Jeremy Voss of Upper Lakes, Calif. was able to successfully navigate his way through a series of wrecks to take the checkered flag in the caution-filled 125-lap SPEARS Southwest Tour Series event presented by 51Fifty Energy Drink at Stockton 99 Speedway on Saturday night.
Eureka’s Brandon White and Tracy Bolin led the 18-car field to the green flag, but it was the veteran driver Jim Pettit II, of Prunedale, who quickly grabbed the top spot early on.
Starting from the second row, Manteca’s Ross Strmiska moved past White to take over the second on a lap 41 restart that resulted from a caution when Manteca’s Jacob Gomes lost control and spun out in turn one.
Strmiska who entered the race second to Pettit in the SRL season points, trailing him by a 985 to 892 margin, stalked the former two-time series champion until he was able to squeeze by him on the outside on lap 50. Pettit’s car was too strong however, as he blew past Strmiska just seven laps later and slowly began to pull away from the field.
Pettit’s domination came to an abrupt halt on lap 75 when his car began to bellow smoke and flames. He rolled to a stop and had to be pushed to the pits as the field regrouped for the restart with Strmiska once again leading the way.
Strmiska's luck would turn sour on lap 92 following yet another restart, this one for debris, when he got bumped by another car on the backstretch and lost the lead to Voss.
It would only get worse for Strmiska. He would later be involved in a five-car pile up on lap 103 and yet another spin on lap 108.
“We were a pinball tonight,” said a frustrated Strmiska after the race. “We had one of the best cars out there and near the end and everyone tries to do things they can’t do. It ruined the race for us.”
Once in the lead Voss was able to avoid all the carnage and survive the restarts to take the checkered flag for his first SRL win just ahead of a hard charging Jared Vorse of Olympia, Wash., who posted his best SRL finish ever.
“That was tough, probably the hardest race I have ever been in. There is so much good competition here,” said Voss, age 16. “I just tried to stay patient, keep my cool and it worked out.”
Gomes, Ripon’s Michael Sandoval and Jason Gilbert, of Dublin, rounded out the top five. Strmiska, despite a badly damaged car, was able to limp to the finish in tenth and Pettit would return to the track and complete 107 laps for thirteenth.
“Oh man that was wild. Our car is beat up bad,” said Gomes. “We were everywhere. We went from the back to the front and then back again. We were in the pits four times, everyone was wrecking each other and somehow we ended up third.”
In other action at the 99 Speedway on Saturday, Jay Linstroth of Citrus Heights dominated the 15-car field in the first of two 40-lap Modified features. Linstroth started from the pole and never looked back going wire-to-wire to capture his fifth win of the season while Tracy’s Scott Winters and season points leader Mike Regelman of Ripon rounded out the top three.
Linstroth started the second half of the Modified doubleheader from the eighth position due to the invert. He was able to work his way up to early race leader Robbie Knittel of Lodi by lap 15, but was unable to get past him as Knittel survived to pick up his first win of the season in hard earned fashion.
“The car was just on rails in that race,” said the jubilant Knittel. “I saw him (Linstroth) in my mirror and I tried not to think about him because I knew if I let him get up to me it was over.”
Linstroth, who is in the hunt for the NASCAR California State championship, was satisfied with first and second place finishes.
“The car was good and starting from the pole in the first race really helped,” said Linstroth. “I think I knocked the tow out in the second race. I would have had to try to rough Knittel up to get by him and I have too much respect for him to do that.”
Manteca’s Brad Mast drove to his second feature victory of the season by taking the 30-lap B-4 main over Dave Kong of Stockton and Mark Jacke of Manteca.
The 99 Speedway will host “Back to the 50's / Johnny Brazil Tribute Night” on Saturday, with a NASCAR Whelen All-American Series program that will include the Vintage Super Modifieds, California Hard Tops, BCRA Vintage Midgets, Super Stocks and Pure Stocks.