It was a wild and crazy night of racing, even by Stockton standards, as the Spears SRL Southwest Tour, presented by 51 Fifty Energy Drink, made its one and only appearance of the season at the 99 Speedway on Saturday night, Aug. 18.
Veteran John Moore of Granite Bay led the stellar 21-car field to the opening green flag to start the 125 lap feature. He would hold the lead over Derek Thorn, of Lakeport, through the opening laps until the race was red flagged on lap 17 after several back markers tangled up on the back straight.
Thorn took full advantage of the restart to muscle by Moore on lap 19 and charge into the lead. He would remain in front for the remainder of the race, fighting off a variety of aggressive challengers the rest of the way.
After Moore began to slowly slip back at mid-race, Claremont’s Ricky Schlick was able to push his way past him on lap 79 and immediately latched on to Thorn’s rear bumper. A series of late yellow-caution restarts presented Schlick with several late race opportunities to attack Thorn, but Thorn was able to fight him off on every occasion.
A mid pack collision on lap 105 sent cars in every direction, causing a massive pile up and forcing the race to be red flagged once again in order to clean up the mess.
When it resumed Roseville’s Eric Schmidt, who had fought his way back through the pack after a lap 12 spin, blew past Schlick and began to jab at Thorn. Despite getting under Thorn on a couple of occasions he was never able to complete the pass as Thorn held on for a hard earned victory.
“This was not the race I expected. We were good on the long runs, but there were so many restarts I did not know if I could hold them off,” explained Thorn. “We will take this win, go home and enjoy it. Stockton is one rough place and I am glad I don’t have to come back any time soon.”
Schmidt, Upperlake’s Jeremy Doss, Schlick, Atwater’s Carlos Vieira and Moore rounded out the top six finishers.
“What a rough race. After our spin we were in survival mode trying to keep our nose clean and get back to the front,” said Schmidt. “I did what I could to get by him (Thorn) but the tires were gone at the end.”
Manteca’s Jacob Gomes hovered around the middle of the top 10 for most of the race, but was caught up in the lap 105 mess which put a premature end to his night.
“We kept getting shuffled to the outside and my car wasn’t working well up there,” said Gomes, who was officially credited with 15th place. “We were trying to hang on every lap while everyone was wrecking around us. I think we could have finished in the top three if we didn’t get stuck in that wreck, but that is Stockton.”
The 11-car Bomber main provided plenty of on track fireworks also as Stockton’s father/son team of Ben Lewis and Ben Lewis II, Kimberly Rouse and Kyle Singleton of Clovis duked it out from the opening lap.
Singleton would spin out on lap 12, ending his chances, while the others went three-wide coming out of turn #4 on lap 15 in a drag race for the lead. Rouse and the senior Lewis spun into the wall giving Ben Lewis II the win when officials halted the race early with a checkered-yellow.
A near tragedy put a damper on the nine-car B-4 main when early race leaders Joe Flowers and Joshua Cross, both of Manteca, tangled up on the front straight of the main’s third lap to bring out a red flag.
When track worker Shaun Davis walked onto the track in turn #4 he was struck by the car driven by Andrea Rumsey, of Stockton, sending him up in the air before landing hard on the asphalt where he laid motionless.
The race was stopped for about 40 minutes as Davis was carefully strapped to a stretcher and transported by the on duty ambulance to a local hospital where he was being treated for several non-life threatening injuries including a broken leg and lacerated liver.
When the race resumed Stockton’s Barrett Sudgen cruised to the win over Dave Kong of Stockton without further incident.
Napa’s Aaron Thomas survived a crash marred Mini Cup feature to earn the victory over Linden’s Joey Stearns.
The 99 Speedway will be back in action the next two Saturdays, Aug. 25 and Sept. 2, with programs featuring the Stockton Late Models in 50 lap mains.