When: Saturday, July 4
Where: The New Stockton 99 Speedway.
The ¼-mile oval has been in operation since 1947 and has hosted the SPEARS SRL Southwest Tour Series a total of 28 times. That number is third most in series history behind Madera Speedway and the now defunct Altamont Motorsports Park.
What: The JM Environmental Inc. Wild West Shootout – Shoot to Thrill 127 presented by 51 FIFTY LTM is the third of 10 events for the SPEARS SRL Southwest Tour Series in 2020.
Format: The 127-lap event will feature a halfway break. The leader on lap 27 will be awarded $1,000 thanks to JM Environmental Inc. The scheduled A-Main event will feature a straight-up start, with $500 going to the quick qualifier. In addition, each starter in the feature will be awarded a Lone Star Cowboy Hat, and a group photo will be taken before the event. In another twist, there will be a caution after 40 straight laps of competition, unless it falls within the final 25 laps.
Winner’s Share: $5,000 will go to the winner thanks to the “Winner’s Bonus” provided by Senneker Performance.
Winning: Derek Thorn leads the series in wins at Stockton 99 Speedway. Thorn has four career victories at the facility. He also leads in Fast Times with six. Thorn knows how to win at Stockton and those Fast Times are a big part of the equation.
“The most important thing at Stockton is to have a fast car, then luck, and avoiding the chaos is right there with it,” Thorn acknowledged. “It’s such a small track and when things go wrong everything happens real quick. I’ve been fortunate to have a great team and some real fast cars there, so hopefully we can get through a majority of the race in one piece and be in contention at the end.”
Strong Field: 21 Super Late Models are entered for this weekend’s event. Over half the field has touring series Super Late Model feature wins and six have touring series titles. Eight drivers were unable to make the rescheduled event including Preston Peltier, who crashed at 5 Flags Speedway (FL) last weekend. Peltier was second in the championship standings.
Three-peat: Derek Thorn won the first two events of the Spears Southwest Tour Series season. He will be looking for his third win in a row this season and fourth overall, after winning the finale at The Bullring at Las Vegas Motor Speedway (NV).
Rookies: Four rookies are entered in this weekend’s event. Joey Lest leads the Rookie-of-the-Year standings with Dean Thompson second. Matt Wendt and Tim Spurgeon are also entered this weekend as 2020 Rookie-of-the-Year candidates.
Milestone Start: Series veteran Scott Sanchez will be making his 100th career start in the series. He will become only the second driver in series history to break the century mark, behind 2015 series champion Jacob Gomes. He is also the only series regular to have participated in the series inaugural season in 2001.
“Reaching 100 starts is definitely a cool milestone,” Sanchez told the SPEARS Southwest Tour Series. “It’s not really something you think about year to year, and then suddenly here it is. I’ve just been really fortunate to race in the tour all these years. When I made my first start in 2001, I never had any idea I’d still be doing it 20 years later. I just love these cars both driving and working on them. I guess the challenge week in week out keeps the fire lit.”
Business or Pleasure: Both John Moore and Carlos Vieira are sponsors of this weekend’s events. John Moore in the title sponsor for the event through his company JM Environmental Inc. Carlos Vieira and 51 FIFTY LTM are the presenting sponsor. Both drivers have extensive experience at the ¼-mile oval and would call the facility their home tracks.
Championship Aspirations: Jacob Gomes won the 2015 edition of this event. It was one of three SRL victories at the facility. That win would jump-start a struggling season, and ultimately earn the Manteca, CA driver the SRL crown. The event will be a special one for the SunnyValley Smoked Meats driver, as the event will pay tribute to Ron Strmiska, and is traditionally the biggest race of the season at the historic facility.
“I’m excited and I love racing at Stockton,” Gomes described. “It’s one of my best tracks and being the Fourth of July is awesome. It’s always been my favorite race of the year growing up as a kid.”
Returning Driver #1: After competing in 47 consecutive events in the SPEARS SRL Southwest Tour Series, Blaine Rocha took the beginning of the 2020 season off to complete his bachelor’s degree at Fresno State University. Rocha will return to the seat of a Super Late Model for the first time this season, driving an entry from MASROC Farms. The new team will be looking to score big at the Oakdale, CA driver’s home track.
Returning Driver #2: 2008 NASCAR State of California Champion Jason Gilbert will return for the first time since April of 2019. Gilbert finished fourth in the SRL Championship Standings in both 2012 and 2013. Those were his only full-time efforts.
Sentimental Win: A win at Stockton 99 Speedway would be even more special for two of the participants in this weekend’s event. Both John and Cole Moore would like to dedicate a win to their fallen son and brother, respectively, J.D. Moore. J.D. lost his life in a fiery practice accident at Stockton in 2004.
“99 Speedway will be a part of my life forever,” the elder Moore offered. “I believe Cole and myself will honor Mr. J.D. with a win this weekend.”
Live-Stream: The “JM Environmental 127 Wild West Shootout – Shoot to Thrill 127 presented by 51 FIFTY LTM will be live streamed on SpearsRacing.TV beginning at 5:30 pm PST.
Schedule: Saturday’s action finds the Pit Gate opening at 12:00 PM (all PST). SRL Practice will run from 3:00 PM to 3:45 PM. Qualifying is scheduled to take place at 5:45 PM, with Opening Ceremonies scheduled for 6:00 PM. Main Events for the “B4’s”, Bombers and Stockton Late Models will follow, with the SPEARS SRL Southwest Tour Series closing out the racing action for the evening.
Pre-Entry List (As of 07/01/2020)
05 Eric Schmidt, Roseville, CA
6B Mike Beeler, Modesto, CA
6F Tyler Fabozzi, Anaheim Hills, CA
11 Tracy Bolin, Valley Spring, CA
16 Jacob Gomes, Manteca, CA
20 Cole Moore, Granite Bay, CA
22 Andy Allen, Garden Grove, CA
24 Scott Sanchez, Bakersfield, CA
26 Jim Vermillion, Salisbury, NC
27 John Moore, Granite Bay, CA
29 Randy Hedrick, Reno, NV
43 Derek Thorn, Bakersfield, CA
51T Dean Thompson, Anaheim Hills, CA*
51V Carlos Vieira, Livingston, CA
71N Kyle Neveau, San Clemente, CA
71W Matt Wendt, Lodi, CA*
86 Tim Spurgeon, Danville, CA*
88I Joey Iest, Madera, CA*
88G Jason Gilbert, Dublin, CA
98 Blaine Rocha, Oakdale, CA
99 Linny White, Colton, CA
-Story by Kevin Peters, SRL
-Photo credit: SRL