Justin Philpott of Tracy took a major step in his bid to capture a third Stockton 99 track championship by winning Saturday’s 35-lap Stockton Late Model feature at the historic quarter-mile oval on Oct. 5.
Philpott, still seething from a crash which knocked him out of the previous event two weeks ago, led the 15-car field in qualifying, but ended up in the fourth row to start the race due to an invert draw of eight.
Arron Shankel, the 2017 Stockton Late Model champion out of Lodi, held the early lead while Philpott deftly avoided a series of early spins that brought out five yellow-cautions in the first 15 laps of the race.
On the lap 16 restart, Philpott lit the afterburners and charged up through the field into second right behind Shankel. Another caution on lap 28 put him alongside Shankel for the restart where Philpott proceeded to smoke him like a White Owl at the drop of the green flag to take over the lead and cruise to his fourth victory of the season.
“I knew there would be a lot of yellows so I tried to be careful early on and choose my battles,” explained Philpott. “I didn’t want to get in the middle of somebody else’s stuff and ruin my points lead.”
Philpott now holds a solid 28-point lead over Shankel in the season standings heading into the double points finale in two weeks.
“With double points and 100 laps next race we will have to be conservative and save our stuff for the end,” said Philpott, looking ahead to the season finale. “Hopefully everything will go our way and we can hoist the championship trophy.”
Stockton’s Rodney Tripp continued his late season surge by picking up his third Bomber division win of the season in dominating fashion.
Like Philpott, Tripp laid down the fastest lap in qualifying which put him in the fourth row of the 12-car field starting the 25-lap main.
Tripp methodically carved his way through the pack, taking over the race lead from Stockton’s Barrett Sugden following a lap nine restart.
Tripp was never challenged for the remainder of the race while Sugden held off class points leader Makila Stearns, of Linden, for second place to notch the best finish of his career.
“We worked real hard on this car and pushed it to the limit,” said Tripp. “It was great tonight. The longer we go the more hooked up it gets.”
Stockton’s Andy Rumsey needed only eight laps to move from his sixth place starting spot to the lead in the 15 car B-4s feature. Rumsey never looked back as he sailed to an easy win over his son Ethan in the 20-lap race that ran caution free. The victory capped a perfect night for Rumsey who won his heat, the trophy dash and set fast time in qualifying earlier in the evening.
Continuing with the theme of convincing wins, Shawn Whitney, 17, of Placerville, went wire-to-wire to earn the victory over Galt’s Ryan Winter in the 15-lap NorCal Dwarf race.
Racing at the 99 Speedway will resume Saturday, Oct. 12, with a six division program for the Gun Slingers Wing Sprint Car Series, Legends of Kearney Bowl, BCRA Midgets, Focus Midgets, and Vintage Midgets & Mini Cups.
The 2019 season will conclude with the “double points” Championship Night program on Saturday, Oct. 19, where the track titles will be decided for the Stockton Late Models, Bombers, B-4s, Grand American Modifieds and Mini Cup divisions.