Second-generation driver Colby Potts, age 27 of Stockton, drove away from the field to score a convincing victory in the 50-lap feature for the Stockton Late Models at the Stockton 99 Speedway on Saturday, July 17.
Starting the race alongside of Potts at the front of the 13-car field to open the race, 2018 track champion ‘Slammin’ Sam Solari, of Escalon, used the outside lane to take the early lead as Potts settled in behind him. Potts remained glued to Solari’s bumper throughout the first half of the race forcing Solari to chew up his tires in order to maintain the lead. After a couple of unsuccessful probes in the previous laps, Potts was able to slide under Solari, who almost got sideways trying to hold his line, coming out of turn #4 on lap 35.
“After a few laps I saw his car beginning to wash up and even get sideways so I knew if I stuck right on his bumper he would eventually make a mistake that I could capitalize on,” explained Potts.
Once in the lead, Potts was never challenged as he cruised to his first victory of the season ahead of Stockton drivers Gary Shafer Jr. and Ty Carlson, after they also managed to squeeze by the struggling Solari in the final laps.
“Our car has been real consistent so when I got out front I knew nobody was going to catch me,” said Potts. “This feels great!”
The win was especially satisfying for Potts after he crashed out of the Firecracker 125 earlier this season when he tangled up with Manteca’s Guy Guibor while battling for the lead in the closing laps.
Manteca’s Josh Cross went wire-to-wire in the B-4 division’s 25-lap feature to notch his third win of the season. With 18 cars in the starting lineup, Cross spent the second half of the race deftly weaving through lapped traffic while simultaneously keeping the hard-charging Joe Flowers, the defending class champion out of Manteca, at bay.
“That was exciting! There was a lot of lapped traffic out there. It was hard getting through them and I was watching in my mirror the whole time because I knew Joe was coming too,” said Cross, as he celebrated the win with his family on the front straight.
It was a similar story in the Bomber feature where Brandon Jones, of Lodi, led the 25-lap main from start to finish to take the checkered flag well ahead of Linden’s Allen Rider and Manteca’s Joe Reichmuth.
“The last few weeks have been hard and we have been struggling, but we put it together tonight,” said Jones, who raced in the late model division last season. “We came back to this class so I can race my father and we are working on his car and I hope to be competing against him again soon.”
Jordan Lovelace, of Stockton, held off Lodi’s Arron Shankel to take the victory in the 15-lap B-4 Juniors race while Salida’s Kash Holman sailed to the win in the Mini Cup feature.
Racing returns to the 99 Speedway for the “Night of Champions” on Saturday, Aug. 7, with the with a program featuring the Stockton Late Models for 100 laps, plus the Bombers, Mini Cups, B-4s and B-4 Juniors.
Some of the 99 Speedway alumni scheduled to return are former track champions Ken Boyd, Harry Belletto along with his sons Steve and Jeff, Dave Byrd, David Philpott and 1977 track champion and former NASCAR Cup star Ernie Irvan. Long time track promoter and West Coast Stock Car Hall Of Fame member Ken Clapp will also be back as part of a tribute to former track director Pat Patnaude.