With only three races remaining on the 2019 Stockton 99 Speedway schedule, third generation driver Justin Philpott was looking to pad his lead Saturday night, Sept. 21 in his quest for a third Stockton Late Model championship. But his night ended in frustration after a late race wreck extensively damaged his car, putting him out of the competition.
Philpott, of Tracy, started in the front row of the nine car field in the 35-lap main alongside of Stockton’s Gary Shafer Jr., who entered the evening third in the points, just 34 in back of Philpott.
Philpott jumped into the lead, but a yellow caution for Ty Carlson’s spin on lap 18 forced a restart where Philpott elected to take the outside lane.
Taking full advantage of his inside position, Shafer was able get enough traction to slip into the lead when the race resumed, but Philpott was not about to concede, moving right on Shafer’s tail and probing for a way to get around him.
Philpott finally squeezed under Shafer on lap 26 and the pair went side by side until they touched going into turn #3 two laps later which resulted in both cars slapping into the outside wall.
Shafer was able to limp to the pits and make repairs, but Philpott suffered suspension damage and was forced to park his car for the night.
As a result of the mishap, 2017 track champion Arron Shankel of Lodi suddenly found himself in front. Shankel, who entered the night second in the points, 30 in back of Philpott, looked to be on his way to his first win of the season until a resurgent Carlson powered by him with just five laps to go.
Carlson held Shankel at bay for the final laps to earn his first win of the season while Gridley’s Larry Tankersley snagged third and Shafer salvaged fourth.
“I think that early spin caused me to be a little more aggressive and determined to get this win,” explained Carlson, of Stockton. “I knew those two guys at the front would be going at it and if something happened I would be right there to take advantage of it.”
While Philpott declined to comment, Shafer felt it was just a racing incident where both drivers were trying to establish their position.
“We have raced each other hard all season and we try to keep it clean. We were just both trying hard to get to the front and we got into each other’s way a little bit. I think he was a little faster tonight and I knew I had to stay in front of him to have a chance to win. It is unfortunate because we probably would have went one-two.”
Harrison Stone of Stockton led the first 10 laps of the Bomber feature until he was run down by Lodi’s Rodney Oliver. Once he took the lead Oliver never looked back as he cruised to the first victory of his career in a race that went caution free.
“I’ve been waiting for this for so long,” exclaimed a joyous Oliver afterward. “This car will be in victory lane many more times. I guarantee it.”
Josh Cross, who entered the evening trailing Joe Flowers, both of Manteca, by a mere six points in the B-4 season standings, cut into that gap by picking up his eighth win of the season in impressive style.
Starting from the front row of the 13-car field, Cross jumped into the lead and never relinquished it while Flowers spent the final laps fending off a hard charging Andrew Rumsey of Stockton to hold on to second place.
“This car was on rails again tonight,” said Cross. “We figured something out a couple weeks ago and since then it has been really fast.”
Codi Winchell of Sebastopol emerged from a four car scrum over the opening 10 laps to take the lead and ultimately the win over Rob Nascimento of Manteca in the Legends of the Pacific 35-lap main.
The Stockton 99 Speedway’s next event will feature the Stockton Late Models along with the Bombers, B-4s, and NorCal Dwarfs on Saturday, Oct. 5.
The Stockton Dirt Track, located at the San Joaquin Fairgrounds, will be hosting Monster Truck Madness and Quad racing on Friday and Saturday, Sept. 27 and 28.