Jeremy Doss turned in a near perfect performance on the way to capturing the “Asparagus 125” for the Spears SRL Late Model Series in Saturday’s 2021 season opening program at the Stockton 99 Speedway on March 13.
Doss, 24, of Upper Lake, started from the second row in the 25-car field before moving around pole sitter Mike Lovell, of Willits, for the race lead following a lap 15 yellow-caution restart.
Doss held on to the top spot while avoiding several multi-car pileups that plagued much of the field during the early portion of the race. As a result of the mayhem, the running order behind Doss continuously reshuffled and several competitors had their night end early including local favorites Jacob Gomes of Manteca, Ross Strmiska of Stockton and Escalon’s “Slammin” Sam Solari.
Oakdale’s Blaine Rocha eventually worked his way up to Doss just before the lap 63 midrace fuel break and the two drivers fought it out for the lead over the remainder of the race. Despite starting to the inside of Doss on multiple restarts, Rocha was never able to find sufficient grip to pull ahead of Doss and was forced to settle for a hard-earned second place finish.
“We had a really good car tonight, but you are always worried when you have several restarts with a good car right beside you,” said Doss. “Thankfully, we had a good enough car to hold him off.”
In all, there were 13 cautions and three red flag stoppages during the event.
“I just tried to stay there with him (Doss) until the end, but we used up a lot of stuff and didn’t quite have enough to get to the front,” said Rocha. “Our car comes in on the long runs and we never really got that tonight.”
Brothers Logan and Dylan Zampa, of Napa, along with Tyler Reif of Henderson, Nevada, rounded out the top five.
The car count for the Legends of the Pacific has dwindled in recent years, but the class may be seeing a resurgence as 35 Legends entries packed the pits at the 99 on Saturday.
The top 24 cars advanced to the 35-lap Legends feature where Cody Winchel of Sebastopol was able to snag the early lead following some wild opening laps that included four-wide racing on several occasions. Starting well back from the fourth row, Jake Bollman, of Huntington Beach, danced his way through the pack, gradually making his way to the front where he was able to dive under Winchel and into the lead at midrace.
“It was hectic at the start. When I caught up to him I kind of laid in wait for the right moment to pass him,” explained Bollman. “I got the chance when he got caught behind a lapped car.”
Bollman retained his lead by successfully maneuvering through several back markers in the closing laps to earn the victory as Winchel held on to second and Jordan Holloway of Henderson, Nevada rounded out the top three.
The local racing action next moves to the Stockton Dirt Track, located at the San Joaquin Fairgrounds, on Saturday, March 20 for the “Salute to LeRoy Van Conett” featuring the King of the West-NARC Fujitsu 410 Sprint Car Series and NorCal Dwarf Car and on Saturday, March 27 for the Dirt Modifieds (A-Mods), Sports Mods (B-Mods), Tri-State Pro Stocks & Bombers.
The next program at the 99 Speedway will be on Saturday, April 17 for the regular season opener with the Stockton Late Models, Bombers, B4 Cylinders, Junior B4 Cylinders and Mini Cups.
The Madera Speedway also kicked off their season with a 100-lap Nut Up Late Model Series feature on Saturday. Eric “Bubba” Nascimento, the defending Stockton Late Model champion from Manteca, battled for the lead in the early going of the race, but mechanical gremlins eventually relegated him to a disappointing 21st place finish, several laps behind winner Carlos Vieira of Atwater.