“Slammin” Sam Solari, of Escalon, picked up his second straight win of the young season by taking the checkered flag in Saturday’s Stockton Late Model feature on April 28 at the Stockton 99 Speedway.
Unlike his first victory in at the season opening race on April 8, in which he came across the line second, but was later awarded the win when Modesto’s Kyle Gottula was disqualified in post-race tech, Solari dominated Saturday’s 30-lap main.
“We had a real hotrod tonight,” proclaimed Solari after the race. “I have Norman David working on the car and he is giving me everything I need.”
Solari led the strong 20-car field from the pole alongside of defending track champion Arron Shankel of Lodi. He immediately shot to the lead with Shankel hot on his heels. The pair quickly pulled away from the field, encountering the back marker car of Stockton’s Donald Pomroy on the back straight of the fourth lap. They split with Solari going low and Shankel going to the high side when Pomroy moved up into Shankel, breaking his rear suspension and ending his night.
“We had a rocket tonight and the rear end of my car was destroyed,” said the disappointed Shankel. “Being the first guy out really hurts our championship chances and being taken out by an inexperienced driver is really frustrating.”
Solari would survive four more yellow-cautions and two red flag stoppages over the next 10 laps, successfully using the outside position on each restart, to post a wire-to-wire victory.
“I’ve won a lot of races and I’ve won championships, but the last five years I have not really been dedicated to racing,” confessed Solari. “This year I have refocused and I am 100 percent committed to racing and to winning.”
Justin Philpott, the former two-time track champion out of Tracy, had to fight through traffic for much of the race due to his fifth row starting spot before finally getting into position to make a late run at Solari, but his efforts fell short as he was forced to settle for second.
“I wish we had about 10 more laps or a yellow because I think I would have had a chance at him,” said Philpott. “I think we put a good show on tonight though.”
Chris Lyons, of Greeley Hill, Ben Lewis II and Gary Shafer Jr., both of Stockton, completed the top five.
It was an all-girl power front row made up of Linden’s Mikala Stearns and Stockton’s Kimberly Rouse that led the13-car Bomber field to the green flag of their 25-lap main.
Stockton’s Rick Roberts would take command of the race by powering to the lead on the back straight during lap four and never looked back to take the first win of his career over veteran John Medina of Galt and Justin Scantlen of Valley Springs.
Roberts shares the ownership and driving duties in the car with Manteca’s Robert Dueck who also picked up his career first victory when he drove the car in the season opener earlier in the month.
“After Rob won in the car last week it was my turn tonight so it was hero or zero,” explained Roberts with a huge smile. “And Lord willing, it turned out all right.”
Roberts will be back behind the wheel next race, but the pair is preparing a second car for Dueck to drive.
In other divisions, Barrett Sugden held off Andrew Rumsey, both of Stockton, to take the win in the 20-lap B-4s feature and West Sacramento’s Ron Rezz notched the victory over Placerville’s Jason Armstrong in the California Hard Top main.
The Stockton 99 will have a busy month of May as the Monster Trucks, along with the Dr. Danger Stunts, take over the track on Friday and Saturday, May 4 and 5. The Gun Slingers Wing Sprint Car Series and Grand Americans will make their 2018 season debut on Saturday, May 12 and the Late Models return to head a four division program on Saturday, May 19.
Blaine Rocha, of Oakdale, claimed his first career RPM Mortgage Pro Late Model 80-lap feature on the 1/3 mile Madera Speedway on Saturday night. Rocha battled Bakersfield’s Racin Vernon for most of the race until Vernon spun on his own entering turn number one on lap 68.
Rocha outdueled Jake Wood, of Loomis, on the restart and led the final 12 circuits for the win ahead of track points leader Austin Herzog, of Clovis, and Wood. Madera Speedway continues racing next Saturday with the Vukovich Classic which includes the BCRA Midgets, NCMA Sprints, CSS/360 Super Modifieds, Legends of Kearney Bowl, Senior Open Vintage Super Modifieds, California Hard Tops, Vintage BCRA, USAC Western Midgets, and Legends of the Pacific.