Checkered flag characteristic of the late pattern captured by Shafer
Second-generation driver Gary Shafer Jr. of Stockton continued his end-of-season ascent by moving away from the pitch to claim his second consecutive victory in the 50-lap feature for the Stockton Late Models at Stockton 99 Speedway on September 18.
Starting alongside Tracy’s three-time track champion Justin Philpott, leading the 13-car field to start the main race, Shafer quickly moved into third as the rest of the field sorted themselves out. His attempt to move by Philpott for the lead on lap 10 was interrupted by a yellow warning, but he managed to complete the pass nine laps later.
With clear navigation ahead of him, Shafer slowly began to pull away from the peloton. The remainder of the race went without warning, forcing Shafer to maneuver through traffic he encountered in the last 20 laps to secure his third victory of the season.
“We had a great car so I took my time and tiptoed the guys ahead of me and then we pretty much checked. I was just praying that there would be no warning, ”Shafer said. “We’ve been fine-tuning the car over the past few weeks and it just keeps getting better and better.”
Ty Carlson of Stockton completed another solid run to finish the race in second place just ahead of Joey Stearns, who entered the evening just 14 points clear of Shafer in the battle for the 2021 Track Championship, while Joey Sarafin and Philpott of Stockton completed the top five. .
Once again, the B-4 feature turned into an aerial fight between Manteca’s Josh Cross and Joe Flowers.
The pair sat in the front row for the start of the 16-car main race where Cross took the lead as soon as the green flag fell. He would then spend the remainder of the 25-lap race sneaking through the back markers while desperately keeping the Flowers in charge at bay.
Despite several attempts, Flowers never got to execute a header pass as Cross took the checkered flag for his eighth win of the year before coming to a slow stop in the front straight.
“The man who was near. The car had some misfires at the end because I lost the battery, ”said Cross. “I was really worried because it went off more and more and then the lights went out.”
Dave Keller of Stockton was third and Nick Hall of Stockton, who entered the evening with a narrow 5-point lead over Flowers and 7 points over Cross in the season B-4 standings, was fourth.
The 25-lap main Bomber quickly turned into a three-car shootout as Lodi’s Brandon Jones, Linden’s Allen Rider and Manteca’s Joe Reichmuth fought like a trio of feral cats over the early catnip. at the end.
Jones would then go on to take the checkered flag about a foot above Rider as the pair completed the final laps side-to-side while Reichmuth, who entered the night with a 20-point lead over Rider, s’ is content with a hard-earned third. .
“In the end, it really got closer. These guys were all over my rear bumper and I was doing everything I could to stay in front of them, ”Jones said. “We struggled so it feels really good. “
Jordan Lovelace of Stockton continued his season-long dominance in the B-4 Juniors division taking his eighth win of the season over Manteca’s Jayden Cross and Gage Wicke took a surprise victory over the points leader. season Kash Holman, of Salida, in the Mini Main Cup.
The next event at 99 Speedway will be the Fall Classic on Saturday October 2, which will feature the last appearance of the year for the Spears SRL Pro Late Model series featuring the Bombers, B-4 and B-4 Juniors.
Ahead of the start of the evening’s race, longtime track announcer and former driver Wayne Pierce shared some of his memories of Steve Belletto of Modesto, 56, who sadly passed away on 9/11 after losing his battle against COVID-19.
The Belleto family have a long and distinguished history of nearly 50 years of racing at the Stockton 99 Speedway that began in 1970 when Steve’s father Harry Belleto started racing the quarter-mile oval. Fierce competitors on the track and gentlemen off, the Belletos have always been fan favorites and remain so today.
Harry would win three 99 Speedway Track Championships while Steve and his younger brother Jeff would each win two Track Championships. The three have also finished 1-2-3 on several occasions. Steve’s older brother Rick was also involved in building and preparing the family racing cars.
“My best memories are running with my dad and my brother,” Pierce told him, telling him.