also a former two-times champion at the 99.
Another second-generation driver, Kyle Gottula of Modesto, started on the pole and held the early race lead until Lodi’s Mike Wendt got the jump on him on a lap19 restart as Scott bided his time several cars back.
Scott slowly and methodically worked his way towards the front, moving into fourth when Steve Belletto headed for the pits on lap 36 due to a parts failure and then into second on lap 66 as both Gottula’s and Jeff Belletto’s tires began to lose their grip.
By this time Wendt had built up a considerable lead, but that quickly disappeared when the yellow caution flag came out after Sacramento’s Chris Scribner spun on lap 95.
“I hated to see the yellow come out. I worked to get a lead and that brought the pack right back together,” said Wendt after the race. “Our cars were really close, but I think I used my tires up a bit more.”
And that seemed to be exactly the case when the race resumed as Scott was finally able to just muscle past Wendt for the lead and ultimately the win after several laps of side by side racing.
“From start to finish I tried to save my stuff. I did everything I could to save the tires for the end and it paid off,” explained Scott. “What an awesome race. I am so happy right now to win this I can’t even explain it.”
Turlock’s Wes Miller led another strong field of 18 cars to the green flag for the start of the 50-lap Grand American Modified main.
Miller held the lead throughout the first half of the race as season points leader Mike Regelman of Ripon, defending division champion Scott Winters of Tracy, and fast qualifier Jay Lindstroth of Citrus Heights, all jockeyed for position behind him.
Lindstroth’s challenge ended suddenly in a shower of sparks as he darted into the infield with a broken suspension on lap 14, but Winters was able to grab the lead from Miller on a lap 25 restart. Miller could never mount a comeback and was forced to settle for second place, just ahead of Regelman, as Winters cruised to his second victory of the season.
“I had a strong car, but everyone near the front was really tough tonight,” said Winters, who is running a partial schedule at the 99 this year. “I tried to stay patient and we were lucky enough to get a shot on the outside of Wes, I was able to make it work.”
The 11 car Super Stock 40-lap feature provided plenty of rough and tumble action and a surprise winner much to the delight of the huge crowd that packed the stands on a perfect evening for racing.
Riverbank’s Aaron Coonfield started from the pole and was able to maintain the lead as the rest of the pack clanged and banged behind him. By lap 12 only six cars were still on the track.
With just five laps to go, Lodi’s Matt Wendt was able to claw his way past Coonfield and seemed to be on his way to his to his first win of the year, but it was not to be. Just as he was about to take the white flag for the final lap, Wendt slowed to a crawl and headed to the pits with a mechanical failure as the remainder of the field continued by him.
Finding himself back in the lead, Coonfield held on to take the checkers for his third win of the season ahead of Atwater’s Jason Aguierre and Manteca’s Chad Holman.
“Man, that was one wild night,” said Coonfield. “Matt pretty much had it won. I was actually comfortable with second and all of a sudden I was ahead.”
In other action on Saturday’s NASCAR Whelen All American Racing Series program, Tracy’s Marc Borges held off Stockton’s Brandon Jones to take the 19-car Pure Stock feature and Mark Jacke, of Stockton, sailed to his second win of the season in the Basically-4’s 30-lap main.
The 99 Speedway will return to action on Saturday with a five division program for the Pacific Challenge Series Late Models, California Hardtops, Legends of the Pacific, Pro-4 Modifieds, and Super Stocks.